First of all, apologies for the lateness of this preview. Part of the reason I switched things up and started doing the Faceoffs first thing in the morning is that it would give everyone a place to chat about the game on days like these where work got in the way and the preview itself was late. That said, it was one of those work days, and the preview is late. My bad.
The Jackets had a successful, if unfulfilling, California trip. It would have been nice to get that third win, but the Ducks are looking like they're figuring out their scoring problems and are starting to get back to what they should be. Either way, getting four points out of those three games feels like a win in its own.
That said, there's a team in the other dressing room tonight that shows how much the "loser" point in today's NHL matters: the Jackets are 4-11, and the Canucks are technically 6-9. That's two games difference, except for that FIVE of those nine losses have come in OT/SO for Vancouver. Those five extra points make such a HUGE difference. The Jackets' complete inability to keep games close during their disastrous start may prove to be one of their bigger undoings. That same kind of split for Columbus would be the difference between sitting four points out of a Wild Card spot and still feeling like you're in it, and nine points out and at the very bottom of the list. Those things add up.
Sergei Bobrovsky is back in net tonight, coming off two of his best efforts of the season out in San Jose and Los Angeles. His EV save percentage for the season sits at .889, which is obviously not good. That said, since Tortorella was hired and the team began focusing on defense a bit more, in seven games Bob's EV SV% is .932. In Bob's last five games, he has a .941 mark at EV, and that includes the crap-fest against Winnipeg. That tells you how good he's been of late, and by extension (the full season) how dreadful he was early on.
Obviously, a GOOD Bob makes this team so much more able to hang around in games and steal those points even on nights they maybe don't deserve to win.
Vancouver is playing their third in four nights, and has lost three in a row (0-2-1) and is 3-4-4 in their last 10. In other words, they're not a team winning games routinely, and so the Jackets can hopefully look to capitalize on some tired legs and some fragile spirits. The Jackets miss Ryan Miller tonight, which is always a bonus.
Columbus brings Goloubef back in and sits Prout on defense, and keeps their same forwards iced despite some line juggling. That said, I like this top line. With the way both Hartnell and Dubinsky are playing, paired with the style that Brandon Saad can play, I think they have the potential to do some damage tonight. We shall see.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(4-10-0, 8 Points; 8th division, 15th conference)
|Scott Hartnell||Brandon Dubinsky||Brandon Saad|
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Matt Calvert||William Karlsson||Cam Atkinson|
|Gregory Campbell||Alexander Wennberg||Jared Boll|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Fedor Tyutin|
|Kevin Connauton||Cody Goloubef|
(6-4-5, 17 Points; 2nd Division, 8th Conference)
|Daniel Sedin||Henrik Sedin||Jannik Hansen|
|Chris Higgins||Bo Horvat||Radim Vrbata|
|Alex Burrows||Brandon Sutter||Sven Baertschi|
|Adam Cracknell||Jared McCann||Derek Dorsett|
|Alexander Edler||Alex Biega|
|Dan Hamhuis||Yannick Weber|
|Ben Hutton||Matt Bartkowski|