After a four-day break due to inclement weather in Dallas postponed the series with the Stars, the Nashville Predators are back on tonight to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s been over a month since we have seen the Blue Jackets and a lot has changed for both teams in bleak terms. The Blue Jackets are kind of all over the place with a record of 7-6-4, but very much still in the hunt for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
This is a big two-game series with Columbus if the Predators are going to start digging themselves out of the hole, and improve their overall point percentage.
Check out what Head Coach John Hynes had to say about the unexpected gap between games, via the Nashville Predators official website:
"“For us, we’ve tried to use [the time between games] as an opportunity for a little bit of rest, little bit of some team bonding… but we’re ready for some hockey”"
As we look forward to tonight’s game, we will cover what has changed and what to expect, including a new superstar scorer that has joined the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets Changes
Since we last saw the Blue Jackets on February 16, a major change happened that brought back some faces that the Predators are all too familiar with.
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Laine in particular already has four goals in his first seven games with Columbus. This is worrisome because they know the Predators very well, they have history and their presence could be the deciding factor on tonight’s outcome.
In their last seven games, the Blue Jackets have a record of 3-3-1, basically splitting each series against teams such as the Hurricanes, Blackhawks and Stars.
What’s concerning here is these are teams who have been harder to play against in this new division.
While the Predators did take the first two games at the beginning of the year, the Blue Jackets have proven they know how to fight through their adversities they have encountered.
Predators Merry-Go-Round of Chemistry
The Predators have not played since Saturday, which might be a good thing since they played one of their worst games overall against a team they should beat on paper in the Detroit Red Wings.
Four days of rest brings yet another interesting choice of lineup for Hynes. Per Brooks Bratten, this morning’s skate lines look to be this:
First glaring lineup choice that should be noted is Viktor Arvidsson has been moved to the third line and Rocco Grimaldi has been moved to second line. This looks to be a statement move as Arvidsson has scored one goal and two points in his last 10 games.
Grimaldi saw success against the Blue Jackets earlier in the year posting a goal and two points and has been outplaying Arvidsson as of late.
Pekka Rinne looks to get the nod tonight. He probably played his worst game of the season on Saturday against Detroit.
Besides Saturday’s game, when he was pulled after the second period, Rinne has been the reason why the Predators are still in games. The weight of the Predator’s success rests on him again tonight as the team is one of the worst in the league in terms of goal scoring efficiency.
Kunin has been a nice addition to that top line creating chances in the offensive zone and getting into the dirty areas to fight for pucks. Moving Mikael Granlund to the top line could look to produce even more opportunities as Granlund tends to pass the puck more.
The issue that’s mostly discussed on social media is the revolving door of different lineups that Hynes keeps producing. Overall consensus seems to prove that constant changes create problems as teammates are unable to create chemistry together.
Tonight’s lineup could possibly continue that trend, however we always hope that something clicks for these guys to create a more stable lineup.
A different locker room feel for Columbus might prove they come out on top tonight. Another changed lineup by Hynes could also factor heavily.
We’re predicting overall an optimistic result from the Predators tonight, which has been hard to say in recent memory.
Last Saturday’s game will show a different effort by the team as they get a close win:
The game starts at 6:00 P.M. CDT and as usual will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Tennessee and also featured on ESPN’s streaming service ESPN+. Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-date action in the game!