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Blue Jackets vow workmanlike effort vs. Predators

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Which Columbus Blue Jackets team will show up at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday to face the Nashville Predators?

Anyone who has that answer needs to buy a lottery ticket, because the Blue Jackets were all over the map literally and figuratively on a just-concluded five-game trip across Canada.

It opened with a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators followed by a humbling 7-0 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers. Columbus rebounded to defeat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime before falling 6-2 against the Vancouver Canucks.

The final game on the road ended on a good note with a 6-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

"We seem to not be losing two in a row lately, but the big thing is we've got to find a way to get [ticked] off in the sense we want to win every night," Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert said. "That's something I think you'll see tonight. We're going to put the work boots on like we did in Toronto."

Columbus coach Todd Richards said consistency will come with better defensive play.

"If you do a better job in your own zone closing quickly and checking better there, you're not spending as much time in your own zone," he said. "It leads to more offense."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz can relate to the Blue Jackets’ roller-coaster ride. The Predators (12-10-2) ended a 17-day, seven-game road swing losing four straight by a combined score of 17-2. Then they came home and won 7-2 as part of the current stretch of four wins in five games.

"It's urgency," Trotz said. "Sometimes you fall into ruts on the road. If things don't go your way it gets to be a drag. It changes on a dime. You've got to fight through those."

The Blue Jackets (9-12-3) are facing a former bitter rival from the Central Division of the Western Conference. The Predators holding a 50-23-1 advantage. Because Columbus moved to the Eastern Conference the teams will play one more time this season, March 8 in Nashville.

Trotz said there is a change to the series now.

"It's just a little [different] but it doesn't mean it's less important," Trotz said. "Two points is two points. … We're both in similar situations. We're trying to get in that top eight in our conference."

The projected lineups for the Predators against the Blue Jackets:


Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Eric Nystrom

Craig Smith - Matt Cullen - Nick Spaling

Viktor Stalberg - David Legwand - Gabriel Bourque

Rich Clune - Paul Gaustad - Matt Hendricks

Shea Weber - Roman Josi

Seth Jones - Kevin Klein

Ryan Ellis - Victor Bartley

Marek Mazanec

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Mattias Ekholm

Injured: Filip Forsberg (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Pekka Rinne (hip)


Matt Calvert - Artem Anisimov - Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Boone Jenner

RJ Umberger - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Sean Collins - Michael Chaput - Jack Skille

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Dalton Prout - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Tim Erixon

Injured: Jared Boll (foot), Brandon Dubinsky (foot), Marian Gaborik (knee), Nathan Horton (left shoulder surgery), Derek MacKenzie (back), Nikita Nikitin (foot)

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