Rick Nash, about to knee Dan Hamhuis in the central parts. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
The Jackets are back home tonight, to finish off what has thus far been a difficult opening weekend. After a tough loss to the Preds last Friday in the home opener, the Jackets looked flat against Minnesota on Saturday night. Tonight they welcome the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks to home ice, for their third game in four nights.
The Canucks are largely the same team that made it to the Cup final last season, minus Christian Ehrhoff and a handful of fourth liners. This year, prospect Cody Hodgson will be playing a bigger role, at least until the injured Ryan Kesler returns to the lineup. Marco Sturm was brought in to provide offensive punch.
This is Vancouver's second game of the season, they fell to the Crosby-less Penguins 4-3 in a shootout in their season opener. The Canucks are lethal offensively, led by the Sedin twins. The forwards have a good mix of scoring, sandpaper and speed. Their defense features a talented top four, and of course they have Robert Luongo in net.
UPDATE: Schneider will start tonight over Luongo, as per a tweet from Aaron Portzline.
With the Jackets playing at home, with the benefit of last change, look for Ryan Johansen to slide back into the lineup. After getting pulled at the second intermission last game, Steve Mason should be primed for a rebound. He'll get the start tonight for Columbus.
An interesting move from practice that we could see in-game is Cam Atkinson playing on the top line with Nash and Carter. Atkinson has looked good with the puck on his stick, and his shoot-first mentality will serve him well on this line.
(Note: Lines are based on combinations used in practice yesterday and are subject to change)
Columbus Blue Jackets
('10-'11: 34-35-13, 81 Points; 5th division, 13th conference)
|Matt Calvert||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Fedor Tyutin||Radek Martinek|
|Marc Methot||Grant Clitsome|
|Aaron Johnson||David Savard|
('10-'11: 54-19-9, 117 Points; 1st Division, 1st Conference, President's Trophy)
By The Numbers ('10-'11 Season)
VAN - 3.15 G/G (1st)
CBJ - 2.56 G/G (24th)
VAN - 2.20 GA/G (1st)
CBJ - 3.05 GA/G (26th)
VAN - 24.3% (1st)
CBJ - 14.0% (29th)
VAN - 85.6% (T-2nd)
CBJ - 80.3% (22nd)
- We saw the line of Prospal-Vermette-Umberger in the preseason, and I thought they looked solid together. If Cam Atkinson goes to the top line, this will be the second line. I like it. Look for a big game out of this group.
- Mason can't take all the blame for the first two losses. Getting pulled last game was more of a wakeup call to the skaters than an indictment of Mase's play. I'm expecting a big game out of him tonight.
- Jeff Carter leads the team in scoring with 0-3-3 in three games.
- Every player on the Jackets has a plus/minus between +1 and -1, except for Atkinson- who's a -3.
- Interesting observation- Grant Clitsome leads the team in average time-on-ice, by almost two full minutes over the second player- Fedor Tyutin.
- This game could get chippy. The Jackets are angry, and the Canucks have two of the biggest sh!theads in the NHL in Lapierre and Burrows.