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Game #37 Preview: Jackets Hit Broadway

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In their first game out of the Christmas break, the Blue Jackets look to extend their season-high win streak to five at the Rangers.

Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 7:00 EST
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Blue Shirt Banter

Columbus Blue Jackets (21-12-3, 45 points, 2nd Metro, 5th East)

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New York Rangers (15-14-6, 32 points, 5th Metro, t-11th East)

Four-point divisional games always being crucial, the Columbus Blue Jackets entered the Christmas break with back-to-back matinee wins last weekend over the Flyers and Devils to stay within two points of first place Washington in the Metro. Thursday, they look to extend a season-long four-game winning streak as John Tortorella and co. visit old stomping grounds at Madison Square Garden.

The New York Rangers beat Columbus 5-4 in a shootout back in Columbus on Nov. 10. Not expecting to contend this season, the retooling Rangers come into play fifth in the Metro, eight points outside of the final Wild Card spot in the East and six behind the Penguins for third in the division.

Player to Watch

It might be cliché at this point, but lets give the New York spotlight to Cam Atkinson. Sure to represent the Blue Jackets in San Jose for January’s NHL All-Star Game, the Connecticut native has 12 career points (nine goals, three assists) against the Rangers in 21 games. On a 53-goal pace this season, Atkinson comes in tied-for-seventh in the NHL with 23 goals, also leading the Blue Jackets in goals. Looking to smash his previous career-high of 35 goals in 2016-17, his 38 points at this juncture is just over-half of his career-point total of 62.

Atkinson has also been shooting the puck more (16.2%), nearly six percent better than last season, and just under five percent from his career average. He has as many game-winning tallies as last season (five — albeit he missed significant time for a stretch). But perhaps the one graphic that can illustrate Atkinson’s elite goal-scoring?

Since Jan. 25, 2018, when Atkinson returned from a broken foot at Arizona:

Alex Ovechkin - 49 goals
Patrik Laine - 49 goals
Connor McDavid - 45 goals
Cam Atkinson - 42 goals

It makes you wonder how many he could have had if he didn’t start the 2017-18 season with just six goals through December 2017 and suffering a broken foot.

Jackets Notes

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has erased a slow start to the season after being named NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week through Dec. 23.

For the month of December, the Blue Jackets are 31st in the league on the power play (5.9%) with just two PPG. ... This, after they seemed to find their stride in Nov. when they were at a 21.1% clip (15th). ... Their penalty kill this month sits ninth (85.7%). ... Columbus is the only team in the NHL to feature four defenseman who have scored at least 13 points on the season (Seth Jones, six goals, 14 assists, Zach Werenski, six goals, 12 assists, Markus Nutivaara, four goals, nine assists, Ryan Murray, one goals, 16 assists). ... Scott Harrington’s 10 points (one goal, nine assists) makes Columbus one of two teams, the other the Lightning, featuring teams with five defenseman scoring at least 10 points. ... They, along with the Wild, are one of two teams who have two 17-point d-men. ... Alexander Wennberg’s only goal this season came against the Rangers in the Nov. 10 meeting. ... Artemi Panarin comes into this meeting with 14 career points versus the Rangers (10 goals, 4 assists) in nine career games and had seven points (six goals, one assist) including a hat trick against the Rangers in four games last season. ... Joonas Korpisalo gets the start tonight.

The Other Bench

Last time the Blue Jackets saw the Rangers, we talked about the surprising spot with which the Rangers found themselves in the Metropolitan. At that time, Columbus occupied first place, with the Rangers in sixth, but three points behind. But now, the Rangers have slid to 2-3-4 in the month of December, and are losers of two straight after falling to Toronto, 5-3, and Philadelphia, 3-2, in a shootout last weekend.

New York has 12 skaters among double figures in points, with Mika Zibanejad (11 goals, 19 assists) and Kevin Hayes (10 goals 20 assists) fronting the load. Chris Kreider also has double figures in goals (17 goals, eight assists). Henrik Lundqvist is 10-9-6 (.915 SV%, 2.83 GAA). Backup Alexandar Georgiev is 5-5-0 (.899, 3.20), and it was Georgiev versus Korpisalo back in November.

In recent history, this has been a tight matchup, with two-or-fewer goals deciding 15 of the last 17 meetings, and 11 of the last 12. Going back to 2015, the Rangers hold the head-to-head edge (10-6-0).

Injuries for the Rangers include Jesper Fast (upper body), Cody McLeod (fractured hand) and Kevin Shattenkirk (separated shoulder).

Season Series

11/10/18 NYR 5 @ CBJ 4 SO
12/27/18 CBJ @ NYR
1/13/19 NYR @ CBJ
4/5/19 CBJ @ NYR

Stats

New York Columbus
2.77 (26) GPG 3.25 (10)
3.23 (25) GAPG 3.00 (t-17)
19.0% (17) PP% 13.8% (28)
76.8% (25) PK% 80.6% (13)
45.38% (30) EV Corsi % 49.20% (20)
100.5 (11) EV PDO 101.0 (8)
Chris Kreider, 17 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 23
Kevin Hayes, 20 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 28
Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad, 30 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 39
Cody McLeod, 42 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 40
11-4-4 Home / Road 11-5-1
2-4-4 Last 10 6-3-1

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Oliver Bjorkstrand Alexander Wennberg Lukas Sedlak
Markus Hannikainen Brandon Dubinsky Riley Nash
Ryan Murray Seth Jones
Zach Werenski Markus Nutivaara
Scott Harrington David Savard
Joonas Korpisalo
Sergei Bobrovsky

New York Rangers

Filip Chytil Mika Zibanejad Pavel Buchnevich
Chris Kreider Kevin Hayes Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey Brett Howden Vladislav Namestnikov
Boo Nieves Lias Andersson Ryan Strome
Mark Staal Neal Pionk
Brady Skjei Adam McQuaid
Fredrik Claesson Brendan Smith
Henrik Lundqvist
Alexander Georgiev