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Game #56 Preview: Bracing for an Avalanche

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All it takes is one snowflake on top of a mountain!

Columbus Blue Jackets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Saturday, February 8, 2020 - 7:00 EST

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH

TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM

Opponent’s Blog: Mile High Hockey

Colorado Avalanche (30-16-6, 66 pts, 2nd Central, 2nd West)

Visiting

Columbus Blue Jackets (29-16-9, 67 pts, 4th Metro, 6th East)

The Columbus Blue Jackets close out the second half of their weekend back to back by hosting the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado has been one of the better teams in the Western conference this year and boast a strong offense and a strong defense. The Avalanche’s +41 goal differential is by far the best in the West – 22 goals better than top team St. Louis Blues. They’ve been getting it done with solid goaltending – Philipp Grubauer has been good, his backup Pavel Francouz has been better, though in fewer games – and relatively balanced scoring. I have to say ‘relatively’ because although Colorado’s 2nd-6th scorers are between 30 and 40 points, the #1 guy, Nathan MacKinnon is having a monster season and sits at 74 points. The special teams are middling so we know that Colorado is a team that gets it done 5v5. This will be a heck of a challenge coming off a game the previous night for Columbus. Oh, also, that Cale Makar kid is kinda good.

About Columbus? Well, check out yesterday’s preview for updates. Since this is being written while the Detroit game is on-going, not much to add. We expect that Elvis will be playing both ends of the B2B.

Player to Watch

Cam Atkinson

I almost picked MacKinnon, but I don’t like to spotlight opponents. Cam is back in my spotlight – though not with the same kind of angst from earlier in the season. After notching 5 points in his first 2 games back from injury, Atkinson has been 0-0-0 in the last 6 games. A cold Cam Atkinson was bad for the Jackets’ health earlier in the season and a prolonged slump now could see the team slide out of the playoff picture. Let’s hope for a coupla points from Mr. Jacket. (Actually, let’s really hope that the Detroit game makes the preceding paragraph moot)

Jackets Notes

Nothing much to add to Will’s preview…Kevin Stenlund did not draw in as expected, Eric Robinson got the nod…I’d like to see more of Stenlund though…

The Other Bench

Colorado has had 4 goalies play this year with Antoine Bibeau and Adam Werner notching 4 games between them…Matt Calvert is running a cool 12-12-24 line for the Avalanche…I wondered if Nazem Kadri would cut back on penalties with a new team, the answer is ‘No’…

Season Series

11/09/2019 CBJ @ COL – 4-2 Loss

02/08/2020 COL @ CBJ

Stats

Colorado Columbus
3.69 (1) GPG 2.67 (25)
2.88 (10) GAPG 2.46 (2)
19.3% (16) PP% 17.1% (24)
79.6% (19) PK% 82.4% (10)
51.4% (10) 5v5 Corsi % 48.40% (22)
51.3% (10) 5v5 Fenwick % 50.2% (13)
9.9 (2) 5v5 Shot % 7.2 (27)
.931 (4) 5v5 Save % .935 (1)
Nathan MacKinnon,
30
G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand,
17
Nathan MacKinnon,
44
A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois,
25
Nathan MacKinnon,
74
P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois,
42
Nazem Kadri,
91
PIM Leader Nick Foligno,
52
16-9-2 Home / Road 17-9-2
5-3-2 Last 10 8-1-1

Possible Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver Bjorkstrand
Gustav Nyquist Boone Jenner Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano Riley Nash Emil Bemstrom
Nathan Gerbe Ryan MacInnis Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Markus Nutivaara
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks

Detroit Red Wings

Gabriel Landeskog Nathan MacKinnon Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin Nazem Kadri Andre Burakovsky
Matt Calvert Pierre-Edouard Bellemare J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto Tyson Jost Joonas Donskoi
Ryan Graves Cale Makar
Samuel Girard Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov Ian Cole
Philipp Grubauer
Pavel Francouz