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Game #65 Preview: Jackets hit the road, bloody but unbowed

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Here’s what you need to know

Ottawa Senators v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 9:00 EST
Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, Minnesota
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Columbus Blue Jackets (31-19-14, 76 points, 5th Metro, 8th East)

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Minnesota Wild (29-25-7, 65 points, 6th Central, 11th East)

The hockey gods have done no favors to the Blue Jackets this month. First, they have been forced to play without eight regulars during an eight game losing streak. Then, they had to play a game on trade deadline day (why does the NHL schedule games for this day? What a logistical nightmare). Then they lost two more players in that game but managed to salvage a win against an Ottawa team down to nine forwards in the third period. Finally, after all that, they have to go on the road for a back-to-back against a rested home team. Nevertheless, these resilient Jackets enter the game in a playoff position.

I am reminded of the words of “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, a poem which was a favorite of both Nelson Mandela and my grandfather:

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Now, the Jackets are not completely the masters of their fate as they have played more games than their division foes. However, as long as they keep finding a way to earn points, they will keep those hopes - however meager - alive. Are you willing to bet against them? Whenever this roster has been counted out is when they’ve been most dangerous. But then, they’ve never quite faced a challenge like this.

Player to Watch

Devin Shore

Tonight marks the Jackets debut of Shore, acquired yesterday from Anaheim for Sonny Milano. Shore is a bottom six forward who has experience at all three positions. He has four goals and six assists in 39 games this season, and a total of 38 goals and 66 assists in 282 career games with the Ducks and the Dallas Stars.

Jackets Notes

Our long municipal nightmare is over, as the Jackets snapped their eight game losing streak last night with an overtime victory over Ottawa ... the victory was a Pyrrhic one, as both Riley Nash and Elvis Merzlikins left the game with head injuries. We will find out today whether either will miss time ... Joonas Korpisalo entered in relief of Merzlikins for his first game action since suffering a knee injury on December 29. He saved 14 of the 15 shots he faced in 33 minutes of action ... In addition to trading Milano, the Jackets also traded Markus Hannikainen to Arizona for a seventh round pick.

The Other Bench

The Wild last played on Sunday, losing at home to St. Louis ... It was announced that those Blues would be the visiting team for next season’s Winter Classic hosted by the Wild ... In stark contrast to the Jackets, the Wild are only missing two players at the moment: forward Luke Kunin and defenseman Carson Soucy ... The Wild didn’t make a move on deadline day, but came very close to trading Zach Parise to the Islanders.

Season Series

02/25/20 CBJ @ MIN
02/28/20 MIN @ CBJ

Stats

Minnesota Columbus
3.02 (16) GPG 2.59 (27)
3.18 (25) GAPG 2.53 (2)
21.1% (13) PP% 16.4% (25)
75.7% (27) PK% 81.5% (12)
49.9% (16) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 49.3% (18)
50.0% (15) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 51.1% (11)
8.9 (6) 5v5 Shot % 6.8 (29)
.916 (18) 5v5 Save % .931 (3)
Zach Parise, 21 G Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 21
Ryan Suter, 34 A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 28
Eric Staal, 42 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 45
Ryan Hartman, 60 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 62
17-10-5 Home / Road 12-8-10
6-3-1 Last 10 2-3-5

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Gus Nyquist Boone Jenner Nick Foligno
Nathan Gerbe Pierre-Luc Dubois Stefan Matteau
Calvin Thurkauf Kevin Stenlund Emil Bemstrom
Jakub Lilja Devin Shore Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Markus Nutivaara
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Andrew Peeke
Joonas Korpisalo
Matiss Kivlenieks
Minnesota Wild
Alex Galchenyuk Mikko Koivu Kevin Fiala
Zach Parise Joel Eriksson Ek Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Foligno Eric Staal Jordan Greenway
Ryan Donato Victor Rask Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin Mathew Dumba
Brad Hunt Greg Pateryn
Devan Dubnyk
Alex Stalock