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Game Preview #16 - Get Back On Track

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The Jackets need wins. A win tonight would be three out of four. This would be a good thing.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jackets vs. Canucks - 7:00 PM
Game Faceoff

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.

Projected Lineups

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
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Vancouver Canucks
(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
Jacob Markstrom
Ryan Miller