The Columbus Blue Jackets will put their eight-game winning streak on the line Sunday when they invade Rogers Arena and take on the Vancouver Canucks. This game takes on more meaning for Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, as he plays against the team he spent one season with. If that wasn’t enough, a Blue Jackets victory will give Tortorella his 500th coaching win in his career.
On Friday, the Blue Jackets avenged an earlier loss by defeating the Calgary Flames 4-1. Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner and Matt Calvert each tallied goals for Columbus, while Sergei Bobrovsky allowed just a single goal on 23 shots to earn his league-leading 18th win of the season. Tortorella spoke to the media Saturday and confirmed that Bobrovsky will start in net. This will mark Bobrovsky’s 26th start in 29 games.
The Canucks last played Friday, when they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4-2. Brandon Sutter, Lucas Sbisa, Bo Horvat and Alex Burrows each scored for Vancouver, while Ryan Miller stopped 25 of 27 shots to earn the victory. The Canucks have some injury issues they are dealing with. Troy Stecher was sore after Friday’s game and is listed as day-to-day. On Saturday, the Canucks called up Andrey Pedan from Utica. If Stecher can’t play, Pedan could draw into the lineup. Eric Gudbranson has an undisclosed injury, and is listed on their IR per the NHL media site. Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal for the Canucks.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Vancouver Canucks
Rogers Arena – 4:00 p.m. EST
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet Pacific
Radio Broadcast Channels: 97.1 The Fan and TSN 1040
Columbus Blue Jackets: 19-5-4, 42 points.
Road Record: 9-2-3
Hot Players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Matt Calvert
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (on LTIR)
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-David Savard
Markus Nutivaara-Ryan Murray
Vancouver Canucks: 13-16-2, 28 points.
Home Record: 9-5-1
Hot Players: Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi
Key Injuries: Troy Stecher (day-to-day), Eric Gudbranson (undisclosed)
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Jannik Hansen
Markus Granlund-Brandon Sutter-Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Alexandre Burrows
Jack Skille-Michael Chaput-Jayson Megna
Ben Hutton-Chris Tanev
Luca Sbisa-Andrey Pedan (Stecher day-to-day)
Nikita Tryamkin-Alex Biega
Ryan Miller (Projected Starter)
1) The Blue Jackets enter Sunday’s game with an eight-game winning streak and a 10-game point streak. Their winning streak is just one short of the franchise record of nine set from March 18th-April 4th, 2015. Interestingly, this winning streak and their nine-game streak in 2015 each involved trips to western Canada.
2) The Blue Jackets have swept the western Canada trip (Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver) just once in their franchise history. That was from March 18th-21st, 2015. A win Sunday would give Columbus their second such three-game sweep. Columbus has won two straight in Vancouver, including a 2-1 shootout win on February 4th, 2016.
3) John Tortorella returns to Vancouver seeking his 500th career win as an NHL head coach. If he gets this win, he will become just the 24th coach in NHL history to reach this milestone. He has an overall record in his career of 499-413-37-90 coaching with Tampa Bay, New York Rangers, Vancouver and Columbus.
4) Don’t sleep on the Canucks. They come into Sunday with a winning record at home (9-5-1). Goaltender Ryan Miller has also enjoyed success in his career against Columbus. In 11 games against the Blue Jackets, Miller is 4-3-2 with a 2.02 goals against and a .929 save percentage. His .929 is the second-highest save percentage against an opponent in his career. He’s only fared better against Arizona in that category with a .948 save percentage.
The Blue Jackets cannot look past this opponent. They need to especially be on the lookout for the Canucks third line of Baertschi-Horvat-Burrows. Horvat is tied for the team lead in goals with nine and has three points in his last two games. The Blue Jackets will have to try to get to Miller early. Once he gets on a roll, he’s tough to beat. The Canucks do allow over three goals a game, so there is opportunity especially given the health of the Canucks defense. All eyes will be on Tortorella, but this games shapes up to be a sneaky good game.