Game Preview #8 - Must Win?

USA TODAY Sports

This certainly feels like a cross-roads game. Are the Jackets content to roll over like last night?

Vancouver Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets

October 20, 2013 - 6:00 pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, OH
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Nucks Misconduct
SBN's Canucks vs Blue Jackets Coverage

If you follow me on Twitter (and let's face it, why wouldn't you?), you probably know that at a certain point during the third period last night, I kind of snapped. I started talking all doomsday-y. I know it's only been seven games, and there are 75 to go. But, honestly, from what you've seen this week, what faith do you have that this team is going to get back to where they were in the spring?

Mine has all but evaporated.

If ever there was a game to get back on track, it was last night. The Caps were struggling, they were allowing almost 3.5 goals per game heading in, they couldn't score at even strength. The Jackets let them do whatever they wanted. It was ugly.

Think of it this way: if 10 runners line up to run a 5-mile race, the runner that gets the worst start has to work that much harder to win the race. If he/she falls behind by several hundred yards right at the start, he/she could run his/her best for the rest of the race and still not catch up. We saw that in spades last season.

With each disgusting loss, the Jackets are putting themselves further and further behind. They kept talking in camp about a fast start, and at 2-1-0 it looked promising. Four losses later, especially these last two, and there have to be some doubts.

At any rate, the Canucks come to town having just played yesterday themselves (SO loss in Pittsburgh). They're a bit of an enigma right now statistically. They score well, but their Power Play is terrible. They don't defend well, but their PK is tops in the league. The Sedins aren't always on the same line. Up is down, black is white. Dogs and cats, living together.

That said, they're still the Canucks.

For the Jackets, expect Curtis McElhinney between the pipes, and expect Dalton Prout back in the lineup (why not?). We don't know who will sit, but my guess is Nikita Nikitin, what with his scrumptious turnovers he served up last night. No word on any forward line changes, though knowing Todd Richards there will be some.

All snark aside, this team has a question to answer: do they give enough of a shit to not let this thing get away? I don't know if any game this early is a must-win, but man does this game feel like one.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(2-5-0, 4 Points; 7th division, 14th 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
Dalton Prout David Savard
Curtis McElhinney
Sergei Bobrovsky

Vancouver Canucks
(5-3-1, 11 Points; 5th division, 8th conference)

Chris Higgins Henrik Sedin Ryan Kesler
Daniel Sedin Mike Santorelli Jannik Hansen
David Booth Zac Dalpe Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito Brad Richardson Dale Weise
Jason Garrison Kevin Bieksa
Dan Hamhuis Chris Tanev
Ryan Stanton Yannick Weber
Roberto Luongo
Eddie Lack

Season Series

10/20/13 - Vancouver at Columbus
11/22/13 - Columbus at Vancouver

Head to Head Stats

Vancouver Columbus
2.89 (12) GPG 2.14 (23)
2.78 (18) GAPG 3.00 (23)
8.3% (29) PP% 24.0% (9)
90.0% (1) PK% 77.3% (26)
Mike Santorelli, 4 G leader six tied, 2
Henrik Sedin, 10 A leader Marian Gaborik, 5
Henrik Sedin, 11 Pts leader Marian Gaborik, 7
Tom Sestito, 12 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 13
3-1-1 Road/Home 0-2-0
10/19 @ Pittsburgh, L 4-3 (SO) Last Game 10/19 @ Washington, L 4-1
5-3-1 Last 10 2-5-0
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