The 303 Pre-Game: Preds vs. Columbus…

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IN ORDER TO WIN

  • NASHVILLE: The Predators need to jump out to early lead. If they can get a couple goals before Columbus gets on the board, they should be able to get inside their heads. Remember, the Blue Jackets have only been to the playoffs one time in their 13-year franchise history, they have zero playoff wins and they just traded the face of their franchise, Rick Nash, to the New York Rangers last summer. NHL experts believe it’s going to be a rough season in Columbus. A fast start by Nashville tonight could convince even the players of that.
  • COLUMBUS: Goaltending, goaltending and even more goaltending. The main plight of the Blue Jackets over the years has been between the pipes. Even with talented guys up front like Nash, Vinny Prospal and R.J.Umberger, they couldn’t get any traction in the brutal Central Division and Western Conference because their goaltending has been putrid. They finally stopped living in fantasy land with Steve Mason as the main guy and addressed the problem last summer, bringing in Sergei Bobrovsky. Is he an all-world goalie? Of course not but he’s certainly an upgrade. Bobrovsky needed a fresh start from his tumultuous 2011-12 campaign with the Philadelphia Flyers. If he can prove this is the fresh start he needed, the Blue Jackets could be a surprise team in the Central this season. And, in a shortened schedule, there’s no start like a fast start. Columbus needs its best foot forward tonight.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • NASHVILLE: Roman Josi. The Swiss blueliner had been playing in his home town of Bern during the lockout so he’s as close to game shape as anyone. That being said, tonight is the first page of a new chapter for him. He will play alongside Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber and, in doing so, needs to prove he can handle the big minutes against the oppositions’ best players.
  • COLUMBUS: Sergei Bobrovsky. See above.