Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nashville invades Columbus in Central Division showdown

The Nashville Predators will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the fifth time this season tonight at 6 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. The Predators have had dramatic comeback victories in the last two games against the Blue Jackets. Nashville came from behind to win 4-3 in overtime on December 8, and came back for a 6-5 victory on December 22 when Martin Erat scored the game-winning goal with eight seconds left in regulation.

In their last outing, the Predators were shutout by the New York Rangers. Pekka Rinne had the night off in that game, but he will most likely be in net for the Predators tonight. Jerred Smithson was activated from injured reserve, and Ryan Suter participated in morning skate according to Josh Cooper of The Tennessean. Brandon Yip, who the Predators claimed off of waivers today, will not play against the Blue Jackets tonight.

Columbus is coming off of a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets have won two out of their last three games, and always seem to play the Predators well. Most contests between these two teams are decided by one goal, and this one doesn't figure to be any different.

The Predators have won eight of their last ten games, but are still in fourth place in the Central Division. The Central Division is, without question, the best division in the NHL right now. Nashville will have to continue to collect points to stay with the rest of the division.

My player to watch for the Blue Jackets is Rick Nash. He's been a big offensive threat against Nashville for his entire career. Nash has a plus-minus rating of minus-20 this year, which is indicative of the kind of year that Columbus is having so far.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Colin Wilson. Wilson hasn't scored a goal in 13 games, and has only collected five points during that time span. Wilson is due to put one in the net. Look for him to get one tonight in Columbus.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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