Game 68 Preview: Five Alive

I love how happy you guys are, now. Can you win five in a row? Will the universe implode? (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues

March 10, 2012 - 8:00pm EST
Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Missouri
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: St. Louis Game Time

The Jackets are in uncharted waters so far this season. They have won four straight--all against teams fighting for their playoff lives, no less--and head to St. Louis with a chance at a fifth straight victory. Standing in their way, however, are the completely resurgent Blues, who now own the league's best record. And if that's not enough, these two teams will do it again tomorrow evening in Columbus, as well.

In addition, Columbus will be going in wounded, losing several key players this week. After losing Fedor Tyutin and Derek MacKenzie on Tuesday, they will tonight be without Derek Dorsett and Steve Mason, both nursing injuries from Thursday's tilt. In Dorse's place, Dane Byers got the emergency recall from Springfield; in Mason's spot, Allen York. Curtis Sanford will get the nod tonight, regardless.

For whatever reason, the Jackets--once they got through the trading deadline--look like a completely different team. More relaxed, perhaps. No pressure. Relishing the spoiler's role. Whatever it is, I likes it. Though, let's not rush to blow that 48.2% chance at the #1 pick, guys. Columbus currently sits just seven points behind Edmonton with 15 games to play.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(22-38-7, 51 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal Mark Letestu Cam Atkinson
Ryan Russell Darryl Boyce Colton Gillies
Dane Byers Ryan Johansen Maksim Mayorov
Jack Johnson James Wisniewski
John Moore Nikita Nikitin
Aaron Johnson Brett Lebda
Curtis Sanford
Allen York

St. Louis Blues
(43-18-7, 93 Points; 1st Division, 1st Conference)

Vladimir Sobotka David Backes T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald Patrik Berglund David Perron
Chris Porter Jason Arnott Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen Scott Nichol Ryan Reaves
Carlo Colaiacovo Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins Roman Polak
Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

Season Series

11/27/11 - St. Louis 2 at Columbus 1 - RECAP
12/18/11 - Columbus 4 at St. Louis 6 - RECAP
02/14/12 - St. Louis 1 at Columbus 2 - RECAP
03/10/12 - Columbus at St. Louis
03/11/12 - St. Louis at Columbus
03/31/12 - Columbus at St. Louis

Head to Head

St. Louis Columbus
2.54 (20) GPG 2.33 (27)
1.87 (1) GAPG 3.16 (29)
17.0% (15) PP% 16.2% (22)
83.7% (9) PK% 76.6% (30)
David Backes, 21 G leader Rick Nash, 24
Alex Pietrangelo, 31 A leader Vinny Prospal, 33
David Backes, 47 Pts leader Rick Nash, 47
Ryan Reaves, 92 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 192
28-4-4 Home/Road 9-20-4
3/8 vs. Anaheim, W 3-1 Last Game 3/8 vs. Los Angeles, W 3-1
7-3-0 Last 10 5-4-1

Game Notes:

  • In Between Dreams... - Yep, I'm going least-common-denominator with Jack Johnson. Johnson has three straight games with points (two goals, two assists) and in +6. For a guy who came to Columbus--a bad defensive team to begin with--with a bit of a stigma for being bad defensively, being +6 is pretty awesome.
  • Brassy - Not to be outdone, Derick Brassard has points in five straight (1-5-6), and in eight of 10 (3-7-10). In fact, Mr. Brassard has been a completely different player over the last two or three months, with 27 points (10G, 17A) in his last 35 games. What a difference getting to actually play can make!
  • Road Warriors - The Jackets have points in five of their last six road games (4-1-1), which for this team is pretty well unheard of. With four of their next five on the road, not a bad time to start a trend.

The Jackets are going to have their hands full, and are going to have to bury their chances to have any chance to win. They won't get many solid chances to score, so they have to continue what they've been doing and jump on the Blues early. The Blues are deadly at home, so the Jackets will have to be on their best behavior.

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