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Game Preview #39 - Wild Dash To The Finish

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The Blue Jackets' loss on Friday was a rough one in the standings, but there's no time to cry.

USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets

April 7, 2013 - 6:00pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Hockey Wilderness
SBNation Game Page
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Timing is everything.

The Wild are a team that has a bunch of new faces this year, and they needed time to come together and develop some chemistry. For awhile, they led the Northwest Division. The Blue Jackets need every point they can get. And so, the timing of this game in many ways couldn't be better. The Wild--once leading their division--come in having lost three straight games, and having been shutout last time out.

In other words, the Jackets are catching them at an opportune time if they want those two points.

The Jackets road woes are well-documented, but today puts them back at home for the first of three straight at Nationwide--a building that has been very much home for Columbus over the past six weeks or so. The Jackets have run their home record to 11-4-5 (27 points), and they're going to need all eight of the remaining home points on their schedule.

The Jackets are not without a couple of questions marks today, as both Brandon Dubinsky and Nikita Nikitin are game-time decisions. Cody Goloubef is still with the club on emergency recall if Niki Six can't go, and if Dubi is out there will be some re-shuffling, with (most likely) Mark Letestu moving up to the Atkinvert line, Derek MacKenzie moving to fourth center, and Colton Gillies getting in on the fourth line wing.

The Wild are not without injuries, either. Dany Heatley is out with a wrist injury, and could be done for the regular season. That said, the team made the move for Jason Pominville at the deadline, who provides a nice insurance policy while Heatley is out.

All of that on the table, this Wild team hasn't scored much of late. The Jackets haven't given up much of late. Columbus needs to continue to ride the wave at home. These two points are must-haves.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(16-15-7, 39 Points; 4th division, 11th conference)

Vinny Prospal Artem Anisimov Marian Gaborik
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
R.J. Umberger Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Blake Comeau Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Nikita Nikitin Dalton Prout
James Wisniewski Adrian Aucoin
Sergei Bobrovsky
Michael Leighton

Minnesota Wild
(21-14-2, 44 Points; 2nd Division, 6th Conference)

Zach Parise Mikko Koivu Jason Pominville
Pierre-Marc Bouchard Kyle Brodziak Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck Mikael Granlund Charlie Coyle
Mike Rupp Zenon Konopka Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter Jonas Brodin
Justin Falk Tom Gilbert
Clayton Stoner Jared Spurgeon
Niklas Backstrom
Darcy Kuemper

Season Series

04/07/13 - Minnesota at Columbus
04/13/13 - Columbus at Minnesota

Head to Head

Minnesota Columbus
2.60 (18) GPG 2.29 (30)
2.60 (15) GAPG 2.55 (12)
17.3% (18) PP% 13.6% (27)
81.7% (15) PK% 85.6% (5)
Zach Parise, 15 G leader three tied, 10
Ryan Suter, 25 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 15
Mikko Koivu, 33 Pts leader Marian Gaborik / Vinny Prospal, 22
Zenon Kenopka, 69 PIM leader Jared Boll, 86
8-10-1 Road/Home 11-4-5
4/4 @ Los Angeles, L 3-0 Last Game 4/5 @ St. Louis, L 3-1
6-4-0 Last 10 6-3-1
    Game Notes

Let's Dispense With the Formalities - Game notes? How about, there are 10 games left: four at home, six on the road. The Jackets probably need to win at least seven games out of these 10 if they're going to make it (14 points would get them to 53, which still might not be enough). They HAVE to win these four at home (three now, one on the last day of the season). They'll need at least three wins, then, on the road, and possibly to steal some OT/SO points along the way. At last, it comes to this. As Gandalf once called it, it's the deep breath before the plunge.

The Jackets didn't play "well" on Friday night, and still were a flukey goal (and/or a waved-off goal, depending on your perspective) from taking the Blues to overtime. They need to recapture the intensity and energy from Thursday night's third period. Let's GO!