Blue Jackets at Lightning - 7:00 PM
It's Boxing Day in Canada, as young and old recover from the arduous shopping and eating of the holiday season. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets have enjoyed a much-needed respite, hopefully healing some of the physical dings and dents sustained in what has been a tough opening two months of the season, as well as the psychological drain of a profoundly disappointing first half.
Tonight's game represents a return to the scene of past success for coach John Tortorella, as he hoisted the Cup as the Lightning head coach. He will be hoping for some of that positive karma to rub off on his new club this evening.
Both clubs are coming off of losses heading into the break, and both teams have been nicked up. Tampa Bay is expecting Ondrej Palat to return, but Tyler Johnson, Brian Boyle, Jonathan Drouin. J.T. Brown and Yanni Gourde are all day-to-day with various ailments.
Reports suggest that Sergei Bobrovsky is nearing a return, but has not been activated as this goes on the site. With a back-to-back, I'm betting that Bobrovsky is held out at least until tomorrow. Joonas Korpisalo played well against Tampa on December 14th, and I'm penciling him in for one more appearance before Bobrovsky comes back and Joonas returns to Lake Erie. Nick Foligno remains out with an undisclosed injury. Other than that, the lines are best estimates.
The themes remain the same for Columbus -- speed, pressure, and sixty minutes of responsible hockey. No hesitations, no horizontal play. The best defense is extended possession in the offensive zone, so put the puck on net early and often.
An interesting sub-text to this one involves the two big stars for the respective clubs -- Steven Stamkos and Ryan Johansen -- each has been criticized for underperforming this year, and both are the subject of avid trade rumors. Nonetheless, both are at or near the top of their squads in points.
If you need help getting in the hockey mood, USA vs. Canada in the World Juniors at 1:00 PM is highly recommended. Blue Jackets' prospect Zach Werenski captains the U.S. squad.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(13-20-3, 29 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Rene Bourque|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Scott Hartnell||Alexander Wennberg||Brandon Saad|
|Gregory Campbell||William Karlsson||David Clarkson|
|Jack Johnson||Ryan Murray|
|Justin Falk||Andrew Bodnarchuk|
|Dalton Prout||Fedor Tyutin|
Tampa Bay Lightning
(17-15-3, 31 Points; 6th Division, 11th Conference)
|Ondrej Palat||Steven Stamkos||Nikita Kucherov|
|Vladislav Namestnikov||Alex Killorn||Jonathan Marchessault|
|Erik Condra||Valtteri Filppula||Ryan Callahan|
|Mike Angelides||Cedric Paquette||Mike Blunden|
|Victor Hedman||Anton Stralman|
|Nikita Nesterov||Jason Garrison|
|Braydon Coburn||Andrej Sustr|