In the words of South Park’s Randy Marsh, “I didn’t hear no bell.” As we get into the season, we know back-to-back matchups are going to feel like grudge matches – especially when both teams are being measured relatively equally going into the season like the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
After the first game of the year that saw both teams needing to shake the rust off, and with new guys making an early impact, the Nashville Predators prevailed in a 3-1 victory.
This early in a shortened season, getting momentum could be huge when it comes to separating from the competition. Let’s check out some keys to Game 2 for the Predators.
Nashville Predators Get Hot, Need to Stay Hot
The Nashville Predators opened their season with a win, in large part due to a solid overall team effort.
Though an unforced error was committed by Dante Fabbro, leading to the lone Blue Jackets goal, the team played very smart hockey throughout the night. They’ll need to maintain this kind of composure in a division full of teams that can exploit weakness.
The Predators and Blue Jackets top lines/pairings are very equally matched in terms of talent and skill, but the JOFA line worked to set the pace for the rest of the team.
Creating offensive opportunities against the likes of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski is a tall task, but the JOFA line has more than enough talent to do so, especially when they are bolstered by Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis behind them.
One player to look to light the scoreboard in this game is Viktor Arvidsson; he came VERY close in Game 1, and is the type of talent you won’t be able to contain for long.
From the Bottom, Up
The bottom two forward lines for the Predators, and the third defensive pairing, looked better than their counterparts on the Blue Jackets.
The “utility line” (as I’m calling them) of Rocco Grimaldi and Nick Cousins, centered by Colton Sissons, is a fun watch as they play very smart and tenacious hockey.
Grimaldi’s gritty as ever, and Cousins seems to always be at the right place at the right time – if Sissons creates opportunities for them, they’ll find success on Saturday night in the rematch.
The third pairing for the Nashville Predators, Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning, was a sight for sore eyes in the season-opener. What’s often been the Achilles heal of the Nashville Predators looked very strong Thursday night as both players had solid games and made some very smart defensive moves to keep the Blue Jackets at bay.
Watching Borowiekci away from the puck is a treat, especially if you’re a fan of old school goonery (but in a good way). He’s an agitator, he’s not gonna take any business from the opposing team, and it’s nice he’s on our side.
The Goalie Question and Staff Predictions
One big question is who will get the start in net for the Predators for the rematch. Juuse Saros had a solid first game, but it was also bolstered by a defense that bailed him out a few times.
Coming off the worst season of his career, Pekka Rinne is back with something to prove (AND HE’S A DAD NOW). Look for Rinne to get the start – the Nashville Predators can’t hide him forever, and will need him at some point in the season to play in some meaningful games.
Here are Game 2’s Staff Predictions:
Chad (@Chad_minton): Nashville Predators 2 – 3 Blue Jackets
Rich (@Rich_Howe_9): Nashville Predators 3 – 2 Blue Jackets
CJ (@Squeege800): Nashville Predators 4 – 2 Blue Jackets
Eli (@EliFarmer): Nashville Predators 4 – 3 Blue Jackets
Colin (@colinblouin): Nashville Predators 3 – 1 Blue Jackets
Predlines Composite: Nashville 3 – 2 Blue Jakcets
And can we talk about the early season Team MVP: Filip Forsberg’s mustache? Go Preds!