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Game 11 Preview: Exorcising the Demons

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Columbus ventures into New Jersey in search of a spark that would let them shake of the injury plagued slump in which they find themselves. The devil is in the details.

Elsa

Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils

November 1, 2014 - 7:00 pm EDT
Prudential Center - Newark, New Jersey, USA
Radio - CD 102.5 FM - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: In Lou We Trust

The Blue Jackets are in Newark, New Jersey this evening for the first of four matches with the New Jersey Devils.  After a 4 - 1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs that was scarier than anything else you saw on Halloween, the club is looking to find some combination of players that can provide the combination of skill and energy necessary to withstand the devastating blow inflicted by the injury bug.

The Devils are off to a good start this season, with Cory Schneider providing some stability in net in the post-Brodeur era, and Mike Cammalleri leading the goal production statistics. On Thursday, the club won its first shootout game since the demise of wooden sticks, and is looking to build on the 5-3-2 start that has the Devils above the playoff line in the early going.  However, New Jersey has also begun to feel the sting of the injury bug, with Cammalleri, Martin Havlat and Jordin Tootoo all on the shelf for tonight's game.

With only an optional skate this morning, divining the Blue Jackets' lineup involves a bit of speculation, but I'm going out on a limb to suggest that Anton Forsberg will make his debut in goal.  Curtis McElhinney has looked awkward and ill-prepared in his two starts, surrendering some particularly horrific rebounds against the Leafs last night.  He made some good saves against Toronto, but does nothing to inspire confidence, has a GAA well north of 4.0 and a save percentage south of .900.   If nothing else, Forsberg might provide a rallying point for the rest of the squad.

I'm also figuring that Brian Gibbons and Cody Goloubef draw in for this one, providing some additional speed and skill.   Dalton Prout was painfully slow to react against Toronto, and Columbus needs to stay on the offensive and keep the puck out of its own zone tonight. While the Columbus penalty kill has plummeted from #1 in the NHL to 24th over the recent unpleasantness, the Devils rank 29th in that category, stopping just 68.2% of the extra man chances.  If the Blue Jackets can skate and exert pressure, they can hopefully generate some penalties and extra man chances.  They can't continue to ride just four forwards, as Atkinson, Johansen, Hartnell and Foligno averaged over 20 minutes of ice time on Friday night.  That can't last, particularly when the schedule has Friday/Saturday back-to-backs for the next several weeks.

It's a tough stretch, but the raw talent is there to be competitive, even with the depleted roster.  They just need to find the formula to use it to maximum advantage.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

(4-6-0, 8 Points; 7th division, 14th conference)

Nick Foligno Ryan Johansen Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell Michael Chaput Jack Skille
Marko Dano Alexander Wennberg Brian Gibbons
Sean Collins Adam Cracknell Jared Boll
Jack Johnson Fedor Tyutin
Ryan Murray David Savard
Tim Erixon Cody Goloubef
Anton Forsberg
Curtis McElhinney

New Jersey Devils

(5-3-2, 12 Points; 3rd Division, 7th Conference)

Ryane Clowe Travis Zajac Jaromir Jagr
Dainius Zubrus
Patrik Elias Damien Brunner
Reid Boucher Adam Henrique Michael Ryder
Tuomo Ruutu Jacob Josefson Stephen Gionta
Andy Greene Damon Severson
Bryce Salvador Marek Zidlicky
Jon Merrill Adam Larsson
Cory Schneider
Scott Clemmensen

Season Series

11/1/14 - Columbus at New Jersey
2/28/15 - New Jersey at Columbus
3/6/2015 - Columbus at New Jersey
3/31/15 - New Jersey at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

New Jersey Columbus
2.90 (9) GPG 2.60 (17)
3.30 (22) GAPG 3.40 (24)
25.0% (4) PP% 19.0% (17)
68.2% (29) PK% 76.7% (24)
Mike Cammalleri, 5 G leader Cam Atkinson / Ryan Johansen, 5
Adam Henrique / Jaromir Jagr, 5 A leader Scott Hartnell, 9
Adam Henrique, 8 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 13
Bryce Salvador, 16 PIM leader Jared Boll, 26
1-1-2 Home/Road 2-3-0
5-3-2 Last 10 4-6-0
10/30 vs. Winnipeg, W 2 - 1 (SO) Last Game 10/31 vs. Toronto, L 4 - 1