Game 41 Preview: Clash of the Cellar Dwellers

ANAHEIM CA - JANUARY 07: Brandon McMillan #64 of the Anaheim Ducks is hit by Jared Boll #40 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at the Honda Center on January 7 2011 in Anaheim California. The Ducks defeated the Blue Jackets 6-0.(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Columbus Blue Jackets at Anaheim Ducks

January 8, 2012 - 8:00pm EST
Honda Center - Anaheim, California
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Anaheim Calling

On paper, this one has the makings of a crap-fest if ever there was one, no? Two teams. A combined 55 points. 14th vs. 15th. Worse yet, 29th vs. 30th.

Not so fast. Both teams are coming off of wins in their last games (Ducks beat the Islanders the other night). Columbus has played one more game than the Ducks (so there would be a game-in-hand), but a win tonight for Columbus pulls them out of the league cellar, if only for a short while.

The Jackets got stellar goaltending from Curtis Sanford yesterday against LA, and also got some tremendous penalty killing. I'll give you a moment to clean up the beverage you no doubt spit-taked out of your mouth as you read that. 8-for-8 (against the woeful 30th PP unit in the league, to be fair). The Jackets were blocking shots like mad men.

So, if they can carry that kind of work ethic and solid defensive effort--and maybe figure out how to pot a goal or two--they have a good chance to put together a winning streak. And crawl out of the basement for a moment.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(11-24-5, 27 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Jeff Carter Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Derick Brassard
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Ryan Johansen Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot John Moore
Grant Clitsome David Savard
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

Anaheim Ducks
(11-22-6, 28 Points; 5th Division, 14th Conference)

Bobby Ryan Ryan Getzlaf Corey Perry
Niklas Hagman Saku Koivu Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake Nick Bonino Andrew Cogliano
Matt Beleskey Rod Pelley Andrew Gordon
Francois Beauchemin Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman Sheldon Brookbank
Jonas Hiller
Dan Ellis

Season Series

10/30/11 - Anaheim 1 at Columbus 3 - RECAP
01/08/12 - Columbus at Anaheim
02/03/12 - Columbus at Anaheim
02/12/12 - Anahiem at Columbus

By The Numbers

Scoring
CBJ - 2.30 G/G (27th)
ANA - 2.33 G/G (26th)

Defense
CBJ - 3.15 GA/G (25th)
ANA - 3.21 GA/G (27th)

Power Play
CBJ - 14.2% (25th)
ANA - 15.9% (19th)

Penalty Kill
CBJ - 76.3% (28th)
ANA - 83.6% (10th)

Game Notes:

  • Odd Start Time - Another odd start time (5:00 Pacific) to follow up a 1:00 Pacific game yesterday. It didn't seem to kill the Jackets yesterday to be out of their routine, and it actually works in their favor. This is one of the shortest road back-to-back travel trips you can make, and they actually get an extra four hours to recover. Why yes, I am grasping at straws. Why do you ask?
  • Special Teams - As good as the Jackets' PK was yesterday, their PP unit has been dreadful over the past six games. A plump goose egg (0-for-15). It's gotta get better, men. Interesting note: the Jackets' PK performance yesterday actually jumped their entire season success rate up 1.5%. Seriously. The Ducks, conversely, are fairly solid on special teams considering where they are record-wise. The Jackets have to be more disciplined today.
  • Enter Sandman - Today's nugget from The Man Rob Mixer focuses on Curtis Sanford. The Sandman has been a welcome addition coming back from injury. According to Rob: "[Sanford] has 30-plus saves his last four starts, stopping 139-of-149 shots (.933 save pct.)."
  • Down Year - Talk about a down year, Jonas Hiller is certainly having one. The Ducks goalie is currently 41st in the league (out of 46 that qualify) in GAA, at 3.14 (and yes, that's still better than Steve Mason, who comes in at 45th with a 3.33 mark). Hiller is also 40th in save percentage, coming in at 89.8% (and yes, Mase is again 45th at 88.5%). How far has Hiller fallen off this year? His career numbers--INCLUDING this dreadful year--are still 2.62 GAA and 91.7% save percentage. Yikes.

The Jackets need to find some kind of offensive spark. I just don't see it happening today, however.

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