The Jackets have returned to their winning ways after defeating the Caps on Sunday, but they face a tough test tonight at home against the Sharks and their powerful offense.
This will be a difficult game for a handful of reasons:
- The Sharks are playing excellent hockey right now, led the way by Joe Thornton, Paddy Marleau and Dany Heatley. Evgeni Nabokov is also playing fantastic.
- The Jackets are likely to not have Derick Brassard in the lineup, he was slashed on the hand last game and while his X-ray was negative, his hand is still sore and swollen. Derek MacKenzie was called up from Syracuse on an emergency basis.
- Also not playing tonight is Kristian Huselius, who was"injured" in practice yesterday. He was moved to the third line in practice, i wonder if this is one of those situations where a healthy scratch is covered up as an "injury". Pure speculation on my part.
- The Jackets, while winning their last game, are still not playing at a high level. They are giving up way too many chances, and Steve Mason still seems to be fighting the puck a bit and giving up juicy rebounds.
That said, the Jackets do have a major piece to their defense coming back tonight. Jan Hejda is making his return, and it couldn't have come soon enough. The team will finally have both Mike Commodore and Hejda in the lineup at the same time, and it will go a long way to solidifying the blueline, which has been in disarray thus far. It will be interesting to see if Hitch pairs them together, as they were for all of last season. They will be a great shutdown tandem, which can keep Thornton's line in check.
With Brassard and Juice out up front, I wonder if Filatov will be healthy enough to play. He would likely play in the top six (at least to start the game) if he is. Below I will take a guess on the lineup.
This game also marks the return to Nationwide of Manny Malhotra, hopefully game ops has something prepared for him.
Fearless Prediction- Low-scoring game, Filatov plays and takes advantage of Juice being out, and scores a goal.
Game Time: 7:00pm ET
Opponent's Blog: Fear the Fin
Game Page: Sharks vs Blue Jackets coverage
TSN Preview: Sharks vs Blue Jackets preview
TV: FSN Ohio
Radio: WBNS-AM (1460); WWCD-FM (101.1)
More after the jump...
From the Columbus Dispatch:
Here are the lineups for tonight's tilt:
Columbus Blue Jackets
|Raffi Torres|| Antoine Vermette ||Rick Nash|
|Nikita Filatov || R.J. Umberger ||Jakub Voracek|
|Jason Chimera||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Derek MacKenzie|| Michael Blunden || Jared Boll |
|Fedor Tyutin||Anton Stralman|
|Mike Commodore||Jan Hejda|
|Marc Methot||Rostislav Klesla|
|EXTRA: Kris Russell|
|INJURED: Fredrik Modin, Andrew Murray, Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius|
| Joe Thornton |
| ||Benn Ferriero|
| ||Dan Boyle|