USA TODAY Sports
Tonight at 6:00 p.m. Central, the Nashville Predators try to salvage a successful end to their 5-game road trip with a win at Columbus.
|Nashville Predators||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|5-on-5 Save %||.919||11th||.919||11th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.21||25th||3.86||6th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.28||6th||3.31||9th|
Don't believe the hype, underneath the hood this is still a deeply flawed Blue Jackets team, despite their recent success. Sure, the Predators aren't firing on all cylinders, but they should be able to beat this bunch.
The first meeting between these two teams came on the season opener, in which the Blue Jackets beat Nashville 3-2 in a shootout at Bridgestone Arena.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are on a roll, as they've gone 10 games without losing in regulation, which has allowed them to make a push up through the standings to the point where they stand tied alongside Nashville heading into tonight's game. Put simply, Little Brother smells blood and would like nothing better than to finish ahead of the Predators in their final season as division rivals. Leading the way is their new goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who hasn't given up more than two goals in any of his last eight games:
|2012 - Sergei Bobrovsky||20||1172||9||6||5||39||2.00||571||532||.932||2|
Despite their team's thrilling run, Columbus fans aren't getting ahead of themselves, however:
So, let's just enjoy this ride for what it is: a stretch of some of the best hockey we've seen in Columbus in about four years. A franchise-record points streak. And, possibly still a precursor to a top-five pick: SCS's lottery projections still have the Jackets landing in the bottom-five of the lottery standings.
The one thing we shouldn't do, however, is start printing playoff tickets.
--- The Cannon
The roster continues to shuffle largely due to injury, as Paul Gaustad's trip to Injured Reserve has opened a spot for winger Taylor Beck, who was called up from Milwaukee earlier today. Besides Gaustad's continued absence, it sounds like Sergei Kostitsyn will watch from the press box after his infamous gaffe at Edmonton Sunday evening cost the Predators a huge goal:
After last night's terrible line change, NSH forward Sergei Kostitsyn is expected to be a healthy scratch Tuesday vs CBJ.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 18, 2013
NSH knows its recent slide is broader/more complex than one bad change but feels there needs to be accountability on such an obvious gaffe.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 18, 2013
To me, this is actually a pretty tough call. Given the current situation, is it more important to "send a message" or just try to dress the best possible lineup and win a hockey game? If this were, say, a playoff situation, I'd certainly argue for dressing the best lineup. With this team at this time, however, perhaps the long view is the more appropriate, and enforcing a team-oriented disciplinary culture is warranted for the young players who will continue to grow into larger roles on this team in 2013-2014.
While many eyes are paying attention to those younger players to see who stands out, it's the veterans who should be well positioned to lead the way tonight. David Legwand and Martin Erat have had some of their greatest success against Columbus over the years. Legwand, for example, has 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points in 57 career games, while Erat has 16 goals and 35 assists for 51 points in 55 games all-time against the Blue Jackets.
Might a date with Columbus be the thing to wake up the Marty Party?
|2012 - Martin Erat||28||3||10||13||-5||26||0||0||1||44||6.8|