The hottest team in the Western Conference invades Bridgestone Arena tonight for a Central Division showdown. The Columbus Blue Jackets are in town. That was not a typo. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the hottest team in the west, and save the Penguins, the hottest team in the league.
Yikes, how things have changed! Look, I knew that the front office changes the team made would have an impact… but never in my wildest nightmares did I see it happening this fast. This is the most confident Jackets team I have seen in the history of the Columbus franchise, they have added heart and soul players in exchange for a dissatisfied superstar and the results have come quickly.
Nashville, on the other hand, is a team just picking up their game and rebuilding their shattered confidence. Thursday night’s come-from-behind win over Calgary was just the tonic the team needed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the Predators have a very tough task ahead of them. The playoff points level seems to be 55 points. Nashville has 30 with 17 games to play, leaving a 25 point delta. Gaining 25 points out of the 34 points left for them to get is a tall order. Leaping over four teams ahead of them is also a tall order… the fact that they have to do both complicates things.
The top line needs to continue to produce like they did on Thursday night, more of the youngsters have to contribute and role players will need to step into more productive roles. The blueline will need to lock it down a little stronger, which will help Pekka Rinne. In other words… this team is in it together.
It won’t hurt that the team appears to be making the first steps to getting healthier. Hal Gill is expected to return to the lineup tonight, Patric Hornqvist is also very close to being activated from IR, potentially as early as tonight. Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad are both not skating and neither have a public timetable to return.
The Blue Jackets come into tonight with several key players listed as out for the contest, James Wisniewski, Adrian Aucoin and Brandon Dubinsky head that list, but it simply hasn’t mattered. Columbus is 8-0-2 in their last ten and have an 12 game point streak going. Look up “hot” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of this team.
Game time is 7pm at what is sure to be a sold out Bridgestone Arena… the atmosphere will be electric. TV Coverage on FS-Tennessee with Pete Weber and Terry Crisp, radio coverage on the Predators Radio Network (flagship 102.5 the Game) with Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson.
With last night’s results, the Predators dropped to the cellar in the division and is in a tie for 11th in the conference. The team remains two points out of the 8th spot.
Predators Playoff Chances – 18.2%
Most likely number of points needed to make the playoffs – 55
Points needed – 25
Who do I root for tonight – All results in regulation – Minnesota, Colorado, LA. Combined with a Preds win in regulation tonight, Nashville will increase its playoff chances by over 6%.
3/21 – Calgary – W – 5-3 – 2 pts.
Tonight – Columbus
3/25 – Edmonton
3/28 – Phoenix
3/30 - @ Colorado
4/1 - @ Chicago
4/2 – Colorado
4/4 – Columbus
4/6 – Chicago
4/7 – @ Chicago
4/9 – St. Louis
4/12 – Dallas
4/14 – Detroit
4/15 – Vancouver
4/19 - @ Chicago
4/23 – Calgary
4/25 - @ Detroit
4/27 - @ Columbus
- Congratulations to the Centennial High School Cougars Hockey Team… they have made the National Quarterfinals in the national championship of high school hockey, winning their pool with a 2-0-1 record. They play Santa Magarita High out of California this morning. If they win this morning, they play in the semi’s later today. Check nationals.usahockly.com for updates.
- Craig Smith has been sent to Milwaukee for a conditioning assignment. A good opportunity for him to work on his game.
- Eleven straight for the Penguins… simply wow.
- Boy, those Winnipeg fans have gotten tough… despite leading their division, Jet Nation booed early and often last night as the Jets crashed against the Washington Capitals 4-0.
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