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Game Preview #22 - About That Time

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The calendar hasn't even flipped to December but the Jackets need to start stringing together some wins. Does it start tonight?

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets

November 28, 2014 - 7:00 pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - CD 102.5 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Nucks Misconduct

Not entirely sure what good news to give you heading into this one.  The Canucks are a bit of a surprise in the West as they are near the top of the standings at the quarter point of the season.  The Sedin twins both have posted 20 points thus far and their linemate Radim Vrbata leads the team with 10 goals.  Vancouver just dispatched Chicago and New Jersey at home, and now start a season-long seven-game road trip over the next 12 days.

For the Jackets, tonight marks three games in four nights against some pretty good competition (although, sitting in last place, every team seems like good competition).  Tomorrow night, the Jackets travel to Nashville where the Predators are 9-1-1 at home and they have Pekka Rinne, the early odds-on-favorite to win the Vezina.  There is some positive news this holiday weekend - Brandon Dubinsky took part in his first full practice.  Though he's not expected to play tonight or tomorrow, he *should* be back soon.  Mark Letestu is also skating as is Cody Goloubef and Jeff Rimer thinks Ryan Murray is close, though there is less available information on his status.

There are a couple of lineup tweaks from Todd Richards.  Kevin Connauton will be the healthy scratch on the blue line, meaning we will see Tim Erixon reunited with James Wisniewski most likely.  Boone Jenner will center the Atkinverts as Jack Skille moves to Anisimov's wing opposite of Brian Gibbons.  For some reason, Alex Wennberg will continue to see minutes centering the fourth line.

It is not even December, but it is getting close to the tipping point.  Debates among the fanbase are raging as to whether or not to Tank for McDavid.  Opinions are flying over the Anisimov for Perron rumors (or were those Erixon + Anisimov for Eberle rumors?).  This team is 2-11-2 over the last 15.  The hopes of making the playoffs, however slim, still exist, but these next nine periods are critical.  It starts tonight.

Here are a couple keys - 1) Bob needs to become BOB again.  And fast.  His GAA is threatening to cross the 3.00 mark.  Without a stable force in net, this team has no chance.  2) Secondary scoring.  The top line plus Atkinson are the only forwards with double digit point totals.  The next closest?  Boone Jenner has six points in his ten games played.  That tells you all you need to know about the forwards that have been playing and why HCTR is almost forced to play the top line 20 minutes a night.  Someone else needs to show up on the scoresheet.  Oh, and a Boll/Dorse fight would be kind of cool.

BONUS - Great Event taking place today at 3:00 P.M. down at the Ice Haus if you are recovered from your Thanksgiving food comas and/or Black Friday shopping.

Projected Lineups

Vancouver Canucks

(15-6-1, 31 points; 2nd Division, 3rd Conference)

Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins Nick Bonino Alex Burrows
Shawn Matthias Brad Richardson Linden Vey
Derek Dorsett Bo Horvat Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler Chris Tanev
Luca Sbisa Kevin Bieksa
Ryan Stanton Yannick Weber
Ryan Miller
Eddie Lack

Columbus Blue Jackets

(6-13-2, 14 Points; 8th division, 15th conference)

Scott Hartnell Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Boone Jenner Cam Atkinson
Brian Gibbons Artem Anisimov Jack Skille
Corey Tropp Alexander Wennberg Jared Boll
Jack Johnson Dalton Prout
Jordan Leopold David Savard
Tim Erixon James Wisniewski
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney