After two close losses--and a 1-5-0 road trip--the Jackets return home to face the Stars.
It was not quite a month ago when the Blue Jackets were coming off of a hard-fought, one-goal loss to Chicago. The Dallas Stars came calling. The Jackets needed to be rewarded for playing well, and they were, beating the Stars 2-1 behind a great performance from Sergei Bobrovsky.
Fast forward to now, and the Jackets are again coming off a hard-fought, one-goal loss to Chicago. Guess who's coming to dinner?
The Dallas Stars.
The Stars have been playing well of late, posting a 7-4-1 record in February after a slow 2-4-1 start in January. And, they've been doing it of late without Kari Lehtonen, out with a groin injury. Given that the Stars played last night, and that Lehtonen probably isn't ready, look for backup-to-the-backup Richard Bachman to get the nod tonight.
The Jackets made a roster move as well: they sent Sean Collins down to Springfield, and brought up defenseman Cody Goloubef. With Jack Johnson down, look for Goloubef to rotate in at some point in the next couple of games.  With the news coming that James Wisniewski has a broken foot, I've adjusted the lineup accordingly.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(5-12-2, 12 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Derick Brassard||Cam Atkinson|
|Vinny Prospal||Mark Letestu||Derek Dorsett|
|Matt Calvert||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Colton Gillies||Derek MacKenzie||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Nikita Nikitin|
|Tim Erixon||Cody Goloubef|
|John Moore||Adrian Aucoin|
(9-8-2, 20 Points; 3rd Division, 8th Conference)
|Brenden Morrow||Jamie Benn||Jaromir Jagr|
|Matt Fraser||Derek Roy||Loui Eriksson|
|Reilly Smith||Cody Eakin||Michael Ryder|
|Eric Nystrom||Vernon Fiddler||Ryan Garbutt|
|Stephane Robidas||Brenden Dillon|
|Jordie Benn||Trevor Daley|
|Jamie Oleksiak||Alex Goligoski|
01/28/13 - Dallas 1 at Columbus 2
02/26/13 - Dallas at Columbus
04/25/13 - Columbus at Dallas
Head to Head
Dallas Columbus 2.63 (18) GPG 2.05 (30) 2.79 (17) GAPG 2.90 (20) 18.6% (11) PP% 12.4% (28) 83.0% (11) PK% 83.6% (9) Michael Ryder / Jamie Benn, 6 G leader Vinny Prospal, 6 six tied, 8 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 9 Michael Ryder / Jamie Benn, 14 Pts leader Fedor Tyutin / Derick Brassard, 10 Vernon Fiddler / Eric Nystrom, 25 PIM leader Jared Boll, 69 5-5-1 Road/Home 3-4-2 2/25 @ Nashville, L 5-4 (OT) Last Game 2/24 @ Chicago, L 1-0 6-3-1 Last 10 2-7-1
- Special Teams - The Jackets' Power Play is struggling, there's no question about it. There were times in Chicago Sunday night where they looked downright dreadful. Columbus is one for their last 22 on the Power Play. The Stars PK has surrendered a goal in each of the last four games, but haven't been horrible (17-for-21, 81.0%). Conversely, they have cashed in on four of their last 10 man advantages over their past two games. Thankfully, the Jackets' PK has been sharp again of late, even without Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, killing off their last nine penalties over the past three games.
- Shots On Goal That Are Actually On Goal - Columbus has been right there with St. Louis and Chicago over the past two games. However, the big issue is that they just aren't generating good scoring chances with their shots. They generated 48 shots on goal in those two games, but had another 39 attempts blocked. So, yeah, let's get some better shots. It's reminiscent of the Scott Arniel "fire the puck!" offense that generated a lot of crappy non-chances.
- Defense? Clap-Clap - All we heard leading up to this season was about how the Jackets should be stronger on defense than in years-past. While the season numbers don't necessarily bear that out, I think it's worth mentioning that in their last eight games they've allowed just 20 goals, which is 2.50 goals per game. Doesn't sound great, does it? Well, consider that in their previous 11 games they'd allowed 31 (2.82 goals per game). Neither goaltender has a save percentage below .900, or a gaa above 2.77. It's not great, but it's getting better, man.
The Jackets finished their road trip with one win, but the last three games--all division games--were pretty solid efforts: a 3-2 win in which they came back from a 2-0 deficit in the first three minutes against Detroit, and two close, hard-fought losses against St. Louis and Chicago. This is a lost season, for the most part, but I'll certainly take those kinds of results if the improvement is tangible.