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GAME DAY: Nashville

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

BLUE JACKETS (15-14-7) AT PREDATORS (15-14-8)




So, has anything happened in the last 24 hours?

The stage has definitely been set for tonight's game at Bridgestone Arena, one that was already ripe with intrigue as two division rivals in a battle for playoff positioning (and both playing solid hockey) were set to clash. But a little something

known as the NHL trade deadline happened yesterday, and both the Blue Jackets and Predators have a new look heading into a pivotal match-up.

Columbus stole the show on Wednesday, waiting until the final 30 minutes pre-deadline to complete a seven-piece deal with the New York Rangers -- the second mega deal consummated between those two clubs in the last nine months. The Blue Jackets acquired three-time All-Star winger Marian Gaborik in exchange for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a draft pick (with two minor-league defensemen in Blake Parlett and Steven Delisle coming to Columbus for AHL depth). Couple that trade with the Predators dealing long-time forward Martin Erat to the Washington Capitals and there's no shortage of things to watch for and talk about before this game actually gets under way.

When the puck does drop in the Music City, it'll no doubt be an intense, scrappy game as we've come to expect from the Jackets and Predators. Columbus has a lot to play for - especially considering how its last trip to Nashville went - and currently sits one point behind the Predators in the standings with one game in hand.

The Predators are 4-1-2 in their last seven games and are in a must-win situation for pretty much every game down the stretch. They've played 37 games - three more than the St. Louis Blues, who are also in the mix for a playoff spot - and even a minor losing streak could spell doom for Barry Trotz's troops. On the other hand, the Blue Jackets are in a similar situation but will welcome Brandon Dubinsky and Nick Foligno back to the lineup after being activated off injured reserve on Wednesday.

Sergei Bobrovsky is the likely starter between the pipes for the Blue Jackets, and he will have a new battery mate joining him in Nashville. Michael Leighton, acquired from Philadelphia in the Steve Mason deal, is expected to meet the club and dress as the backup goaltender.

- Join us at the Buffalo Wild Wings location on Cherry Bottom Rd. in Gahanna for another #CBJBWW social media watch party TONIGHT! With an 8 p.m. puck drop, you'll want to get a seat early -- full details here.

- The Blue Jackets and Predators have one meeting left in the season series after tonight's game, and through the first three meetings, the Jackets hold a 2-1-0 edge over Nashville.

- Bobrovsky was named the NHL's third star of the month earlier this week and deservedly so: the 24-year-old netminder went 9-2-3 in the month with a 1.45 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. His three shutouts in March were the first of his NHL career.

- Blake Comeau, acquired from the Calgary Flames on Wednesday afternoon, is not expected to join the team in time for tomorrow's game and must be cleared by immigration since he's coming to Columbus from a Canadian team.

Bobby Butler


2012-13 STATS: 1-5-6, 24 GP

This has been a bit of a tumultuous season for Butler, who signed with the New Jersey Devils in the offseason after spending the beginning of his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. The 25-year-old Massachusetts native is known as a solid skater with offensive potential, and he's registered points in four of his last five appearances. Claimed off waivers by the Predators on March 4, Butler figures to get a bigger opportunity with Erat headed to Washington.

COLUMBUS: Jared Boll (upper body), day-to-day; Tim Erixon (upper body), day-to-day

NASHVILLE: Colin Wilson (out)

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