What a battle tonight in the rock for the Blue Jackets as they visit the New Jersey Devils in Newark, New Jersey. As we pass the quarter season, the Devils are a playoff team, while the Jackets have a mountain to climb. Last time these teams meet, John Tortorella earned his second win as coach of Columbus. That day was October 27, 2015, and it was a 3-1 win. Tonight, the Jackets look to win again in Jersey.
For the Devils' lineups, it is expected that winger Patrik Elias makes his season debut tonight against Columbus.
For Columbus, Brandon Dubinsky and Alex Wennberg have been activated off the injured reserve; however, they placed Cody Goloubef and Rene Borque on the IR.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Brandon Saad
Scott Hartnell - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Gregory Campbell - Alexander Wennberg - Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - Kerby Rychel
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Kevin Connauton
Andrew Bodnarchuk - Dalton Prout
Injured: Fedor Tyutin (broken nose), Cody Goloubef (jaw), Rene Bourque (upper body), David Clarkson (back), Jared Boll (foot)
Scratched: Justin Falk
New Jersey Devils
Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak
Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri
Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson - Stefan Matteau
Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
John Moore - Damon Severson
Jon Merrill - Eric Gelinas
Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (right foot fracture), David Schlemko (lower body)
Scratched: Jiri Tlusty, Brian O'Neill, Tyler Kennedy
Things to Watch
1. Speed- Both teams have a decent amount of speed on their rosters. For New Jersey, one speedy player to watch for is Kyle Palmieri. He has some killer speed and knows how to win as well, courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks. For Columbus, watch for Cam Atkinson, whose used his speed to score 20 goals the past multiple seasons.
2. Goaltending- Both teams have great goaltenders in between the pipes. Cory Schneider has been amazing since his days with the Vancouver Canucks. In Jersey, Schneider has helped this team avoid the lottery multiple times, but the team in front of him hasn't helped him get into the playoffs the past few seasons. As for Sergei Bobrovsky, he has been a better goalie in Columbus than in Philadelphia, and won a Vezina a couple years ago.
3. Mistakes- Both teams have young defenses that are vulnerable to making errors that may cost their teams games. New Jersey has five defensemen in the lineup under the age of 25, and the one that isn't is the captain. For Columbus, they have four defensemen in the lineup at or under the age of 26, and they lack the experience the Devils do. Also, Bodnarchuk has played only a handful of NHL games, which leaves Jack Johnson as their most experienced defenseman. Mistakes may be abundant tonight.
Players to Watch
My players to watch tonight are guys that have gone under the radar for the first quarter of the season.
1. Nick Foligno. The captain has had a disappearing act this season, one that happens often with players that perform like he did from a previous season to the next one. The expectation for him to lead this club every night might be a distraction for him as well. Foligno has one goal and nine points in 22 games, less than one point every other game. He needs to get his play up to help his teammates perform nightly.
2. Jacob Josefson. The young center only has four assists in 20 games. The Sweede was a former first round pick in 2009, and had success when this team was performing well. He needs to pick it up soon before he either gets moved, benched, or demoted.
Enjoy the games tonight. More to come...