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Tonight the regular season concludes as your President’s Trophy winning Nashville Predators host the Columbus Blue Jackets. As both teams have fought through various injuries this season, the theme of the night will be “stay healthy.” Both teams should be sporting new look lineups in protecting their best players and giving banged-up skaters “maintenance days.”
Columbus Blue Jackets
One of the hottest teams in the League, the Jackets went from barely outside the playoff bubble a few weeks ago to now clinched, able to finish as high as third in the Metropolitan Division. They could also fall to the second wild card seed depending on what happens with Philadelphia and New Jersey, so a lot is up in the air.
However, they may prefer to fall in the standings. Whoever finishes third is locked into a bout with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have knocked the Blue Jackets out of the playoffs twice this decade.
Head Coach John Tortorella reportedly is going to be resting key players. That means, and it may break the hearts of Nashville, Seth Jones will likely not play. Jones has been battling a back injury for a while and still would have my vote for Norris. He has been their MVP. However, with the playoffs coming up, this would be a good game to rest him.
Additionally, the flu has ravaged the Blue Jackets roster last week. Left wing Artemi Panarin, who has played out of his mind this season, looked a visibly pale green color in the Blue Jackets’ game against Detroit on Tuesday. He still had a goal and an assist.
In a similar vein, it would behoove the Predators to rest some of their own stars. After winning the President’s Trophy, this will be the most meaningless game that the Predators will play post-clinching in franchise history. There is absolutely nothing to gain.
As a result, Eeli Tolvanen should be injected back into the lineup. He’s still getting adjusted to the NHL, and there’s no better game to get your feet wet than in one void of all meaning. Hopefully Juuse Saros will start over Pekka Rinne, giving Rinne a little more rest before the playoffs begin.
Reasons to Watch
- Eeli Tolvanen should play again. Cheer him on, build his confidence, support him the Smashville way!
- The line blenders should be fully charged tonight. Let the experimental chaos ensue!
- Although I’m pessimistic about Seth Jones playing, he still could! Welcome him back with open arms.
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops at 7:00 sharp at Bridgestone Arena. FS-TN will broadcast the game on screen and 102.5 will have it on radio.