Game Preview #65 - Lone-Star Sequel

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets and Stars rematch after last Tuesday's game in Columbus.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Dallas Stars

March 10, 2014 - 8:30 pm EDT
American Airlines Center - Dallas, Texas
Radio - WBNS 97.1 FM -- TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Defending Big D
SBN's Stars vs Blue Jackets coverage

Tonight kicks off what will be a busy--and huge--week for the Jackets. They play tonight in Dallas, at home tomorrow and Thursday against Detroit and San Jose respectively, and finish on Saturday in Minnesota for their last game outside of the Eastern Time Zone (hooray!). All tough games, for sure. The bonus? With three of the games being against Western Conference foes, the Jackets can afford to simply focus on getting points. Yes, ROW are nice, but damn it, man, JUST. GET. POINTS.

This is the second meeting between these two clubs in seven days, and the first game last week was really two games in one: there was the first period in which the Jackets simply dominated, burning a rusty Dan Ellis early (the same Dan Ellis shipped out the next day, heh) en route to a quick 3-0 lead. The rest of the game, however, was an exercise is "holy shit we shouldn't have taken our foot off the gas," as the Stars charged back in the second and third to get to 3-2. Until Artem Anisimov's clinching goal late in the third, it really felt like a game the Jackets were going to find a way to lose.

And, that sets the stage for tonight's game. Both teams have been playing well of late (both 4-2 since the break, the Stars are 10-2-3 over their last 15 games, the Blue Jackets are 16-7-1 since January 1), and are matching strengths: the Stars are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games at home, and the Jackets are 6-4-1 in their last 11 games on the road; The Stars have scored on the power play in the last four games and are 6-19 (31.6 percent) during that stretch, and conversely the Jackets are 36-40 (90.0 percent) on the penalty kill over their last 11 games. Even further, looking at the stats below, these two teams couldn't be much more evenly matched. Hell, even though Anisimov was named the NHL's 2nd Star of the Week, the Stars' Tyler Seguin won the 1st Star honor.

That said, both teams have a couple of injury issues. For Columbus, it's been talked to death: they're missing at least two (and possibly three if something changes with Nikitin) starting defensemen, and for Dallas, Kari Lehtonen is out after being run Saturday night and sustaining a head injury. Enter Tim Thomas, who yet again finds himself in the thick of a playoff race playing important minutes. (And, how glad are the Stars that they don't have to rely on Dan Ellis? Yikes!)

The Jackets will go with Curtis McElhinney in net tonight, and it makes sense. They're playing a back-to-back with travel, and tomorrow night's game looms a bit larger in the playoff race. Save your best goalie for that one. In front of CMac, the same forward lines will be out there from Saturday, and with Nikita Nikitin coming back the Jackets get slightly better on defense. They have four healthy scratches tonight, and that will help them tomorrow night; look for some of the Cam Atkinson/Matt Frattin/Cody Goloubef triumvirate to make an appearance tomorrow.

And hey, the Jackets dodged a bullet, as the Stars retired Mike Modano's number on Saturday and NOT tonight. Way to avoid THAT mojo.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(33-26-5, 71 Points; 4th division, 8th conference)

Nick Foligno Ryan Johansen Boone Jenner
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Nathan Horton
R.J. Umberger Artem Anisimov Corey Tropp
Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu Blake Comeau
Nikita Nikitin James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson David Savard
Nick Schultz Dalton Prout
Curtis McElhinney
Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars
(31-23-10, 72 Points; 5th division, 8th conference)

Jamie Benn Tyler Seguin Rich Peverley
Erik Cole Cody Eakin Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel Vernon Fiddler Ryan Garbutt
Ray Whitney Shawn Horcoff Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton Sergei Gonchar
Tim Thomas
Cristopher Nilstorp

Season Series

03/04/14 - Dallas 2 at Columbus 4
03/10/14 - Columbus at Dallas

Head to Head Stats

Dallas Columbus
2.84 (8) GPG 2.84 (9)
2.73 (16) GAPG 2.77 (17)
15.8% (23) PP% 18.8% (15)
81.2% (18) PK% 81.8% (16)
Tyler Seguin, 29 G leader Ryan Johansen, 25
Tyler Seguin, 37 A leader James Wisniewski, 33
Tyler Seguin, 66 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 49
Antoine Roussel, 164 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 90
18-10-6 Home/Road 15-15-3
3/8 vs. Minnesota, W 4-3 Last Game 3/8 @ Nashville, W 1-0
7-2-1 Last 10 6-3-1

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