After getting their parade rained on last night, the Jackets go into Minnesota with the chance to be the thundercloud. There's a strong chance the the Jackets will rotate in both Maksim Mayorov and Aaron Johnson, while Coach Arniel seemed fairly set on giving Steve Mason the back to back starts - barring a change, he'll get the chance to put his first W in the books tonight as well.
The Jackets and Wild will always be bound together by their expansion debut back in 2000, but this year they're almost mirror image of each other - both teams looking to adjust to new coaches (though we have a head start), and both teams making significant roster changes over the offseason in the hopes of providing the offensive firepower to take them back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Where the Jackets added Vinny Prospal and Jeff Carter, the Wild brought in Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Where the Jackets brought an injection of youth through Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen, et al, the Wild have put trust in Brett Bulmer, Colton Gillies, and Marco Scandella taking the next steps.
Last night, against one of the best defense / goalie systems in the NHL, the Jackets had a pretty solid night, and certainly didn't lack for chances. The question tonight is how they can turn it around against a team that hopes to play in a similar mode, and how they'll handle a team riding just as high of an energy as they had from the sold out crowd last night.
Projected Lineups (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)
|Vinny Prospal||Jeff Carter||Rick Nash|
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Cam Atkinson|
|Matt Calvert||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Maksim Mayorov||Derick Brassard||Derek MacKenzie|
|Fedor Tyutin||Radek Martinek|
|Marc Methot||Grant Clitsome|
|Aaron Johnson||David Savard|
Minnesota Wild ('10-'11: 39-35-8, 86 points; 3rd division, 12th conference)
|Devin Setoguchi||Mikko Koivu||Dany Heatley|
|Guillaume Latendresse||Matt Cullen||Pierre-Marc Bouchard|
|Brett Bulmer||Kyle Brodziak||Cal Clutterbuck|
|Darroll Powe||Nick Johnson||Colton Gillies|
|Greg Zanon||Marek Zidlicky|
|Marco Scandella||Nick Schultz|
|Clayton Stoner||Jared Spurgeon|
By The Numbers ('10-'11 Season)
MIN - 2.48 gpg (26th)
CBJ - 2.56 gpg (24th)
MIN - 2.78 gapg (t16th)
CBJ - 3.05 gapg (26th)
MIN - 18.2% (13th)
CBJ - 14.0% (29th)
MIN - 82.8% (14th)
CBJ - 80.3% (22nd)
We don't have a finalized game roster for either team, so keep an eye on the Wild - if they announce that they're going to dress Brad Staubitz, it could be a sign that they're expecting this to be a very physical, chippy affair.
The Jackets faced a roster very similar to this near the tail end of the pre-season, and dominated the game, particularly Jeff Carter and Rick Nash, who were able to put together some excellent power play scoring opportunities. After the power outage last night vs. the Predators, putting a goal or two up with the man advantage would ease a lot of nerves here.
Finally, keep an eye on Antoine Vermette - he's had some big games against the Wild in the past, including a couple of clutch goals last season. I wouldn't be shocked at all if the Umby - Antoine - Atkinson line tallies their first points of the season tonight.