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Game Preview #39 - Finish The Trip Strong

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The Jackets finish their four-game road trip in Toronto, hoping to make up ground on a team in front of them in the Wild Card race. Four pointer!

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets at Toronto Maple Leafs

January 9, 2015 - 7:30 pm EST
Air Canada Centre - Toronto, Ontario
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

Man, has it been a long time since we've seen Toronto. That night--Halloween, incidentally--the Jackets turned Nationwide Arena into a house of horrors by icing a lineup that was at least HALF AHL-level players, IMHO. The results were as you'd expect.

What a difference two-plus months make. The Jackets have gone through The Dark Times, and have climbed back above the .500 mark. This is right around the time last season that they went on their run, but here they are having already gone on a pretty crazy 12-2-1 run to get to this point.

Which is good enough for 12th in the conference. Oy.

The Leafs are sinking like a stone, having lost eight of 10 after reaching their high water mark of 19-9-3 in mid-December. The good news for Columbus is that that means Toronto is just six points ahead, and the Jackets have three games in hand. At this point, I try not to look at the standings overall (i.e., how many points out of a playoff spot are we?) and instead look at the teams right in front of us. Ottawa is one point in front, and the Jackets have games in hand. Toronto is next, as we noted. And they just fired their coach and got blitzed 14-4 in three straight losses. They're also missing some bodies up front, most notably Joffrey Lupul.

In other words, We Fight, We March. One team at a time. Ottawa is off tonight, and so a win would put Columbus in 11th place, and just four points back of Toronto in 10th with games in hand. Just gotta keep winning.

Apologies for the lateness of this preview. Work. Can't be helped sometimes.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(18-17-3, 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

Toronto Maple Leafs
(21-17-3, 45 Points; 6th Division, 10th Conference)

Daniel Winnik Tyler Bozak Phil Kessel
James van Riemsdyk Nazem Kadri Richard Panik
Leo Komarov Mike Santorelli David Clarkson
David Booth Sam Carrick Trevor Smith
Dion Phaneuf Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner Stephane Robidas
Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Season Series

10/31/14 - Toronto 4 at Columbus 1
01/09/15 - Columbus at Toronto
04/08/15 - Toronto at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Toronto Columbus
3.15 (2) GPG 2.53 (22)
3.10 (25) GAPG 3.16 (26)
19.9% (11) PP% 23.9% (3)
82.5% (11) PK% 79.9% (19)
Phil Kessel, 18 G leader Nick Foligno, 17
Phil Kessel, 23 A leader Ryan Johansen, 23
Phil Kessel, 41 Pts leader Nick Foligno, 38
Dion Phaneuf, 69 PIM leader Jared Boll, 54
14-9-0 Home/Road 9-8-1
2-8-0 Last 10 7-2-1
1/7 vs. Washington, L 6-2 Last Game 1/6 @ Dallas, W 4-2