Blue Jackets Gear Up for Tennessee Tango
by John Carlisle, bluejackets.com
Perhaps the most rewarding part of a rivalry is getting revenge. Saturday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets will get to play the role of avenger.
The Jackets (5-11-1) skate into Nashville for their second clash with Predators (11-4-2) in four days. Wednesday night the CBJ couldn’t hang on to a third-period lead in Nationwide Arena as Nashville scored two goals in 31 seconds and swiped a 5-4 victory right from under Columbus’ nose.
To get a much-needed win, the Jackets will need to orchestrate a little thievery themselves. Nashville comes into Saturday’s game having won seven of its last nine and 11 of its last 14. They suffered a 7-6 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild Thursday, though.
New interim head coach Gary Agnew is looking for his first win as the Blue Jackets fell to the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 Friday. Fredrik Norrena got the start in net, turning away 25 shots, which means Pascal Leclaire likely will get the nod Saturday. He, too, hopes to get even with the Predators, who scored on him five times Monday.
Nash will look to continue his assault on “Nash”ville as he scored two goals Wednesday night. Historically, he’s fared well in a town where he could run a mayoral campaign on nothing but name recognition. He’s 4-3-7 with 10 PIM in 10 career games in the Volunteer state’s capital.
Facing the Predators in Opryland might actually work to the Jackets’ advantage. So far this year, Nashville, who sits in second place in the Western Conference’s Central Division with 24 standings points, has played astoundingly well away from its own Gaylord Entertainment Center, going 8-3-0, the best road record in the conference. The Preds have gone a much more modest 3-1-2 on their own ice, though.
When the CBJ and Nashville meet up, physical play almost always ensues. These two squads don’t hesitate to scrap if needed. In 30 lifetime games between the clubs, the Jackets have logged 553 PIM, more than they have against any other opponent.
Columbus has played a slew of back-to-back contests so far this year, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays with Friday games at home and Saturday games on the road. The Jackets would like to buck the trend of dropping those Saturday road games, winning their last Oct. 7 when they defeated the Blackhawks 5-4 in Chicago. The most important trend needing bucking, though, is the CBJ’s four-game losing streak.
If the Jackets can’t get enough Nashville, they’ll get one to tangle with them Monday night, as well, when the Predators come back to Columbus to meet the CBJ in Nationwide Arena. The teams will meet a total of eight times this season, and the Blue Jackets would like nothing better than to capture the season series.
The puck drops at 7 p.m., but live coverage on FSN Ohio begins with IceBreaker, the pre-game show, at 6:30 p.m. and includes the Blue Jackets Ice Cap post-game show immediately following the game.