Game Preview: Blue Jackets Host Nashville With Revenge In Mind Against Predators

By Ed Francis on February 18, 2021 at 7:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones controls the puck from his knees as he enters the offensive zone against the Nashville Predators during their first meeting of the season.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Hurricanes
6-9-0 (12 points)

7:00 P.M. – THURSDAY, FEB. 18


If the first two games of the season were any indication, the Nashville Predators were going to be a force to be reckoned with. 

They scored eight goals in the two game set against the Columbus Blue Jackets just over a month ago, allowing only three and starting out with a pair of wins to start the season.

As it turns out, it was not a sign of things to come for the Preds.

Winning just four of 13 games since the mini-sweep of the Blue Jackets in January, the Predators are in Columbus for the first time this season, with game one of two slated for a 7:00 p.m. start Thursday. For the Blue Jackets, this game begins a crucial two week stretch that could determine if Columbus has a legitimate chance of a 5th straight postseason appearance, or if the regular season will be the end of the line for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

29 Patrik Laine 96 Jack Roslovic 13  Cam Atkinson
16 Max Domi 11 Kevin Stenlund 28  Oliver Bjorkstrand
71 Nick Foligno 20 Riley Nash 50 Eric Robinson
38  Boone Jenner 42 Alexandre Texier 52 Emil Bemstrom
44 Vladislav Gavrikov 3 Seth Jones
4 Scott Harrington 58 David Savard
15 Michael Del Zotto 2 Andrew Peeke
Goalie Backup
90 Elvis Merzlikins 70 Joonas Korpisalo


  • ELVIS LIVES: Back from injury, Elvis Merzlikins is set to make his first start of the month this season. The Blue Jackets started the season by rotating Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo, and before being placed on the injured reserve list after an injury during practice February 3rd, was seeming to find his rhythm. Merzlikins allowed five goals against the Preds in his first start of the season, and even though several of those could be blamed on a poor blue line performance, it's got to be a motivating factor. 
  • BUT DOES THE DEFENSE?: The Blue Jackets have given up three or more goals in seven of their last eight games - a total of 32 goals, and an average of exactly four goals per game over that span. Head coach John Tortorella is giving the defense a new look this evening, pairing Seth Jones with Vladislav Gavrikov on the top line and Scott Harrington and David Savard together on the second. Any port in a storm, it seems.
  • STAY HOT, OFFENSE: Allowing 32 goals in eight games is worrisome, but after a dismal start to the season on offense, the Blue Jackets have found their scoring touch and have 27 goals of their own during that same stretch. Cam Atkinson is particularly hot, and was named the NHL's 1st Star of the Week last week. He celebrated that accomplishment with a goal just 26 seconds into Monday's game against Carolina. 

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