Predators Return Home to Face Injury-Plagued Blue Jackets

David Savard #58 of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches as Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators jumps over a shot during the third period at Bridgestone Arena on April 7, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
David Savard #58 of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches as Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators jumps over a shot during the third period at Bridgestone Arena on April 7, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Whenever the Nashville Predators take a few steps forward, they always seem to follow that up by taking three steps back.

After all of Saturday’s night’s games are complete, the Nashville Predators could actually find themselves in a playoff spot for the first time since November.

They obviously have to beat the Blue Jackets, another wildcard team out in the Eastern Conference, and hope that Arizona loses to Tampa Bay. That would tie the Predators with the Coyotes and idle Flames at 68 points.

Interestingly enough, the Predators still have games against both of these teams in the remaining schedule, with Calgary coming to Nashville this Thursday.

Need a spark from the top

The JoFA line has been reunited, at least for now. Whether it’s just some bad luck that will eventually turn itself around, or something else, this trio looks like a shell of its former self.

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Viktor Arvidsson most notably hasn’t looked the same since coming back from his injury earlier in the season. He doesn’t have that same burst to get into open areas of the ice, and his lack of production shows that.

Then there’s Filip Forsberg, who hasn’t scored a goal in over three weeks. He’s impacting the game in other ways, but it’s surely a peculiar situation to see Forsberg struggling to even reach 20-plus goals.

Ryan Johansen just hasn’t been making the impact he should be making as a top-six center. His assist numbers are way down at just 21 assists, which isn’t even half of what he produced last season.

John Hynes has to figure out a way to get these guys clicking, but it’s also on the players to live up to their all-star status. I’m clinging onto hope that it’s just a matter of time until they have a breakout game or two.

Sizing up the Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets are dealing with a rash of injuries, bu yet they’re still in a wildcard spot, and just two points behind Philadelphia for third in the Metropolitan Division.

Big names like Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and others are missing from the Columbus lineup.

Every team is dealing with banged up players, but Columbus has particularly been pretty unlucky in this department.

The Predators have to take advantage of that. They’re fairly healthy for this time of year and have all of their top players available, aside from possibly Nick Bonino.

Bonino missed last night’s game due to illness, which is sparking rumblings of whether he’s about to be traded or not.

The Blue Jackets have lost seven-straight games, with four of them coming after regulation. So they’re getting enough points to stay alive, but they’ve got a few teams breathing down their neck in the wildcard race.

This is a game where the Predators should be able to keep the score pretty low for the opponent. The Blue Jackets are near the bottom of the NHL in goals per game, while also having a below-average power play.

You just can’t let this game get away from you, especially after the disappointing result last night in Chicago. The Predators have to win games like this that are there for the taking.

Win the games you’re supposed to

The Predators can get upset wins over high quality teams like St.Louis all they want, but it doesn’t mean much if they turn around and lose to teams like Chicago and Columbus that are facing their own set of issues.

If you have any hope left that the Predators are going to snap into a surge and go into the playoffs hot, then a win tonight is badly needed. It’s the last game before the trade deadline.

A loss tonight at home to an injury depleted Columbus team will all but crush my hopes completely of this team doing anything special for this season.

The Predators dropped both games to the Blue Jackets last season, including a 5-2 home loss to wrap up the month of March.

The all-time series is dominated by the Predators as they have 58 wins over the former division opponent.

A win possibly puts them into a current playoff spot, and will make for a very interesting trade deadline day on Monday for GM David Poile. Maybe his mind is already made up to stay put with what he has, but tonight’s result will have some credence for sure.

Tonight is Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Bridgestone Arena, so the atmosphere will be incredible as this is one of my favorite events of the year. Puck drop is at 7 P.M. CDT, and there are many ways you can help the cause by going to Predators official team site.