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Nashville Predators @ Columbus Blue Jackets Preview: Last Stop

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The Predators make one final stop in Columbus on their road trip before heading home to Nashville.

NHL.com

It’s been a whirlwind weekend for the Nashville Predators. Two important wins against the formidable Los Angeles Kings and the bullying Anaheim Ducks have the Predators jetting off to Ohio for a contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In another “should we even be surprised” three-way trade by GM David Poile, Nashville sent talented rookie defenseman Samuel Girard and forward Vladislav Kamenev to Colorado. Former Av Matt Duchene is off to Ottawa, and Nashville gained a solid and productive center Kyle Turris.

Can all these pieces be put together for another Cup run? Only time will tell. First, the Predators must face the Blue Jackets.

Last season, the Predators won both contests against the Blue Jackets.

The Columbus Blue Jackets

Truth be told, the Blue Jackets are my favorite Metro team for many reasons. Like the Predators, they are perennial underdogs. However, the time to write CBJ off as an easy win is long gone. Last season’s first round playoff series against Pittsburgh was a gritty fight.

Columbus is in first place in the Metro division. They are 9-4-1 and will face the Predators after a contest against the New York Rangers Monday evening at Madison Square Garden. Columbus is rolling along at a nice pace this year and is most definitely in the conversation for the playoffs.

Since we only see Columbus twice a year, it’s helpful to look at their roster and discuss their impact players.

In goal, CBJ has reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s backed up by Joonas Korpisalo.

The Blue Jackets were involved in the massive summer trade from Chicago that saw Brandon Saad head back to the Hawks in exchange for Artemi Panarin. Panarin has one goal and 10 assists this season. He’s a puck-feeding machine.

Forward Cam Atkinson is day-to-day on IR, and Matt Calvert is also out with an upper-body injury. Lukas Sedlak is sidelined by an ankle injury, and suddenly the Blue Jackets are a little jumbled on their lines.

Young Tyler Motte was part of the Panarin trade this summer, and the winger was recently recalled from Cleveland to fill Atkinson’s spot. He scored against the Jackets’ outing against the Florida Panthers late last week.

The defensive unit for Columbus is highlighted by young stars like Zach Werenski and Seth Jones. We know a lot about Seth Jones. Werenski, like Jones, is a young but skilled defenseman who has a high ceiling. He has four goals and five assists this season.

After squaring off against the struggling Rangers, what kind of Columbus team will Nashville see on the second half of a back-to-back?

The Nashville Predators

Still reeling from a third massive trade in two years, Predators fans cannot help but be ecstatic over the addition of a 2C in former Senator Kyle Turris. This boosts the center depth with guys like Nick Bonino (IR), Colton Sissons, Frederick Gaudreau, Calle Jarnkrok, and many more in Milwaukee (Emil Petterson, Cody Bass, Yakov Trenin, and Tyler Moy to name a few).

To get Turris, the Predators completed a three-way deal that sends Kamenev and Girard to Colorado. It’s likely Girard will immediately play for the Avs, and Kamenev has the skills to immediately put on an Avalanche jersey too.

They will most certainly be missed in Nashville, but realistically, the depth at center and defense makes it incredibly difficult for either Girard or Kamenev to find a permanent spot on the Predators roster. I wish nothing but the best for these young and talented players.

The last outing for our boys in gold against the Kings was a mixed bag. Some big saves by Juuse Saros most certainly boosted the confidence of the younger Finnish goaltender. Crucial goals by Craig Smith, Mikka Salomaki, and PK Subban put the Predators on top, but another blown lead meant that overtime would be required to settle the score.

Viktor Arvidsson scored an incredible breakaway goal on Darcy Kuemper and the Preds came out with a win.

How will Coach Laviolette shuffle his lines to maximize scoring tonight? This game could either be a scoring fest or a defensive chess match. I feel like most Predators fans would like to see some steady scoring that doesn’t result in a nail-biting finish.

The most recent reports have Turris reporting to Nashville sometime this week, rather than joining the Predators in Columbus. He is expected to be unavailable because of some immigration issues. He should be donning #8 for the Predators on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tonight, the Predators are seeking another win to close out their road trip with 6 points in 8 games. As we saw against the Kings, depth scoring will be crucial to a victory in Columbus.

Personally, I think it’s about time for Kevin Fiala to score some goals. Will tonight be the night?

Reasons to Watch

  • Hi Seth Jones. I remember when Nashville traded another talented defenseman for a top-line center. Jones might be having flashbacks.
  • Bobrovsky and Rinne are almost always Vezina candidates when healthy. Tonight will be a goalie showcase.
  • Weeknight hockey is one of the main reasons I survive the work week.
  • CBJ has a cannon. Let’s not allow them to shoot it, ok?

Tonight’s Theme Song

Choosing a theme song for tonight’s was a little difficult amidst the Turris trade reaction, so I selected two songs.

The first song is in honor of Vlad Kamenev and Sam Girard and their futures in Colorado: “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” by The Offspring.

The second song for tonight’s game is “Country Roads, Take Me Home” by John Denver. The Predators can grab a big road win tonight and head on home to Nashville for the comforts of home.

Kyle Turris mentioned in his phone interview that he was very excited about coming to Nashville and that he’s heard a lot of good things about our beloved Music City. As a native Nashvillian, I don’t think there’s a much better place to choose to play hockey.

How to Watch

As always, you can catch the Predators on Fox Sports-TN tonight at the very reasonable hour of 6 pm. You can also tune into 102.5 The Game.