With little to play for, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators meet in Tennessee on Saturday night. There are only two days left on the regular season schedule and the picture is looking fairly clear at this point. We do know that the Predators will finish with the top-seed in the NHL Playoffs, giving them the President’s Trophy for the best overall record in the league.
Ask the Capitals if that trophy automatically equates to a Stanley Cup, though. The Predators reached the Stanley Cup Final last season, where they ultimately were tripped up against the Penguins. There are some miles on their legs, which is why it’s always so difficult to make a return trip to the finals in the NHL. The playoffs are physical and grueling, but the Predators certainly look up to the task. They currently own a record of 52-18-11 with 115 points. There is really no point to add to it at this juncture. The only reasoning to play well is to be going into the playoffs with some momentum.
Likewise, the Blue Jackets are a lock to go to the playoffs as well. They’ve already clinched a spot, but there is something to play for tonight. It’s all about seeding for the Jackets now. They could clash with the Penguins in the first-round or fall to a wild card. Wherever they land, I don’t think it’s going to be an easy road. Nevertheless, it’s quite amazing where John Tortorella has taken this team since assuming the head coaching duties in the early stages of the 2015-16 season. Head below for our free Blue Jackets vs. Predators pick.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Nashville Predators Pick
The biggest thing the Predators have to realize heading into the playoffs is that anything can happen. Just because they made it to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago, and then went on to win the President’s Trophy this season, doesn’t give them any time to sit back and relax. They haven’t relaxed much this season, but they’ve gone .500 in their last ten games, winning five and dropping five games.
Their most recent matchup resulted in a win against the Capitals on the road, 4-3. The Predators also beat the Lightning on April 1st so they’ve beaten some good teams recently, and they’ve won a heck of a lot of games this year overall. Nonetheless, when the playoffs begin, everyone stars with 0 wins.
The Columbus offense is heading into the playoffs hot. They have scored at least 4 goals in eight of their last ten games for an average of 4.2 goals per game. Overall on the year, the Jackets have averaged 2.89 goals per game, 17th in the league. So, they have been exceeding their average of late. The Preds have averaged 3 goals per game in their last ten outings, while allowing 3 goals as well.
They’ve just been going through the motions waiting for the playoffs to begin. The OVER has gone 5-0 in the Jackets last five games, with an average of 8.6 goals scored per game. The OVER has also gone 9-0 in their last nine road games. With 1st place wrapped up, and the regular season done, I don’t expect the Predators to want to get into a physical game. It’s likely going to resemble a backyard hockey game with plenty of chances. I see this as having the making of a 4-3 final score in Nashville.