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Game Preview #45 - Let's Get This Over With

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I don't mean this game. I mean the season. The Jackets finish yet another back-to-back in Toronto.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jackets at Maple Leafs - 7:00 PM
Game Faceoff

The last time these two teams met, we officially knew the Jackets were in trouble. Maybe we didn't know how much (losses to Buffalo and getting stomped by Ottawa at home certainly didn't bode well), but we knew things were not what we expected. This was no longer a crisis of confidence. It was just bad, bad hockey, from the goal on out. A quote from my preview of that game:

If they can't win tonight... look out. We don't know how deep this hole could really be.

As bad as 0-8-0 was, last night's loss to the Isles marked the official low water mark in terms of "games below .500" for this team so far. They'd never lost 10 more in regulation than they'd won. Another milestone reached. We still maybe don't know how deep the hole is. It's like in The Abyss, when the crew can't believe that Ed Harris is *still* falling.

With the youth up and down the lineup (mostly up, on account of having lost all center depth and by having two middle-six wingers on IR) including two rookies in net, it's not looking to get better. In our down time between games, this isn't the worst thing. 20% chance of winning the Auston Matthews Derby and all.

But, when trying to get ready for a hockey game, it's soul-crushing. I couldn't envision a scenario in which they won last night's game. That they actually had it tied at two nearing the midway point--considering how awfully they'd played for much of the time to that point--was nothing short of a miracle. They simply don't have the staying power.

And so, another night, another city, another game. Another preview where I struggle to find a clear path to victory. Maybe that's for the best. But, when trying to write cogently about hockey, it's the worst. Try not to get smoked. Try to look like you give a shit.

Failing that, let's just get this over with.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(15-25-4, 34 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)

Scott Hartnell Alexander Wennberg Brandon Saad
Boone Jenner William Karlsson Cam Atkinson
Kerby Rychel Brandon Dubinsky Josh Anderson
Rene Bourque Gregory Campbell Jared Boll
Ryan Murray Seth Jones
Jack Johnson David Savard
Fedor Tyutin Cody Goloubef
Joonas Korpisalo
Anton Forsberg

Toronto Maple Leafs
(16-17-7, 39 Points; 7th Division, 14th Conference)

Shawn Matthias Tyler Bozak P.A. Parenteau
Michael Grabner Nazem Kadri Leo Komarov
Daniel Winnik Peter Holland Joffrey Lupul
Josh Leivo Byron Froese Brad Boyes
Jake Gardiner Dion Phaneuf
Martin Marincin Morgan Rielly
Matt Hunwick Roman Polak
James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier