Game Preview #29 - Can You Count to TEN?

The Jackets are riding an incredible franchise-record nine-game points streak. Can they make it ten against Phoenix?

Phoenix Coyotes at Columbus Blue Jackets

March 16, 2013 - 7:00pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Five for Howling
SBNation Game Page

The Jackets have set a franchise record with nine straight games with at least a point. Tonight's opponent has been a bit of a problem for them, however, so the quest for 10 will not be without significant effort. The Jackets are 0-2-0 against Phoenix so far, and have allowed 10 goals in those two games. But, don't look now: the Coyotes are just three points (though with a game in hand) ahead of the Jackets in the standings. And they're in NINTH. (No, I'm not saying playoffs. It's not going to happen, people.)

Columbus most likely will ice the same forward lineup from the game Thursday night, though Sean Collins is with the team on an emergency basis in case R.J. Umberger can't go tonight. He and Adrian Aucoin are working through some injuries, as is Derek MacKenzie. Aucoin is out; John Moore is off of IR, and he and Nikita Nikitin are back in.

Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net again tonight, riding one of the craziest hot streaks we've seen in a goaltender in Columbus, well, ever. In March, Bob has made seven appearances (six starts), and is averaging 60:49 in ice-time, has a .971 save percentage, and is sporing a filthy 0.85 gaa. Bob has been, to put it simply, ON FIRE. He has not faced Phoenix this year (those 10 goals came in two games against Steve Mason), so perhaps he can help to keep the Yotes under 3 goals.

Mike Smith, who is in net for Phoenix, has had the opposite kind of March so far. After willing the Coyotes deep into the playoffs last season, Smith is scuffling a bit in March. He's made six appearances--all starts--and is sporting numbers of 61:39 TOI/G, .889 save%, and 3.24 GAA. For a Jackets team that's struggling to score goals despite the points streak, that might be a welcome sight.

Both teams have injury issues, with the Coyotes missing Radim Vrbata among others. If Columbus can bring the intensity and effort--along with the goaltending--that they've had recently, there's no reason to think they can't get the points streak to 10. It would be nice to have one in regulation, for once, though.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(10-12-6, 26 Points; 5th division, 14th conference)

R.J. Umberger Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Vinny Prospal Derick Brassard Mark Letestu
Colton Gillies Artem Anisimov Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Tim Erixon John Moore
Nikita Nikitin Dalton Prout
Sergei Bobrovsky
Steve Mason

Phoenix Coyotes
(13-11-3, 29 Points; 4th Division, 9th Conference)

Mikkel Boedker Martin Hanzal Lauri Korpikoski
Steve Sullivan Antoine Vermette Shane Doan
Rob Klinkhammer Boyd Gordon David Moss
Raffi Torres Matthew Lombardi Kyle Chipchura
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Rostislav Klesla
Keith Yandle Derek Morris
David Schlemko Michael Stone
Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Season Series

01/23/13 - Columbus 1 at Phoenix 5
02/16/13 - Columbus 3 at Phoenix 5
03/16/13 - Phoenix at Columbus

Head to Head

Phoenix Columbus
2.74 (15) GPG 2.14 (30)
2.78 (18) GAPG 2.61 (12)
16.0% (20) PP% 13.6% (28)
83.2% (12) PK% 86.2% (4)
Shane Doan, 9 G leader Vinny Prospal, 9
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 14 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 13
Mikkel Boedker, 18 Pts leader Derick Brassard / Vinny Prospal, 15
Kyle Chipchura, 43 PIM leader Jared Boll, 74
3-6-2 Road/Home 7-4-5
3/14 @ St. Louis, L 3-0 Last Game 3/14 vs Chicago, L 2-1 (SO)
5-5-0 Last 10 5-1-4

Game Notes

  • Heeeeere's Johnny! - John Moore returns after missing eight games after hurting his shoulder in a pre-game skate at Chicago on March 1. Cody Goloubef returns to Springfield (he was here on "emergency" basis, so he had to go) to make room for Moore.
  • Stop Sully - The Jackets have gotten torched by Steve Sullivan so far this season, with three goals and two assists in the two games. last time around, as he netted a hat trick. For his career, Sullivan has 19G, 31A, and is +20 in 49 games against Columbus. Can someone put a body on this guy??
  • PK Time - The Jackets' PK continues to impress, now up to 4th in the NHL at 86.2%. They've surrendered just one PPG in their last 12 games, going 30-of-31 over that stretch. Phoenix doesn't have a great PP unit, but they have notched a PPG in both prior games against Columbus.

Yet another Western Conference team that we say goodbye to seeing on a regular basis. That is, assuming they stay in Phoenix and/or the West! Enjoy the game!

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