Game Day Central: Blue Jackets at Islanders
BLUE JACKETS AT ISLANDERS
SUNDAY, 1 P.M.
NASSAU COUNTY COLISEUM
FINAL: JACKETS 0 | ISLANDERS 2
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READ: By the Numbers
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: The hill got a little taller late in the second period by way of a rare penalty-kllling miscue from the Jackets. Travis Hamonic, an Islanders defenseman, skated the puck the length of the ice right through the Columbus PK unit and made it a 2-0 game, the exact opposite of what the Jackets needed. But to the Islanders' credit, they haven't given the Jackets anything at even strength and have done a nice job blocking shots in front of Evgeni Nabokov, who's had a rather pedestrian afternoon so far. These next 20 minutes are awfully important for the Jackets, to say the least.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: Slow going for the Blue Jackets to open this game today, and both teams came out of the gate rather tentative. The Islanders hold a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Cal Clutterbuck, who had just come out of the penalty box after a 4-on-4 situation in which the Jackets had a couple pretty good scoring chances. As you'd expect, Todd Richards has all four lines involved and the fourth line has provided the energy, but the power play sputtered in its only chance of the game so far. Nabokov has made a couple of saves so far but nothing too strenuous, something the Blue Jackets will want to change heading into the next 40 minutes.
WATCH: Mark Letestu pre-game. | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Coach Richards pre-game. | CLICK TO WATCH
MORNING SKATE: It's time for a rare Sunday matinee, and the Blue Jackets are on Long Island to face the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum. Due to the 1 p.m. start, neither team will hold a morning skate but we'll have game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Islanders, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
Richards said after the Jackets' optional practice on Saturday that he may make some lineup changes prior the game against the Islanders. RJ Umberger has been healthy scratch the past two games, and Richards made it clear that the veteran forward is not in the doghouse and he wants to get him back into game action very soon.
The group of six defensemen is not expected to change, and the pairings should remain intact, as well.
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in goal for the Blue Jackets.
Mark Letestu referred to Sunday's game on Long Island as a great opportunity for the Blue Jackets to rebound and put the disappointment of Friday's loss to the Rangers behind them. It was an eventful, emotional game but it's now in the past, Letestu said, and they have a big task at hand against a skilled Islanders team that loves to push the pace.
The Blue Jackets have seen the Islanders twice previously this season but not since early November, and Columbus has won both previous meetings (first one coming in a shootout in the second game of the season, Oct. 5 in New York). There has been a significant amount of change for both teams since then, but the Islanders have made a few trades in the meantime and their team looks quite different than it did prior to Thanksgiving.
Thomas Vanek, Andrew MacDonald and Matt Moulson have been dealt and captain John Tavares is out with an injury suffered during the Olympics, but the Islanders and their young lineup have not backed down. Most notably, the Islanders shocked the Vancouver Canucks with a seven-goal (no, that's not a misprint) third period a couple of weeks back - a game in which they trailed 3-0 entering the period.
Make no mistake about it: the Islanders have fallen out of the playoff race but that does not make them an easy opponent. The Blue Jackets have to come ready to go at 1 p.m., and as many have said, "starting on time" is of utmost importance when playing a matinee game.
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TUESDAY, 7 P.M.