The regular season kicks off tonight for the Columbus Blue Jackets where they do battle with the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee with a empty crowd. This is the how the season will go for the most part. Empty. Fanless. Temporarily. Talk is that may change in Tennessee. Tune into Fox Sports Ohio or Fox Sports TN for game feed and coverage.
For preview coverage, Nashville is eyeing an old central foe in Columbus. This is the first time since the 2012-13 realignment where these teams are doing regular battle.
Since then, some things have changed for this aging Nashville Predators team. Their superstar defense has aged and been gutted over the years. Que the stars of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Cody Franson, Kevin Klein, Samuel Girad, P.K. Subban, and Seth Jones that have been developed by Nashville. Since these defensive stars were dealt or moved, they’ve managed to hold defensive talent in the reigning Norris Winner Roman Josi; Dante Fabbro; Mattais Ekholm; and Ryan Ellis. This team can reduce scoring for sure, but their failure is in their offense.
Over the summer, the turnmoil and turnover in Nashville is keeping them from future success. The departures of Kyle Turris, Nick Bonnino, Yannick Weber, Steven Santini, and Korbian Holzer for Luke Kunin, Mark Borohecki, Matthew Benning, and Erik Haula makes the team younger, but less offensive. Turris and Bonnino had championship pedigree and point production, but lots of money to go with them.
Pekka Rinne continues to age, while Jusse Saros seems to be stunned in his development in the platoon role. Additionally, his security isn’t permanent after the drafting of Russian superstar prospect goaltender Yaroslav Askarov with the 11th overall selection in the past draft.
Nashville’s number one center had 36 points last season in the shortened coronavirus season. Columbus’ number one center had 49 points. Columbus had two additional wingers and a defenseman score more points than 36. Nashville had their number two center and top two defensemen and number one winger score more than that. Having a number one defenseman win trophies and be near a point per game doesn’t help the offense. It is startling that these numbers of 36 points belongs to Ryan Johansen, the former fourth overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus’ four players that had equal or more points than Ryan Johansen were Pierre-Luc Dubois with 49; Gustav Nyqvist with 42; Zach Werenski with 41; and Oliver Bjorkstrand with 36.
With 36 points or more for Nashville were the aforementioned Josi with 65; Filip Forsberg with 48; former Blue Jacket Matt Duchene with 42; and Ellis with 38.
Three of the seven point scorers were defensemen, which shows that both teams lack offense. Johansen was brought to Nashville four years ago for Seth Jones, and Jonesy had six less points last season than Joey.
Jones has been more productive in Columbus than Johansen. Granted, it’s been with more games played. However, Jones and Columbus have gone further since his arrival compared to Johansen’s arrival in Nashville.
This is the first of eight meetings this season between the two teams. And this season will be more fun with the new switch up of the league’s divisions and flirting with the old rivalries of the Central Division.
Despite looking at the previous trade, the other former Jacket in the speedy Duchene is their key to succeed for the regular season success. He signed with them over staying in Columbus for hopes of chasing the postseason, and those hopes haven’t happened yet, but his wealth and happiness have been made with him in his upcoming second season in the gold and blue.
For Columbus, the agitated Pierre-Luc Dubois will have the stage for the season to perform himself out of the Buckeye State. Dubois has formally requested out of the organization for a better platform with teams from Anahiem, Boston, Calgary, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, and Winnipeg gauging interest in the French center iceman. PLD had the most points last year, and that has to improve for him to leave and the team make the playoffs.
IR: Sbisa (visa issues)
Columbus Blue Jackets
Injured: Nyqvist (shoulder), Dubinsky (wrist)