GAME DAY: vs. St. Louis
Home-and-home set vs. Blues concludes 6 p.m. tonight at Nationwide
WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio (HD) | LISTEN: CD102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com
|If last night’s game at Scottrade Center serves as any indication, the back end of the home-and-home series this afternoon at Nationwide Arena will not be for the faint of heart. The Blues and Blue Jackets aren’t known to be fond of one another, and each of their sixth annual meetings does not prove otherwise. The games are always intense, physical battles and the type of games that are won in the trenches – just what a grinding team like St. Louis prefers.
The Blue Jackets had a slow start to last night’s game, falling behind 1-0 early in the first period and were out-shot 15-6 through 20 minutes of play. They rebounded in the middle frame and tied the game on Cam Atkinson’s second career NHL goal, which was set up by a nice Mark Letestu centering pass. But the Blues ended the second period on a high note, getting goals from T.J. Oshie and Chris Stewart to push their lead to 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Brian Elliot was stellar in goal for St. Louis, which is likely to split the goaltending duties today. Jaroslav Halak has been one of the hottest goalies in the NHL since the All-Star break, and like Elliot, is in the top-five in both goals-against average and save percentage among all NHL goaltenders. The key to success against Halak is to funnel pucks to the net and create traffic in the slot, forcing him to peer around bodies and work harder to find the puck.
Curtis Sanford is expected to make the back-to-back start for Columbus today, with Steve Mason injured and emergency recall Allen York just up from Chicago (ECHL). The former Blues netminder was solid for the Blue Jackets last night, and was victimized by defensive breakdowns in front of him. With the last change on home ice today, Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards will be better able to dictate the matchups against the Blues forwards.
One thing to watch is the ice time logged by James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson, who played heavy minutes last night at Scottrade Center. With the Columbus blue line hampered by injury, “Controlled Chaos” will be called upon to play in all situations.