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Game Preview #40 - It Doesn't Get Any Easier From Here

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Welp. The Jackets have been Jekyl and Hyde the past few games, and another tough test comes tonight at home.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets

January 10, 2015 - 7:00 pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

Come on, man.

Last night's loss hurt a bit. If you're trying to climb over teams for the playoffs, especially teams that are really struggling, the last thing you can afford to do is get smoked by those teams. After a 1-0 lead was quickly eviscerated in the first period, the Jackets are reeling just a bit as they return home to face the resurgent Islanders.

Many of us have had our worst fears realized in the last several games, even with Columbus notching wins along the way. The "fancy stats" have been unkind to the Jackets, despite them continuing to win. And, when it's come back to earth in losses, it has come back with a mighty thud. In their last three losses (wrapped around four wins), they've been outscored 16-6, and three of the Jackets' goals have come in absolute garbage time/score effects. They led in two of those games. When it goes bad, it goes really bad.

Special teams seem to be what keeps this team afloat. The Power Play has been good all year. The PK has been streaky. When it's been good (see: December), the team has been winning. When it hasn't (see: Arizona and Toronto), they lose. Grossly.

Overall, the Jackets need to figure out how not to keep getting blitzed on the shot clock. I don't know if it's more getting the puck out of their own zone with consistency (they certainly don't do it right now), or setting up in the offensive zone more (they often don't very much), but something needs to change. Many of us wondered or complained that the December run was unsustainable for the long haul because the numbers under the surface simply weren't very good, and those chickens are circling the coop looking for a place to roost, it would appear.

Both teams played last night, and there was no CBJ morning skate, so the lineups are guesses based on previous games. Speaking of lineups, the word is that the NHL will announce the All Star rosters around 6 PM.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(18-18-3, 39 Points; 5th division, 12th conference)

Scott Hartnell Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Sean Collins Alexander Wennberg Jack Skille
Jeremy Morin Mark Letestu Jared Boll
Jack Johnson David Savard
Kevin Connauton James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin Cody Goloubef
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

New York Islanders
(27-13-1, 55 Points; 1st Division, 2nd Conference)

Josh Bailey John Tavares Kyle Okposo
Anders Lee Frans Nielsen Ryan Strome
Michael Grabner Brock Nelson Nikolay Kulemin
Matt Martin Casey Cizikas Cal Clutterbuck
Calvin de Haan Travis Hamonic
Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey Brian Strait
Chad Johnson
Jaroslav Halak

Season Series

01/10/15 - NY Islanders at Columbus
02/14/15 - Columbus at NY Islanders
04/02/15 - NY Islanders at Columbus
04/11/15 - Columbus at NY Islanders

Head to Head Stats

Toronto Columbus
2.93 (10) GPG 2.51 (22)
2.76 (21) GAPG 3.20 (26)
19.3% (13) PP% 24.3% (3)
76.7% (26) PK% 79.0% (22)
John Tavares, 19 G leader Nick Foligno, 17
Kyle Okposo, 28 A leader Ryan Johansen, 23
John Tavares, 39 Pts leader Nick Foligno, 39
Travis Hamonic, 54 PIM leader Jared Boll, 56
13-9-1 Road/Home 9-9-2
6-3-1 Last 10 6-3-1
1/9 @ New Jersey, W 3-2 (OT) Last Game 1/9 @ Toronto, L 5-2