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.
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|
(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|
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