The Schedule Showcase continues this week with a look at the November 23rd home match up against the Nashville Predators. Ah Nashville. The team we love to hate. The Friday match up will represent the first time these two teams match up in the 2012-13 season so both teams should have been able to settle in to their new rosters and see what they are really bringing to the ice this year. The intrigue should continue to run high with Nashville and Columbus being the topic of a lot of off-season conversation.
So once again, without further ado, read on to see our thoughts on what this matchup will bring.
GAME OVERVIEW: (from Canadan82)
With a new attitude in the dressing room, Columbus will embark on a journey beginning in training camp to develop a legitimate identity as a team. Without flashy all-star forwards or a franchise goaltender with a massive contract, they will embrace the values and ethic of teamwork, which is something I believe Barry Trotz of the Predators always brings out in his players. The defensive additions of Columbus and the subtraction of Suter give Columbus the competitive edge, despite not yet having a de facto number one goaltender to match up with perennial Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne. Expect pride of the logo on the front to play a big part in elevating this years record to anything better than the 1-4-1 result of 2011/2012.
LINE MATCH-UPS: (from TheCoach)
I’m excited to get a first look at the Post-Ryan Suter Nashville Predators. While the forwards will remain a balanced group of hard-working, defensively responsible interchangeable parts, and Pekka Rinne will still be a rock in net, the defense will look totally different. With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, Predators coach Barry Trotz had a defensive pairing that he could roll out against any opponent, in any situation and at any time. There is no real suitable replacement for Suter on the Predators roster. While his rumored partner is Roman Josi, I would not be surprised to see Weber spend time with Hall Gill when they need to shut an opponent down, or a young gun like Ryan Ellis when the Predators need a goal. Additionally, the trade of Rick Nash changes the Blue Jackets aspect of this match-up. Previously, the Blue Jackets’ one big line featuring Nash would be matched against the Predators one big defensive pairing. With both of those features gone, we should see a different Predators-Jackets game than those we’ve witnessed over the last few years.
PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT: Ryan Ellis NASH (from CBJProspects)
We all know the Predators have lost Ryan Suter to free agency so now they are going to have to dig into their prospect pool. Ryan Ellis is one of many that could help fill Suter’s skates (he just might need some newspaper to fill them). Ellis was the Predators first round pick in 2009 (11th overall). He was a important piece of the Windsor Spitfires’ back-to-back Memorial Cup titles: scoring 162 points in 106 games while also serving as team captain in the 2010-11 season. Ellis is listed at only 5’10″ but he has a list of awards and achievements taller than him. He has won the OHL’s top defenseman award twice(09,11), OHL MVP in 2011, and the CHL’s Top Dmen and MVP in 2011. Ellis has competed for Team Canada six times winning either gold(4x) or silver(2x) every time. He is the World Juniors’ leading scorer for defenseman with 25 points and Hockey Canada’s all time leader in assists. Ellis made his pro debut last season playing 29 games with Milwaukee (4-14-18) and 32 games with Nashville scoring 11 points(3-8-11). It will be intriguing to see what Ryan can do on the ice this year.
WHY WE’RE JOINING THE BATTLE: (from AlisonL)
Nashville incites Blue Jackets fan ire like very few other teams. We’ve just not been able to consistently beat this team. This was no better emphasized last season both on opening night when the Predators beat us in our house, or when Jeff Carter’s hattrick was negated by a CBJ meltdown. But, with the influx of new faces, hope may just spring anew. Last year, on November 19th, aka “Wizmas” – the night Wiz scored his game winning goal, our newer team members were quoted saying they had no clue about the past misfortune we’ve faced against the Predators. So I’m thinking that this is a chance to start breaking that losing trend once and for all. We don’t have as many players who think we can’t beat the Preds, and coupled with fact that Nashville is a little less scary with only Weber and Rinne as tentpoles for the franchise, I expect fans (and players!) to come ready to give their all. And perhaps some clever jabs will be on hand for the $100MM man that is Shea Weber who seems to get away with jamming people’s faces into the boards? This rivalry is strong within the franchise – a win against the Preds would be a vital sign that things may be on a path to improvement. I’ll be in my seat cheering loud. And again…the jerseys? Easy to root against.