Game Preview #18 - Who Will Be Singing the Blues?

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets continue the road trip tonight in St. Louis, where the enigmatic Blues are waiting.

Columbus Blue Jackets at St. Louis Blues

February 23, 2013 - 8:00pm EST
Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Missouri
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: St. Louis Game Time
SBNation Game Page

Well, so here we are again. The Jackets got some good news about Artem Anisimov, in that he was released from the hospital and returned to Columbus on Friday. He's going to be day-to-day for a bit, methinks. But, nothing major, so that's good news. The Jackets recalled Nick Drazenovic as insurance while they decide whether Arty goes to IR or not. I've listed Sean Collins below as the third line center, though either he or Draz could go tonight.

Likewise, on the D pairs, there's been some shuffling. I've left in Tim Erixon from the other night's lineup, but it could easily be John Moore as well. Finally, in goal, after finishing strong, Sergei Bobrovsky may get to go again tonight. However, it should be noted that last time out against St. Louis was not his best effort, whereas Steve Mason came in and was great in relief. We'll see how it shakes out today.

St. Louis started out the season 6-1-0, with that record in tow after these teams played last on 1/31. Since then, however, they've gone 3-5-2--including a five game winless streak (0-4-1)--and are struggling at home (though find themselves quite, quite good on the road). Last season the Blues were nearly unbeatable at home, but so far they've only gone 3-4-1 at Scottrade Center.

It's been on defense for the Blues, with a team gaa at nearly three allowed per game. Yowza. Ken Hitchcock canNOT be enjoying that. After a particularly ugly loss to Los Angeles--their fifth loss in a row at the time--David Backes had some choice things to say about his team's play:

"There’s no secret, it’s going out there and playing for the group. We got too many guys lookin’ at the stat sheet and wondering how many goal, and assists, and…cookies they got rather then taking a hit to make a play and getting run over so we can get a puck out so that your teammate can maybe have a three-on-two, or…so you can block a shot and kill a penalty when we really need it so we can stay in a game.

We just don’t have that desperation, that accountability, that responsibility to each other. Look at that team we played tonight, they all have that. They’re guys that are willing to get run over for the guy sitting next to them. I said it after the playoffs and it still rings true. We need all 20 guys to have that mentality, that ‘I’m willing to sacrifice my body and the stat sheet so that we can be successful,’ all 20 guys need to be willing to do that every single night, or else, we’re going to have too many interviews like this."

In other words, all is not well in Blues-land. The Jackets played a horrible three minutes in Detroit, and then came back with an incredible effort to erase a 2-0 lead and win 3-2 with a last-second goal. In other words, if they can maybe not find themselves behind early, and play with that kind of intensity, perhaps they can steal another road win.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(5-10-2, 12 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Cam Atkinson Derick Brassard R.J. Umberger
Vinny Prospal Mark Letestu Derek Dorsett
Matt Calvert Sean Collins Nick Foligno
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Jack Johnson Adrian Aucoin
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Tim Erixon James Wisniewski
Sergei Bobrovsky
Steve Mason

St. Louis Blues
(9-6-2, 20 Points; 3rd Division, 5th Conference)

David Perron David Backes T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald Alexander Steen Matt D'Agostini
Vladimir Sobotka Patrik Berglund Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz Scott Nichol Ryan Reaves
Ian Cole Alex Pietrangelo
Kris Russell Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman Roman Polak
Jaroslav Halak
Jake Allen

Season Series

01/31/13 - St. Louis 4 at Columbus 1
02/23/13 - Columbus at St. Louis
04/05/13 - Columbus at St. Louis
04/12/13 - St. Louis at Columbus

Head to Head

St. Louis Columbus
3.00 (5) GPG 2.24 (28)
2.94 (20) GAPG 3.06 (23)
31.7% (1) PP% 13.9% (25)
77.4% (23) PK% 82.4% (15)
Patrik Berglund, 9 G leader Vinny Prospal, 6
Kevin Shattenkirk, 13 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 9
Alexander Steen, 15 Pts leader Fedor Tyutin / Derick Brassard, 10
Ryan Reaves, 45 PIM leader Jared Boll, 65
3-4-1 Road/Home 2-6-0
2/20 @ Colorado, L 1-0 (OT) Last Game 2/21 @ Detroit, W 3-2
3-5-2 Last 10 3-6-1
    Game Notes
  • Back in St. Louis - This is the Jackets' first trip to St. Louis this season, which means it's also the first return for John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen as members of the Blue Jackets organization. One wonders if there might not be a little proverbial "money on the board" for the boys tonight, courtesy of their new bosses.
  • Umby and Brass - Finally, it took 17 games, but RJ Umberger is now a multiple-goal-scorer. And, don't look now, but Derick Brassard has quietly climbed into a tie for the team lead in points, thanks to a goal and an assist in his last two games. He made a nice steal and move to the net to set up Derek Dorsett's game tying goal in Detroit on Thursday.
  • Special Teams - Columbus is missing two of its best penalty killers, and the Blues bring in the league's top Power Play unit. I can't say this fills me with excitement. Columbus, on the other hand, has been struggling on the Power Play--though a goal the other night was nice--and on the PK as well. Here's hoping the ST units can hold up tonight against the Blues.

Don't forget to head down the Buffalo Wild Wings in Grandview (968 West Fifth Avenue) for tonight's watching party! Wings. Beer. Hockey. Prizes. DO IT.

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