Game of the Night...Nashville Vs. Columbus
Nashville Predators vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Feb. 22, 2011
Solidifying a spot in the Western Conference playoffs is proving to be quite difficult. Vancouver and Detroit figure to lock up the top two spots out west. But, only 2 pts. separate teams from being the 5th seed and clinching a playoff berth to being the 11th seed and out of playoff contention. This makes every game, especially those against western conference foes, that much more critical. The Predators are currently sitting 5th in the West, while the Blue Jackets are in 12th, only 6 pts. behind Nashville and 4 pts. away from making the playoffs.
The Predators (31-20-8, 70 pts) consistently field strong teams in the NHL. The Predators are competitive because of several reasons. First, they play a very structured defensive system. This is taught in Milwaukee at the AHL level as well. Second, they develop from within the organization, patiently letting young players mature and develop at all levels, particularly in the AHL. The Predators have drafted extremely well over the years. Thus, allowing the organization to have an abundant supply of players who have the potential to play in the NHL. However, the Predators are 4-4-2 in the last ten games. They will also be without key d-man Ryan Suter, who is out with an injury. Mike Fisher will be called upon to lead the team to a playoff spot.
Predators players to watch-
Cody Franson- Look for the offensive minded d-man to play an increased role with the absence of Suter and Bouillon.
Nick Spaling- A hard working, responsible center. Spaling has been a bright spot for the Predators, especially on the PK.
In the system-
Roman Josi- An offensive minded, Swiss d-man. Josi has played well defensively and with poise in his first season in North America.
The Blue Jackets (29-23-6, 64 pts) have been playing well lately. They are 6-3-1 in their last ten games. Head to head with the Predators they are 1- 2 on the season. Columbus has been looking for more consistency from their goalie Steve Mason this season. He has been playing well as of late and is one of the reasons for the Blue Jackets recent success. Columbus has shown signs of being a strong team but has also, at times, appeared to be virtually non-existent on the ice. Columbus has goal scoring phenom Rick Nash but will be without skilled play-maker Derick Brassard, who is out with an injury for 2 to 3 weeks. RJ Umberger’s play will be instrumental if the Blue Jackets hope to claim a victory against the Predators. Blue Jackets players to watch-
Derek MacKenzie- With the injury to top center Derick Brassard, the Blue Jackets will look to MacKenzie to distribute the puck. He has strong play-making skills and good vision. He has tallied 2 goals and 5 assists in the last 11 games.
Antoine Vermette- A quick skating forward who competes. Vermette is highly skilled but also plays a chippy game.
In the system-
John Moore- A smooth skating, American d-man. The offensive minded Moore recently made his NHL debut. This is his first professional season.
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