Game 55 Preview: All Hands On Deck

Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild

February 11, 2012 - 8:00pm EST
Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, Minnesota
Radio - WWCD FM 102.5 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Hockey Wilderness

After Thursday's loss to Dallas, the Jackets had to take some stock and to make some roster moves. Marc Methot suffered a potentially season-ending broken jaw after taking a slapshot to the face. Jared Boll suffered a broken foot after blocking a shot. Curtis Sanford suffered another setback with his back, as it tightened up toward the end of Thursday's game, causing him not to even travel with the team tonight.

To cover the roster spots, the Jackets have recalled Allen York in net, but it basically means tonight is a ride-or-die with Steve Mason. They also recalled defenseman Dalton Prout, though the silver lining is that James Wisniewski is back in the lineup tonight, meaning Prout is more insurance than anything.

The Wild are still scuffling, suffering a 5-2 loss to the Canucks at home on Thursday night after Columbus handed them a sound 3-1 loss on Tuesday. They did, however, get center Mikko Koivu back, reuniting their top line of Devin Setoguchi, Koivu, and Dany Heatley.

Ryan Johansen should get back into the lineup tonight for the Jackets with Boll being out, though it appears he will be busted down to the fourth line to take Boll's spot.

With Allen York being recalled as the emergency backup goaltender, it basically means Columbus is going to go the entire way with Steve Mason. Mason has been feast or famine this year--mostly famine--and there's not much of a safety net tonight.

The Jackets played hard for Todd Richards and Colton Gillies on Tuesday night. Gillies is playing his 100th NHL game tonight, and most likely still has some ill feelings for the Wild; perhaps Richards does as well. Since this is the last meeting between the two clubs this season, its their last chance for payback.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(15-33-6, 36 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal Jeff Carter Colton Gillies
Antoine Vermette Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Ryan Russell Derek MacKenzie Ryan Johansen
Fedor Tyutin Aaron Johnson
James Wisniewski John Moore
Grant Clitsome David Savard
Steve Mason
Allen York

Minnesota Wild
(25-21-8, 58 Points; 3rd Division, 11th Conference)

Devin Setoguchi Mikko Koivu Dany Heatley
Erik Christensen Matt Cullen Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Johnson Kyle Brodziak Carson McMillan
Brad Staubitz Warren Peters Darroll Powe
Nick Schultz Jared Spurgeon
Marek Zidlicky Greg Zanon
Justin Falk Nate Prosser
Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding

Season Series

10/08/11 - Columbus 2 at Minnesota 4 - RECAP
11/15/11 - Minnesota 4 at Columbus 2 - RECAP
02/07/12 - Minnesota 1 at Columbus 3 - RECAP
02/11/12 - Columbus at Minnesota

Head to Head

Minnesota Columbus
2.20 (29) GPG 2.26 (28)
2.50 (8) GAPG 3.22 (29)
14.7% (24) PP% 15.3% (22)
82.5% (15) PK% 76.1% (30)
Dany Heatley, 18 G leader Rick Nash, 18
Mikko Koivu, 24 A leader Vinny Prospal, 24
Dany Heatley, 39 Pts leader Rick Nash, 36
Cal Clutterbuck, 79 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 137
13-8-3 Road/Home 6-19-3
2/9 vs. Vancouver, L 5-2 Last Game 2/9 vs. Dallas, L 4-2
3-5-2 Last 10 3-6-1

Game Notes:

  • Power? - The Jackets have scored three Power Play goals in their past two games, including a goal against Minnesota on Tuesday night. It has pushed their PP conversion rate above 15%, which has them closing in on escaping the bottom third of the league. With James Wisniewski coming back, it may only help to bolster their PP unit, which has seemed to be improving steadily of late.
  • Joey Back In - Ryan Johansen is finally drawing back in, though it appears to be more based on Jared Boll's injury than anything else. Putting Johansen on the fourth line doesn't do much to encourage me. Hopefully, whatever message the coaches were trying to send to him has been received and he forces his way higher in the lineup.

The Jackets were able to handily beat the Wild on Tuesday night, with just one seeing-eye goal allowed in the first period. Of course, that was with the uber-calm Curtis Sanford in net, whereas Steve Mason is the proverbial powder keg. All it takes is one bad goal, and the walls can come tumbling down. It's going to be up to the Jackets to bury their chances on Backstrom early, which they weren't able to do on Tuesday. If they can play with a lead, I like their chances. If Mason puts them into a hole early, well, who knows?

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