NHL

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 - 8:00 PM ET
Game Preview
 

Blue Jackets-Predators Preview

Share This Story

   
 

Not much was expected from a Columbus Blue Jackets team that suffered through one of its worst seasons in its history in 2011-12, traded its franchise cornerstone in the offseason and were the worst team in the league in late February.

My, how things have changed.

Columbus, surprisingly fighting for one of the Western Conference's final playoff spots, turned into a buyer at the trade deadline and acquired seven-time 30-goal scorer Marian Gaborik before Thursday's road matchup with the Nashville Predators, who dealt veteran Martin Erat in a surprising move.

The Blue Jackets finished with an NHL-low 65 points last season and have made only one playoff appearance since entering league in 2000. They dealt disgruntled forward Rick Nash to the New York Rangers in July and appeared headed for a major rebuilding phase.

Columbus (15-14-7), though, isn't waiting to compete. It has gone 10-2-3 over its last 15 after Mark Letestu scored four minutes into overtime to beat Anaheim 2-1 on Sunday.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves and improved his goals-against average to 2.13.

"The one thing we can't change now is being satisfied,'' said coach Todd Richards, whose team was an NHL-worst 5-12-2 on Feb. 25. "We can't have that. You've climbed the mountain and you get there and you (can't) take a breath. We're only halfway up the mountain. There's still a lot of work in front of us.''

President John Davidson and new general manager Jarmo Kekalainen appear to be far from satisfied. Bobrovsky's surprisingly stellar play allowed them to deal fellow goaltender Steve Mason to Philadelphia before giving up promising players in Derick Brassard - who scored Sunday - Derek Dorsett and John Moore to acquire Gaborik from the Rangers on Wednesday.

Gaborik, who has nine goals and 10 assists this year and three 40-goal seasons in his last five, waived his no-trade clause to join the surprising Blue Jackets. It's unclear if he'll play Thursday, but Gaborik should provide a scoring lift for a team that has a minus-10 differential in non-shootout goals.

"It seems like they're heading in the right direction and it's a new challenge for me," Gaborik said. "It's the first time I've been traded so it's something new for me, but I'm looking forward to it."

The Blue Jackets also acquired left wing Blake Comeau from the Calgary Flames for a fifth-round pick.

Columbus is 4-10-2 on the road this season and has won just six of its 37 all-time visits to Nashville, falling 5-2 at Bridgestone Arena on March 23. That contest was part of a current 4-1-2 stretch for the Predators (15-14-8), who are one point ahead of the Blue Jackets in the West standings but must move forward without one of its leading scorers.

Nashville traded Erat, who has four goals and 17 assists, to Washington after nine-plus seasons with the club for highly regarded prospect Filip Forsberg and minor-leaguer Michael Latta.

The Predators also traded defenseman Scott Hannan to San Jose for a conditional draft pick. They will attempt to move forward and win for the fifth time in six home games after Pekka Rinne made 25 saves in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Colorado.

"Everybody is happy and we are going forward with that, but we still have to win more games to get in the races," said Patric Hornqvist, whose power-play goal in the third tied the game.

Nashville has struggled at times but is in the hunt to make a fourth straight postseason appearance.

"We're right in the thick of things right now, which is great," coach Barry Trotz said.

Rinne has been solid of late, going 4-0-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average since March 21. He made 21 saves in the first meeting with Columbus and is 8-1-2 with a 2.34 GAA in his last 11 starts versus the Blue Jackets.

Tagged: Rangers, Predators, Blue Jackets, Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt