The Columbus Blue Jackets return to home ice tonight to combat the New Jersey Devils in their first meeting of the season. Isn’t it crazy that it comes with 60% of the season already in the books? The last time these teams met, Patrick Elias was still on the Devils. That’s how far back it has been for these two divisional squads.
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Both teams are coming off back to back matchups. The Jackets suffered an overtime loss to Pittsburgh (read further for me info on last night’s game). The Devils lost to the Flames in regulation last night.
Since it is the first time they will meet, I will go over the changes in the Devils squad from last season to now. The Devils let plenty of veteran players go, including Stephen Gionta (NYI), Jordin Tootoo (CHI), and David Schlemko (SJ). They also let Patrick Elias walk too. Ryan Clowe unfortunately retired due to concussion issues, and is now an assistant coach with the team. The Devils also made three rather interesting trades. They traded forwards Graham Black and Paul Thompson to the Florida Panthers in exchange for the contract of Marc Savard and a 2018 2nd round draft pick. The Devils traded a 2016 3rd round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winger Beau Bennett. The Devils also made a blockbuster deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Taylor Hall, a former number one overall draft pick, was dealt by the Oilers to the Devils in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Devils also signed veteran defensemen Kyle Quincey and Ben Lovejoy; and veteran winger Vernon Fiddler. They also claimed Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau off waivers from the New York Islanders. They also lost Reid Boucher (VAN) off the waiver wire, but added Stefan Noesen off waivers from Anaheim.
The Devils this season have been a team that has played below expectations to me. This team has acquired a star forward, and they still have a star goaltending. Last season, they had a sneaky offensive group, and this year they are 28th in scoring. They are also a minus -31 in goal differential, which shows their defensive weakness as well. Being the road team, they are an under 0.500 team, with an 11-12-6 record. The Jackets being the home team are an impressive 18-5-1 at home, and have a plus +47 goal differential this season.
New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall – Travis Zajac – Kyle Palmieri
Miles Wood – Adam Henrique – Michael Cammalleri
Pavel Zacha – Jacob Josefson – Stefan Noesen
Joseph Blandisi – Sergey Kalinin – P.A. Parenteau
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Seth Helgeson – Ben Lovejoy
Kyle Quincey – Steven Santini
Scratched: Karl Stollery, Luke Gazdic
Injured: Jon Merrill, Beau Bennett, John Moore, Marc Savard, Ryan Clowe
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Saad – Alex 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
Ryan Murray – Jack Johnson
Scott Harrington – Dalton Prout
Scratched: Markus Hannikanen
Injuries: David Clarkson, David Savard, Markus Nutivarra
Players to Watch
Taylor Hall. The Devils’ lone NHL All Star leads the team in offensive production with 33 points in 42 games played (11-22-33). He is their best forward, and even more production from him can really help his team improve in the second half.
Zach Werenski. Like Hall is to the Devils, Werenski is to the Jackets. He has been a big add from last season to this for the Jackets. The rookie defenseman has 31 points in 50 games this season (8-23-31). His rise to the best defenseman has to continue to keep the Jackets where they are in the playoff race in a dominant Metropolitian Divison.
CBJ Post-Game No. 50 – Every Point Counts
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by the final score of 4-3 in overtime.
The Pens started the game off with two goals in 4:51. Phil Kessel sniped one past Sergei Bobrovsky for his 16th goal of the season. Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley had the assists. Patric Hornqvist batted him a rebound for his 15th goal of the campaign. Matt Cullen and Kris Letang had the assists.
Brandon Dubinsky brought Columbus within one with his sixth goal of the season. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson had the assists.
Nick Bonino got Pittsburgh back to a two goal lead with his eighth goal of the season. Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel had the assists.
In the final period, the Jackets scored two goals to bring themselves to even. Alex Wennberg beat Matt Murray for his 10th goal of the season. Brandon Saad and All-Star Seth Jones had the assists. All-Star Cam Atkinson brought his team the tie for his 25th goal of the season. Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson had the assists.
Phil Kessel beat Bobs in overtime off a power play goal for his second of the game and 17th of the season. Kris Letang and Justin Schultz had the assists.
Scott Harrington was my player to watch for Columbus. He played 16:19, and earned a shot on goal to go alongside three hits against the team that drafted him. Chris Kunitz was my player to watch for the Penguins. He played 13:03, and was a minus -2 with seven minutes. He also had a minor penalty; which was coincidental minor for roughing with Boone Jenner.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 33 shots for a 0.879 save percentage (87.9%).
Matt Murray stopped 28 of 31 shots for a 0.903 save percentage (90.3%).
CBJ Three Stars of the Night
1. Brandon Dubinsky – goal (6), assist (16)
2. Cam Atkinson – goal (25)
3. Alex Wennberg – goal (10)
Enjoy the games tonight…
More to come…
For more information, follow me on Twitter @djzj12161.
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