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Game 71 Preview: Feeling Minnesota

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With twelve games left in their seasons, neither the Blue Jackets or the Minnesota Wild are where they want to be.

Both teams had roller-coaster seasons after returning from trips to Europe, the Jackets rising, the Wild falling, until reversing their progress, recovering from tailspins, and finally falling back down once again. 

Both clubs are more than six points out of a playoff spot at this point, and though they still fight for a chance to make it through the door, they can't be blamed for starting to look at next season, and what they will do differently.

Despite that, however, there is still a chance, and with Columbus leading the season series between them, including their previous matchup at the Xcel Energy Center, the Wild are likely looking to grab another win at home to even the scales.

Essentials:
Game Time: 2:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 WFAN
Blue Jackets vs Wild coverage

Opponent's Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the last week for the Blue Jackets is that they haven't been playing that badly - they just haven't been able to get the bounces to put pucks into the net.

The game against Detroit came down to two bad turnovers, and Joey MacDonald having an incredible game. Boston came down to Tuukka Rask being an exceptional goaltender. 

It's weeks like this that make you reach for the Maalox, but also give you some hope for what will come in the future. There's a good team under there - they just need to find those last pieces of the puzzle, and there's a strong chance that they will finish with the second best win and point total in franchise history...they just aren't likely to break through that final barrier.

Keys To The Game:

  • Momentum Shift - Both the Jackets and the Wild are on losing streaks, but the Wild are in a bit deeper rut, having lost their last four games. The Jackets need to follow the same game plan they've used against the Wild this year, getting on top early, frustrating their offense, and playing strong away from the puck.
  • Win The Second Period - Both the Jackets and the Wild have problems with second period slumps that have given their opponents a chance to take over the game. This season, the Wild in particular are getting outscored 65 to 51, and give up almost a third more shots in the second period than they take.
  • Avoid the Box - With the exception of the power play goal given up to Detroit on Friday, the Jackets' PK unit has been strong of late, but they are facing a team with the 7th best power play unit in the NHL, and they've burned the Jackets this year with the man advantage. 

 

Even if the Jackets don't make a Herculean push and manage to catch Calgary, little milestones like winning the season series vs. the Wild are good for both the standings and the ego, particularly with a game the next day vs. New Jersey.

Go out, win the battles, play like you've been playing, and find that finish. Make us proud, boys.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page  Schedule
Roster Stats

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derick Brassard Jakub Voracek
Matt Calvert Antoine Vermette R.J. Umberger
Derek Dorsett Samuel Pahlsson Scottie Upshall
Ethan Moreau Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Jan Hejda Sami Lepisto
Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Grant Clitsome Kris Russell
Steve Mason

Mathieu Garon

 

Minnesota Wild

Andrew Brunette Mikko Koivu Antti Miettinen
Pierre-Marc Bouchard Kyle Brodziak Martin Havlat
Matt Cullen John Madden Cal Clutterbuck
Chuck Kobasew Eric Nystrom Brad Staubitz
Nick Schultz Brent Burns
Greg Zanon Clayton Stoner
Marco Scandella Jared Spurgeon
Niklas Backstrom
Jose Theodore


Tidbit: Our thoughts and prayers are with former Jacket Manny Malhotra, injured on Thursday night by a puck to the face, and currently facing surgery. We hope for a full and speedy recovery.