The final game in California brings the Jackets to Orange County to take on the struggling Ducks. The Ducks and Jackets have the same amount of wins this season: three. They also have the same expectations- playoffs. But different expectations into the playoffs. Last season, the Ducks were one game away from the Stanley Cup finals. The Jackets' upgrades in the offseason are supposed to improve this team. Right now, both these teams are near or at the bottom of the league and have to dig deep to get back to the promise land.
From the summer to now, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim made a lot of changes to their roster. They traded James Wisniewski to Carolina; Emerson Etem to the Rangers; and Kyle Palmieri to the Devils. They also lost Francois Beauchemin (COL), Matt Beleskey (BOS), Jason LaBarbera (PHI), and Tomas Fleischaminn (MTL) to unrestricted free agency. They added Anton Khudobin in the Wiz trade; Carl Hagelin in the Etem trade; Kevin Bieska in a trade with the Canucks; and veterans Shawn Horcoff, Chris Stewart, and Mike Santorelli via unrestricted free agency.
In terms of the Ducks' lineup, a big addition was announced this morning as captain Ryan Getzlaf is back from surgery. Also, Richard Rakell is out due to an injury It'll be interesting to see how Bruce Broudreau does his lineups.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are coming off a win against the Kings last night, and are facing a Ducks team that is under a lot of pressure to succeed.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Saad - Brandon Dubinsky - Boone Jenner
Matt Calvert - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell - William Karlsson - Nick Foligno
Gregory Campbell - Alexander Wennberg - Jared Boll
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Dalton Prout
Kevin Connauton - Fedor Tyutin
Scratched: Rene Bourque, Kerby Rychel, Cody Goloubef
Injuries: David Clarkson (back)
Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Carl Hagelin - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano - Shawn Horcoff - Chris Stewart
Mike Santorelli - Chris Wagner - Max Friberg
Hampus Lindholm - Kevin Bieksa
Cam Fowler - Josh Manson
Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen
Injured: Nate Thompson (shoulder), Simon Despres (upper body), Jiri Sekac (ankle), Rickard Rakell (upper body)
Scratched: Harry Zolnierczyk
Things to Watch
1. Fatigue. This is the third game in four nights for the Jackets, and the second of a back-to-back series. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jackets were tired headed into this game.
2. Do or Die Mentality. With both of these teams under tremdeous pressure, expect them to perform or see consequence. The Ducks could fire head coach Bruce Broudreau at any point now, or make a trade as names including Cam Fowler and Freedrik Andersen have been mentioned in trade rumors lately. For the Jackets, it would be a trade too right now as they already switched coaches this season.
3. Question Marks. With the return of captain Ryan Getzlaf, it's going to be interesting who steps up and leads this team into victory. For Columbus, this team is full of talent, and whoever steps up can help this team win any night.
Players to Watch
My players to watch tonight are star players on these teams and both of their squads need these guys to step up to get their teams into the promise land.
1. Corey Perry. The Ducks' best pure sniper has been struggling, and just got his first goal of the season this week (on Wednesday) against the Florida Panthers. With 4 points in 12 games, expect him to step up sooner rather than later to help his team out.
2. Ryan Johansen. Joey has 8 points in 12 games played this season, including two assists against the Sharks on Tuesday. He is this team's number one center and without his production, this team will struggle.
Enjoy the games tonight. More to come...