When the schedule first came out, this was the first game I would venture most of us had circled the most. It was supposed to be the return of Rick Nash. It was supposed to be a game where the new-look Jackets could show their former Captain how much progress they'd made since he asked to be traded. It was supposed to be a chance for the former Rangers on the Jackets' squad to exact some revenge, if you will.
It is not really that, now. Obviously, we all hope Rick Nash gets well and can return to the ice as soon as possible. His absence takes a lot of starch out of this game for the fans, who not only miss a chance to pay him some respect, but also miss the chance to razz him a bit, too.
And, maybe more importantly for Columbus, as Brandon Dubinsky noted on the radio yesterday, they've got some bigger fish to fry right now than trying to show up the Rangers.
This Jackets team has been in a free-fall since the debacle against Anaheim almost two weeks ago. Four straight losses, including a demoralizing egg laid at home against Ottawa on Tuesday night, have shifted the focus entirely to "hey, let's just score some goals for a change, maybe?"
That said, the main story-line for the Jackets fans tonight is best illustrated in the following chart:
|Rangers that used to play for Columbus||Blue Jackets that used to play for New York|
|Rick Nash||Brandon Dubinsky|
|Derick Brassard||Marian Gaborik|
|Derek Dorsett||Artem Anisimov|
|John Moore||Fedor Tyutin|
|Anton Stralman||Tim Erixon|
Obviously, some of those moves were, how you say, more recent than others, but you get the point. There's a lot of familiarity between these two squads, and a lot of it is fresh.
The Rangers started out slow (1-4-0), but have won six of 10 to climb back into the early playoff race. They're getting it done with defense, having allowed just 16 goals in those 10 games. Their biggest issue has been scoring. They played last night at home against Pittsburgh, and while their overall offensive numbers on the season are low, they dropped the hammer on the Pens, throwing in five goals en route to a 5-1 win. Thankfully, since they're on night two of a back-to-back, something called a Cameron Talbot is in net for them.
Wait, on second thought, given the run against backups of late, maybe this isn't a good thing.
If the Jackets aren't embarrassed enough by their second four-game losing streak in and 11-game span to come out and crush a presumably more tired team, then I don't know what hope there is in the near term.
Finally, Derek Dorsett has 73 (!!) PIM in 15 games. By comparison, Brandon Dubinsky, with his 15 minutes against Anaheim, leads the Jackets with 34. Jared Boll, with his TWO fights Tuesday night, has 26. 73 freaking PIM. Holy shit, dude.
[Edit] I am embarrassed to say I published this originally without updating the Jackets' projected lineup, nor noting that Nick Foligno is back in and R.J. Umberger is a game-time decision. Also of note, Dalton Prout gets a scratch tonight and David Savard is back in. Sorry for the oversight!
Columbus Blue Jackets
(5-9-0, 10 Points; 6th division, 12th conference)
|Brandon Dubinsky||Artem Anisimov||Marian Gaborik|
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||Cam Atkinson|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Blake Comeau|
|R.J. Umberger||Michael Chaput||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Ryan Murray||James Wisniewski|
|Nikita Nikitin||David Savard|
New York Rangers
(7-8-0, 14 Points; 4th division, 9th conference)
|Carl Hagelin||Brad Richards||Ryan Callahan|
|Chris Kreider||Derek Stepan||Mats Zuccarello|
|Taylor Pyatt||Brian Boyle||Benoit Pouliot|
|Brandon Mashinter||Derick Brassard||Derek Dorsett|
|Ryan McDonagh||Dan Girardi|
|Marc Staal||Anton Stralman|
|John Moore||Michael Del Zotto|
11/07/13 - New York at Columbus
12/12/13 - Columbus at New York
01/06/14 - Columbus at New York
03/21/14 - New York at Columbus
Head to Head Stats
Rangers Columbus 2.07 (25) GPG 2.36 (23) 2.73 (15) GAPG 2.86 (20) 18.0% (15) PP% 18.0% (16) 82.5% (16) PK% 79.2% (22) Brad Richards, 5 G leader Marian Gaborik, 5 Brad Richards / Derek Stepan, 7 A leader James Wisniewski, 9 Brad Richards, 12 Pts leader Marian Gaborik / James Wisniewski, 10 Derek Dorsett, 73 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 34 4-6-0 Road/Home 3-5-0 11/06 vs. Pittsburgh, W 5-1 Last Game 11/05 vs. Ottawa, L 4-1 6-4-0 Last 10 3-7-0