Jets need desperation against Blue Jackets

- December 16th, 2013

COLUMBUS, OHIO — The records are eerily similar, with just one point separating the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets.

But the two teams that swapped conferences this season find themselves in much different circumstances as it relates to their post-season hopes.

With a 14-15-4 record and 32 points, the Blue Jackets are only three points out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division, while the Jets, at 14-15-5 and on a three-game losing skid, are 10 points out in the Central Division and need to go on a roll just to get back into striking distance.

So it’s with that backdrop the two teams meet for only the second time since the Jets relocated from Atlanta. That game was played Nov. 12 at Nationwide Arena as well, with the Blue Jackets winning 2-1.

The Jets are getting back Evander Kane up front and he’ll replace the suspended Anthony Peluso, inserting Eric Tangradi for the injured Matt Halischuk (who was placed on injured reserve on Monday morning) and leaving Adam Pardy in on D, making Keaton Ellerby a healthy scratch for a second straight game.

The goaltending matchup features Al Montoya for the Jets and third-stringer Mike McKenna for the Blue Jackes, who are missing Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney to injury.

I had a feeling the Jets might go back to Montoya after Ondrej Pavelec gave up five goals on 24 shots in 40 minutes on Saturday.

Montoya won his last start against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Jets are just looking to switch things up a bit.

Jets goalie coach Wade Flaherty is on the road trip and spent a little extra time working with Pavelec this morning.

Zach Bogosian (groin) skated with his teammates for the first time since Nov. 15 and has been upgraded to day-to-day, though he’s not expected to suit up tomorrow against the Buffalo Sabres, I wouldn’t rule out Friday’s game with the Florida Panthers if there are no setbacks.

The Jets were in a sour mood following Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars that left them with just one of a possible six points during a three-game homestand against Central Division opponents and with games upcoming against three Eastern Conference teams outside the playoff line, it will be interesting to see how the group responds.

It’s an important night for Jets centre John Albert, who grew up in Cleveland and played at Ohio State.

Albert estimated he’d need 35-to-40 passes for the game tonight and he’s eager for his first NHL game in his home state.

“Obviously, this city means a lot to me,” said Albert. “From going to Ohio State and being here for four years, growing up an Ohio boy, for my family to come down and be able to see me play in the NHL is pretty special. I came to a lot of games when I was living in Columbus, so it’s special to play against (the Blue Jackets) in this building.”

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are playing better of late and are getting a solid contribution from Brandon product Matt Calvert, who has three goals in his past four games and is finding his stride after missing time with an abdominal/groin injury that required surgery.

Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards spoke highly of the former Brandon Wheat Kings co-captain this morning.

“He missed a lot of time and that was a huge hole for us,” said Richards. “What Matty brings to our team and how he plays the game, just his tenacious style …with him out of the lineup, that was one thing that we were missing.”

Here’s how I expect both teams to start Monday night:

Jets

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn-Olli Jokinen-Devin Setoguchi
James Wright-John Albert-Eric Tangradi

Toby Enstrom-Jacob Trouba
Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart-Adam Pardy

Al Monotya (Ondrej Pavelec)

Blue Jackets

Nick Foligno-Ryan Johansen-R.J. Umberger
Matt Calvert-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner-Artem Anisimov-Blake Comeau
Mark Letestu-Derek MacKenzie-Corey Tropp

Jack Johnson-Fedor Tyutin
David Savard-Ryan Murray
Nikita Nikitin-Dalton Prout

Mike McKenna (Jeremy Smith)

Categories: Hockey

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