With the injuries to Jason Arnott, David Legwand, and Marin Erat, 141 points of offensive production have disappeared from the lineup. One could look at this situation and feel despair. I think this team looks at it as another challenge to surmount on the road to the playoffs. This is a group of players that refuse to hang their heads. They will just shut up and play. Tonight's contest finds the Preds coming in having won their last three games; the BJ's come in having lost their last two games convincingly to the Blues. The Preds are 5-1-4 in their last ten games; the BJ's are 6-2-2. Columbus is 6th in the Western Conference with 86 points; Nashville is 7th, with 84 points. The similarity between these two teams is striking as they both play an uptempo and yet gritty style of play. The animosity level is always high as Nashville has been like the big brother to Columbus, holding the upper hand in seasons past. This year, however, with the emergence of Steve Mason in goal, Columbus has been much more competitive. The season series still stands in Nashville's favor at 2-1-1. This game features a battle between the two goalies that could very well be finalists for the Calder Trophy this year, as Nashville"s Pekka Rinne has had an outstanding year in his own right. Nashville has been in the playoffs for the last four years, and they know the pressure of a playoff hunt. Columbus is in the hunt for the first time, and one has to wonder if they are not starting to feel the pressure as the season winds down.
Expect a real battle tonight. With a win, Nashville can move into a tie for the 6th slot in the playoff race. The challenges are there; the road is steep; but this is a team that refuses to give in to their circumstances. They have been bred to meet these challenges. The puck drops at 6:00. Time to swat some bugs, boys.