Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Islanders

Friday, 11.08.2013 / 7:00 PM / News
By Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com
 

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After practice on Friday at Nationwide Arena, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards hinted at more potential lineup changes for Saturday's game against the New York Islanders. RJ Umberger, who was a game-time decision on Thursday with a stiff neck, may fall into that same boat on Saturday as he did not practice with the team on Friday. Nick Foligno is also not expected to play due to personal reasons, and on the back end, Ryan Murray (upper body) is questionable to play against the Islanders.

Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves was named one of the game's three stars on Thursday, is expected to make the start in goal for the Blue Jackets.




A longer-than-usual post-game meeting between players and coaches on Thursday night was followed by an intense, detail-oriented practice on Friday in preparation for another Metropolitan Division matchup.

What will Richards see from his group on Saturday night? He's hoping for a re-energized, re-focused group that is ready to put its "reactive" nature in the rear view mirror; specifically, Richards said the Blue Jackets have not been proactive in games and instead have let several occurrences in games affect their play.

When they were at their best last season and playing well earlier this season, the Blue Jackets tended to throw the first punch and play with a lead. Scoring first is obviously a key in any sport - and it's no different in the NHL - but the Blue Jackets have struggled not only to score first, but to score in general.

They have scored just three goals in their last three games at Nationwide Arena and are looking to break out of an offensive spell on Saturday night; it's the final game of a four-game home stand that they had hoped to use their advantage after a disappointing loss to the Penguins last Friday at CONSOL Energy Center.

Instead, things have gone the other way for the Blue Jackets and the locker room was not a happy place on Thursday night. Their three most recent losses have come at the hands of backup goaltenders (Jeff Zatkoff, Robin Lehner and Cam Talbot) and the offense hasn't provided much support to its own, despite a stellar performance on Thursday by Bobrovsky and a similar effort by Curtis McElhinney last weekend against Pittsburgh.

Dubinsky, who made pointed and passionate comments after the Jackets' loss to the Rangers, said it's going to take a "hard look in the mirror" from a lot of players on the team to collectively snap out of their funk. It's still early enough to be classified as, well, early...but the Blue Jackets are at risk of really falling off the pace before the Thanksgiving holiday benchmark. 

Their opponent tonight has dropped back-to-back games on the road and is in a similar offensive spell; the Islanders were blanked 1-0 by Justin Peters and the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, and head coach Jack Capuano was not happy with his club's ability (or lack thereof) to finish the chances they created. 

And finally, a weird but true stat: the Islanders have not scored a power play goal (0-for-18) since they traded for Thomas Vanek.

 






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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 1 1 1 0 2
D. MacKenzie 1 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 1 1 0 1 1
B. Dubinsky 1 0 1 1 1
B. Jenner 1 0 1 -1 1
F. Tyutin 1 0 0 -1 0
J. Wisniewski 1 0 0 0 0
B. Comeau 1 0 0 -1 0
N. Nikitin 1 0 0 0 0
J. Skille 1 0 0 -1 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 0 1 0 .875 4.07
 
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