GAME DAY: Detroit
The Blue Jackets meet the Red Wings for the fifth and final time this season today at Joe Louis Arena
BLUE JACKETS (9-12-4) VS. RED WINGS (12-9-4)
JOE LOUIS ARENA | DETROIT, MI
5 P.M. TODAY
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO (HD) | RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
If yesterday's emphatic 3-0 win at Nationwide Arena wasn't enough for your Blue Jackets-Red Wings fill, the two clubs are locking horns one final time this afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The fifth and final meeting of the season series between these Central Division rivals wraps up what has been an entertaining and successful (if you're the Blue Jackets) 2013 slate, with each game providing its own source of drama and ebb-and-flow momentum swings along the way. There was the Red Wings' opening-night shootout win at Nationwide Arena after the Blue Jackets took a third period lead, then saw Damien Brunner tally a gorgeous shootout winner to steal one in Columbus.
Who could forget the Mark Letestu shorthanded goal back on Feb. 2 that put the game away in the third period? The building was rocking that night, and a couple of weeks later, Vinny Prospal made a Buffalo Wild Wings in Dublin erupt in excitement with the memorable spin-o-rama game winner with less than 30 seconds to play in Detroit.
Pending final results of the NHL's proposed realignment, these two clubs will remain in the same conference next season but the rivalry they've established won't get as many installments in the record books. This season's chunk of games, however, has been a fitting way for these two teams to close the book and move to the Eastern Conference -- each game has been tightly-contested, spirited and not short on emotion.
You could tell - especially yesterday in Columbus - that there's no love lost between the players on either side, and today's finale should be an engaging one. The Red Wings, who had won five of their last seven before losing 3-0 at Nationwide on Saturday, are sure to be a more focused and determined group today, as coach Mike Babcock was not a fan of their poor puck management and intermittent work ethic.
Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal for the Red Wings today, as Jonas Gustavsson picked up the loss to the Blue Jackets yesterday. It's not yet clear whether Bobrovsky gets his second straight start, and with the team not taking a morning skate, the decision may not be known until closer to game time.
- Columbus is 3-0-1 vs. the Red Wings in 2012-13 heading into tomorrow’s season series finale. This will be the first time in franchise history that Columbus has won their season series with Detroit. The Blue Jackets have now won four games in a row and have earned a point in six straight outings (4-0-2).
- The Blue Jackets have now gone nine games in a row without allowing a power play goal, a franchise record.
- Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves vs. Detroit to record his first career shutout. Bobrovsky is now 5-1-1 in his last seven appearances and has allowed only two goals in his last 230:43 of action (0.52 GAA, .981 SV% in that time).
LEFT WING | #11
2013 STATS: 5-2-7, 25 GP
Cleary definitely is not producing at the same offensive clip as when the Red Wings last won the Stanley Cup (2008), but the now 34-year-old is still playing the rugged, two-way game that earned him a regular spot in the Red Wings' lineup. Originally a first-round pick (13th overall) by Chicago in 1997, the Red Wings picked Cleary up as a free agent in 2005 and he's found a home in the Motor City.
DETROIT: same injury list as Saturday