The Jackets have set a franchise record with nine straight games with at least a point. Tonight's opponent has been a bit of a problem for them, however, so the quest for 10 will not be without significant effort. The Jackets are 0-2-0 against Phoenix so far, and have allowed 10 goals in those two games. But, don't look now: the Coyotes are just three points (though with a game in hand) ahead of the Jackets in the standings. And they're in NINTH. (No, I'm not saying playoffs. It's not going to happen, people.)
Columbus most likely will ice the same forward lineup from the game Thursday night, though Sean Collins is with the team on an emergency basis in case R.J. Umberger can't go tonight. He and Adrian Aucoin are working through some injuries, as is Derek MacKenzie. Aucoin is out; John Moore is off of IR, and he and Nikita Nikitin are back in.
Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net again tonight, riding one of the craziest hot streaks we've seen in a goaltender in Columbus, well, ever. In March, Bob has made seven appearances (six starts), and is averaging 60:49 in ice-time, has a .971 save percentage, and is sporing a filthy 0.85 gaa. Bob has been, to put it simply, ON FIRE. He has not faced Phoenix this year (those 10 goals came in two games against Steve Mason), so perhaps he can help to keep the Yotes under 3 goals.
Mike Smith, who is in net for Phoenix, has had the opposite kind of March so far. After willing the Coyotes deep into the playoffs last season, Smith is scuffling a bit in March. He's made six appearances--all starts--and is sporting numbers of 61:39 TOI/G, .889 save%, and 3.24 GAA. For a Jackets team that's struggling to score goals despite the points streak, that might be a welcome sight.
Both teams have injury issues, with the Coyotes missing Radim Vrbata among others. If Columbus can bring the intensity and effort--along with the goaltending--that they've had recently, there's no reason to think they can't get the points streak to 10. It would be nice to have one in regulation, for once, though.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(10-12-6, 26 Points; 5th division, 14th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Vinny Prospal||Derick Brassard||Mark Letestu|
|Colton Gillies||Artem Anisimov||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Tim Erixon||John Moore|
|Nikita Nikitin||Dalton Prout|
(13-11-3, 29 Points; 4th Division, 9th Conference)
|Mikkel Boedker||Martin Hanzal||Lauri Korpikoski|
|Steve Sullivan||Antoine Vermette||Shane Doan|
|Rob Klinkhammer||Boyd Gordon||David Moss|
|Raffi Torres||Matthew Lombardi||Kyle Chipchura|
|Oliver Ekman-Larsson||Rostislav Klesla|
|Keith Yandle||Derek Morris|
|David Schlemko||Michael Stone|
Head to Head
Phoenix Columbus 2.74 (15) GPG 2.14 (30) 2.78 (18) GAPG 2.61 (12) 16.0% (20) PP% 13.6% (28) 83.2% (12) PK% 86.2% (4) Shane Doan, 9 G leader Vinny Prospal, 9 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 14 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 13 Mikkel Boedker, 18 Pts leader Derick Brassard / Vinny Prospal, 15 Kyle Chipchura, 43 PIM leader Jared Boll, 74 3-6-2 Road/Home 7-4-5 3/14 @ St. Louis, L 3-0 Last Game 3/14 vs Chicago, L 2-1 (SO) 5-5-0 Last 10 5-1-4
- Heeeeere's Johnny! - John Moore returns after missing eight games after hurting his shoulder in a pre-game skate at Chicago on March 1. Cody Goloubef returns to Springfield (he was here on "emergency" basis, so he had to go) to make room for Moore.
- Stop Sully - The Jackets have gotten torched by Steve Sullivan so far this season, with three goals and two assists in the two games. last time around, as he netted a hat trick. For his career, Sullivan has 19G, 31A, and is +20 in 49 games against Columbus. Can someone put a body on this guy??
- PK Time - The Jackets' PK continues to impress, now up to 4th in the NHL at 86.2%. They've surrendered just one PPG in their last 12 games, going 30-of-31 over that stretch. Phoenix doesn't have a great PP unit, but they have notched a PPG in both prior games against Columbus.
Yet another Western Conference team that we say goodbye to seeing on a regular basis. That is, assuming they stay in Phoenix and/or the West! Enjoy the game!