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Game Preview #46 - Keep The Train Rolling

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The Jackets are riding their third three-game winning streak of the season. Can they finally push through and make it four in a row?

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Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets

January 13, 2014 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Raw Charge
SBN's Lightning vs. Blue Jackets coverage

So, here it is: the Jackets are over NHL-.500 for the first time in 42 games (2-1-0). That means they're 19-19-4 over that span. Mediocrity! That having been said, as I noted this morning, from the beginning of December--incidentally, the last time we played the Lightning--the Jackets are 11-6-1. Das ist gut, ja?

The Lightning, however, have been running on all cylinders despite the loss of Steven Stamkos. It almost defies logic, but there they are, just two points behind Boston for their division lead and third in the conference. How are they doing it? Well, they've tightened up on defense in a major way. Since the last time these two teams met, a quick snapshot: going into the game on December 3, the Lightning were scoring at a 2.81 goals-per-game clip. Now? 2.82 goals-per-game. Makes sense. Defensively, however? On 12/3, they were at 2.54 goals-allowed-per-game. Now? 2.38 gapg. That's not a huge numerical improvement, but it is improvement.

These two teams have some short-term mirroring happening tonight. Both are coming off of 6-3 road wins on Saturday. Both rode insane second periods to those wins. And both have been playing well over their last 10 games, but both are struggling on special teams. So, which team blinks?

Some good news for Columbus: over their last eight games at home, including the last time these two teams met, the Jackets are 5-2-1. They're .500 on the road, which is what you ask for, basically. So, this is what they're going to need at home as the season wears on if they want to make their move.

Overall, other than Sergei Bobrovsky getting the call tonight, no major lineup changes for Columbus. Make no mistake, they haven't played especially "well" over these past three games, but they've shown flashes of being a very, VERY good team. The more and more they can get closer to a "60-minute" game, they better things will be. They have three days off after tonight, so there's no excuse for not bringing the skating and energy for 60 minutes tonight.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(21-20-4, 46 Points; 7th division, 13th conference)

Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner Artem Anisimov Nathan Horton
Nick Foligno Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Mark Letestu Derek MacKenzie Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Tampa Bay Lightning
(27-14-4, 58 Points; 2nd Division, 3rd Conference)

Ondrej Palat Tyler Johnson Martin St. Louis
Alex Killorn Valtteri Filppula Teddy Purcell
Nikita Kucherov Nate Thompson J.T. Brown
Ryan Malone B.J. Crombeen Jean-Philippe Cote
Matt Carle Radko Gudas
Victor Hedman Mark Barberio
Eric Brewer Andrej Sustr
Anders Lindback
Ben Bishop

Season Series

12/03/13 - Tampa Bay 0 at Columbus 1
01/13/14 - Tampa Bay at Columbus
04/11/14 - Columbus at Tampa Bay

Head to Head Stats

Tampa Bay
Columbus
2.82 (10) GPG 2.73 (13)
2.38 (7) GAPG 2.84 (19)
16.2% (22) PP% 17.1% (19)
80.6% (18) PK% 79.6% (24)
Martin St. Louis, 20 G leader Ryan Johansen, 16
Martin St. Louis, 22 A leader James Wisniewski, 22
Martin St. Louis, 42
Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 33
Radko Gudas, 90 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 74
13-9-2 Road/Home 10-9-2
1/11 @ Philadelphia, W 6-3 Last Game 1/11 @ Winnipeg, W 6-3
6-3-1 Last 10 7-3-0