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Blue Jackets @ Predators Preview: Taking Care Of Business

<em>Image via user <a href="" target="new">scragz</a> on Flickr.</em>
Image via user scragz on Flickr.

Fresh off an exciting, crowd-pleasing victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night, the Nashville Predators face the challenge of bringing another energetic effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are pretty much playing out the string and waiting to see which players get traded out of town over the next few weeks.

The Preds, on the other hand, are eyeing the upper echelon of the Western Conference standings, and the two points at stake tonight would put Nashville right on Chicago's tail...

Tale Of The Tape

Columbus (13-28-6) at Nashville (28-16-4)
CBJ Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. CBJ Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
CBJ Offense 2.1 (23rd) 29.1 (16th) 7.2 (27th) 2.7 (23rd) 29.3 (10th) 906 (25th) CBJ Defense
NSH Defense 2.3 (9th) 31.0 (28th) 924 (9th) 2.2 (19th) 26.8 (26th) 8.4 (14th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
CBJ 5-on-4 4.8 (23rd) 53.4 (6th) 8.9 (28th) 9.0 (30th) 51.6 (17th) 826 (30th) CBJ 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 6.2 (18th) 52.5 (21st) 882 (15th) 7.5 (2nd) 49.2 (14th) 15.3 (2nd) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

As has been written about in several outlets, the skaters aren't doing such a bad job in Columbus, even if you narrow the Shots For & Against number to when games are tied, to avoid the impact of them falling behind so often and piling up cheap shots in a comeback attempt. Goaltending has been the real sore spot for the Blue Jackets.

Columbus Blue Jackets

As if a season down the toilet isn't bad enough, the Blue Jackets have been decimated by injuries lately, just check out their sick bay:

Columbus Blue Jackets Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Radek Martinek concussion 10/22/2011
James Wisniewski ankle 12/30/2011
R.J. Umberger concussion 01/17/2012
Kristian Huselius groin 12/07/2011
Jeff Carter shoulder 01/09/2012
Mark Letestu hand 01/06/2012

There is some talk that R.J. Umberger might get back in tonight, at least, but those are, by and large, all key players that the Blue Jackets were relying upon.

The big news, however, is that after defenseman Radek Martinek was shut down for the season, Columbus brought in former Predator Brett Lebda to plug the gap. He may well make his Blue Jackets debut tonight:

Brett Lebda

#23 / Defenseman / Columbus Blue Jackets



Jan 15, 1982

If you recall, Lebda became a Predator in the July 3rd trade which sent Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson to Toronto. The next month, Nashville bought Lebda out of his contract and sent him on his way. According to NHL Numbers, the Preds are paying him $517,000 not to play here this season, and $467,000 in 2012-13.

Columbus Blue Jackets Last 5 Games

@ Detroit Sat 01/21 SO - L 2 - 3
Nashville Thu 01/19 L 0 - 3
Edmonton Tue 01/17 W 4 - 2
San Jose Sat 01/14 L 1 - 2
Phoenix Fri 01/13 W 4 - 3

Nashville Predators

The Preds have their work cut out for them before taking off for the All-Star break, as they are wrapping up a 6-games-in-9-days stretch between tonight and tomorrow's games. They've done well so far, winning three out of the first four, a performance which has given them some separation from the six teams battling for the 7th & 8th positions in the Western Conference standings.

The one guy who probably doesn't want to take a break later this week is Sergei Kostitsyn. With 7 goals in his last 10 games, I'm sure he'd like to keep his hot streak rolling...

Sergei Kostitsyn

#74 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators



Mar 20, 1987

2011 - Sergei Kostitsyn 42 12 14 26 4 22 1 0 1 44 27.2

There are three main lineup questions heading into this game for Nashville:

  1. Might Anders Lindback get this start, considering tomorrow's game at Chicago?
  2. Will Francis Bouillon and/or Ryan Suter be fit for duty?
  3. Which forwards will be scratched? Halischuk & McGrattan watched the Blackhawks game, but I could see both getting action tonight.
Stay tuned for updates later this morning for developments on those fronts...