Game Preview #76 - Like A Snowball Rolling Downhill

Kirk Irwin

The Jackets have had four nights off in the last six days, so hopefully they'll be fresh for a crazy sprint to the finish. Eight games in 12 days starts tonight!

Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets

April 1, 2014 - 7:00 pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 FM -- TV - FSOhio
Opponent's Blog: Mile High Hockey
SBN's Avalanche vs Blue Jackets coverage

OK, so the Jackets are still hanging on to that last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They've had a chance to have two days off since playing on Saturday. They (hopefully) caught their breath for the final sprint, which is eight games in 12 days. Thankfully, four of the next five are at Nationwide, which hopefully will help mitigate some of the craziness. It starts tonight at home against Colorado, which is a team that's the turn-around story of the league this year.

I won't spend a lot of time breaking down the nuts and bolts of this game. Games this time of year for a team fighting for their playoff lives come down to will, heart, and timing. Remember the game in Colorado last season when the Jackets simply had to have points? Effort, will, and timely scoring got it done for them.

Nathan Horton is out tonight with an undisclosed injury, which might go a long way toward explaining the dive in his play lately. R.J. Umberger is again scratched, and Jared Boll makes his return. I question that move, since Colorado is notoriously a speedy team that gives the Jackets fits. Does a slower player like Boll really help? Does he bring more to the table than Umberger? I frankly don't get it, but then again this whole scratch system hasn't made much sense lately.

After a terrible drought, the Jackets have scored Power Play goals in the last three games (4-for-9, 44.4%) and Colorado's PK is the weakest part of a strong, strong team; they've allowed PPGs in five of their last six (11-for-17, 64.7%). Columbus will need to exploit that tonight.

This is going to be a tough game, as Colorado is trying to hold off Chicago for second place--and home ice in the first round--in the division. They are not in cruise control by any means. The Jackets simply need to BEAT them. Any means necessary.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(38-30-6, 82 Points; 4th division, 8th conference)

Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Mark Letestu
Nick Foligno Artem Anisimov Corey Tropp
Blake Comeau Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson Dalton Prout
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Colorado Avalanche
(47-21-6, 100 Points; 2nd Division, 4th Conference)

Ryan O`Reilly Nathan MacKinnon Jamie McGinn
Gabriel Landeskog Paul Stastny John Mitchell
Cody McLeod Marc-Andre Cliche Maxime Talbot
Patrick Bordeleau Brad Malone Paul Carey
Jan Hejda Erik Johnson
Nick Holden Tyson Barrie
Andre Benoit Cory Sarich
Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Season Series

12/31/13 - Columbus 3 at Colorado 5
04/01/14 - Colorado at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Colorado Columbus
3.01 (6) GPG 2.74 (14)
2.69 (15) GAPG 2.68 (14)
20.0% (8) PP% 17.8% (17)
79.9% (24) PK% 82.2% (14)
Ryan O'Reilly, 26 G leader Ryan Johansen, 30
Matt Duchene, 47 A leader James Wisniewski, 38
Matt Duchene, 70 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 55
Cody McLeod, 120 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky / Nick Foligno, 94
22-10-3 Road/Home 20-14-3
3/29 vs. San Jose, W 3-2 Last Game 3/30 @ Carolina, W 3-2 (OT)
6-3-1 Last 10 5-4-1
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