So. just as a kickoff caveat, the lineups below are total guesses. The Jackets didn't skate this morning, and there have been no official announcements as of this time.
Despite all of our grumbling, the Jackets have points in three straight (1-0-2), and tonight would give them a chance to add to that streak. Remember, this is how it started last season: some close losses in which they earned a point, and all of a sudden that had a crazy-long points streak that pushed them back into the race. I'm not saying, just saying.
The Jackets played about as well as they can play for most of the third period last night, and though they couldn't get the game-winning goal across, you have to feel that they took some steps forward. Now, if they can just play that way for 60 minutes.
The Habs have been off since Tuesday, but they have been scuffling of late as well: 4-6-2 over their last 12 games, not exactly setting the world on fire. That said, we know a dangerous team is in there somewhere: they showed it early in the last meeting between these two clubs. If the Jackets can better navigate that first 20 minutes while they find there legs against a fast team [gulp], then I like their chances.
That said, it's a might big "if" there.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(6-10-2, 14 Points; 8th division, 14th conference)
|Brandon Dubinsky||Ryan Johansen||Cam Atkinson|
|R.J. Umberger||Artem Anisimov||Marian Gaborik|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Blake Comeau|
|Nick Foligno||Michael Chaput||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Ryan Murray||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
(9-8-2, 20 Points; 5th Division, 7th Conference)
|Michael Bournival||Tomas Plekanec||Brian Gionta|
|Alex Galchenyuk||Lars Eller||Brendan Gallagher|
|Max Pacioretty||Danny Briere||Rene Bourque|
|Alexei Emelin||David Desharnais||Ryan White|
|Andrei Markov||P.K. Subban|
|Josh Gorges||Raphael Diaz|
|Douglas Murray||Francis Bouillon|
10/17/13 - Columbus 3 at Montreal 5
11/15/13 - Montreal at Columbus
03/20/14 - Columbus at Montreal
Head to Head Stats
Montreal Columbus 2.58 (17) GPG 2.50 (20) 2.10 (4) GAPG 2.94 (22) 23.6% (3) PP% 17.5% (19) 85.9% (6) PK% 80.4% (23) Brendan Gallagher, 8 G leader four tied, 5 P.K. Subban, 14 A leader James Wisniewski, 12 P.K. Subban, 17 Pts leader Brandon Dubinsky, 15 George Parros, 32 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 36 4-4-0 Road/Home 4-6-0 11/12 vs. Tampa Bay, L 2-1 (OT) Last Game 11/14 @ Boston, L 3-2 (OT) 4-4-2 Last 10 3-5-2
Rather than a bulleted list, I'll just say this: this Jackets team isn't playing "badly" per se. They need to finish their chances. It won't be easy against a tough goalie who's playing well. They also need to continue to improve the sloppiness in their own zone. Montreal can punish them if they're bad in their own zone again. I feel like the Jackets *can* win this game, but they're going to have to play like they did in the first period against Detroit, and yet bury those chances. An 18-shot period with no goals just isn't going to cut it.