The NHL is set up with another action packed day of hockey on Saturday. Ten games will be up on the board throughout January 16. One of these games will be between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators. These two teams will look to continue to start this season strong with a win. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN+.
The Blue Jackets finished out last season with a record of 33-22-15, which has them sitting in fourth place of the Metropolitan Division. Columbus knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs in the qualifiers, but were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. The Blue Jackets had a tough loss in the opening game and will look to bounce back in this one.
Nashville had posted a record of 35-26-8 throughout last season, which put them in fifth place of the Central Division. The Predators lost to the Arizona Coyotes in the qualifying round of the playoffs. Nashville was able to bounce back with a win to open up this season, but will look to keep it going with a win in this one as well.
These two teams have been strong over the last few seasons, being consistent playoff teams. Now the Blue Jackets and the Predators are in the same division with limited playoffs spots. Both teams will look to earn the win in the second half of this back to back on Saturday night. I expect them both to come out strong to try and set the pace.
The Blue Jackets and the Predators met up twice throughout last season. Nashville hosted the game on February 22. Emil Bemstrom, Boone Jenner and Eric Robinson all scored for Columbus, but it was not enough. Filip Forsberg had two assists, while Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund and Colton Sissons all scored. Rocco Grimaldi scored the game winner in a shootout to propel the Predators to a 4-3 win.
The first game of this season’s series was back on Thursday night. Boone Jenner scored a goal in the first to open it up. Luke Kunin and Filip Forsberg both scored to help give Nashville the lead. Calle Jarnkrok scored an empty netter to put the game on ice. Juuse Saros stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Predators were able to win 3-1 to open up the new season.
Nashville was able to win the only game last season and the season opener this season. The Blue Jackets will look to bounce back after opening up the scoring and struggling after that. Columbus will need to break through early once again in this one if they want to split the first mini series of the season. Nashville will look to build on the strong finish to the game at the beginning of this one.
The Blue Jackets struggled on the power play last season, but had a strong penalty kill. Columbus was able to score 31 power play goals on 169 power play attempts last season, which was a 16.4 percent success rate. The Blue Jackets gave up 31 goals on 169 power play opportunities, which is an 81.7 percent penalty kill.
Nashville was not good on either side of special teams throughout last season. The Predators finished the season with 39 goals on 226 power play chances, which was a 17.4 percent power play. Nashville held opposing teams to 51 goals on 213 power play opportunities, which was a 76.1 percent kill rate. The Predators will need to improve on special teams if they want to compete for the postseason in the Central.
Neither teams were able to finish on special teams throughout the first game. The Predators went 0-3 on the power play, while Columbus went 0-2 on the power play. The Blue Jackets had the better special teams last season with a strong penalty kill. If either team can break through on the power play in this one, it should be enough for them to earn the win.
Joonas Korpisalo will likely get the nod in net for this matchup for Columbus. Korpisalo earned a record of 19-12-5 throughout last season. He put up a save percentage of .911 and a 2.60 GAA through those starts. Korpisalo stopped 32 of 34 shots on opening night against the Predators. He will need to put up another good performance in this one if he wants to get the Blue Jackets back in the win column.
Juuse Saros will get the start in the crease for the Predators on Friday night. Saros had a solid campaign last season, earning a record of 17-12-4 through those games. He posted a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.70 in those games. Saros turned away 29 of 30 shots in the first matchup of the season. Nashville will need him to keep this up as they turn towards him as the starter.
These two goalies had great performances to open up the new season. Neither team could get much going offensively throughout the game and will look to fix that in this one. These two teams will look to do a much better job getting through in this one. If the Blue Jackets can come out quicker on offense though, I think they could bounce back from the loss.
The Predators are coming into this one on the heels of an opening night win. Nashville looked good, getting solid goaltending and defense in the matchup. The Predators also did not look bad on offense throughout the game. Both teams need to step up on the power play if they want the win. There is a lot of news swirling around Columbus right now, which can make it hard to focus. I think that the Blue Jackets will come into this one though and look to prove those distractions wrong.
BetOnline has the Predators listed as a -119 against the money line in this one. This implies that Nashville will win this game around 54.3 percent of the time. I think that this line is about right entering this matchup. I think that the Blue Jackets are going to come out stronger in this one though as they try to get the offense going. If Columbus can score a couple early, I think they can run away with this one.