Game Preview #45 - Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sport

No rest for the Jackets, as they fly in and out of Winnipeg for a quick road game. Can they make it three wins in a row?

Columbus Blue Jackets at Winnipeg Jets

January 11, 2014 - 7:00 pm EST
MTS Centre - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Arctic Ice Hockey
SBN's Jets vs Blue Jackets coverage

The Jackets have clawed their way back to NHL-.500 yet again. Since being 2-1-0, they have not yet managed to climb back above that even mark ever since. Each time they've found their way back to even, they turn around and lose a game or two.

In short, the division is improving. If they're serious about making a move in the standings, this win-a-few-lose-a-few thing has to end. Columbus has a modest two-game winning streak going, and while on a back-to-back with some harsh travel, they're facing a team in Winnipeg that has been mired in a losing skid: four games in a row, all in regulation. They've given up 18 goals in those four games. Over their last 15, the Jets are just 5-9-1.

In other words, no excuses tonight, boys. This is a game you should win, especially if you want to be taken seriously.

The Jets are without Evander Kane tonight, who almost single-handedly beat the Jackets last month in Columbus. Claude Noel, who is coaching for his job (and may already be a dead man walking, so to speak), has moved Dustin Byfuglien up to the top line right wing spot in Kane's absence. Alrighty, then.

For the Jackets, Derek MacKenzie is back from his suspension, and Ryan Craig has been shuttled back to Springfield to make room. Look for DMac to draw in on the wing of the fourth line.

The Jackets didn't have an official morning skate, given the travel and having played last night. That said, Sergei Bobrovsky was one of three players on the ice, and that would imply he's not starting tonight (and why in the name of holy God is that, exactly?). In all seriousness, I get it; he's coming back from injury, and there's no need to risk overworking him too soon. That said, umm, did you SEE him last night? Why you wouldn't want to ride that performance is beyond me.

At any rate, I thought the Jackets were a bit sloppy and slow for decent stretches last night. Their Power Play looked atrocious until a gaffe by the Canes allowed Cam Atkinson to skate into the scoring area untouched. Their PK was OK but not great; they were bailed out by Bob at least twice that I can easily recollect. Those aspects of their game need to be tightened up tonight. Losing streak or not, Winnipeg is rested, desperate, and playing at home, which is not a tough place to go and win.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(20-20-4, 44 Points; 7th division, 13th conference)

Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Boone Jenner Artem Anisimov Nathan Horton
Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Curtis McElhinney
Sergei Bobrovsky

Winnipeg Jets
(19-22-5, 43 Points; 7th division, 12th conference)

Andrew Ladd Bryan Little Dustin Byfuglien
Eric O`Dell Mark Scheifele Michael Frolik
Devin Setoguchi Olli Jokinen Blake Wheeler
Eric Tangradi James Wright Chris Thorburn
Zach Bogosian Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy Keaton Ellerby
Ondrej Pavelec
Al Montoya

Season Series

12/16/13 - Winnipeg 3 at Columbus 2
01/11/14 - Columbus at Winnipeg

Head to Head Stats

Winnipeg Columbus
2.61 (16) GPG 2.66 (13)
2.94 (22) GAPG 2.84 (19)
14.9% (25) PP% 17.6% (18)
82.9% (11) PK% 79.6% (23)
Blake Wheeler, 16 G leader Ryan Johansen, 16
Dustin Byfuglien, 24 A leader Brandon Dubinsky / James Wisniewski, 20
Bryan Little / Dustin Byfuglien, 34 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 32
Dustin Byfuglien, 54 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 72
10-9-4 Home/Road 10-11-2
1/7 vs. Tampa Bay, L 4-2 Last Game 1/10 vs. Carolina, W 3-0
4-6-0 Last 10 6-4-0
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