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Game Preview #18 - Can We *Finally* Get a Home Win, Please?

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The Jackets talked me back from the ledge last night. Now would be a good time to finally get in the win column at home.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

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

So, here we are, not 24 hours after I all but threw in the towel on a preview. Little did I know that the Jackets would go to Pittsburgh and play arguably their best game of the season--probably their best defensively, at least--and win. Just when I think I'm out, they pulllllll me back in.

That said, this Coyotes team is not quite like last year's, at least in the early going. They've shown some real pluck after last year's tank-fest team got jobbed out of a top two pick. That said, they are streaky as all hell. Consider the following start to their season:

Three game winning streak (3-0-0)
Four game losing streak (0-3-1)
Six games of .500 hockey (3-3-0)
Three game winning streak (3-0-0)

So, they're playing well. But, they've shown no real consistency so far this season. Also, four of their last six wins come against the likes of Ottawa, Toronto, Colorado, and Edmonton... not exactly a murderer's row. BUT they've also beaten both Los Angeles and Anaheim twice already this season. Weird times, man.

All this is to say: I can't get a read on this team. I haven't seen them play, and I don't know much about them outside of the stats and standings. Their EV stats aren't great; they're worse than even our Jackets in terms of CorsiFor% and Scoring Chances at EV. They also are currently the fourth "luckiest" team in the league according to PDO at EV. That said, I often don't like calling that stat purely "luck" because good goalies and skilled forwards make their own luck.

But, yeah... I don't know what to think about this club.

Here's what's crazy and frustrating and annoying about the Jackets: they're now basically a .500 road team, but haven't won at home. For all of the griping we might have done about the road-heavy start to the season, one could argue it's actually been good for this team. They clearly band together on the road, and have won five of their last eight on the road. Which, of course, means they haven't won yet at home, a stat amplified by their complete gag-job on Tuesday against Vancouver.

The last time this team played a back-to-back (and hey, thanks AGAIN NHL, as we're now finishing out FIFTH back-to-back, meaning that 10 of our first 18 games were back-to-backs), they came out slow and flat and Anaheim punished them. They need to find the legs in a hurry tonight.

Kerby Rychel was added on emergency recall last night in case Brandon Dubinsky still cannot go. We don't have word as of yet what the lineups will look like, even down to the goaltender. My gut says Bob gets to go again after last night's performance and the fact that the team had a light week of games and he should be rested. Project CBJ lineup below reflects no Dubinsky and just my gut feelings.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(5-12-0, 10 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)

Scott Hartnell Nick Foligno Brandon Saad
Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert William Karlsson Rene Bourque
Kerby Rychel Gregory Campbell Jared Boll
Jack Johnson David Savard
Fedor Tyutin Ryan Murray
Kevin Connauton Cody Goloubef
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Arizona Coyotes
(9-6-1, 19 Points; 2nd Division, 6th Conference)

Tobias Rieder Martin Hanzal Anthony Duclair
Max Domi Antoine Vermette Mikkel Boedker
Jordan Martinook Brad Richardson Shane Doan
John Scott Boyd Gordon Kyle Chipchura
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Michael Stone
Klas Dahlbeck Zbynek Michalek
Stefan Elliott Connor Murphy
Mike Smith
Anders Lindback