The Blue Jackets take the ice at home tonight for the first time in awhile, and are coming off of three days rest. They face a red-hot team in Carolina tonight, however, as the Canes come in winners of five straight. After making a move on defense for John-Michael Liles but also losing Cam Ward and Eric Staal to injury, all the Canes have done is ride Anton Khudobin and some solid defense to five straight wins over some decent opponents.
Jeff Skinner continues to carry the scoring load with Staal out, and Skinner has points in six straight games (7G, 5A) and a staggering 18 goals in his last 19 games. As you'll remember, he scored twice against the Jackets when they played in Raleigh recently.
Khudobin has come in with Ward hurt and has started four straight, with wins in all four. He's allowed just seven goals on 139 shots, good for a .950 save percentage. This doesn't bode well for Columbus, they of the career of making backups look like Vezina winners.
For Columbus, some good news and some bad news. First, the good: Matt Calvert is back off the IR list tonight, and draws in with Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. Calvert seems to be a great engine for driving the Jackets' effort level, for whatever reason, so his return helps a lot. That said, the Jackets lose a strong physical presence in Blake Comeau, who went on IR with a sprained knee and is lost for four to six weeks.
It's going to come down to one thing for Columbus tonight: energy. If they manage to build a lead, they cannot sit on it tonight. They have to be good on special teams, as the PK has been just brutal for the past 11 games, allowing 12 goals on 46 times short-handed (73.9% conversion). The PK burned them last time against Carolina. Killing penalties relies on energy. Calvert should help there, too.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(19-20-4, 42 Points; 7th division, 13th conference)
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||R.J. Umberger|
|Boone Jenner||Artem Anisimov||Nathan Horton|
|Ryan Craig||Mark Letestu||Corey Tropp|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Ryan Murray||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
(19-16-9, 47 Points; 4th division, 8th conference)
|Tuomo Ruutu||Jeff Skinner||Alexander Semin|
|Nathan Gerbe||Jordan Staal||Patrick Dwyer|
|Zach Boychuk||Brett Sutter||Elias Lindholm|
|Drayson Bowman||Manny Malhotra||Radek Dvorak|
|Justin Faulk||Andrej Sekera|
|Ron Hainsey||Brett Bellemore|
|John-Michael Liles||Ryan Murphy|
12/23/13 - Columbus 4 at Carolina 3
01/10/14 - Carolina at Columbus
01/27/14 - Columbus at Carolina
03/18/14 - Carolina at Columbus
03/29/14 - Columbus at Carolina
Head to Head Stats
Carolina Columbus 2.50 (21) GPG 2.65 (14) 2.77 (18) GAPG 2.91 (19) 14.9% (25) PP% 17.1% (20) 79.7% (22) PK% 79.3% (24) Jeff Skinner, 21 G leader Ryan Johansen, 16 Eric Staal, 25 A leader Brandon Dubinsky / James Wisniewski, 20 Jeff Skinner / Eric Staal, 35 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 32 Eric Staal, 48 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 70 9-8-4 Road/Home 9-9-2 1/9 vs. Toronto, W 6-1 Last Game 1/6 @ NY Rangers, W 4-3 (SO) 5-3-2 Last 10 5-5-0