Game Preview #40 - End 2013 On A Mile High Note

USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets end a crazy calendar 2013 in the Mile High City to take on the revived Avs.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Colorado Avalanche

December 31, 2013 - 8:00 pm EST
Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Mile High Hockey
SBN's Blue Jackets vs Avalanche coverage

Welp, 2013 comes to a close tonight. Thanks to all of you for continuing to help us grow this past year; it's been amazing to see the community blossom, and we owe that all to you. Please have a Happy New Year, and stay safe out there tonight!

On to the business at hand: the Jackets are coming off a disappointing loss to the Pens during which they carried the play for long stretches. The biggest problem is that none of those stretches came on Special Teams, and the Pens buried them. They head out west to face a resurgent Avs team that is coming off of a complete change of their organization, going back to their "roots" with Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy running the show yet again. They parlayed a lottery win into Nathan MacKinnon, and roared out to a crazy good start to the season, starting out 14-2-0.

That said, since that start they're a .500 hockey team, going 9-9-4 in their last 22. Perhaps this is more in line with what should be expected of the Avs as they continue to build for the future.

They're coming off a heartbreaking OT loss in which Winnipeg scored literally in the last second of the game before heading to a shootout. They've lost four in a row, and five of six (1-2-3, 5pts). Tonight marks game two of a seven-game homestand for Colorado.

The Jackets may be without Blake Comeau tonight, as he didn't skate this morning. Ryan Craig was recalled just in case he can't go. That said, the hope is that Craig won't be here long if he's needed, as Nathan Horton is traveling with the team and practiced yesterday. There's no word on if he'll play on this four-game road trip, but the fact that he's there is encouraging. Ditto for Sergei Bobrovsky, who also practiced and is traveling with the team. If the Jackets can get moderately healthy and stay at or slightly above .500 until the Olympic break, things might really take shape for them after Sochi.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(17-18-4, 38 Points; 6th division, 12th conference)

Nick Foligno Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Brandon Dubinsky Artem Anisimov Cam Atkinson
Jack Skille Derek MacKenzie Blake Comeau
Boone Jenner Mark Letestu Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Curtis McElhinney
Mike McKenna

Colorado Avalanche
(23-11-4, 50 Points; 3rd division, 7th conference)

Gabriel Landeskog Paul Stastny Jamie McGinn
Ryan O'Reilly Matt Duchene Nathan MacKinnon
Cody McLeod John Mitchell Maxime Talbot
Patrick Bordeleau Marc-Andre Cliche Brad Malone
Jan Hejda Erik Johnson
Cory Sarich Andre Benoit
Tyson Barrie Sami Aittokallio
Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Season Series

12/31/13 - Columbus at Colorado
04/01/14 - Colorado at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Colorado Columbus
2.82 (10) GPG 2.67 (13)
2.47 (11) GAPG 2.85 (21)
16.1% (20) PP% 17.0% (18)
80.2% (22) PK% 80.7% (21)
Matt Duchene, 16 G leader Ryan Johansen, 15
Matt Duchene, 18 A leader Brandon Dubinsky / James Wisniewski, 18
Matt Duchene, 34 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 30
Cody McLeod, 74 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 68
12-5-2 Home/Road 8-9-2
12/29 vs. Winnipeg, L 2-1 (OT) Last Game 12/29 vs. Pittsburgh, L 5-3
3-3-4 Last 10 5-4-1
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