Game Preview #79 - Regain The Swagger

Bruce Bennett

The Jackets had some swagger on Thursday night. They hung in against a good team on Friday, only to have their souls stolen Shang-Tsung style on Friday. No time for sulking; they need to get the swagger back tonight against the Islanders.

New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets

April 6, 2014 - 6:00 pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 FM -- TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
SBN's Islanders vs Blue Jackets coverage

After Friday's game, there isn't much left to say. The Jackets cling to the last Wild Card spot by virtue of their followers struggling to earn points and having played more games. That makes this one a game in hand on the teams behind Columbus in the standings, and it's one that is ripe for plucking two points.

At first glance, the lineup the Islanders are icing is just flat-out gross, due to injuries and the like. That said, we've seen that this Isles team can skate, and they are hungry with so many young guys getting a taste of NHL action. They've been a relatively hot team of late, and Columbus knows first-hand that you can't overlook them based on their roster alone.

That said, the Islanders played and traveled last night, and lost two more players to injuries. They're also starting their backup goaltender, who sports a 3.17 gaa and .892 save percentage.

There really isn't much more to say other than this: the Jackets simply HAVE to have these two points today. There's no other way around it.

Columbus will continue with its... err... odd lines tonight, at least to start. I don't know what Matt Frattin is doing in practice to earn him top line winger minutes, but sweet bouncing baby Jesus he does not belong up there. I guess, however, the Jackets generated some offense (*some*) the other night, so I guess I'll hold my nose and cheer.

This is a game that can be won on Special Teams. The CBJ Power Play has sprung back to life of late, with Power Play goals in five of their last six games (6-for-18, 33.3%). The Islanders' PK is awful, though they shut Columbus down last time they played (but, then, who wasn't shutting down the CBJ PP then?). The Jackets' PK has been streaky at best of late, but the Islanders are without most of their main PP weapons, so if Columbus can play the aggressive PK that they had in Philadelphia the other night, I like their chances of keeping the Isles' PP off the board.

No matter how they do it, the Jackets simply have to overwhelm and overmatch this Islanders team. It can be done. It must be done.

Now, go and do it.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(39-31-7, 85 Points; 4th division, 8th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Matt Frattin
Brandon Dubinsky Artem Anisimov Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert Mark Letestu Blake Comeau
R.J. Umberger Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson Dalton Prout
Ryan Murray David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

New York Islanders
(31-35-11, 73 Points; 8th division, 13th conference)

Anders Lee Frans Nielsen Josh Bailey
John Persson Brock Nelson Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin Ryan Strome Colin McDonald
Johan Sundstrom Casey Cizikas Mike Halmo
Matt Donovan Travis Hamonic
Kevin Czuczman Thomas Hickey
Scott Mayfield Matt Carkner
Anders Nilsson
Evgeni Nabokov

Season Series

10/05/13 - Columbus 3 at NY Islanders 2 (SO)
11/09/13 - NY Islanders 2 at Columbus 5
03/23/14 - Columbus 0 at NY Islanders 2
04/06/14 - NY Islanders at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

NY Islanders Columbus
2.70 (15) GPG 2.73 (13)
3.22 (28) GAPG 2.66 (15)
17.1% (20) PP% 17.9% (17)
78.2% (29) PK% 81.9% (15)
Kyle Okposo, 27 G leader Ryan Johansen, 31
Kyle Okposo / John Tavares, 42 A leader James Wisniewski, 40
Kyle Okposo, 69 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 56
Matt Carkner, 122 PIM leader Nick Foligno, 96
18-17-2 Road/Home 20-15-4
4/5 vs. Washington, L 4-3 (SO) Last Game 4/4 vs. Chicago, L 4-3
6-2-2 Last 10 4-5-1
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