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Game Preview #9 – On Struggling Teams and Winning Streaks

New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets

October 22, 2013 – 7:00 pm EDT
Nationwide Arena – Columbus, OH
Radio – WBNS 97.1 – TV – Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent’s Blog: In Lou We Trust
SBN’s Devils vs Blue Jackets Coverage

All morning I’ve been trying to put into words the way the Jackets’ weekend–really, the whole week–felt to me. And, I think I’ve figured it out. Saturday and Sunday felt exactly like this:

Smoke if ya got ’em.

In all seriousness, last week felt like the Jackets’ season was careening out of control at ludicrous speed. My game preview for Sunday was like Dark Helmet yelling “STOOPPPP!!!!” and the win over Vancouver was Colonel Sanders pulling the emergency brake. And now, here we are. Are we stopped? We’re stopped. Good. Why don’t we take a five minute break?

So there you go. Now, that break’s over. The New Jersey Devils come calling tonight, and they come in on what, for them, can be called “a roll”. They finally broke their win cherry on Saturday night, getting their first win in eight tries by embarrassing the Rangers 4-0 (sidebar: how BAD are the Rangers right now? Pee-yeww!). To give you an idea of how much the Devils have been struggling to score, prior to potting four goals against the Rags, they had scored 13 total in their previous 7 games, including three OT/SO losses. They’ve been shut out twice, held under three goals five times, and 11 of their 17 total goals have come in three games.

Not that we have any room to talk, mind you.

All of this said, the Devils could come in in one of two mindsets: they could be complacent, having finally gotten the monkey off their backs, or they could come in with some confidence. Either way, if the Jackets think they can look past this team, they will be in for a rude awakening. Columbus needs to come out and smother the Devils early, like they did to Buffalo a couple weeks ago.

Some things that aren’t helping the Devils are that Ryane Clowe and Patrik Elias are out of the lineup with injuries/illness. The Jackets are getting healthier themselves, with Marian Gaborik back and Nick Foligno rejoining the team.

Here’s the deal for tonight: the Jackets have been bad on Special Teams of late, to the tune of 0-for-8 on the PP the past two games, and FIVE goals allowed against their PK in the past four games. The Devils are best in the league at NOT taking penalties. On top of that, their PK is very solid. So, the Jackets need to be disciplined and not take penalties. They’re probably not going to get a lot of chances the other way.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(3-5-0, 6 Points; 4th division, 10th conference)

Nick Foligno Artem Anisimov Marian Gaborik
Boone Jenner Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Blake Comeau Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Mark Letestu Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin Dalton Prout
Jack Johnson David Savard
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski

Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

New Jersey Devils
(1-4-3, 5 Points; 6th division, 13th conference)

Rostislav Olesz Adam Henrique Jaromir Jagr
Mattias Tedenby Travis Zajac Michael Ryder
Dainius Zubrus Andrei Loktionov Damien Brunner
Ryan Carter Stephen Gionta Steve Bernier

Bryce Salvador Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov Peter Harrold

Cory Schneider
Martin Brodeur

Season Series

10/22/13 – New Jersey at Columbus
12/10/13 – New Jersey at Columbus
12/27/13 – Columbus at New Jersey
02/27/14 – Columbus at New Jersey

Head to Head Stats

New Jersey Columbus
2.12 (24) GPG 2.25 (23)
3.00 (24) GAPG 2.75 (17)
11.5% (26) PP% 20.0% (15)
86.4% (4) PK% 76.0% (26)
Damien Brunner / Michael Ryder, 3 G leader Marian Gaborik, 3
Marek Zidlicky, 7 A leader Marian Gaborik, 5
Marek Zidlicky, 7 Pts leader Marian Gaborik, 8
Bryce Salvador, 9 PIM leader Jared Boll, 14
0-4-2 Road/Home 1-2-0
10/19 vs. NY Rangers, W 4-0 Last Game 10/20 vs. Vancouver, W 3-1
1-4-3 Last 10 3-5-0