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Preview: Blue Jackets at Predators

Columbus closes its pre All-Star schedule in the Music City

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer / BlueJackets.com

GAME 48: BLUE JACKETS AT PREDATORS

BRIDGESTONE ARENA, 8 P.M.

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM

SETTING THE STAGE: John Tortorella's 48-second media session after Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders spoke volumes - even if he didn't need to say many words.

The Blue Jackets are sailing choppy waters right now. The optimist would say they're 5-6-0 since the end of their 16-game winning streak (and 21-6-0 in their last 27 games), while the pessimist would say their level of play has slipped and they're showing some bad habits in their game. Both perspectives are accurate to some degree, and with one final game before the NHL All-Star break, the Blue Jackets want to reverse this recent trend of inconsistency.

Ironically, the best all-around game they played last week was probably their 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Despite going 2-0-0 against Carolina, the Blue Jackets were sloppy at times and didn't defend very well, particularly in last Saturday's game at Nationwide Arena. Tortorella's concerns over their checking were evident in a 7-6 overtime win in Ottawa, and recently, the loss in Brooklyn.

If they're looking for a test, they've got a big one in the Nashville Predators. The Predators won six of seven before an overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, a game in which they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. Filip Forsberg is starting to heat up for Nashville, which is an encouraging sign for them after the young Swede got off to a slow start offensively.

This is the first of two meetings this season between the Blue Jackets and Predators, who, as you know, used to be old rivals in the Central Division.

NOTEWORTHY NEWS: The Blue Jackets could make some lineup changes for Thursday's game, but those changes could depend on the availability of their two absent defensemen, Markus Nutivaara and David Savard. The team had Wednesday off and will hold a full morning skate on Thursday. Cam Atkinson's 24th goal of the season, scored Tuesday night, pulled him into a tie for second place in the NHL's goal-scoring race with Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings.

PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:

Saad - Wennberg - Foligno

Jenner - Dubinsky - Atkinson

Calvert - Karlsson - Anderson

Hartnell - Sedlak - Gagner

Werenski - Jones

Murray - Johnson

Harrington - Prout

Bobrovsky

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