Winnipeg will end the month of
November on the road as they kickoff a three-game road trip in Columbus to take
on Ryan Johansen and the Blue Jackets.
The Jets are looking to snap a
two-game losing streak tonight, after losing a pair of games at home in which
they gave up four goals each night. For the first time since Nov. 2, the Jets
are not in a playoff spot, currently sitting 5th in the Central
Division with a 10-9-3 record.
Columbus (6-12-2, 8th
Metropolitan Division) enters tonight’s matchup on a three-game losing streak,
and have lost 12 of their past 14 games. The Jackets fell 4-2 to their division
rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, last Saturday night.
Tonight’s game is the first of
two games between Columbus and the Jets this season. In three previous meetings
between these two teams, Columbus has won two of the three games.
Lines provided by Daily Faceoff
Winnipeg’s lines seem to remain
intact from the previous game and I am a fan of Paul Maurice’s decision in
doing so. I think that chemistry needs time to develop fully and these lines
right here have a lot of potential to pan out for the Jets.
After mentioning that the Jets
second and third lines were the only lines to produce before Sunday’s game, the
top line of Little, Wheeler and Ladd finally combined for a goal in the first
period against the Jets. The top line needs to continue to grow together and
build off this momentum. Little’s goal snapped his eight-game pointless streak,
and the assists from Ladd and Wheeler were their first points in three and four
The fourth line had probably
their strongest game of the season offensively, generating scoring chances, and
having Jim Slater net the first goal of the season for the entire line.
First thing to note is the
absence of Toby Enstrom from the line up, he was expected to skate in his 500th
career NHL game tonight, but has been scratched from the line up tonight due to
a lower-body injury.
With arguably the Jets best
d-man (so far this season) sitting out, the Jets will have to do some shuffling
with the defensive pairings and on the top power-play unit. Grant Clitsome
draws back into the lineup after sitting the past four games while battling an
The top power-play unit will
see Mathieu Perreault manning the blue line with Jacob Trouba. His hockey
vision and smoothing passing will help keep the power-play moving, with his
solid puck distribution skills.
The pairing of Mark Stuart and
Jacob Trouba will move into a top-two roll and they will be expected to munch
most of the minutes in tonight’s game, due to the absence of Enstrom. This
isn’t a bad thing in my opinion because the more minutes Trouba plays; the
better it is for the Jets.
Columbus has been decimated by
injuries all season, and their record shows it. I had picked Columbus to be a
sleeper this season to make the jump into being a bonafide contender for the
postseason, but because of the injuries they have a lot of ground to make up at
this point of the season.
For injured forwards, the Blue
Jackets are missing Mark Letestu, Brandon Dubinsky and Nathan Horton. Horton
and Dubinsky were expected to be offensive leaders and mentors for this young
team, but with both of them out, Hartnell has been the loan “veteran” on the
Lets talk about the youth
Columbus possesses; firstly Ryan Johansen is proving he deserved that he
deserved that 3-year, 12 million dollar contract he signed this past summer. He
leads the team with 23 points in 20 games this season.
Other forwards to note is
Johansen’s line mates, Nick Foligno who sits second on the team with 20 points
(10g, 10a) and Scott Hartnell who’s third with 14 (5g, 9a). In other words, if
the Jets shut down Columbus’ top line, they shut down most of the Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets Defence
Columbus’ defence is just as
beat up as their forwards, with Ryan Murray and Fedor Tyutin out for a long
stretch. Both are expected to miss a couple more weeks for the Jackets.
In the meantime, Columbus has
picked up a pair of rearguards (Jordan Leopold and Kevin Connauton) to fill in
for the injured players. I’m excited to see how these two play for the Blue
Jackets, especially Connauton with the offensively skilled James Wisniewski.
Since returning from injury,
Sergei Bobrovsky has played every game between the pipes for Columbus, but hasn’t
played as good as he did before his injury, giving up 13 goals in four games,
10 of which were even-strength goals. He’ll have to turn his game around if
Columbus hopes to turn their season around.
Game Day Prediction: The Jets come into Nationwide Arena on a mission. I believe
they snap their two-game losing streak in convincing fashion, and their offence
finds their scoring touch again. Jets win 5-2 over Columbus
Obvious Prediction: Some guy in the crowd has a “Bobrovsky you’re off the case”
sign, ready to hold up after Bobrovsky give up his fourth goal of the night.
Not So Obvious
Prediction: Chris Thorburn and Scott Hartnell
get into an argument over whose hair is longer and greasier, which then comes
to blows. Thorburn does what he does best and loses a tough fight against