The Columbus Blue Jackets continue their long homestand with a matinée game against the Detroit Red Wings. The Blue Jackets look to break out of their mini-slump at home. The Red Wings start Saturday last in the Eastern Conference, but sit just six points out from the second wildcard.
Last time out, the Blue Jackets played a lackluster game and lost 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks played the perfect road game and frustrated the Blue Jackets all night, especially in the third period. Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson and Jayson Megna scored the Vancouver goals, while Ryan Miller pitched a shutout.
The Blue Jackets did not hold a morning skate with the earlier 5 P.M. start time. On Friday, the Blue Jackets sent Oliver Bjorkstrand back to the Cleveland Monsters. They also sent Joonas Korpisalo to Cleveland, while calling up Anton Forsberg to backup Sergei Bobrovsky. The team wants to get Korpisalo into games with this stretch of the schedule not conducive to a backup playing. Korpisalo stopped 39 shots Friday in the Monsters 3-2 overtime win over the Manitoba Moose.
The Blue Jackets held an outdoor practice Friday at Winter Park. It was a laid back outing with some 3-on-3 action involved. Even Cam Atkinson had his dog on the bench. Both David Savard and Dalton Prout were not part of the outdoor practice. The team didn’t want them working out in soaked gear. Tortorella confirmed that Savard will return to the lineup and Scott Harrington will be a healthy scratch. Bobrovsky will start.
The Red Wings last played Thursday and lost 6-3 to the Capitals. Andreas Athanasiou scored twice while captain Henrik Zetterberg added a goal. With the score tied at three in the third period, John Carlson broke the tie and the Capitals didn’t look back. Petr Mrazek stopped 25 of 30 shots he faced.
The Red Wings are expected to get both Frans Nielsen and Niklas Kronwall back in their lineup. Nielsen was out with an upper-body injury, while Kronwall was out with a lower-body injury. Expect Nielsen to replace Tomas Jurco while Kronwall replaces injured Jonathan Ericsson. The Red Wings called Jimmy Howard up from his AHL conditioning stint Friday. He isn’t expected to skate until next week. We’ll see if the Red Wings turn back to Mrazek or go to Jared Coreau in net. We won’t know until Blashill speaks.
Detroit Red Wings at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena – 5:00 p.m. EST
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Fox Sports Detroit
Radio Broadcast Channels: CD 102.5 FM and 97.1 the Ticket
Detroit Red Wings: 22-22-10, 54 points
Road Record: 11-10-5
Hot Players: Thomas Vanek, Andreas Athanasiou
Key Injuries: Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), Frans Nielsen (upper-body, probable to play), Jimmy Howard (lower-body), Niklas Kronwall (lower-body, probable to play)
Gustav Nyqvist-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha
Tomas Tatar-Riley Sheahan-Dylan Larkin
Andreas Athanasiou-Darren Helm-Thomas Vanek
Justin Abdelkader-Luke Glendening-Tomas Jurco (Nielsen)
Danny DeKeyser-Mike Green
Brendan Smith-Ryan Sproul
Niklas Kronwall-Nick Jensen
Petr Mrazek (not confirmed)
Columbus Blue Jackets: 34-14-5, 73 points
Home Record: 18-7-1
Hot Players: Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (back, on LTIR), David Savard (back)
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
1) The Blue Jackets are coming off back-to-back home losses to New Jersey and Vancouver. They hadn’t done that since the first two games of the season against Boston and San José. Opponents have outscored the Blue Jackets 8-1 at Nationwide Arena in their last two games, with the lone goal coming shorthanded in the third period against New Jersey.
2) The line of Jenner, Dubinsky and Atkinson are collectively playing their best hockey of the season. The line has combined for nine points in their last four games, with Dubinsky scoring five points in that span. It’s important that they start games fast. The Blue Jackets are 23-6-3 this season when scoring the first goal.
3) The Blue Jackets have enjoyed sustained success over the Red Wings of late. The Blue Jackets are 12-3-2 in their last 17 games against the Red Wings overall, including 6-2-2 at Nationwide Arena in that span. The Blue Jackets have outscored the Red Wings 7-3 this season.
4) Thomas Vanek has caught fire of late for the Red Wings. He comes into Saturday off a two-assist game in Washington and has four points in his last four games. In his last 15 games, Vanek has 14 points. Andreas Athanasiou scored twice in Washington and is tied for the team lead in goals with 13 with Vanek.
The Blue Jackets have to find a way to get emotion into the game early and often. Outside of the first three shifts of their last game, the Blue Jackets couldn’t muster anything and got the result they deserved. With the Red Wings in town, the Blue Jackets should have plenty of emotion, but we’ll see. The Blue Jackets must also get contributions from their top line. Wennberg has just two goals in his last 19 games, while Saad has three goals in his last 19 games. Meanwhile, Gagner hasn’t scored in 21 games.
The Red Wings will play their second game of a three-game road trip. The hockey world was stunned upon hearing the news of the passing of team owner Mike Ilitch. He was an icon in Detroit and beloved by many. Arenas across the nation will honor Ilitch with a moment of silence before the games begin. The Blue Jackets will do the same. As for the game, expect the Red Wings to play a highly motivated game. They want to avenge their overtime loss to the Blue Jackets earlier this week. They also want to win one for the city and for their owner.
Everyone at the Hockey Writers wishes to extend our thoughts and condolences to the Ilitch family, the Red Wings, the city of Detroit and their fans for the loss of Mr. I. He was a wonderful family man and cared deeply about the city of Detroit. His legacy will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Mr. Ilitch.