6-9-0 (12 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7:00 P.M. – THURSDAY, FEB. 18
FOX SPORTS OHIO
FOX SPORTS GO
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
|Michael Del Zotto
- 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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