The Jackets find themselves smack in the middle of the season: game 24's completion tonight puts them halfway through the season. Through 24 games last season, they were 6-15-3. So, there's already technically some improvement--at least three points, pending tonight--despite probably being less talented on paper. Cool.
The Jackets have won two straight, and have points in four straight. They've taken good teams to overtime, and won two games against teams that have given them fits in the past. However, they may have to juggle a bit AGAIN tonight. Fedor Tyutin will be a game-time decision, and Nikita Nikitin should be back tonight, and Tim Erixon didn't skate this morning but should play; he's fighting flu-like symptoms.
The Jackets are in the midst of a huge stretch of games at home, and it's no secret they've been a much better team at home than on the road: 5-4-3 compared to 2-8-1, and 33 goals in 12 home games (2.75 g/g) against 18 goals in 11 road games (1.64 g/g). Their goals allowed are comparable (35 at home, 33 on the road).
Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start after his stellar relief performance Tuesday night.
The Canucks come in limping a bit. Since starting out 8-2-2, they have gone just 3-4-3 in their last 10 games, and have just one win in their last five games. They're fighting injuries (who isn't?), and they just aren't scoring like the Canucks of yore. They're still a very skilled team, but they might be vulnerable tonight. Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, and Keith Ballard are all out tonight, which makes them a less dangerous team for sure.
But that top line, man. Still gotta mark up those Sedins.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(7-12-4, 18 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Matt Calvert||Artem Anisimov||Cam Atkinson|
|Vinny Prospal||Mark Letestu||Derek Dorsett|
|Derek MacKenzie||Derick Brassard||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Tim Erixon||Adrian Aucoin|
|Nikita Nikitin||Dalton Prout|
(11-6-5, 27 Points; 1st Division, 3rd Conference)
|Daniel Sedin||Henrik Sedin||Alexandre Burrows|
|Chris Higgins||Mason Raymond||Jannik Hansen|
|David Booth||Maxim Lapierre||Zack Kassian|
|Tom Sestito||Jordan Schroeder||Dale Weise|
|Alexander Edler||Chris Tanev|
|Dan Hamhuis||Jason Garrison|
|Andrew Alberts||Cam Barker|
03/07/13 - Vancouver at Columbus
03/12/13 - Vancouver at Columbus
03/26/13 - Columbus at Vancouver
Head to Head
Vancouver Columbus 2.77 (16) GPG 2.22 (27) 2.54 (11) GAPG 2.96 (22) 15.9% (20) PP% 14.1% (27) 80.0% (19) PK% 85.2% (7) Daniel Sedin, 8 G leader Vinny Prospal, 9 Henrik Sedin, 18 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 11 Daniel Sedin / Henrik Sedin, 22 Pts leader Vinny Prospal, 14 Dale Weise, 36 PIM leader Jared Boll, 74 5-3-2 Road/Home 5-4-3 3/5 vs. San Jose, L 3-2 (SO) Last Game 3/5 vs Edmonton, W 4-3 (SO) 3-4-3 Last 10 3-5-2
- No Kesler - Nothing of note here, other than we won't get to watch the game with the potential of a Kesler/Umberger dust-up at any moment.
- Special Teams - The Jackets finally broke their dry spell on the Power Play with two goals on Sunday, and then notched another one on Tuesday. I'm not saying it's "fixed" by any stretch, but they're starting to find their groove a little bit more after that awful drought. They scored against a very good PK unit the other night; Vancouver isn't of that quality. The Jackets' PK streak continues, and they've climbed back up to 7th. The Jackets will need to continue to build on the PP success, and continue to be disciplined 5-on-5, and good on the PK.
- Goaltending - Steve Mason did not do well Tuesday. Bobrovsky did. You have to admit that neither of them has really taken the #1 role by the horns, but Bob certainly put a check mark in his column Tuesday after all but stealing a win from a game they probably should have lost. Conversely, they probably wouldn't have been in the position to play from behind had Mason played better. Can Bob follow it up?
Columbus has looked--almost--like not the worst team in the league over their last seven games. These Canucks are not unbeatable anymore. The Jackets need to continue building, and maybe steal one tonight.