The NHL is set up with an action packed Monday night of hockey. Fourteen games are up on the board throughout May 3. One of these matchups will be between the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams are in opposite parts of the standings this season, but I expect an exciting tilt. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
Nashville has earned a record of 28-22-2 throughout this season, which has them in fourth place of the Central Division. The Predators are three points ahead of Dallas with one extra game played. Nashville will look to hold on to that lead as this season nears its end. The Predators are coming off a win in their last game and have won three of their last four.
The Blue Jackets have put up a record of 16-25-11 to this point in the season, which has them in last place of the Central Division. Columbus has not been able to find any momentum this season, but will look to finish it out strong. The Blue Jackets lost their last game and ten of their last eleven. Columbus will look to play a little spoiler as this season comes to an end.
The Predators have been the much better team throughout this season, while Columbus has struggled since the beginning. Nashville needs the two points in this one as they try to keep pace with the Stars, but I think the Blue Jackets could play spoiler. The Predators are coming off a taxing overtime win and will need to avoid coming out slow in this one.
The Predators and the Blue Jackets have met up six times throughout this season. Nashville hosted the first two games of the season series back on January 14 and 16. Filip Forsberg scored the game winner in the first game, while Juuse Saros stopped 29 of 30 shots in the 3-1 Nashville win. Eleven different players registered a point for the Predators in the second game to lead Nashville to a 5-2 win.
Columbus hosted the third and fourth game of the season series on February 18 and 20. Cam Atkinson, Max Domi and Eric Robinson all scored for the Blue Jackets in the third game. Elvis Merzlikins stopped all 32 shots he faced in the 3-0 win. Calle Jarnkrok bounced back with a two goal night in the next meeting to give Nashville a 4-2 win.
The two most recent games of the season series were back in Nashville on February 27 and 28. Mattias Ekholm scored twice in the fifth game of the series and Juuse Saros stopped 29 of 30 shots in the Predators 2-1 win. Roman Josi had two assists in the sixth game, while Saros stopped 28 of 29 shots in another 3-1 win for Nashville.
These two teams have met up plenty throughout this season, with the Predators dominating the season series. Nashville has won five of the six games so far and the Blue Jackets will look to bounce back in this one. Columbus has kept it close throughout the series, but have not finished strong. The Blue Jackets need to step up in the third period if they want to win on Monday night.
Nashville has struggled on both sides of special teams throughout this season. The Predators have scored on 26 of their 147 power play chances, which is a 17.7 percent success rate. Nashville has killed off 121 of their opponents 161 power play attempts, which is a 75.2 percent penalty kill. The Predators will look to step up on special teams in this one.
The Blue Jackets have struggled on the power play throughout this season. Columbus has capitalized on 16 of their 111 power play opportunities, which is a 14.4 percent power play. The Blue Jackets have been around the league average on the penalty kill though. Columbus has given up 25 power play goals on 125 penalties against, which is an 80 percent kill rate.
These two teams have not been great on special teams throughout this season. The Predators have been slightly better on the power play, but they will have a tough task against the Blue Jackets penalty kill. Columbus has not taken nearly as many penalties as Nashville and will look to get a lot of power play chances. If either team can score on the man advantage, it could be enough to give them the edge.
I expect Juuse Saros to get the start in the crease for the Predators in this one. Saros has earned a record of 19-10-1 throughout his starts this season. He has posted a save percentage of .928 and a 2.28 GAA in those games played. Saros finished with a 28 shot shutout in his last outing against the Stars, which was helped Nashville earn a big two points.
Elvis Merzlikins will likely get the nod in the net for Columbus on Monday night. Merzlikins has started in 21 games, going 7-12-4 throughout the season. He has put up a .917 save percentage and a GAA of 2.75 in his games played. Merzlikins played on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, where he stopped 31 of 33 shots in the overtime loss.
These two goalies are coming off strong performances and will look to keep it up in this one. Saros has been very strong this season, while Merzlikins has been great given the team in front of him. Merzlikins has lost ten of his last eleven starts. The Blue Jackets will look to bounce back in this one against a strong Nashville team.
The Predators have been dominant against Columbus throughout this season. The Blue Jackets will look to bounce back in this one though. If Columbus can earn the edge on special teams, I think it could be enough for a win in this one. The Blue Jackets will need to put pressure on Saros early if they want to break his shutout streak.
BetOnline has Nashville listed as a -161 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Predators will win this game around 61.7 percent of the time. Nashville has been the much better team, but I think this could be a big letdown game after Saturday’s overtime win. I think Columbus could pull off the upset in this one and as big underdogs, I like the value on the Blue Jackets.