It's hard not to feel a bit of deja vu. It's late in the season and a home and home against the Blues could either help keep the Jackets in the hunt, or seal their fates. Even in the sole season to date where the Jackets found their way into the post-season, a home and home vs the Blues would have allowed them to clinch the 6th seed with a victory (or two), and instead the Blues managed to push past them by sweeping both games, setting both franchises up to be annihilated in the first round by Detroit and Vancouver.
Perhaps it's a quirk of the scheduling, or perhaps there's just some funny sort of kismet that has tied these two Central Division teams together at the most critical of times, but the Jackets can't let history repeat again tonight.
|Game Time: 9:00 pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 97.1 WFAN
|Blue Jackets vs Blues coverage|
Opponent's Blog: St. Louis Game Time
It's hard to say who is in the more desperate position - St. Louis isn't really still in the playoff hunt, but they're trying to put on a good show for the home fans, particularly since they've been on a major losing skid of late - and since this is the last game where they'll have home ice advantage over the Jackets this season.
For the Jackets, after a painful start to March, this game is vital to try and jack them back into the playoff chase, particularly with Nashville, LA, and Anaheim all stumbling over the weekend.
The Blues are finally healthy, with T.J. Oshie back in the lineup, and though they sent Brad Boyes over to Buffalo and Erik Johnson to Colorado, they picked up some good replacements in the form of Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Jaroslav Halak may be activated from IR today, but it's uncertain at this point if he'll start. For now, assume that the Blues will go with Ty Conklin, but don't be shocked if they have a surprise up their sleeve.
Also, don't forget tonight's game starts a little extra late to avoid the Versus Exclusivity Window.
Keys To The Game:
- WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILSOOOOOOOON! - Our trusty volleyball companion has been recalled from Springfield, and though he practiced as part of the bottom six forwards on Sunday, it's entirely possible that he may get bumped up in the lineup in the effort to try and spark our top line forwards.
- The New Kids - Stewart and Shattenkirk gave the Jackets some serious fits in Colorado, and I am sure they're looking forward to a chance to show themselves off to their new teammates. Scottie Upshall and Craig Rivet already made some nice impacts on the lineup. Here's hoping Sami Lepisto will come through with something special as well.
- Recapture The Magic - It's no coincidence that the re-arranged top six looks just like the lines that tore through the last games in February like a buzzsaw through butter - in particular, I think having Vermette's passing ability back with Calvert's finish should hopefully pay dividends.
The Blues are currently in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. Another strong game that puts the hammer down (much like their last meeting) would go a long way towards putting the nail in the Blues' coffin, and giving the Jackets a nice boost in the room. Blue Jackets Information:
Blue Jackets Information: