For the first time in a while, the Blue Jackets will head to Nashville today with fond memories of their last trip to Bridgestone Arena.
They worked hard on their special teams during an hour-plus long practice session this morning at the Ohio Health Ice Haus, trying to improve a power play and penalty kill unit that has struggled for much of the season.
Before we go into more detail about today’s happenings around the rink, let’s take a look at how the Blue Jackets lined up…
Nash – Brassard – Umberger
Prospal – Carter – Letestu
Vermette – Pahlsson – Dorsett
MacKenzie – Johansen – Boll
Tyutin – Nikitin
Methot – Wisniewski
Moore – Clitsome
Those are the line combinations used in Sunday’s game against the Blues and in practice yesterday, so it’s safe to assume coach Scott Arniel will use those combinations (or something close) tomorrow vs. the Predators.
A HUNGRY OPPONENT
Nashville dropped a 4-1 decision to the Washington Capitals last night at Verizon Center, and Predators coach Barry Trotz was not pleased with his team’s start. This quote comes from Joshua Cooper of the Tennessean:
“In the first period, we lost a couple of one-on-one battles and they scored. They came out with a lot of purpose and a lot of jump and had us on our heels.”
Arniel said he knows the Blue Jackets will be facing a hungry opponent in Nashville, and one that has played very well of late. Prior to the loss in Washington, the Predators had won their last five games.
“The big area with them is they’re going to play all their lines,” Arniel said. “They’re a team that’s pretty resilient when it comes to their pressure – it happens in the offensive zone, it happens in the d-zone and the neutral zone. They’re always hounding you, so your execution has to be good and your ‘battle’ has to be very good.
“They finish all their checks and they grind you out in that building. Especially when they get behind that crowd of theirs; they’re hard to play against. It’s not going to be an easy game. We have to be prepared to work for it.”
BACK ON THE ICE
As mentioned in the lineup above, goaltender Curtis Sanford returned to practice today after sitting out Sunday’s game and yesterday’s practice. Arniel deemed him ready to go if he’s called upon, and said there were no issues today but was also going to meet with team medical personnel.
Arniel, on Sanford: “Good to go. I’ll talk to the docs here and make sure everything’s good, and make a decision later tonight or tomorrow morning (on who starts in Nashville).”
Defenseman James Wisniewski also practiced today and is expected to play tomorrow night.
And on Wisniewski: “He looked fine out there, he was moving alright. More than anything, yesterday was just giving him a chance to get close to 100 percent.”