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Game Preview #12 - Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

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The Jackets are starting to get healthy, little by little. Tonight, it's Boone Jenner and Matt Calvert. Every little bit helps.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes at Columbus Blue Jackets

November 4, 2014 - 7:00 PM EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Canes Country

Alas, it has come to this. These two games could, legitimately, put the Jackets into the division cellar. The Canes have played one fewer game, so if they can get two more points than Columbus in these two games they would pass Columbus. Make no mistake: Carolina is a bad, bad team. But, right now (over the past five games), so is Columbus.

However, there is some hope on the horizon. This team is--however slowly--starting to get healthy. Matt Calvert AND Boone Jenner are officially off the IR list, and are slated to play tonight. Count me among those that thinks even a rusty Calvert and Jenner are better options than Adam Cracknell and Corey Tropp. The extra energy (think these guys aren't chomping at the bit, especially Jenner?) and skill makes Columbus that much better on its face.

That said, they may be without Ryan Murray who was not participating in the morning skate this morning. Fredric St. Denis was called up yesterday, and he may get the start if Murray is not able to go. This could be problematic, as Curtis McElhinney hasn't been at his best since Sergei Bobrovsky went down. The Jackets' PK, also, has been abysmal of late, killing just 16 of their 25 times shorthanded over the last six games (1-5-0). That's a 64% success rate, and that is frankly just terrible.

Carolina hasn't been good on offense at even strength, but their Power Play has actually not been bad. The Canes have scored just 21 goals in 10 games, and seven of those goals (33.3%) have come on the Power Play. They have the players in Staal, Skinner, and Semin to put the puck in the net on the Power Play, and so the Jackets need to be disciplined and also solid on the PK. I think Calvert and Jenner can help with the latter, but the former would go a long way toward keeping things in check; just don't take dumb penalties and give them chances!

In net for Carolina, they're trying to find a hot hand to ride, as neither Cam Ward (.885 sv%) nor Anton Khudobin (.891 sv%) has been good. That said, Ward is riding a two-game winning streak that included just two goals allowed in two games against Arizona and Los Angeles. But, if Columbus can pepper Ward with shots, the stats say that eventually he'll crack.

Honestly, the Jackets played hard on Saturday, but just didn't have the talent on the ice to overcome the inevitable bad bounces. Tonight, they're closer to icing a team we can expect to win, especially against a bad team like Carolina. This team just needs a win, honestly. Let's start it off tonight.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(4-7-0, 8 Points; 7th division, 14th conference)

Scott Hartnell Ryan Johansen Cam Atkinson
Brian Gibbons Nick Foligno Jack Skille
Matt Calvert Alexander Wennberg Boone Jenner
Marko Dano Michael Chaput Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Tim Erixon Dalton Prout
Frederic St. Denis David Savard
Curtis McElhinney
Anton Forsberg

Carolina Hurricanes
(2-6-2, 6 Points; 8th Division, 16th Conference)

Jiri Tlusty Eric Staal Alexander Semin
Nathan Gerbe Riley Nash Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner Jay McClement Patrick Dwyer
Chris Terry Victor Rask Zach Boychuk
Andrej Sekera Justin Faulk
Tim Gleason Jay Harrison
Ron Hainsey Brett Bellemore
Cam Ward
Anton Khudobin

Season Series

11/04/14 - Carolina at Columbus
11/07/14 - Columbus at Carolina
03/10/15 - Columbus at Carolina
03/15/15 - Carolina at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Carolina Columbus
2.10 (27) GPG 2.54 (21)
3.30 (24) GAPG 3.36 (26)
21.9% (8) PP% 19.6% (13)
80.0% (19) PK% 75.0% (26)
Jiri Tlusty, 6 G leader Cam Atkinson / Ryan Johansen, 5
Riley Nash, 5 A leader Scott Hartnell, 9
Jiri Tlusty, 8 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 13
Jay Harrison, 31 PIM leader Jared Boll, 28
0-5-1 Road/Home 2-3-0
2-6-2 Last 10 3-7-0
11/02 vs. Los Angeles, W 3-2 Last Game 11/01 @ New Jersey, L 3-2