The NHL is back and off to a running start with a Thursday night filled with hockey action. Ten games will be up on the board throughout January 14. One of these games will be between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators. These two teams are coming off solid seasons and will look to start this season out strong. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time.
The Blue Jackets finished out last season with a record of 33-22-15, which had them in fourth place of the Metropolitan Division. Columbus was able to knock off the Toronto Maple Leafs in the qualifiers. The Blue Jackets lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round though. Columbus will look to start this season strong with a win over the Predators.
Nashville put up a record of 35-26-8 throughout last season, which put them in fifth place of the Central Division. The Predators met up with the Arizona Coyotes in the qualifiers and were eliminated in four games. Nashville will look to bounce back early in this season to try and get back into playoff contention. The Predators will look to come out in this one strong to set the pace.
These two teams were in the postseason, but did not make deep pushes. The Predators were upset by Arizona in the first round, while Columbus was able to make it through, but lost in the first round. These two teams will look to step up early in this season as they look to make noise in the Central division. I expect these two teams to come out quickly in this one.
The Blue Jackets and the Predators only met up once last season. Nashville hosted the game on February 22. Boone Jenner, Eric Robinson and Emil Bemstrom all scored in the second for Columbus. Filip Forsberg had two assists, while Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund and Colton Sissons all scored. Rocco Grimaldi scored in the eighth round of the shootout to give Nashville a 4-3 win.
Nashville was able to win the only game of the season series last season and will look to repeat that success in this one. The Predators will look to keep up their depth scoring this season, while the Blue Jackets will look to get back to their defensive ways. I expect Columbus to try and shut down Nashville’s offense early to give themselves a big edge on Thursday night.
Columbus had an interesting offseason, which had a lot of people scratching their heads. The Blue Jackets traded away Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara to free up cap space, which they used to resign a disgruntled Pierre-Luc Dubois. Columbus then traded Josh Anderson for Max Domi, which helps them down the center. The Blue Jackets also added Mikko Koivu to add depth.
The Predators also had an interesting, but productive offseason. Nashville allowed Kyle Turris and Craig Smith to walk this offseason. The Predators traded Nick Bonino for Luke Kunin. Nashville also added Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning. The Predators finished out their offseason by bringing back Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund to help round out the roster.
Both teams had interesting offseasons, where they moves around a lot of players to free up areas. Nashville and Columbus both kept their key players, while the Blue Jackets also added Max Domi. Domi will look to have a bounce back season under that top six center role with the Blue Jackets. The Predators will hope Forsberg, Johansen and Duchene have bounce back seasons to lead the roster.
Joonas Korpisalo will likely get the start in the crease for the Blue Jackets in this one. Korpisalo finished out last season with a record of 19-12-5. He posted a save percentage of .911 and a 2.60 GAA throughout those games. Korpisalo played in nine playoff games, earning a .941 save percentage and a GAA of 1.90 to give Columbus a chance.
I expect Juuse Saros will get the nod in the net for Nashville to open up the new season. Saros put up a record of 17-12-4, splitting time with Pekka Rinne last season. He finished with a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.70. Saros struggled in the playoffs, putting up a save percentage of .895 and a 3.22 GAA in the four game loss to the Coyotes.
These two goalies put up similar numbers throughout last season. Saros had the better numbers in comparison to Rinne last season. With Rinne entering his age 38 season, I expect Saros will see an expanded role in net. The Predators will look for him to continue to grow into that starting role. Korpisalo had a great postseason, but will likely split time with Elvis Merzlikins, who burst onto the scene last season.
These two teams are coming into this season with a lot of questions. I think that the Blue Jackets will be able to play their grind it out style game in this one to knock off the Predators. Columbus has more security in net, which gives them a good edge. I also like Max Domi to have a strong performance on opening night to help lead his new team to the win.
BetOnline has Nashville listed as a -118 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Predators will win this game around 54.1 percent of the time. I think that these two team should be even in this one. These two teams seem very similar on paper, which gives a lot of value to the Blue Jackets as underdogs. I like Columbus to come out hot in this one to knock off this Nashville team in their opener.