First and foremost, my apologies for no Metro Update this morning. There was only one game the affected the Jackets' playoff position, and it wasn't a direct impact, so I elected to skip it having a busy morning today.
At any rate, none of that much matters. The Jackets are hanging on to that last Wild Card playoff spot, and their schedule is about to get straight up crazy. Including the Dallas make up game, they will play 13 games in 24 days, and of those 13 games, 10 of them will be part of back-to-backs.
It starts tonight, as Columbus travels to Montreal to face a Habs team that looks like it's righting the ship after missing Carey Price for a stretch after the Olympics and also losing four of five before coming back to win three in a row, including a big win Tuesday night against a very good Colorado team. Columbus will have their hands full, and if it was rough to see them get shut down by Anton Khudobin the other night, Carey Price can bring that same kind of funk to the game tonight as well. It should be noted, however, that Price won his last two starts despite saving just 88.7% of his shots.
The Jackets offense, however, has gone cold of late, with just 11 non-shootout goals in their last six games. This is a concern, since the Jackets have been getting it done by scoring a lot of timely goals of late. They can ill afford to see the offense leave them again tonight, as frankly, the Candiens' offense is very hot: they've scored 13 goals during their three game winning streak.
For the Jackets, the defense looks the same as on Tuesday night, but the forward lines get tweaked just a bit, with the return of Cam Atkinson to the lineup and the healthy scratch of R.J. Umberger. Not sure why Umby gets the scratch, but it should help the offense to have Cam back against a Montreal team that's more speed and wide-open play as opposed to the physical grinding style that doesn't favor Atkinson.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(35-27-6, 76 Points; 4th division, 8th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Nathan Horton|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Nick Foligno||Artem Anisimov||Corey Tropp|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Blake Comeau|
|Jack Johnson||Dalton Prout|
|Fedor Tyutin||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
(38-25-7, 83 Points; 3rd Division, 4th Conference)
|Max Pacioretty||David Desharnais||Thomas Vanek|
|Danny Briere||Tomas Plekanec||Brendan Gallagher|
|Alex Galchenyuk||Lars Eller||Brian Gionta|
|Travis Moen||Ryan White||Dale Weise|
|Andrei Markov||Alexei Emelin|
|Francis Bouillon||P.K. Subban|
|Mike Weaver||Jarred Tinordi|
Head to Head Stats
Montreal Columbus 2.50 (20) GPG 2.81 (10) 2.49 (9) GAPG 2.72 (16) 18.8% (13) PP% 18.1% (16) 85.3% (4) PK% 81.9% (16) Max Pacioretty, 30 G leader Ryan Johansen, 26 P.K. Subban, 38 A leader James Wisniewski, 33 P.K. Subban, 48 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 51 Brandon Prust,121 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 94 20-11-5 Home/Road 16-15-3 3/18 vs. Colorado, W 6-3 Last Game 3/18 vs. Carolina, L 3-1 6-4-0 Last 10 6-3-1
Rather than a bulleted list, I'll just say this: this Jackets team isn't playing "badly" per se. They need to finish their chances. It won't be easy against a tough goalie who's playing well. They also need to continue to improve the sloppiness in their own zone. Montreal can punish them if they're bad in their own zone again. I feel like the Jackets *can* win this game, but they're going to have to play like they did in the first period against Detroit, and yet bury those chances. An 18-shot period with no goals just isn't going to cut it.