Tonight the Nashville Predators (6-10-0, 7th in Central) take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (8-6-4, 5th in Central) at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus. The Predators, after winning their first two games of the season against the Blue Jackets, have lost ten of their last fourteen games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets traded rising star center Pierre Luc-DuBois for established star winger Patrik Laine.
If it felt like the teams were trending in opposite directions since their first meetings, that sensation was established on Thursday night when the Blue Jackets emphatically shut out the Predators 3-0. Despite both goals prior to the empty netter being fluke goals, better teams create their own luck. The fact is, the Predators never looked like they were in that game. Even if they were unlucky in how the result came about, it was clearly the deserved result.
What’s there to say about the Predators that hasn’t already been said? Every part of the organization, from the front office to the coaching staff and the players seems broken. The entire team feels like it’s old milk long past it’s due date: it all stinks.
The only bright spots have been the play of Filip Forsberg and the roster opportunities for Eeli Tovlanen. Despite how poor the team has been, Forsberg hasn’t missed a beat. Forsberg enters this game with 14 points in 16 games, an exceptional scoring rate. He’s playing phenomenal hockey right now, even if the rest of the team is failing his performances.
As eluded to, Eeli Tolvanen has seen more ice time with injuries up and down the Predators’ roster. Even if he’s not having a good game, the Predators need to be using this opportunity to provide youth within their organization with chances to play. Any time Tolvanen is getting time on the power play, fans should be happy, even if it doesn’t result in a goal. The Predators need to give the kids more experience. Hopefully we start seeing more prospects than just Tolvanen inserted into the lineup.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Many complaints that Nashville Predator fans have about the coaching staff are shared by Columbus Blue Jacket fans.
Upset about a terrible powerplay? Check.
Head coach blending lines like it’s protein powder going in a post-workout shake? Check.
Stubborn deployment of veterans over younger players? Check.
Our SB Nation blog Jackets Cannon is outstanding, and I lurk there pretty much every day in addition to writing here. If you want more in depth insight into how people are feeling about the Blue Jackets, I highly encourage you to check out their blog.
The Blue Jackets have some really nice pieces on their roster. Patrik Laine is an incredible threat, and Oliver Bjorkstrand is the best winger that nobody knows about in the NHL. I’d go as far as to say he’s the most underrated player in the entire league. The goaltending duo of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo is solid but, oddly, the Blue Jackets have been undone by their defense this season. Seth Jones hasn’t played well, Zach Werenski missed time due to injuries, and the shipping out of Marcus Nutivaara has further exposed David Savard as an atrocious second-pair defenseman. Despite not having great save percentages, Merzlikins and Korpisalo have looked more than serviceable; the defense has just been terrible in helping their goaltenders out.
I hope Michael McCarron doesn’t dress tonight. Remember in the 3rd period when, down two, he skated by the Blue Jackets bench and did that fake “come at me, bro” shoulder fake? You’re down two goals to a team you have no rivalry with and second to last in your division. What on Earth are you doing? Save the bush league antics for AHL games. The Predators are embarrassing enough right now without that nonsense.
Reasons to Watch
- Filip Forsberg is continuing to make Filbruary a thing. What can he do today?
- Eeli Tolvanen. Any time the kids play, it’s worth watching because those are the players who will be around the next time the Predators compete for a Stanley Cup.
- The power play. What, do you really want to miss the game when the Predators finally score with the man advantage?
Song of the Day
MEDZ - Safe and Sound
The boyfriend of one of my friends in law school recently released this song, so this is a shameless plug. He’s originally from Montreal and we’d bro out about how great of a human P.K. Subban is so, if you’re into EDM, give him and his brother’s song a listen and pass it along to your friends.
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops in Columbus at 6:00 Central time. You can catch the game on FS-TN or over at 102.5 The Game.