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Game #53 Preview: Blue Jackets Hit The Desert

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Columbus looks to make it two straight wins when they ascend upon Arizona and the Coyotes.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 9:00 EST
Gila River Arena, Glendale, AZ
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Five For Howling

Columbus Blue Jackets (29-20-3, 61 points, 4th Metro, 8th East)

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Arizona Coyotes (23-25-5, 51 points, t-5th Pacific, t-11th West)

Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets recently shook a season-long five game losing-streak and now embark upon Glendale to battle the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night. After a 6-3 win at the Avalanche Tuesday night, which saw Alexander Wennberg extinguish a 34-game goalless drought and score his first multi-point game since November, John Tortorella’s crew looks to see if things are starting to trend back up the other way.

Arizona fell to the Predators 5-2 and have dropped their last four. Looking to stay alive in the playoff picture, they are just three points out of the last wild card spot in the West. In the teams’ first meeting in Columbus Oct. 23, the Coyotes didn’t let Columbus do much of anything, shutting them down in the 4-1 win.

Player to Watch

Clayton Keller has been a young marvel for Arizona. The 20-year-old seventh overall pick from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft is the teams’ leading point-getter (37), assists leader (26), and tied for the team lead in goals (11). In his first full season last year, he scored 23 goals, 42 assists for 65 points which helped him to being a top 3 Calder finalist. Keller is currently in a six-game goal drought with three assists in that span.

Jackets Notes

Oliver Bjorkstrand has been among the best Blue Jackets, with a three-game goal streak and is one goal away from tying his career-high 11 set last season. ... Columbus’ penalty kill has been the best in the league since Oct. 14 (86.3%) and is at a 96.9% clip since Jan. 1. ... Since Marty St. Louis’ hire, the Blue Jackets have coincidentally — or not — seen their power play uptick, with three PPG in their four games since the break, and are 4-for-12 in their last five games. ... Dating back their last 10 games, the Jackets are 8-for-27 (29.6%), fourth-best in that span. ... Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Murray both missed Tuesday’s game, and are considered day-to-day with lower-body injuries. ... Dubinsky will miss the rest of the trip as he was sent back to Columbus and underwent an MRI on his hip. ... Artemi Panarin has a five-game point streak (two goals, six assists), and has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in nine of his last 10 games. ... Oliver Bjorkstrand has a three-game goal streak and his next one will match his career high set last season. ... Columbus is tied with the fourth best record at hime. ... Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start in net.

The Other Bench

The Coyotes are on the peripheral of the wild card race, sitting just three points out of the last spot in the Western Conference. They’ve managed a boatload of injuries including to Jakob Chychrun (lower body) and Jason Demers who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in November. Darcy Kuemper missed the last game with an upper-body injury but will start tonight. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has missed time with a lower-body injury, Michael Grabner with an eye ailment, Antti Raanta went down for the season with a lower-boy injury, Brad Richardson has missed time (upper-body), and Nick Schmaltz is lost for the rest of the season (lower-body.)

Despite all of this, they lead the NHL in penalty kill (85.3%) and are 13th in GA/GP (2.91). They also place ninth in the league in SA/GP (30.5). Columbus is eighth (30.3). The Coyotes are second in the league with 12 short-handed goals, trailing the Flames who have 16, and are the only teams to accrue double digits. Arizona has the worst home record in the NHL.

Season Series

10/23/2018 AZ 4 @ CBJ 1
2/7/2019 CBJ @ AZ

Stats

Arizona Columbus
2.60 (t-28) GPG 3.25 (9)
2.91 (13) GAPG 3.10 (19)
17.0% (21) PP% 15.8% (27)
85.3% (1) PK% 83.7% (5)
49.29% (18) EV Corsi % 49.74% (16)
98.1 (30) EV PDO 100.1 (15)
Clayton Keller, Derek Stepan, Brad Richardson, Christian Fischer, 11 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 29
Clayton Keller, 26 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 40
Clayton Keller, 37 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 60
Lawson Crouse, 58 PIM Leader Josh Anderson, 48
9-12-3 Home / Road 15-9-1
4-4-2 Last 10 5-5-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Artemi Panarin Alexander Wennberg Oliver Bjorkstrand
Anthony Duclair Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Markus Hannikainen Riley Nash Lukas Sedlak
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Markus Nutivaara David Savard
Dean Kukan Scott Harrington
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Arizona Coyotes
Richard Panik Derek Stepan Vinnie Hinostroza
Alex Galchenyuk Nick Cousins Clayton Keller
Christian Fischer Jordan Weal Conor Garland
Lawson Crouse Mario Kempe Josh Archibald
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Niklas Hjalmarsson
Kevin Connauton Jordan Oesterle
Kyle Capobianco Iyla Lyubushkin
Darcy Kuemper
Calvin Pickard