If there's a team that appreciates the Jackets' struggles, it would be the Jets, who have felt the weight of expectations since arriving in their new home, and generally been crushed beneath them. Tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for last place in the Southeast Division, they went 1-4-1 over their first six games (gee, sounds familiar) and then 4-4-2 over the last ten, including a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Not surprisingly, they see the Blue Jackets as a panacea - a bounce back opportunity for a big win that can cure all ills (or at least silence some of their more problematic fans) and get them back on the right foot.
For the Jackets, it's a chance for the exact same thing. So who will be the team to step up tonight?
Columbus Blue Jackets
(2-12-1, 5 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Rick Nash|
|Vinny Prospal||Derick Brassard||
|Derek Dorsett||Samuel Pahlsson||Cody Bass|
|Matt Calvert||Derek MacKenzie||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||James Wisniewski|
|Marc Methot||Grant Clitsome|
|John Moore||Nikita Nikitin|
(5-8-3, 13 Points; T4th Division, 14th Conference)
|Evander Kane||Nik Antropov||Alex Burmistrov|
|Andrew Ladd||Bryan Little||Blake Wheeler|
|Tanner Glass||Jim Slater||Kyle Wellwood|
|Kenndal McArdle||Tim Stapleton||Chris Thorburn|
|Dustin Byfuglien||Johnny Oduya|
|Zach Bogosian||Mark Stuart|
|Mark Flood||Brett Festerling|
Keys To The Game:
- New Faces - With newly acquired Mark Letestu making a good showing of himself in his first outing, we have to hope he'll continue to do the same again tonight, and that newly arrived Nikita Nikitin also has a strong debut (though less is obviously expected of him if he'll mostly be taking third pairing minutes).
- Who's In? - If there's one question tonight, it's what the lineup will look like. Is it time for Ryan Johansen to draw back in? If so, do you take Cody Bass or Derek Dorsett out of the lineup for a winger, or do you look at perhaps sitting Samuel Pahlsson and loving someone else into the 3rd/4th line C spot?
- Mason v. Mason - If there's a bigger sign of unconcern over our offense than Chris Mason being activated from IR yesterday and offered the start tonight, I don't know what it is. The Jackets need to spoil his welcome back party.
- We Know These Guys - New uniforms, new name, same players. The Jackets have had a lot of success against this team over the last several years. Don't let the shiny new paint job distract from the clunker beneath. Get pressure, cut through a defense that's currently missing one of their best horses, and do unto others as they have done unto you.
- Special Teams - Neither team is what you'd call stellar, but the Jackets' PP/PK can and should make you throw up a little in your mouth.
- First Goal Would Be Nice - The Jackets haven't scored first since beating Anaheim. I think a lot of people would like to see that change tonight.
By The Numbers
WPG - 2.56 G/G (19th)
CBJ - 2.27 G/G (23rd)
WPG - 3.44 GA/G (28th)
CBJ - 3.87 GA/G (30th)
WPG - 16.1% (20th)
CBJ - 11.4% (28th)
WPG - 76.6% (24th)
CBJ - 71.2% (30th)
The definition of insanity (or coaching in pro sports) is trying the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result. So, we'll give it another go tonight, and see what happens.