Unless they've changed it, the Jackets' third jerseys say "We Fight, We March!" inside the collar. That slogan started back in the 2008-2009 playoff push: each night the team would fight, get their two points, and march on to the next one. The big driver? Ken Hitchcock, who will of course be on the opposite bench tonight.
These two teams are so incestuous right now it's not funny. Between the player trade last season, the Hitchcock move, and the John Davidson/Jarmo Kekalainen connection, playing St. Louis is like wrestling with your brother. And, for even more parallels, these two teams are within shouting distance of each other in the standings, and both are coming off of huge road wins last night.
In other words, they're fighting, and they're marching on.
The Jackets' newest addition was a huge boost last night, as Marian Gaborik pitched in a goal and an assist in his first game with Columbus. But, yet again, it was the goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky that was the difference. The Jackets were outplayed for most of the first 40 minutes, and their blueliners didn't do much to help matters. Bob was just unbreakable again. Hopefully, however, it's the third period effort that carries over into tonight. If watching the likes of Matt Calvert slowly suck the life out of the Predators doesn't get Gabs on board for a mad dash, well, I don't know what to tell ya. Gabs? "It's going to be fine. I feel good about this."
Phew, cool. We're good.
The biggest difference between last year's Blues and this year's? Defense and goaltending. After getting other-worldly goaltending from both netminders, this year they've battled injuries and inconsistency to drop down to the middle of the league in goals-against. To help, they went out and grabbed Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold from Calgary and Buffalo. Also hurting the Blues' cause this year? Last year they were a juggernaut at home. This year, not so much. Perhaps the Jackets can continue to build on their road record by taking advantage of that.
The Jackets will see the debut of Blake Comeau, who should draw in on the fourth line in place of Colton Gillies. Also of note, the Jackets brought up defenseman Cody Goloubef on emergency recall, though I can't seem to find who might be injured that would necessitate this move. Tim Erixon is banged up, but he was banged up last night, too.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(16-14-7, 39 Points; 4th division, 10th conference)
|Vinny Prospal||Artem Anisimov||Marian Gaborik|
|R.J. Umberger||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Blake Comeau||Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Nikita Nikitin||Dalton Prout|
|James Wisniewski||Adrian Aucoin|
St. Louis Blues
(19-14-2, 40 Points; 3rd Division, 8th Conference)
|Andy McDonald||David Backes||Alexander Steen|
|Jaden Schwartz||Patrik Berglund||Chris Stewart|
|David Perron||Vladimir Sobotka||Vladimir Tarasenko|
|Adam Cracknell||Chris Porter||Ryan Reaves|
|Jay Bouwmeester||Alex Pietrangelo|
|Jordan Leopold||Kevin Shattenkirk|
|Barret Jackman||Roman Polak|
Head to Head
St. Louis Columbus 2.83 (9) GPG 2.32 (30) 2.74 (19) GAPG 2.54 (11) 22.0% (6) PP% 13.8% (26) 83.2% (9) PK% 86.0% (5) Chris Stewart, 15 G leader Marian Gaborik / Vinny Prospal, 10 Kevin Shattenkirk, 18 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 15 Chris Stewart, 29 Pts leader Marian Gaborik / Vinny Prospal, 21 Ryan Reaves, 69 PIM leader Jared Boll, 86 8-7-1 Home/Road 5-10-2 4/4 @ Chicago, W 4-3 (SO) Last Game 4/4 @ Nashville, W 3-1 6-4-0 Last 10 6-2-2
- How About That - One game in, and Marian Gaborik is already tied for the Blue Jackets' lead in goals and points for the season. Obviously, he's only scored one of each for Columbus, but it tells you the story of how badly this team needs scoring up front, and of how much Gaborik can help.
- Shut Down the Big Boys - St. Louis has 99 goals on the season. 29 of them have come off the sticks of two men: Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund. That's almost 30% of the team's scoring from two guys. The next highest scorer has just nine goals. The Blues are scoring well this season, yes, but those two guys have been their most dangerous weapons.
The Jackets won last night despite playing pretty, ehh, badly for most of the first 40 minutes. They'll need to be better tonight. These two points--especially in regulation--are ever so valuable.