Nashville Predators: How To Beat The Blue Jackets

Feb 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard (58) chases during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard (58) chases during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are in the 4th playoff spot in the Central Division but hold a slim lead over the Dallas Stars. While Nashville did win against the Stars on Saturday, they failed to win in regulation and gave Dallas a point, extending their lead to three points instead of four.

While any lead in the playoff hunt is good, the Predators are in a situation where they have to win as much as possible, if not all, of their final four games of the season.

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The Stars hold a game in hand and will try to use that to their advantage to overtake Nashville in the standings. The Predators’ saving grace may be the Stars’ tough schedule to close out their regular season.

The Predators will face two opponents in their final four games. Nashville has beaten one of those opponents five out of six times. However, they have failed to beat the other opponent at all this season.

The Predators’ will face the mighty Carolina Hurricanes in their final two games of the season. Nashville has yet to beat Carolina and must figure out a way to do so. If the Predators make the playoffs, the Hurricanes will likely be their first-round opponent.

Before dealing with the Carolina juggernaut to close out the season, the Predators face a two-game set against the Columbus Blue Jackets beginning on Monday.

While Nashville has had success against the Blue Jackets, they can’t afford to make any mistakes and lose the crucial four points that go to the victor of these games.

Nashville Predators Must Make Smart Lineup Decisions

Head Coach John Hynes will have some tough decisions regarding his lineup with so many players back from injury. There is a log jam of talent, and someone will wind up sitting that doesn’t deserve to do so.

Hynes was saved from making a tough lineup decision on Saturday when Filip Forsberg returned from injury. Nick Cousins was out of the lineup due to an illness. Viktor Arvidsson was out as well, which meant that Tanner Jeannot and Erik Haula were both in.

Dante Fabbro is also close to returning, which will shake up the defensive lineups and help shore up some of the deficiencies plaguing Nashville.

Once Arvidsson, Cousins, and Fabbro are ready to return, Hynes’ decisions will take on even more weight as the lineups need to be solid to finish out the season.

6 PM CDT. Bally Sports South. Monday, May 3. 16-25-11. 113. . 28-22-2. 151

Physicality And Intensity Is A Must

On Saturday night, once the Stars found out that they weren’t going to score on Juuse Saros, they began upping their physicality on the Predators. The Predators hit back.

The prevailing theme of this season has been the return of intensity and grit. While it took a while for them to get there, the Predators have become a team that is harder to play against.

This game, and the next on Wednesday, can be no different in terms of intensity. Columbus will be looking to play spoiler to Nashville’s playoff hopes. The Predators need to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Even with the Blue Jacket’s descent to the bottom of the Central Division, they are still a tough team to play against. The Predators need to come out fast, finish their hits, and not let the Blue Jackets get any momentum.

Protect The Net At All Costs

It is never good when your goaltender faces a career-high 55 shots, which is what Saros faced against Florida in the losing effort. Facing only 28 shots against the Stars must have seemed like a night off for him.

Like what happened against Florida, defensive lapses are a glaring weakness that continues to rear its ugly head for this Predators team. There have been too many instances of bad passing and failure to move the puck out of the defensive zone.

Fortunately for the Predators, Saros has had a fantastic run since his return from injury. The bad news is, having to lean on your goaltender so much is not a sustainable game plan. Nashville must have crisp passing, and clean zone exits to give Saros some relief.

When analyzing Nashville’s playoff push, a lot of credit for their run can be attributed to goaltending. With a handful of games left and the critical need for points, the Predators must play well in front of the net and help Saros bring them to the finish line.

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The Predators can’t afford to come up empty-handed against Columbus in these next two games. The four points are a must if they are to keep their playoff hopes alive. Even with wins, it will take some luck and help from other teams to secure the final playoff spot.

The puck drops at 6:00 PM CDT and will be televised on Bally Sports South.  Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.