The Nashville Predators (18-11-3) travel to Columbus for a rematch with the Blue Jackets (14-12-6) after the Preds beat the Jackets 4-3 in a shoot-out last Thursday in Nashville.
Since their meeting last week, the Preds lost to Detroit 3-2 in overtime at home on Saturday, and the Blue Jackets lost to the Ducks 3-1 at Nationwide Arena.
Both teams lost gritty players in their last game. The Preds lost Jordin Tootoo to a foot injury as a result of a Shea Weber slap shot while the Jackets lost Derek Dorsett with a broken hand which required surgery this morning.
Tom Reed at the Columbus Dispatch reports that Coach Ken Hitchcock had major shakeups in the Jacket's line combinations at the team's morning skate. The first line will consist of Antoine Vermette centering Rick Nash and Jason Chimera. The second line will have Kristian Huselius, R. J. Umberger and Jake Voracek. The third line will be centered by Dereck Brassard with Raffi Torres and Freddy Modin, while the fourth line will have Sammy Pahlsson, Andrew Murray and Jared Boll.
Steve Mason (10-9-5, 3.28, .891) will start in goal for the Jackets. With Back to back games, Dan Ellis (5-5-1, 2.74, .909) will start in net for the Predators according to John Glennon who is in Columbus.
The Predators will be playing with a twenty man roster in Columbus with the injury to Tootooo and with Cody Franson playing a couple of games in Milwaukee. Franson will probably return to the Preds prior to the upcoming road trip to Western Canada and a forward will also be added, possibly Andres Thuresson or Triston Grant.
Preds Keys To The Game
Play Well Without Jordin Tootoo...
It may be a coincidence, but the Predators have played much better with Tootoo in the lineup than when he was injured for the team's first 13 games of the season. During that early stretch, the Preds were 6-6-1 while they have been 12-4-2 since his return (excluding Saturday's game when Tootoo played 3 shifts).
Columbus and Nashville have always played a very physical game and much of the attention has been directed at Tootoo. Hopefully his absence will not give Columbus more time to focus on playing quality hockey. Wade Belak will dress in Tootoo's absence, but he does not bring the ice presence that Tootoo brings to the table.
Preds Need a Good Game From Dan Ellis...
Dan Ellis has had success in is career against the Jackets going 3-1-1 with two shut-outs, a 1.25 GAA, and a .963 save percentage.
However, Ellis has only played four games in the last month and had to be removed from his last game against Minnesota nine days ago after playing well the night before.
Preds Need to Make the Jackets Doubt Themselves...
The Blue Jackets have had numerous problems all season. It has been a situation where when they fix one thing another one crops up.
We had BlueJacketBuzz's Eric Smith on POTG Radio last Monday and he discussed several issues with the team and he placed a large portion of the team's slow start with Steve Mason and his relationship with his team mates in the locker room.
With dissension among the team, an early goal or two could lead to doubt, which would further the Pred's chances of a much needed road win.
The Predators will return home after the game tonight and play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at the Sommet Center. They will then fly to Edmonton on Wednesday to begin a three game swing that will also take them to Calgary and Vancouver before taking a couple of Days off at Christmas.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass