First and foremost, today's game preview marks the only time I've written one in 22 games at which time the Jackets weren't either solely in last place, or technically tied for last place. #Progress!
For whatever reason, the Blue Jackets over the last several seasons have played the Sharks very well. It doesn't seem to matter who's playing, who's coaching, or where they play. Columbus has won three straight, and six of the last eight against San Jose. Why? Who knows, and more importantly, who cares.
All of that on the table, the Sharks are red-hot, winning five in a row, all on the road, and seven of 10 (though, one of those three losses came to the Jackets). Four of those five wins in a row have been one-goal wins, including two in overtime, so this team has been pretty battle-tested over this stretch. This is, however, the sixth straight road game, and the last one of their trip, and the Jackets have had a day's rest while the Sharks played yesterday in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, the energy level favors Columbus and the Sharks are looking ahead to getting home and resting. Martin Jones has played in all five of those games, also, so the question will be if he goes again (ride the hot hand) or if we see Alex Stalock based on the mileage Jones has logged of late. No official word yet, but I'm betting on Stalock.
Columbus is coming off probably the most improbable win they've had since last December's in Florida in which they got out-shot 55-20 and won 4-3 in a shootout. Down two defensemen for more than two full periods, the Jackets stole an magical 4-0 shutout against a very good Preds team thanks to an all-hands-on-deck defense and Sergei Bobrovsky.
One assumes Bob gets the crease again after that shutout performance, and the Jackets will have a new-look defense in front of him with the return to the lineup of Dalton Prout and the callup of defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk. Cody Goloubef will be out for awhile with a broken jaw, and Fedor Tyutin will be out for a bit with a broken nose. No word yet on pairings, but these are my guesses, again.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(8-13-0, 16 Points; 7th division, 15th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Brandon Saad|
|Matt Calvert||Nick Foligno||Cam Atkinson|
|Scott Hartnell||William Karlsson||Rene Bourque|
|Kerby Rychel||Gregory Campbell||Josh Anderson|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Kevin Connauton|
|Andrew Bodnarchuk||Dalton Prout|
San Jose Sharks
(12-8-0, 24 Points; 2nd Division, 6th Conference)
|Melker Karlsson||Joe Thornton||Joe Pavelski|
|Matt Nieto||Patrick Marleau||Joel Ward|
|Joonas Donskoi||Tomas Hertl||Tommy Wingels|
|Michael Haley||Chris Tierney||Mike Brown|
|Marc-Edouard Vlasic||Justin Braun|
|Paul Martin||Brent Burns|
|Brenden Dillon||Mirco Mueller|