Game Preview #33 - E Pluribus Unum

Kirk Irwin

As the injuries continue to mount, the Jackets host the red-hot Blues in an old WC Central Division throw-down.

St. Louis Blues at Columbus Blue Jackets

December 14, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WWCD 102.5 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: St. Louis Game Time
SBN's Blues vs Blue Jackets coverage
Tickets

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.

Projected Lineups

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
Mike McKenna
Jeremy Smith

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
Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Season Series

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 RangersW 4-2
7-3-0 Last 10 6-4-0
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