By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 31-20-8
Columbus Blue Jackets 29-23-6
The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets meet up for the fourth time this season. Nashville holds a 2-1 season series lead coming into Tuesday night’s game.
The Predators have 70 points which is one more point than they had last year after playing 59 games– Nashville finished the season with 100 points. But 70 points provides them with no cushion in the Western Conference standings. Just one loss pushes the team from fifth to potentially out of the top 8 teams.
The Predators have had a lot of success against Columbus with a 42-13-(1)-4 record against the club. With 64 points, the Blue Jackets are just 4 points shy of the 68 points that 5 teams in the West from 7th through 11th spot share.
The Predators and Blue Jackets have the same 3-1-1 record in their last 5 starts, but the Jackets have shown more consistency as of late with a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. Nashville’s record sits at 4-4-2.
It is away from Nationwide Arena where the Blue Jackets have thrived. Columbus is 15-10-4 away from home, and has won their last six games on the road. This bods well for the Blue Jackets on Sunday when Columbus visits Nashville. At home, the Blue Jackets have struggled and are barely a .500 team with a 14-13-2 record.
Last time out
Nashville is coming off a 3-2 loss against Phoenix on Saturday night. At the end of the second period, Shane Doan hit Ryan Suter in the head. While no penalty was called on the hit, Suter was assessed a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct for yelling at Chris Lee, the referee.
Suter left the game with an upper body injury and will not be playing on Tuesday night.
Pekka Rinne faced his first ever penalty shot. Shane Doan was awarded the opportunity, tried to go five hold, but could not beat the Finnish netminder. Doan’s attempt was the first penalty shot against the Predators
since February 10, 2008 when Keith Yandle was stopped by Dan Ellis at Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix.
Columbus hasn’t played since Friday night when they edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.
The new year brought with it injuries for the Blue Jackets. At the end of January, Rostislav Klesla injured his knee and is out indefinitely. Derek Dorsett is on injured reserve with a concussion. Last week, Derick Brassard hurt his left hand and is expected to miss some time. Two additional players are listed, according to TSN, as question marks for the Blue Jackets lineup Tuesday night. Marc Methot has an undisclosed injury and is listed as questionable. Kristian Huselius is doubtful for Tuesday with a lower body injury.
The injury list for Nashville now adds Suter to the list of casualties along with fellow defenseman Francis Bouillon who is out with a concussion. Matthew Lombardi also remains out of the lineup with a concussion. The Tennesseanreported Monday afternoon that Lombardi is still not symptom free. Cal O’Reilly is out with a broken leg, and Goc is out with an upper body injury.
How the Predators respond without Ryan Suter will be very telling. This season the team has a 27-13-6 record when Suter is in the lineup, but that drops to 4-7-2 when he is not playing, or leaves injured.
The week ahead
Nashville plays four games in six nights, including a back-to-back series on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The four games are crucial to the Predators making the playoffs. Nashville traditionally plays a strong game against the Blue Jackets and cannot play any different now. Chicago is trying to push their way into playoff contention and Dallas has hit a slump–a slump that Nashville needs to take advantage of just to remain on par with the other teams that continue to rise in the Western Conference.
Watch the game on FoxSports Tennessee. Game time is 6 pm.
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