OK, so this one will be a tester. The Jackets are now down to their third and fourth goaltenders, as Mike McKenna will get the start and emergency recall Jeremy Smith will back up as Curtis McElhinney nurses his lower-body injury.
And what better team to face that a red-hot Blues team that seems to be firing on all cylinders?
The Jackets' injury wagon continues to roll down the hill, as McElhinney left Thursday's game after the first period and McKenna was forced into his first NHL action since the 2010-2011 season. He was good against the Rangers, but this is going to be a completely different test.
St. Louis is rolling, and their top line of Alexander Steen, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie is just crushing opponents right now. Combined, they have 41 goals and 50 assists. The Blues are slightly different than in years past, in that in addition to their strong defense they've added a great offense to the mix this year as well. There really isn't much of a weakness on this Blues team.
The Jackets aren't playing bad hockey themselves, with wins in four of five games. That said, they're getting dangerously thin in goal, and are going to have to keep bringing the all-20-guys-up approach that won them the game on Thursday. I worry that they will try to collapse on their own net to protect Mike McKenna, and the Blues will open up a shooting gallery and wear them down. Likewise, that approach limits the Jackets' offensive chances as well, and they'll need to generate some scoring chances--and bury them--to have a chance to outlast the Blues.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(14-15-3, 31 Points; 4th division, 10th conference)
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||R.J. Umberger|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Boone Jenner||Artem Anisimov||Blake Comeau|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Corey Tropp|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Ryan Murray||David Savard|
|Nikita Nikitin||Dalton Prout|
St. Louis Blues
(21-6-3, 45 Points; 2nd division, 5th conference)
|Alexander Steen||David Backes||T.J. Oshie|
|Jaden Schwartz||Vladimir Sobotka||Chris Stewart|
|Derek Roy||Patrik Berglund||Vladimir Tarasenko|
|Brenden Morrow||Maxim Lapierre||Adam Cracknell|
|Alex Pietrangelo||Jay Bouwmeester|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||Barret Jackman|
|Ian Cole||Roman Polak|
12/14/13 - St. Louis at Columbus
01/04/14 - Columbus at St. Louis
Head to Head Stats
St. Louis Columbus 3.43 (2) GPG 2.53 (20) 2.30 (7) GAPG 2.72 (17) 23.8% (3) PP% 19.8% (9) 83.5% (12) PK% 81.7% (17) Alexander Steen, 22 G leader Ryan Johansen, 11 T.J. Oshie, 23 A leader James Wisniewski, 16 Alexander Steen, 35 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 25 Chris Stewart, 66 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 66 8-4-1 Road/Home 8-7-1 12/12 vs. Toronto, W 6-3 Last Game 12/12 @ NY Rangers, W 4-2 7-3-0 Last 10 6-4-0