Blue Jackets Game 79 Preview: Last Chance in the Central

Mar 10, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) deflects a shot from Columbus Blue Jackets left wing R.J. Umberger (18) during the second period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues

March 31, 2012 - 8:00pm EDT
Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Missouri
Radio - WWCD 102.5 FM - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: St. Louis Game Time

The Blue Jackets finish their Central Division slate for the season today, taking on the conference-leading Blues. St. Louis is looking to wrap up the division, and needs points to push for the overall conference top seed; surging Vancouver is just one point behind.

Columbus is just 4-17-2 in the division this year; they beat Detroit twice, Nashville once, and St. Louis once, losing in a shootout to Detroit and in OT to Nashville. Other than that, it's been a long trail of tears. Tonight marks their last chance to try to gain points in the division, for whatever that's worth.

The Jackets have passed two milestones, eclipsing the previous franchise lows for wins and points. They've relished the spoiler role, making things harder on any of the following teams: Colorado, Detroit, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose, Calgary, Carolina, and Florida. While they can't affect the Blues' ability to make the playoffs tonight, they can prolong the "clinching" drive just a little bit if they can go into St. Louis and steal a win.

It will be a tough order; the Blues have lost in regulation at home just four times this season; one of those losses came on opening night. Since opening night, they've notched 64 points in 37 games. Y'ouch!

The Jackets, however, come in with a tiny bit of swagger, having won two in a row at home behind rookie Allen York in goal. It will take another great effort to make a dent in St. Louis's plans for a victory parade tonight.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(26-45-7, 59 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Cam Atkinson
Vinny Prospal Mark Letestu Rick Nash
Ryan Russell Ryan Johansen Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies Darryl Boyce Jared Boll
Jack Johnson Dalton Prout
Nikita Nikitin Brett Lebda
Aaron Johnson John Moore
Allen York
Shawn Hunwick

St. Louis Blues
(48-20-10, 106 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
Ian Cole Roman Polak
Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

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 1 at St. Louis 4 - RECAP
03/11/12 - St. Louis 2 at Columbus 1 - RECAP
03/31/12 - Columbus at St. Louis

Head to Head

St. Louis Columbus
2.54 (19) GPG 2.32 (28)
1.82 (1) GAPG 3.18 (29)
17.1% (17) PP% 14.9% (27)
85.4% (7) PK% 76.0% (30)
David Backes, 23 G leader Rick Nash, 27
Alex Pietrangelo, 37 A leader Vinny Prospal, 36
David Backes, 53 Pts leader Rick Nash, 54
Ryan Reaves, 109 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 214
30-4-4 Home/Road 10-24-4
3/29 @ Chicago, L 4-3 (SO) Last Game 3/30 vs. Florida, W 4-1
5-2-3 Last 10 4-6-0

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