Game Preview #41 - Rally Around The Kids

The two goalies for Columbus tonight are a combined 44 years old.

Blue Jackets vs. Wild
7:00 PM - Game Faceoff

What a long, strange trip it's been. John Tortorella's first game as CBJ coach was against these same Wild. It was a loss, but a close loss (which was almost a welcomed change at that point). He took over a team 0-7-0. Since then? 15-15-3... the definition of mediocrity.

The Jackets alternate between looking completely hapless and then stealing wins against some of the best teams in the league. Consider that Columbus has beaten each of the following teams (league rank in points in parentheses):

Dallas (1)
Washington (2)
Los Angeles (3)
St. Louis (4)

I mean. What is that, even?

That said, they've also lost some real clunkers along the way as well. I guess what I'm trying to say is this: it probably isn't as bad as we think at times, and it isn't as good, either. I don't think this team is the "worst" in the league, but the 0-8-0 start says that they are. Are they that 0-8-0 team, or are they the "hockey .500" team that's 15-14-3 since then?

However, things are about to get even trickier for a team that's already seen its share of curve balls this season. With Sergei Bobrovsky still on the shelf and now Curtis McElhinney down to the flukiest of freak injuries after essentially tripping on the ice in OT Saturday, it's up to Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo.

The Wild have the eighth best record in the league, but haven't been especially good away from home (6-6-6 on the road, which is a scary omen in and of itself coming in) and just 3-4-1 in their last eight games. But, before that stretch, they had a nice little 6-0-3 stretch to get them up to their highest mark of the season. Their defense has been very good, though their offense isn't at the level you might expect given their forward lines up front. Sound familiar?

At any rate, the Jackets are going to have to circle the wagons in front of Forsberg, who gets the start. Cody Goloubef is off of IR (Clarkson on), and should play tonight. I never thought that there'd be a point in the season where I was ecstatic to have him back, since he'd been arguably the Jackets' most consistent defenseman.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(15-22-3, 33 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)

Boone Jenner Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell Alexander Wennberg Brandon Saad
Gregory Campbell Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Rene Bourque William Karlsson Jared Boll
Ryan Murray David Savard
Jack Johnson Cody Goloubef
Fedor Tyutin Dalton Prout
Anton Forsberg
Joonas Korpisalo

Minnesota Wild
(20-11-7, 47 Points; 4th Division, 5th Conference)

Zach Parise Mikko Koivu Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter Mikael Granlund Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker Erik Haula Jason Pominville
Chris Porter Jarret Stoll Justin Fontaine
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin Nate Prosser
Marco Scandella Matt Dumba
Devan Dubnyk
Niklas Backstrom

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