Game 50 Preview: Diving Back In

Columbus Blue Jackets at San Jose Sharks

January 31, 2012 - 10:30pm EST
HP Pavilion - San Jose, California
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Fear The Fin

Aaaaaand, we're back. The Jackets (with the exception of three wacky shoot-out attempts from Ryan Johansen) have had a week off to rest, catch a breath, and get ready for the final 33 games of the season. However, unlike most of the teams in the league, the Jackets are not gearing up for the playoffs. No, no. Here in Columbus, the focus is on... well... err...

In all seriousness, the Jackets are in the grey area between looking to get healthy and to perhaps make some strides toward respectability over the last few months of the season, and looking at a roster perhaps about to be gutted at the trading deadline.

This is the third meeting against the Sharks in less than a month, and the Jackets' second trip to the US West Coast in the same stretch. Despite the Sharks' vastly higher standing, the Jackets have played them very tough in both of the previous match-ups, each of which was a 2-1 loss.

Despite that, they limped into the break, going 0-3-1 in their last four and scoring just 5 goals along the way. So, which Jackets team will show up tonight? Who can say?

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(13-30-6, 32 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Antoine Vermette Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Brett Lebda
Marc Methot John Moore
Grant Clitsome Aaron Johnson
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

San Jose Sharks
(27-14-6, 60 Points; 1st Division, 3rd Conference)

Andrew Desjardins Joe Thornton Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau Logan Couture Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn Michal Handzus Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester John McCarthy Andrew Murray
Dan Boyle Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray Brent Burns
Colin White Jason Demers
Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
Antero Niittymaki

Season Series

01/05/12 - Columbus 1 at San Jose 2 - RECAP
01/14/12 - San Jose 2 at Columbus 1 - RECAP
01/31/12 - Columbus at San Jose
02/21/12 - San Jose at Columbus

Head to Head

San Jose Columbus
2.66 (13) GPG 2.29 (28)
2.28 (5) GAPG 3.22 (29)
17.6% (17) PP% 14.6% (24)
78.4% (27) PK% 76.2% (29)
Logan Couture, 21 G leader Rick Nash, 17
Joe Thornton, 30 A leader Vinny Prospal, 21
Joe Thornton, 38 Pts leader Rick Nash, 33
Brad Winchester, 71 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 111
15-8-2 Road/Home 5-17-3
1/24 @ Calgary, W 1-0 Last Game 1/24 @ Tampa Bay, L 4-2
5-3-2 Last 10 3-6-1

Game Notes:

  • He Shoots, He Does NOT Score! - The Jackets' offense has been flat-out DREADFUL in the month of January. In 11 games, they have scored just 21 non-empty-net goals, or 1.91 goals per game. This is, as you probably know, not good. It will need to improve if the team wants to win occasionally here and there the rest of the way.
  • Killin' It - The Jackets have lost twice to the Sharks by just one goal, and in each game a Power Play goal for the Sharks got them on the board. The PK has been a bane all season for Columbus. Can they, perchance, improve on this and maybe keep the Sharks off the scoresheet on the man advantage? Let us not forget that the last time out against San Jose the Jackets had a parade to the box, and had to kill off five Power Plays.
  • Pro's Pros - The Jackets are going to have to show us how "professional" they are. By this, I mean: how well can they handle playing out a 33-game string? How well can they handle potential roster shake-up? With as many young guys as are expected to start getting some minutes as the roster changes before the deadline, that attitude and professionalism are going to be important. I'm curious to see how much the vets can keep the intensity up the rest of the way.

33 games to go, and a nice cushion on the #1 spot in the lottery. Can the Jackets play just well enough not to blow that? Let's hope so!

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