The NHL is set up with a great slate of action throughout February 20. Twelve games will be up on the board on Saturday. One of these games will be between the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams have had tough starts to the season, but will look for a big win in this one. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
Nashville has opened up this season with a record of 6-10, which has them sitting in seventh place of the Central Division. The Predators have lost back to back games and five of their last six entering this one. Nashville will look to turn it around with a win on Saturday night though. I expect the Predators to come out quickly as they try to get back in the win column.
The Blue Jackets have put up a record of 8-6-4 so far this season, which has them sitting in fifth place of the Central Division. Columbus is coming off a win in their last game, which ended a two game slide. The Blue Jackets will look to pick up another win on Saturday as they try to get back into the playoff race. I expect Columbus to try and keep up the strong defense from their last game.
These two teams have had struggling starts to this season, but Columbus is much closer to playoff contention. The Blue Jackets are coming into this one after knocking off Nashville on Thursday night and will look to carry momentum over from that win. I expect the Predators to try and pick it up early though after the loss in their last one.
The Predators and the Blue Jackets have met up three times so far this season. The first game of the season series was on January 14 in Nashville. Boone Jenner scored a goal for the Blue Jackets, but it was not enough. Luke Kunin, Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok all had goals for the Predators on the night. Juuse Saros finished with 29 saves on 30 shots to help give the Predators a 3-1 win.
Nashville hosted the second game of the season series on January 16. Alexandre Texier had a goal and an assist, while Michael Del Zotto had two assists. Filip Forsberg, Rocco Grimaldi, Luke Kunin, Brad Richardson and Colton Sissons all scored for the Predators. Eleven different players had a point as Nashville grabbed a 5-2 win to sweep the first two game series.
The third and most recent game of the season series shifted to Columbus on February 18. Juuse Saros finished with 19 saves on 21 shots, but it was not enough. Eric Robinson, Cam Atkinson and Max Domi all scored for the Blue Jackets on the night. Elvis Merzlikins stopped all 32 shots he faced as Columbus earned a 3-0 win on the night.
These two teams have met in three solid games so far this season, but Nashville has been able to win two of the three games. The Blue Jackets were able to win the last game against the Predators and will look to tie up the season series in this one. Columbus has been the better team this season, but Nashville will look to grab this win on the road.
The Predators special teams have struggled throughout this part of the season. Nashville has scored 8 power play goals on 56 opportunities, which is a 14.3 percent power play. The Predators have given up 19 goals on their opponents 59 power play chances, which is a 67.8 percent kill rate. Nashville will need to step up on both sides of special teams in this one.
Columbus has not been great on special teams either this season. The Blue Jackets have capitalized on 7 of their 45 power play attempts, which is a 15.6 percent success rate. Columbus has killed off 28 of the 38 penalties against them, which is a 73.7 percent penalty kill. The Blue Jackets will look to put up a better special teams performance in this one.
These two teams have struggled on special teams this season. The Blue Jackets have an edge in this one with the better power play and penalty kill. Columbus will look to put together a better power play and penalty kill. Nashville’s power play has been a bit better as of late, but they will need their penalty kill to be much stronger in this one.
I expect Pekka Rinne to get the nod in the crease for Nashville on Saturday night. Rinne has gone 3-5 throughout his games played this season. He has put up a save percentage of .907 and a 2.74 GAA in those games. Rinne’s last start was against the Detroit Red Wings, where he stopped 21 of 24 shots in the losing effort.
Joonas Korpisalo will likely get the start between the pipes for the Blue Jackets in this one. Korpisalo has started in 12 games throughout this season, going 5-4-3 so far this season. He has put up a .887 save percentage and a GAA of 3.55 in those games. Korpisalo finished with 20 saves on 25 shots in his last start against the Carolina Hurricanes.
These two goalies have struggled a bit in this season. Korpisalo has a slightly better record, but Rinne has had the better save percentage and GAA. Both goalies will look to start quick in this one to try and give their team the edge. If either goalie can step up in this matchup, it could be enough to grab the win on Saturday night.
The Predators are coming off a tough loss on Thursday night. Nashville could not find the back of the net on the night. I expect the Predators to come out better on offense in this one as they try to grab the win. Nashville has struggled a bit as of late and will look to turn it around in this one. If Columbus can step up on special teams though, it could be enough to knock off the Predators.
BetOnline has the Blue Jackets listed as a -125 against the money line. This implies that Columbus will win this game around 55.6 percent of the time. The Blue Jackets are the better team and at home in this one, but I think that Nashville can pull off the upset in this one. As solid underdogs in this one, I really like the value on the Predators to bounce back with a win.