F or the first time in 11 years, the Columbus Blue Jackets took the ice without Rick Nash being even remotely in the picture.
After their playmaking captain was traded in the offseason to the New York Rangers, the Blue Jackets were more-or-less forced to redefine the way they played hockey. The Blue Jackets no longer have the elite goal scoring player who can direct the team’s offense from night-to-night. Now Columbus has to concentrate on scoring from more every position and is no longer able to rely on that one player.
For opponents, Nash’s departure appears to mean that they need to focus on all four lines as any of them could generate the offense on a given night.
On Saturday night, the change seemed to work in their favor as they walked out of Bridgestone Arena with a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators, only their second win in Nashville in their last 21 tries.
There did not seem to be a consensus in the Nashville locker room on whether or not the lack of Nash in fact made Columbus more difficult to play against.
“We just didn’t focus on how they played,” Nashville forward Martin Erat said. “We just focused on ourselves. We just tried to play our game and force them to check us and play how we want.”
Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein, however, seemed to buy into the idea that the lack of “star power” up front made the Blue Jackets a more formidable opponent.
“I think they’re very similar to us,” Klein said. “I think they do a good job getting the puck in behind you starting their forecheck. They are a very disciplined forechecking team. They play a lot like us. We knew they were going to come hard and we knew they were going to dump it in. Unfortunately, we came up on the wrong side today.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua