With Tim Erixon called up from Springfield, the Blue Jackets have an option on defense if they opt to make a change on the second half of back-to-back games. David Savard saw his first game action in a while last night in Pittsburgh, and Erixon has played one game for Columbus this season. It would seem likely, though, that Savard remains in the lineup after an excellent performance against the Penguins.
Though we don't expect any major changes up front, Richards could opt to go with Jack Skille on the fourth line tonight against the Devils after having him sit out the past couple of games. Skille has played well in limited action for the Blue Jackets and has scored a couple of really nice goals, too.
Tonight's big question is between the pipes: do the Blue Jackets go back to Curtis McElhinney or do they opt to give Mike McKenna a start against a team he once played for? We'll know more after we talk to Richards later today.
One thing is for sure: the New Jersey Devils are a much different team than what the Blue Jackets saw back on Oct. 22 at Nationwide Arena.
The Devils were struggling to put wins together and couldn't find any sort of consistency. Neither goaltender was playing well and they were losing games in virtually every way imaginable. But somewhere along the line, something changed and the Devils started to turn things around.
What was once a winless team at 0-4-3 and a group that no one believed in, the Devils went on a furious run to climb into the top-three of the Metropolitan Division standings as recently as two weeks ago and they are firmly entrenched in the playoff race. They'll be facing a Blue Jackets club that left Pittsburgh on the short end of a hard-fought 2-1 game last night at CONSOL Energy Center, a game that Columbus felt it could have gotten something out of in terms of points in the standings.
They held the Penguins' rush attack in check for most of the game and didn't allow any freebies, playing a tight-checking game in their own end and playing a quick game in their own zone. That allowed the Blue Jackets to counter, spend some time in the Pittsburgh zone and grind down their defense. All that was missing was another goal; Calvert's late tally wasn't enough and the Blue Jackets dropped their third regulation loss of the season to Pittsburgh with two remaining in the season series.
AT NEW YORK RANGERS
THURSDAY, 7 P.M.
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
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