After handing the LA Kings their first home defeat this season, the Jackets flew up to Anaheim yesterday, to prepare for facing the Ducks tonight at the Honda Center.
True story: The only two Western Conference arenas where the Jackets have a winning record are Nationwide and the Honda Center. That will be tested tonight, as the Ducks have a 5 game home win streak - not quite as dominant as the Kings, but still formidable.
It's going to be interesting to benchmark where these two teams are compared to their last meeting in late October. At the time, the Jackets were in a somewhat unstable situation, still trying to find their game after the home opening loss and the comeback win against the Minnesota Wild, while the Ducks had been in the midst of a protracted slump that saw them lose 6 of their first 10 games, including a 54 shot 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Blues.
Since that game, the Ducks have been on a rebound, with 6 wins and 2 OT losses in their last 11 games, pushing themselves back to second place in the Pacific Division with 23 points.
The Jackets are likely to change things up and put Mathieu Garon in net tonight, giving Steve Mason the night off before taking on San Jose tomorrow, while the Ducks are expected to have Jonas Hiller in net. The big Swiss goalie is 1-2-1 lifetime against Columbus. Garon is 8-6 in his career against the Ducks. Though several players took a maintenance day rather than participating in yesterday's practice (including Rick Nash, Chris Clark, and Marc Methot), no other lineup changes are expected.
|Game Time: 10:00pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 97.1FM WFAN
|Blue Jackets vs Ducks coverage|
|Opponent's Blog: Anaheim Calling
Keys To The Game:
- Don't Look Behind You - The win against LA was huge, but the team can't rest on it. For that matter, no looking ahead to Saturday's game against San Jose, either.
- Get In Front - Anaheim is 2-7-2 when scored on first this season, and they're 0-5-1 when trailing after two periods. The Jackets, on the other hand, are 6-0 when taking a lead into the third period.
- Be Responsible - The Ducks have the second best power play in the NHL at home, at 27%. The Jackets' PK has been middin' on the road, at best.
- Speaking of... - The Ducks PK, on the other hand, is one of the worst in the NHL at home, at 78%, and despite the team's frustrations with the man advantage, they're actually better on the road than at home. Maybe this will be a chance for the team to find some success and deliver a nice confidence boost for the power play units.
- Play Til The Horn Blows - One of the more impressive comebacks for the Ducks in their recent home streak was a home game against Nashville where Paul Mara scored the game winning goal with less than 1.7 seconds left in the game. If the team has a narrow lead or a tie game late, finish checks and don't give the Ducks any opportunities for late game heroics.
Blue Jackets Information:
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Nikita Filatov|
|Chris Clark||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Kyle Wilson||Andrew Murray||Jared Boll|
|Rostislav Klesla||Marc Methot|
|Jan Hejda||Mike Commodore|
|Kris Russell||Fedor Tyutin|
|Bobby Ryan||Ryan Getzlaf||Corey Perry|
|Jason Blake||Saku Koivu||Teemu Selanne|
|Todd Marchant||Nick Bonino||Kyle Palmieri|
|Josh Green||Ryan Carter||George Parros|
|Lubomir Visnovsky||Toni Lydman|
|Cam Fowler||Paul Mara|
|Luca Sbisa||Sheldon Brookbank|