The Columbus Blue Jackets will finally see the New Jersey Devils for the first time this season on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets hope to continue their recent success over the Devils, as they won four of the five meetings last season, including 6-1 and 6-3 wins in Columbus.
Last time out, the Blue Jackets scored twice in the third period to force overtime against the Penguins before Phil Kessel scored his second of the game on the power play to win it for Pittsburgh. With his father in the stands, Brandon Dubinsky played his best game of the season, notching a goal and an assist. Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson scored third-period goals for the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets will not hold a morning skate as it is the second game of back-to-backs. Coach John Tortorella will address the media around 4:30 pm.
The Blue Jackets played the second half of the Penguins game with five defensemen. Dalton Prout sat for the last 35 minutes of the game. We’ll see if Markus Nutivaara or David Savard are ready. Nutivaara has the better chance of playing but Tortorella called him a long shot Friday. Tonight also feels like a Joonas Korpisalo game, so stay tuned.
The Devils also played in overtime Friday before losing to the Calgary Flames 4-3. Matt Stajan scored the tying goal midway through the third before Mikael Backlund won it just 1:13 into the extra session. The Devils got goals from Adam Henrique, Pavel Zacha and Kyle Palmieri all in the second period. Cory Schneider stopped 34 of 38 shots.
The Devils are also not holding a morning skate the day after the Flames game. Coach John Hynes will address the media around 4:50 P.M. We’ll see if they turn to Keith Kincaid on the back-end of this set. We’ll also see if they make a lineup change or two.
New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena – 7:00 p.m. EST
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and MSG Plus
Radio Broadcast Channels: 97.1 The Fan and WFAN
New Jersey Devils: 21-21-10, 52 points
Road Record: 11-12-6
Hot Players: Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique
Key Injuries: John Merrill (upper body), Beau Bennett (lower body), John Moore (concussion)
Taylor Hall-Travis Zajac-Kyle Palmieri
Miles Wood-Adam Henrique-Mike Cammalleri
Pavel Zacha-Jacob Josefson-Stefan Noesen
Joseph Blandisi-Sergei Kalinin-P.A. Parenteau
Andy Greene-Ben Lovejoy
Kyle Quincey-Damon Severson
Seth Helgeson-Steven Santini
Cory Schneider (not confirmed)
Columbus Blue Jackets: 33-12-5, 71 points
Home Record: 18-5-1
Hot Players: Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (back, on LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (lower body), David Savard (back spasms)
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Scott Hartnell-Lukas Sedlak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-Ryan Murray
Scott Harrington-Dalton Prout
Sergei Bobrovsky (not confirmed)
1) The Blue Jackets enter Saturday as one of the best home teams in the NHL. They are 18-5-1 at Nationwide Arena, including 18-3-1 in their last 22 games there. Starting Saturday, the Blue Jackets play eight of the next nine games at home. They leave Columbus once in the next 22 days as their bye week is part of this stretch.
2) Seth Jones is playing his best hockey of the season. He is 2-5-7 in his last five games including 2-3-5 in his last three. He has a career-high nine goals in 44 games. His previous high was eight in 2014-15 when he played in all 82 games. He can also make plays like this spin on Kris Letang to set up Wennberg’s goal on Friday.
3) Kyle Palmieri is tied for the team lead in goals for the Devils with 14. He has six goals in his last nine games, including three in his past two games. In Palmieri’s first season with the Devils in 2015-16, he scored 30 goals and 57 points. In his career against the Blue Jackets, Palmieri has 3-5-8 in 13 games.
4) The Devils have not been able to figure the Blue Jackets out. Since 2013, the Blue Jackets own a 9-4-0 record against the Devils, including 6-1-0 in their last seven meetings. All-time at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets are 8-5-0 against the Devils.
It will be interesting to see how the Blue Jackets come out the night after an emotional game against the Penguins. The Devils are the kind of team that if you’re not careful, they can lull you to sleep. The Jackets have to find a way to engage early. They also can’t get too cute with their passing. They need to make the smart play and take what’s given to them. They should have ample chances to score throughout the game.
The Devils will want to slow the pace of the game down. Expect a heavy presence in the neutral zone to hold the Blue Jackets’ transition game down. Goals have been hard to come by for the Devils. They need to find a way to consistently get their top line going, specifically Taylor Hall. He has just 11 goals this season and none in his last seven games. If the Devils can avoid the big mistakes and play a solid road game, they can walk out with two points.