The Nashville Predators return to Bridgestone Arena tonight to host the penultimate game of their preseason schedule, a date with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
With the start of Nashville's regular season one week away, the Preds are approaching the number they'll need to arrive at before opening night. As a result, this evening's lineup will be about as close as Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette and his staff can get to a dress rehearsal, putting a number of NHL regulars up against Columbus.
Something to keep an eye on tonight are line combinations and defensive pairings - Laviolette has said over the past couple of days that he knows some combinations already possess solid chemistry, so there is no need to see them together until the games start counting. Rather, he'll experiment with some players in different spots throughout the lineup as he determines what works and what doesn't.
"I think a lot of it depends on these last two games and what we have," Laviolette said of his lineup. "There's things I already know. I already know that [Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson] is a good line. I already know that [Mattias] Ekholm and P.K. [Subban] are just a terrific pair. I don't necessarily need to see those things in training camp, but it might give me the opportunity to take a look at something else."
Two players who figure to get at least one more look tonight are forward Vladislav Kamenev and defenseman Samuel Girard. With a predominantly NHL lineup for the Preds, it'll be a great test to see if they're ready to fit in with a veteran group.
Click here for tonight's Nashville roster against Columbus.
Video: Kamenev and Girard hope to impress in preseason game
Last Time Out:
The Preds are familiar with the Jackets, having just seen them on Sunday afternoon in Columbus. Nashville prevailed by a 5-3 final, led by two goals from Kevin Fiala. Filip Forsberg, Miikka Salomaki and Pontus Aberg also tallied for the visitors while Anders Lindback and Juuse Saros split time in goal.
Tonight, marks the seventh of eight preseason games for the Blue Jackets; they've gone 2-3-1 thus far, including a 5-2 win over St. Louis on Tuesday. The Jackets trimmed their roster down to 29 players on Wednesday morning and will also likely have a number of NHL regulars in their lineup this evening.
Take It In:
Bridgestone Arena doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. CT start - fans can purchase tickets by clicking here. Tonight's game is on the airwaves on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network with Willy Daunic and Hal Gill on the call. Fans may also view a live stream on NashvillePredators.com and may follow along on Twitter @PredsNHL.