Game Preview #56 - Ratchet It Up A Few Notches

Jeff Gross

The Jackets have won two in a row, despite not bringing their best effort to the ice each night for the entire game. They'd better bring it tonight against the Ducks.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Anaheim Ducks

February 3, 2014 - 10:00 pm EST
Honda Center - Anaheim, California
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Anaheim Calling
SBN's Ducks vs Blue Jackets coverage

Well, the good news first: the Jackets finished a favorable schedule stretch about as well as I could have hoped. When I wrote this piece, the Jackets were 19-20-4 and had a stretch of 12 games coming up, nine of which were at home:

I'm not here to tell you that this is when the Jackets WILL make a push to get into better position before the Olympic break. I'm here to tell you that, most likely, we'll know a LOT more about whether they can be a playoff team over these next four weeks.

If I'd said, "Hey, they'll win their home games and lose their road games," you'd have probably signed up for that at the time, no? Well, that's basically what they did in terms of raw record. The Jackets have won 10 of 13, and 11 of 15, and now sit squarely in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. I'd say we know a little bit more about this team.

But, the work is not done, as there are three games to go before the Olympic break. And, those three games have the potential to undo a lot of the work that's been done. All three are going to be very, very tough: all on the road, all against top Western Conference competition. Tonight, they face the league's best squad in the Ducks.

It's been amazing; from November 20 through January 15th, the Ducks ran off 21 wins and just TWO regulation losses in the span of 26 games. It was a ridiculous run by itself. Add it to the fact that they were already leading their division and in second place in their conference with a 15-6-2 record, and it gives you a real sense of how good this Ducks team is and can be.

Columbus catches them at a time in which they've slowed their roll just a bit, having gone 4-4-0 in their last eight games, including a shutout loss to Dallas at home on Saturday--it was just the third regulation loss at home for them on the season.

The Jackets need to push as hard as they can push tonight. They have a couple of days off after this one, so it needs to be all-out for the entire game. I don't know if they let up at times against Washington and Florida, or what. What I do know is that if they allow Anaheim to control the zone like Florida did at times on Saturday, it will be a painful, painful game.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(28-23-4, 60 Points; 3rd division, 7th conference)

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

Anaheim Ducks
(40-12-5, 85 Points; 1st division, 1st conference)

Dustin Penner Ryan Getzlaf Corey Perry
Patrick Maroon Mathieu Perreault Teemu Selanne
Jakob Silfverberg Saku Koivu Andrew Cogliano
Tim Jackman Daniel Winnik Matt Beleskey
Francois Beauchemin Hampus Lindholm
Ben Lovejoy Cam Fowler
Bryan Allen Luca Sbisa
Frederik Andersen
Jonas Hiller

Season Series

10/27/13 - Anaheim 4 at Columbus 3
02/03/14 - Columbus at Anaheim

Head to Head Stats

Anaheim Columbus
3.28 (3) GPG 2.89 (7)
2.37 (6) GAPG 2.78 (17)
18.6% (14) PP% 18.4% (15)
82.7% (12) PK% 81.0% (16)
Corey Perry, 29 G leader Ryan Johansen, 22
Ryan Getzlaf, 37 A leader James Wisniewski, 28
Ryan Getzlaf, 63 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 42
Patrick Maroon, 62 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 82
22-3-2 Home/Road 12-12-2
2/1 vs. Dallas, L 2-0 Last Game 2/1 vs. Florida, W 4-1
6-4-0 Last 10 7-3-0

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