After falling in dramatic fashion to the LA Kings on Tuesday, the Nashville Predators will go toe-to-toe with the Columbus Blue Jackets for just the second true road game of the season.
Nashville is 66-22-8 against the Blue Jackets all-time and went 1-0-1 against them last season.
Penalties were the main area of concern against the Kings for Nashville. They gave the Kings eight power play chances and can’t afford to carry over undisciplined play on the road.
The Opposition for the Nashville Predators in Columbus
Columbus has a few forwards who can capitalize on the man advantage and find ways to the net on creative plays.
Johnny Gaudreau was perhaps the biggest free agent signing of the offseason and has a fresh slate with the Blue Jackets. He led the NHL with 72 points in 5-on-5 play last season playing in every game, per Natural Stat Trick.
The left winger is one of the most dangerous players in the NHL and makes teams pay for their mistakes. According to Stat Muse Gaudreau has 26 points in 21 career games against Nashville. This season he has two goals and two assists playing with Boone Jenner and Gustav Nyquist.
Patrik Laine will be absent against the Predators after suffering an elbow injury to begin the 22-23 season against the Carolina Hurricanes.
However, the Blue Jackets do have a trusted veteran presence with Jakub Voracek. In his homecoming season after spending 10 seasons in Philadelphia the 33-year-old forward put up 62 points.
So far this season Voracek has been on the right wing playing with Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger. The line has four points in four games and will look to find the back of the net for the first time of the season against Nashville.
The Nashville Predators can’t forget the “Biloxi Bull” Mathieu Oliver, who was traded to the Blue Jackets from the Predators over the offseason for a 2022 4th-round pick. The renowned grinder was a big fighter for the Predators and carries his play over to a young Blue Jackets team.
On defense, the Predators will have to keep close tabs on Zach Werenski. He typically gets the most time on ice and is able to drive up the ice on the rush creating chances. According to Natural Stat Trick, Werenski averages a team-high shift time of 51 seconds.
Last season the highly touted defender put up 22 points in even-strength play while picking up 14 on the powerplay.
In between the pipes, the Blue Jackets have Elvis Merzlinkins and Daniil Tarasov. The duo has split time so far in the four games Columbus has played. They’ve each allowed eight and nine goals respectively.
Merzlinkins is the likely starter with a 3-3-2 record against the Predators and a 3.36 GAA.
Last season Elvis posted a winning record going 27-23-7 in his first season as the starter with the Blue Jackets. The 28-year-old goaltender developed for five seasons before sticking with Columbus’ main roster.