Game Preview: Sputtering Blue Jackets Hope for Weekend Split with Predators in Another Matinee Start

By Rob Mixer on February 28, 2021 at 7:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson scores a goal on Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros at Bridgestone Arena.

The Blue Jackets used to shudder before walking into Bridgestone Arena.

It was such much a house of horrors that former head coach Ken Hitchcock referred to the Nashville Predators as "Darth Vader." Shortly after his hiring, he proclaimed that he could help them finally end a years-long losing streak in Nashville that featured some of the most impossible-to-fathom ways to lose a game.

9–11–0 (18 points)

3 P.M. – SUNDAY, FEB. 28


Now, this isn't quite like those early days–but man, the Blue Jackets look lost in Nashville. They look lost in general, but in this building, it has been a struggle (0-3-0) in Music City.

When the Blue Jackets are the Blue Jackets we've known over the last four-plus seasons, they look nothing like they do right now.

They're aggressive. They're "on their toes," as head coach John Tortorella likes to say. In the midst of a listless stretch and a slide right down the standings, Columbus has been neither of those things.

Saturday's game started with Cam Atkinson scoring the opening goal off a good-break 2-on-0 with Boone Jenner. It ended with very few dangerous scoring chances, two brutal offensive-zone penalties from Jack Roslovic and Nick Foligno, and a 2-1 regulation loss. Usually, the combination of "being a team that thrives on creating its own energy" and "having no energy whatsoever" is a bad thing. We're seeing the result manifest itself now.

They're dangerously close to being out of this thing altogether. They're (as of Saturday night) five points back of fourth-place Carolina, but the Hurricanes have two games in hand. Dallas has cooled off, but the Stars can turn it on quick and they have four games in hand on the Blue Jackets. This two-game series could have been an opportunity for Columbus to jump back into the picture, but now, a split is the only thing they can hope for as their season slowly drifts away.

Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

29 Patrik Laine 71 Nick Foligno 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand
38 Boone Jenner 96 Jack Roslovic 13 Cam Atkinson
50 Eric Robinson 42 Alexandre Texier 52 Emil Bemstrom
16 Max Domi 11 Kevin Stenlund 20 Riley Nash

*lines are, as always, subject to change

8 Zach Werenski 3 Seth Jones
44 Vladislav Gavrikov 58 David Savard
53 Gabriel Carlsson 15 Michael Del Zotto
Goalie Backup
70 Joonas Korpisalo 35 Veini Vehvilainen


  • GET MOVING: Time's a wasting. It may be wasted. The Blue Jackets have to start banking some points or they'll be playing a month's worth (or more) of empty games in the near future. They can't afford to keep giving points away to one of the (checks notes) two teams beneath them in the Central Division standings in terms of percentage of points earned.
  • FOCUS, FOR A MINUTE: So many of the mistakes we're seeing the Blue Jackets make are careless. It's a complete shock to the system, given the connected and composed way they've played in their own zone over the last few seasons. After a cleaner and more fluid game Thursday, they went back to their old ways yesterday and had a hard time gaining control of the game.
  • HELP YOUR GOALIE: The Blue Jackets haven't received stellar goaltending by any means this season, but it's hard to point fingers between the pipes when you're so inconsistent offensively. After a stretch of games where Columbus seemingly scored at will, it has but one (1) goal in the last two games, both of which were regulation losses. 
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