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Game #32: Let’s Bring a Cannon to a Duck Hunt

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Rabbit season! Rabbit Season! Duck season, fire!

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Anaheim Ducks
A homecoming tonight for Anaheim forward Kiefer Sherwood, a Central Ohio native
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, December 15, 2018 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Anaheim Calling

Columbus Blue Jackets (17-12-2, 36 points, 2nd Metro, 7th East)

vs.

Anaheim Ducks (17-11-5, 39 points, 3rd Pacific, 6th West)

After a poor start to the homestand, the Blue Jackets have put in consecutive good efforts, breaking through with a win in their last game on Thursday against the Kings. Will they have gained any confidence from that result that will carry through to tonight? Let’s find out.

Player to Watch

John Gibson

I don’t think Gibson gets enough credit for how good of a goalie he has been. He has never had a GAA worse than 2.60 and a save percentage worse than .926 in a full season. This year his GAA is 7th in the league among goalies with 20+ starts (2.60) and tied for second in save percentage (.925). All of this in a season in which goalie numbers are on the decline as offensive numbers spike. His teammates aren’t providing much support, with the fourth worst goals per game and Corsi For %. Yet they’re sitting third in their division in large part to Gibson carrying them. And he’s still just 25 years old! He signed a long term contract extension in August that will carry a cap hit of $6.4 million through 2027. That looks like a steal.

Jackets Notes

The Blue Jackets will use the same lineup as Thursday. That means Anthony Duclair will be a healthy scratch. John Tortorella had this to say:

“My situation with Duke right now isn’t his skill,” Tortorella said of the forward who has eight goals and four assists on the season. “I want him to be a skilled guy, and I’m not going to worry about mistakes with his skill. I want to see the determination, and that’s where I think there’s a little bit of a road in between us there, defining what competing and determination is.

”We’re going to keep working with him. He’s going to have to wait his turn now.”

Because of what Duclair has provided on offense, I’m inclined to think that Torts is wrong here. Let Duclair work on his game while still providing some offensive spark in the lineup. Lukas Sedlak (who did score on Thursday) doesn’t add much if anything to the lineup. Duclair’s ceiling seems much higher. This is the forward version of my argument against Scott Harrington in favor of Dean Kukan or Gabriel Carlsson. On the other hand, perhaps Torts is seeing what coaches in Chicago and Arizona saw.

Speaking of Sedsy, he will play on a line with Alexander Wennberg and Oliver BJORKSTRAND. The remaining line has become Brandon Dubinsky centering Riley Nash and Markus Hannikainen. That seems like a pretty solid fourth line to me, but of course I’d feel better if the third line featured Duclair as well. Perhaps the trade deadline will bring another scorer to that line instead.

The Other Bench

In their previous game, on Wednesday, the Ducks came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Dallas 6-3 thanks to the first career hat trick of Ondrej Kase ... Columbus has been blessed with few injuries, but Anaheim is missing all of Corey Perry, Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, and Ryan Miller ... New Albany native Kiefer Sherwood has played in all but one game for the Ducks this season. He has eight points (3G/5A) in 32 games. It’s always nice to see Columbus kids make it to the NHL. He’s certain to have a large cheering section in NWA tonight.

Season Series

11/04/2018 CBJ 2 @ ANA 3 (OT)
12/15/2018 ANA @ CBJ

Stats

Anaheim Columbus
2.55 (28) GPG 3.42 (7)
2.88 (13) GAPG 3.29 (24)
15.6% (25) PP% 15.8% (24)
79.7% (14) PK% 79.3% (16)
45.90% (28) EV Corsi % 49.17% (20)
102.0 (4) EV PDO 100.3 (15)
Pontus Aberg, 10 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 19
Ryan Getzlaf, 18 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 25
Ryan Getzlaf, 26 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 34
Josh Manson, 31 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 38
7-7-0 Home / Road 8-7-1
8-2-0 Last 10 5-5-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Lukas Sedlak Alexander Wennberg Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Riley Nash Brandon Dubinsky Markus Hannikainen
Ryan Murray Seth Jones
Markus Nutivaara David Savard
Zach Werenski Scott Harrington
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Anaheim Ducks
Pontus Aberg Ryan Getzlaf Ondrej Kase
Andrew Cogliano Ryan Kesler Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie Adam Henrique Daniel Sprong
Brian Gibbons Carter Rowney Kiefer Sherwood
Hampus Lindholm Brandon Montour
Jacob Larsson Josh Manson
Josh Mahura Jake Dotchin
John Gibson
Chad Johnson