Game 21 Preview: Holiday Travelers

Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils

November 23 2011 - 7:00 EST
Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
Radio: WWCD-FM (102.5) TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Opponent's Blog: In Lou We Trust
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With Curtis Sanford in net and the Jackets finally looking hale and hearty after suspensions, injuries, and just plain bad luck, the team is on their first winning streak of the season, and looking to put one more into the W column before braving the madness of airports on Thanksgiving Eve to make it back to their families and loved ones.

Of course, they'll have to go through a Devils team that's just coming off a long road trip and looking to erase a bitter 4-3 OT loss against Florida with a little holiday magic of their own.

There are two big whammies up front for this game: The fact that it's the Devils, and the fact that it's a game right before Thanksgiving. For whatever reasons, the Blue Jackets have historically struggled in games right before a major holiday throughout their history - perhaps a symptom of the "country club" disease distracting players from the ice with visions of tasty meals, fine drinks, and comradeship.

As to their opponent, the Jackets haven't beaten the Devils since 2005, a 3-2 squeaker, while they've suffered two shutouts and been outscored 12-4 in that span. Even when the Devils were missing future HOF goaltender Martin Brodeur back in 2009 and 2010, they managed to find ways to lose, and lose decisively.

On the other hand, the Jackets finally won a game in Nashville, so perhaps anything is possible.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(5-13-2, 12 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Jeff Carter Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger Mark Letestu Ryan Johansen
Antoine Vermette Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Cody Bass Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot James Wisniewski
John Moore Grant Clitsome
Curtis Sanford
Allen York

New Jersey Devils
(10-8-1, 21 Points; 4th Division, 10th Conference)

Zach Parise Adam Henrique Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora Patrik Elias Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby Ryan Carter David Clarkson
Rod Pelley Bradley Mills Cam Janssen
Andy Greene Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador Anton Volchenkov
Johan Hedberg
Martin Brodeur

Season Series

This is the only matchup between the two teams this season.

By The Numbers

NJD - 2.53 G/G (20th)
CBJ - 2.35 G/G (26th)

NJD - 2.79 GA/G (17th)
CBJ - 3.40 GA/G (30th)

Power Play
NJD - 12.9% (T28th)
CBJ - 14.8% (22nd)

Penalty Kill
NJD - 93.2% (1st)
CBJ - 72.5% (30th)

Game Notes:

  • Back Over The Boards: No lineup changes are expected tonight, so that means that the Jackets will continue to run with Cody Bass in the fourth line and Derick Brassard on the bench. Given that the Devils are expected to dress tough guy Cam Janssen, I wouldn't be shocked to see Bass or Jared Boll mix it up tonight.
  • Warming up - With Jeff Carter riding a two game scoring streak, and Rick Nash recording his first goal in 9 games, the Jackets need their top line to keep hitting the back of the net tonight.
  • Scratch & Dent - Two possible lineup changes for the Devils per ILWT: Anton Volchenkov, who left Monday night's game with an injury, is questionable and could be replaced by Mark Fraser, while Mattias Tedenby could be replaced by Nick Palmieri. We also have reports that they will call up Tim Sestito, brother of former Jacket Tom Sestito - it's unclear where (or if) he will slot into the lineup tonight.
  • All Around Threat - The Devils have been scoring by committee, with 6 different skaters with at least 10 points, and two more right on the doorstep. This isn't a case of "shut down one line, beat the others" - the defense has to be respectful of every matchup or they could get burned.
  • Not Just Another Backup - It's too easy to dismiss Hedburg as Brodeur's backup - he's carried a lot of mail for this NJ team when Marty has been hurt, with a 6-4-1 record on the season, 2.45 GAA, and .914 SV %. The Jackets will need to outwork the Jersey defense and get consistent pressure on the Moose if they want to bring home a win tonight.

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