Game Preview #6 - Time To Head North

After two lack-luster road games, the Jackets more than held their own against one of the best teams in the league on Saturday. Time to build off of that effort and head north against the Stars.

Dallas Stars at Columbus Blue Jackets

January 28, 2013 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Defending Big D
SBNation Game Page

While the wound might still be fresh from Saturday's loss that was certainly aided by some shoddy refereeing, the Jackets don't have time to dwell on such things in this shortened schedule. Game 6 arrives tonight, just nine days after the season opener. The important thing to take away from the loss was that, when they work, the Jackets could play with one of the best teams in the league.

The Stars come in limping, fighting several injuries as well as Jamie Benn's visa issue (if he's not eligible to play, hopefully we won't have to give up a goal in which a Stars player dekes our entire squad off the ice...). Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, and Kari Lehtonen all missed Saturday's game with minor injuries, and given the fact that the Stars do not have age on their side (11 guys aged 29 or older on their roster, including two 40-year-olds) they need to be careful with injuries. Now, backup netminder Cristopher Nilstorp is now in IR as well.

The Stars are giving up a lot of shots, but are getting good goaltending from Lehtonen when he's played (he's 2-0-1 in his three games, though he finished the third period of Saturday's loss after Nilstorp was injured). The Stars have been getting a nice contribution from Ray Whitney, and if Benn returns tonight to go along with Jagr, they'll have some weapons. It will remain to be seen if age will catch up with this roster, with such a compressed schedule.

The one weakness thus far has been on the penalty kill, as the Stars are down in the bottom third of the league. The Jackets finally got some looks on the man advantage on Saturday, so they'll need to continue to get shots and traffic if they want to break their skid of 0-for-their-last-15.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(1-3-1, 3 Points; 5th division, 14th conference)

R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Derek Dorsett
Brandon Dubinsky Artem Anisimov Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Ryan Johansen Vinny Prospal
Mark Letestu Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Jack Johnson James Wisniewski
John Moore Adrian Aucoin
Sergei Bobrovsky
Steve Mason

Dallas Stars
(2-2-1, 5 Points; 3rd Division, 6th Conference)

Loui Eriksson Jamie Benn Jaromir Jagr
Ray Whitney Cody Eakin Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom Vernon Fiddler Tomas Vincour
Brenden Morrow Tom Wandell Ryan Garbutt
Brenden Dillon Stephane Robidas
Jordie Benn Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski Philip Larsen
Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Season Series

01/28/13 - Dallas at Columbus
02/26/13 - Dallas at Columbus
04/25/13 - Columbus at Dallas

Head to Head

Dallas Columbus
2.20 (23) GPG 1.60 (29)
2.40 (10) GAPG 3.40 (23)
18.8% (19) PP% 13.0% (24)
77.3% (20) PK% 89.5% (4)
Michael Ryder, 3 G leader Artem Anisimov, 2
Ray Whitney / Cody Eakin, 3 A leader Fedor Tyutin / Derek Dorsett, 3
Ray Whitney, 5 Pts leader Fedor Tyutin, 4
Philip Larsen, 8 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 21
1-1-0 Road/Home 0-1-1
vs. St. Louis, L 4-3 Last Game vs. Chicago, L 3-2
2-2-1 Last 10 1-3-1

Game Notes

  • Special Teams - The Jackets' Power Play is settling back to what seems like its normal resting place in the low-teens (though it could/should be higher had their PPG the other night not been overturned...), but a strange thing has happened: their PK has turned into a very solid unit, currently standing at 4th in the league. They've allowed just two PPGs so far this season. It will be interested to see if they can keep this level of play up for an extended period of time. It would certainly be a nice building block moving forward.
  • The Dreaded Lower Body Injury - No doubt the Jackets need all hands on deck offensively, so it's going to be tough going with Cam Atkinson on the shelf with a lower body injury. Atkinson went on IR retroactive to last Wednesday.
  • Discipline - The Jackets were better in this area Saturday night, but still took some badly-timed penalties, and the game-winning goal came off a foul-smelling turnover in their own zone that ended up with the puck on the stick of Jonathan Toews with no one but Steve Mason in front of him. If the Jackets can tighten these areas up, perhaps we'll finally see the team we thought we might see that would be tougher to play against.

The Jackets definitely took a step forward Saturday night after the two ugly road games. Todd Richards talked in the post-game about the learning experience and building on it. Tonight we'll see if they've taken that message to heart.

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