Game Preview #7 - Time to Break The Gridlock In Washington

Greg Fiume

The Jackets are riding a three-game losing streak, including a real gut-punch Thursday night in Montreal. Can they right the ship against the struggling Caps?

Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals

October 19, 2013 - 7:00 pm EDT
Verizon Center - Washington, DC
Radio - WWCD 102.5 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Japers' Rink
SBN's Capitals vs Blue Jackets Coverage

Thankfully, the Jackets won't have too much longer to stew about Thursday's nightmarish loss in Montreal. After a pretty crappy first period-plus, they roared back with three unanswered goals against a good team on the road to tie it in the third period. They were dominating the third period.

And then the fluky goal happened. Ugh.

That said, they get to get right back at it tonight to finish this short road trip in DC. They will face a team that is struggling as much--or more--than they are. The Caps are 2-5-0, and are really struggling to score goals. They're also struggling to stop the puck, too, which hopefully bodes well for a Jackets team that, prior to Thursday, had struggled to score goals themselves for a few games.

In roster news, the Jackets expect Marian Gaborik back in the lineup. Nick Foligno is still back in Columbus tending to personal business, and we wish him all the best (being the father of a young child, the memories of those first post-birth weeks are still fresh. I certainly hope nothing serious is going on with either Nick's wife or his child. Say a prayer, or whatever your spiritual M.O. might be, for the Folignos).

There is some big-time line reshuffling, as Artem Anisimov somehow earned a promotion to top-line center, with Brandon Dubinsky moving back to line #2 with Boone Jenner and Mark Letestu. While I like the look of that second line, Arty on the top line worries me. He's been fighting the puck all season thus far.

Also, I don't quite get Ryan Johansen getting bumped down to the checking line, as I thought he played his best game of the year on Thursday. I guess that's why I'm writing here and not coaching there.

Sean Collins is back in Springfield, and Jack Skille is with the team, though not in the lineup tonight. On defense, the Jackets will most likely roll the same pairings, though Todd Richards hadn't made a decision as of morning skate who would sit. He did say, however, that Ryan Murray and David Savard would be playing no matter what. And, you know what? That's fair. Those two have been the most consistent guys in all six games thus far.

Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start, and we will expect Curtis McElhinney to go tomorrow at home against Vancouver. Bob gets a chance to wipe away the pretty bad game he had on Thursday. Let's hope he's ready to do that.

For the Caps, they have struggled to score all season, and were shutout on Wednesday at home against the Rangers. Their Power Play has been dangerous, but beyond that they have a lot of trouble getting the puck into the net at even strength. Likewise, their defensive effort has been lacking, as they're allowing almost three and a half goals per game. Columbus needs to be disciplined, not give that PP unit a chance to get going, and capitalize (see what I did there?) against a suspect defense.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(2-4-0, 4 Points; 5th division, 11th conference)

Cam Atkinson Artem Anisimov Marian Gaborik
Boone Jenner Brandon Dubinsky Mark Letestu
Blake Comeau Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Ryan Craig Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Washington Capitals
(2-5-0, 4 Points; 6th Division, 12th Conference)

Marcus Johansson Niklas Backstrom Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat Brooks Laich Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera Mikhail Grabovski Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti Eric Fehr Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner John Carlson
Nate Schmidt Mike Green
Alexander Urbom Steve Oleksy
Braden Holtby
Michal Neuvirth

Season Series

10/19/13 - Columbus at Washington
11/12/13 - Columbus at Washington
01/17/14 - Washington at Columbus
01/30/14 - Washington at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Washington Columbus
2.29 (21) GPG 2.33 (20)
3.43 (27) GAPG 2.83 (20)
30.8% (1) PP% 27.3% (5)
84.0% (11) PK% 83.3% (13)
Alex Ovechkin, 6 G leader five tied, 2
Niklas Backstrom, 7 A leader Marian Gaborik, 4
Alex Ovechkin, 9 Pts leader Marian Gaborik, 6
Tom Wilson, 14 PIM leader Jared Boll, 12
2-3-0 Home/Road 2-2-0
10/160 vs. NY RangersL 2-0 Last Game 10/17 @ Montreal, L 5-3
2-5-0 Last 10 2-4-0

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