Game Preview #40 - It's Now Or Never

USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets have just nine games left, and if they want to make the playoffs they'd better start winning.

San Jose Sharks at Columbus Blue Jackets

April 9, 2013 - 7:00pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Fear the Fin
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All it took was two games for the Jackets' momentum to be completely crushed. A close loss in St. Louis followed up by what could only be called a complete failure at home have left the Jackets hanging out in 12th place with nine games to go. And it won't get any easier tonight, as a red-hot Sharks team comes calling; no doubt they remember the 6-2 beating the Jackets put on them in February, too.

Columbus is starting to feel the effects of the schedule, as Ryan Johansen, Dalton Prout, and Nikita Nikitin were all questions marks heading into the day. Michael Chaput was recalled on emergency basis because of Johansen, though it appears Joey will go tonight. Ditto Nikitin; Prout will be a game-time decision. If he can't go, Tim Erixon has been cleared to play.

But, all it really comes down to is this: wil the Jackets show up? They did not on Sunday, and it may have cost them any realistic shot at the playoffs. They're probably going to need at least 15 points to get in, and there are only 18 points left on their schedule.

So, yeah, it's basically now or never, guys.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(16-16-7, 39 Points; 4th division, 12th conference)

Vinny Prospal Artem Anisimov Marian Gaborik
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
R.J. Umberger Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Blake Comeau Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Nikita Nikitin Dalton Prout
James Wisniewski Adrian Aucoin
Sergei Bobrovsky
Michael Leighton

San Jose Sharks
(20-11-7, 47 Points; 3rd Division, 5th Conference)

Martin Havlat Joe Thornton Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau Logan Couture Tommy Wingels
T.J. Galiardi Joe Pavelski Raffi Torres
Andrew Desjardins Scott Gomez Adam Burish
Matt Irwin Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart Jason Demers
Justin Braun Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Season Series

04/09/13 - San Jose at Columbus
04/21/13 - Columbus at San Jose

Head to Head

San Jose Columbus
2.42 (23) GPG 2.23 (30)
2.37 (7) GAPG 2.56 (14)
18.7% (12) PP% 13.2% (27)
86.7% (4) PK% 84.3% (7)
Patrick Marleau, 16 G leader three tied, 10
Joe Thornton, 28 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 15
Joe Thornton, 35 Pts leader Marian Gaborik / Vinny Prospal, 22
Andrew Desjardins, 57 PIM leader Jared Boll, 86
6-10-2 Road/Home 11-5-5
4/7 vs Dallas, L 5-4 (SO) Last Game 4/7 vs. Minnesota, L 3-0
8-1-1 Last 10 5-4-1
    Game Notes
  • More PPGs, Less PPGs Allowed - The Jackets were uncharacteristically bad on the PK on Sunday, surrendering the two goals that really put them completely out of the game on the PK in the second period. Lack of movement, lack of hustle, lack of quality clears. It was all on display. The Sharks' PP is better than Minnesota's, so it's not going to get any easier.
  • Heat Check - The Sharks are hot, having their SO loss on Sunday end a seven-game winning streak. They're hot at the right time, and the Jackets aren't going to sneak up on them like they may have back in February.
  • Effort - It sounds ridiculously simple: the Jackets were, dare I say it, out-worked on Sunday. At home. At this point in a season in which they are trying to make the playoffs, that's inexcusable. It can't happen again, or else they can start making their tee times for May.

This is it. Backs against the wall. Do or die. Put up or shut up. Shit or get off the pot. Pick your cliche: it starts now.

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