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.
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|
(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|
12/31/13 - Columbus 3 at Colorado 5
04/01/14 - Colorado at Columbus
Head to Head Stats
|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|
|3/29 vs. San Jose, W 3-2||Last Game||3/30 @ Carolina, W 3-2 (OT)|