March 1 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) defends a shot attempt by Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) during the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
April 5, 2012 - 9:00pm EDT
Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Mile High Hockey
The Jackets are finishing their road schedule tonight in Colorado, coming off a shut-out loss in Phoenix that might be one of the only losses where you can take some positives away. Mike Smith was flat-out disgusting, stopping 54 shots for his third straight shut-out. If you're Columbus, what else can you really do?
As for this game, the Avalanche NEED it. Literally. They're in 10th place, four points behind the Sharks, with two games to go. They need two points in regulation, or their playoff chances are done. Even with those two points in regulation, they may be done. They need some help from the Sharks and Stars tonight as well. If the Sharks get even one point in Los Angeles tonight, the Avs are done. At the end of the day, however, the Avs need to win tonight.
So, if the Jackets ever wanted to play spoilers, tonight is the night. Colorado, however, comes in having had a stunning five days off. In April. Fair to the other teams?? I digress...
For Colorado, their situation has been largely self-inflicted. Prior to winning the other night against Calgary, they had lost four straight (0-3-1), which really hurt their chances. Obviously, when you look at the schedule and see the 30th place team coming to town on a must-win night, it looks good. However, given the recent history, looking past the Jackets is done at one's own peril.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(27-46-7, 61 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||James Wisniewski|
|Brett Lebda||Nikita Nikitin|
|Aaron Johnson||Dalton Prout|
(41-33-6, 88 Points; 2nd Division, 10th Conference)
|Mark Olver||Ryan O`Reilly||Gabriel Landeskog|
|David Jones||Paul Stastny||Steve Downie|
|Milan Hejduk||Matt Duchene||Chuck Kobasew|
|Cody McLeod||Jay McClement||Peter Mueller|
|Matt Hunwick||Erik Johnson|
|Jan Hejda||Ryan O'Byrne|
|Shane O'Brien||Tyson Barrie|
Head to Head
Colorado Columbus 2.45 (23) GPG 2.32 (28) 2.59 (11) GAPG 3.15 (28) 18.3% (12) PP% 14.8% (27) 83.2% (12) PK% 76.6% (30) Gabriel Landeskog, 22 G leader Rick Nash, 27 Ryan O'Reilly, 37 A leader Vinny Prospal, 36 Ryan O'Reilly, 55 Pts leader Rick Nash, 56 Cody McLeod, 159 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 218 22-15-2 Home/Road 11-25-4 3/30 @ Calgary, W 4-1 Last Game 4/3 @ Phoenix, L 2-0 5-3-2 Last 10 5-5-0
- "I'm ALL HEART, Motherf**kah!" - With apologies for language, that quote from Rod Tidwell in "Jerry Maguire" is here for one reason. In copying/pasting the last preview I did as the skeleton for this one, the note at the bottom that I'd written said this: "Columbus has 19 games to go, and are going to have to find some kind of magical powers not to limp home below 50 points. Breaking their franchise record for season point total (low) is still staring them in the face, so we'll see how much pride they have." Suffice it to say, that was written shortly after the trading deadline when things looked pretty dark; the team was 18-38-7, 43 points. Since then, the Jackets have gone 9-8-0 and are sitting at 61 points. Certainly not an awesome run in a vacuum, but certainly not a team that has rolled over and played dead.
- Shots, Shots, Shots! - The Jackets out-shot Phoenix 54-22 the other night. They set a team record for shots on goal. They doubled up the Yotes... plus 10. It would stand to reason that if they can pepper Varlamov with a high number of shots tonight, he's not going to stop all of them like Smith did. Just sayin'.
- Spoiled Goods - The Jackets have stolen a lot of points from teams that really needed them over that 17-game span. None would be bigger than tonight. Just get one, boys, and you eliminate the Avs from the playoffs. Wouldn't that be awesome?