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PRE GAME: vs. Nashville

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



The Blue Jackets are expected to go with the same lineup that earned them a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. There is, however, going to be one change and that is between the pipes: Steve Mason makes his first start in five games tonight vs. the Nashville Predators and he’s got solid career numbers against them. In 14 games, Mason is 5-5-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz confirmed defenseman Ryan Suter will not play for the Predators tonight. Pekka Rinne is the anticipated starter in goal.

Here is the projected Predators' lineup for tonight’s game at Nationwide Arena:

Wilson Legwand Hornqvist
Kostitsyn Fisher Erat
Bourque Spaling Tootoo
Halischuk Smith McGrattan
Bouillon Weber
Josi Klein
Ellis Hillen
  1. The full 60 minutes: You won't need to remind the Blue Jackets about this key to tonight's game, as the Predators have erased two multiple-goal deficits in the last two meetings. Columbus needs to play a steady game from start-to-finish, much like Friday vs. Phoenix, to come away with two points tonight.
  2. Traffic in front of Rinne: If the Predators superstar goalie has one flaw, it may be that he occasionally has difficulty tracking shots through bodies. The Blue Jackets’ ability to get quality shots on goal with traffic is going to be key to their success in this game.
  3. Win the specialty teams battle: with a guy like Shea Weber patrolling the blue line, it's imperative for the Blue Jackets to stay disciplined and not give Nashville any added momentum via power plays. Playing the game at even strength has benefited the Blue Jackets of late and that is especially true when playing the Predators.

Richards on the close games with the Predators this season:
"They play a certain way, and we expect a tough game tonight. You take it personally when you have leads like that, and there's a collapse. People outside the locker room are pointing fingers at the coaches and pointing fingers at the players. I hope they take it as an insult that this happened and shouldn't have happened."

Trotz, on playing the Blue Jackets: "I don't worry about Columbus' emotions, I worry about where we are. They play well against us, we have a good rivalry between the two teams. We don't like each other… I get along with Todd Richards, but the teams really don't like each other."

Here are some tips for fans attending the game at Nationwide Arena tonight:

• Doors will open tonight at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

•The Blue Jackets take the ice around 6:30 p.m. for pre-game warm-ups. Interested in their pre-game play list? Check out the scoreboard or follow @CBJ_DJ on twitter.

•It’s an OhioHealth Awareness night tonight. Look for their in-game messaging about winter wellness, get a free commemorative photo at the “We Stick Together” backdrop, and a fingerless glove giveaway to 500 lucky fans. And don’t forget to check your cup stuffer for info about skating at OhioHealth Chillers.

• Win a trip to see Ryan Johansen at the 2012 NHL All-Star game. Stop by the R Bar in the Arena District after the game for your chance to enter a raffle to win an all-inclusive trip. Proceeds benefit the Blue Jackets Foundation.

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