On the heels of a heartbreaking shootout loss on Tuesday night against the Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins, the Blue Jackets return to the Nationwide Arena ice for a contest with another division leader, the Detroit Red Wings, for their sixth and final meeting of the season. Tonight's faceoff is scheduled for 7PM.
As the games tick off the schedule, the playoff implications become greater for the Jackets. Now, with just thirteen games remaining on their 2010-2011 schedule, the Jackets find themselves in twelfth place in the Western Conference, seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Here at The Cannon, we've been emphasizing for weeks that these are crucial times for the Jackets' slim playoff aspirations. As those playoff hopes get dimmer and dimmer, it's probably more accurate to say that the Jackets' effort is no longer crucial, but desperate may be a better description for what the team needs to bring to the ice against the perennial powerhouse Wings tonight.
|Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 97.1 WFAN
|Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets coverage|
Opponent's Blog: Winging It In Motown
Since the trade deadline, the Jackets have been mired in a slump that could not have possibly come along at a worse time. Although there have been occasional bright spots, there still are several players who continue to struggle at this, the worst of times.
Scottie Upshall has been among the most productive of the Jackets since his arrival at the trade deadline. Upshall has netted four goals in eight games with Columbus. When it comes to late season acquistions, termed elsewhere as "rent-a-players", Upshall has delivered for the Jackets. Whether or not he remains a part of the Jackets family after this season is speculative at this time. All indications are that Upshall is content with his surroundings and may very well be a Blue Jacket for some time to come. He brings to the lineup an Umberger-like tenacity that has been refreshing to see.
Among those struggling for the Blue Jackets lately is Captain Rick Nash. Since his two goal night against the Predators on February 22nd, the captain has yet to find the back of the net in the nine games since then. The Jackets are 2-4-4 in their last ten games, and Nash isn't the only one who has had difficulty putting the biscuit in the basket. Antoine Vermette, with one goal in his last ten games, is another of the Jackets who needs to step up if the Jackets playoff hopes are to become a reality.
On a brighter note, Steve Mason in particular played a fine game against the Bruins. He made several key saves that kept the Jackets in the game throughout the night. Coupled with a nice effort last Saturday against Carolina, Mase has put together consecutive good outings, giving up just two regulation goals in each game. Also, Derek MacKenzie has been a bright spot of late. D-Mac has four goals and an assist in his last six games as he makes the most of his ice time.
Blue Jackets Information:
|Rick Nash||Jakub Voracek|
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Jared Boll|
|Ethan Moreau||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Scottie Upshall||Matt Calvert|
|Jan Hejda||Sami Lepisto|
|Fedor Tyutin||Marc Methot|
|Grant Clitsome||Kris Russell|
Usually, the opponent's depth chart would appear in this area, however I haven't found that as of this writing. Sorry, gang!
Stay tuned to The Cannon for all the latest on the Blue Jackets!