BLUE JACKETS vs. PREDATORS
PREDATORS 4 | BLUE JACKETS 0
WATCH: Second period highlights from Nationwide Arena.
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets have dug themselves a hole that will require a mammoth third period to begin to crawl out of. Nashville has controlled all aspects of this game and the Blue Jackets are realy struggling in the energy department. Whether it's fatigue from a busy stretch and the recent road trip or something else, the bottom line is that they haven't done enough in this game to be a big factor in it. The Predators were out-shooting the Jackets by a 22-7 margin when David Legwand scored his fifth goal of the season, making it a 3-0 lead for the visitors. How can the Jackets begin to chip away at this lead? They need more pucks at the net, and on top of that, they'll need some help from Nashville (i.e. penalties). The Blue Jackets' late second-period power play was their best offensive stretch of the game to this point.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: I just posted this on Twitter, but...if that's the worst period the Blue Jackets play tonight, they're not in a bad position only trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes. The Predators were the better team in that period, and played with a lot more jump than the home team. But, it's a 60-minute game and the Blue Jackets have plenty of time to get themselves righted. One thing to watch for: their forecheck. It wasn't too noticeable in the first period and as a result, they couldn't create many chances off turnovers. Also, better decisions with the puck - the Blue Jackets can't turn the puck over as much as they did in the opening period and expect to have any success against an opportunistic team like the Predators, who out-shot them 14-4.
UPDATE (2:00 PM): Looking for something to listen to in order to get yourself pumped up for tonight? The Blue Jackets DJ created a new warm-up playlist that will debut tonight:
WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards addresses the media after today's morning skate.
WATCH: James Wisniewski chats with Bob McElligott about continuing the positive momentum tonight.
WATCH: Mark Letestu discusses tonight's game against Nashville on Jackets TV.
UPDATE (11:25 AM): James Wisniewski spoke with Bob McElligott about tonight's game against the Predators. Listen to his interview --> WISNIEWSKI
UPDATE (11:00 AM): Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards just met with the media after the team's morning skate. Here's a brief summary...
- Richards said being ready to go "on time" was a topic of discussion among the players and coaches this morning. They don't want to suffer a letdown after Monday's win in Toronto to close out the road trip, and Richards said there are "several precautions" to worry about with regard to this game.
- No updates on the Jackets' injured. They hope to know more details on Thursday after practice but Richards said that's not a certainty. For tonight, Dalton Prout will switch back to defense (as he did at the end of Monday's game) and pair up with David Savard.
- What area of the Jackets' game would Richards like to see more consistency, and in turn, help them curb their roller coaster ways? "Defensive zone coverage," according to the coach. In their low points of this trip, the Blue Jackets' defending really let them down.
UPDATE (10:45 AM): Ryan Johansen said the Blue Jackets have to be ready tonight and it's something the coaching staff keyed on this morning. The first game back at home after a long road trip is long said to be difficult, and Johansen said the Blue Jackets have to guard against being too comfortable after a travel day and a day off on Tuesday. Against a team like Nashville that works hard and usually starts the game on time, the Blue Jackets will be forced to be on their game right from the opening face-off.
UPDATE (10:10 AM): Here are tonight's lines and pairs for the Blue Jackets...
Jenner - Johansen - Foligno
Calvert - Anisimov - Atkinson
Umberger - Letestu - Comeau
Collins - Chaput - Skille
Tyutin - Johnson
Murray - Wisniewski
Savard - Prout
Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.
UPDATE (10:05 AM): Nathan Horton is practicing with the group again today, much like he did during the team's road trip through Canada. Fifth straight practice for him, but still, he's a ways off from a return to action.
UPDATE (10:00 AM): The Blue Jackets are on the ice for their pre-game skate at Nationwide Arena. No sign of Brandon Dubinsky, Nikita Nikitin, Jared Boll or Derek MacKenzie this morning.
The Blue Jackets are scheduled to take their morning skate at 10 a.m. Wednesday in advance of their first meeting of the season with the Nashville Predators. The former Central Division rivals will face each other twice this season, beginning Wednesday in Columbus and concluding the season series on Mar. 8 at Bridgestone Arena - a far cry from their eight meetings each season from a few years back.
We'll have lineup updates, starting goaltenders, pre-game video interviews and audio from the morning skate to get you ready for the game. Stay tuned to Game Day Central and BlueJackets.com for the latest from Nationwide Arena!
The Blue Jackets are hopeful that at least one of their injured forwards is able to return for Wednesday's game against the Predators. Brandon Dubinsky, who hasn't played since being injured in a 7-0 loss to Edmonton last week, returned home from the team's Canadian road trip to get treatment on his bruised foot.
While his status for Wednesday's game remains unclear, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards sounded optimistic that Dubinsky would be available sometime in the not-too-distant future. On the other hand, it doesn't look like Derek MacKenzie or Jared Boll will suit up against the Predators.
On defense, the Blue Jackets also have to make some decisions. James Wisniewski returned to the lineup on Monday in Toronto as did Dalton Prout (back spasms), and Nikita Nikitin left Monday's game with an injury after blocking a shot. The Blue Jackets still have Tim Erixon with the club to serve as the seventh defenseman.
Look for Sergei Bobrovsky to man the net after his 18-save shutout of the Maple Leafs.
Who could forget the last time the Blue Jackets hosted the Nashville Predators
One of the more memorable games in franchise history took place at Nationwide Arena
on Apr. 27, 2013, a game that Columbus had to win in order to keep its Stanley Cup playoff hopes alive. The Predators, with virtually nothing to play for, were the rude party guests and had every intention of crashing a rocking atmosphere inside a sold-out Nationwide Arena.
The Predators came out strong in the opening period and nearly took the lead heading into intermission - but Sergei Bobrovsky
was rock solid between the pipes and his first-period work included a seven-save sequence that made several highlight reels. Shea Weber would break the ice in the second period, sending a nervous chill throughout the building as the Blue Jackets pressed hard, but were unable to beat Chris Mason until late in the game.
Dubinsky, Jack Johnson
and Cam Atkinson
scored in the final 10 minutes to propel the Blue Jackets to their 19th win in 29 games to close out the regular season, but in the end, they fell a tiebreaker short of the postseason. And while the "rivalry" with Nashville isn't what it once was because of NHL realignment, these two teams won't need much time to get re-acquainted once the puck drops on Wednesday.
Even without Pekka Rinne, the Predators are playing solid hockey of late and have played well away from the Music City. Using a handful of goaltenders, Barry Trotz has found a recipe that's allowing Nashville to tread water until (hopefully) Rinne is medically cleared to return to action from an infection in his hip.
They added several players in the offseason to boost an offense that held them back at times last season, but the Predators are still waiting for Viktor Stalberg (signed from Chicago) to get going. Matt Cullen has been a nice fit, as has the physical presence of Eric Nystrom. Their young players, in particular Colin Wilson, have taken a step forward and provided a solid secondary layer for the offense which has relived a bit of pressure on their power play.
VS. EDMONTON OILERS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.