Game 56 Preview: Suddenly Hot Blue Jackets Set For Clash With Division-Leading Islanders

Thursday, February 14 – 7:00 EST,
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

Columbus Blue Jackets (32-20-3, 67 points, 3rd Metro, t-7th East)

vs.

New York Islanders (33-17-6, 72 points, 1st Metro, t-3rd East)

The Columbus Blue Jackets followed up five-straight losses with now four-consecutive wins. After a 3-0 road trip out west, and impressive back-to-back victories against last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, the Jackets look to follow up perhaps their most complete game of the season Tuesday, a 3-0 win over the Capitals. As they try to match their season-long five-game win streak, they welcome in the Metropolitan leaders, the New York Islanders, who come in after a 3-1 loss to the Sabres, snapping their own three-game win streak.

This will just be the second meeting this season between the clubs. New York took the first meeting, Dec. 1 at the Nassau Coliseum, 3-2, a game that saw Columbus squander a 2-0 lead.

Player to Watch

Just 21-years-old, sophomore star Mathew Barzal, last year’s Calder winner, is this season’s leading scorer for the Islanders with 48 points to this point. Barzal is third on the team in goals (16), just two off the lead, while leading his club in assists (32). He comes into play without a point in his last three games.

Jackets Notes

With his assist against the Capitals, Ryan Murray now has reached a career-high with 26 points. … His 25 assists this season are a career high. … Anthony Duclair scored a goal — the eventual winning goal — against the Capitals, and when he does that, the Blue Jackets are 10-0 this season. … If it ain’t broke don’t fix it: John Tortorella inadvertently found something with his club, noting his teams’ freshness and energy on the ice during Tuesday’s game, which happens to coincide with “gas day” Monday, when Nationwide Arena was evacuated following a gas leak. That meant no practice Wednesday and likely a morning skate Thursday. … The red-hot Blue Jackets power play saw its streak of games with a PPG end at three. … That unit is sixth in the league since Jan. 1 (25.6%). … Meanwhile, the penalty kill is now up to 39-of-40 penalties killed since Jan. 1, after killing off the one-and-only opportunity the Capitals had, while also firing off three short-handed shots on the man-advantage which was just 1:28. … Josh Anderson left the first period Tuesday after a hit by Tom Wilson, but returned for the second and third period. … All indications are he is good to go. … Brandon Dubinsky’s status (hip) is still up in the air for tonight’s game after missing his fourth-straight game.

The Other Bench

Raise your hand if you thought the Islanders would be in first place in the Metro Division on Valentines Day 2019?

Barzal, who we covered as the player to watch, has done his part to help keep the franchise upright since the departure of John Tavares, bolting via free agency to the Maple Leafs last summer. Goaltending was a terrible weakness for the Isles last season, in large part because of the defense, allowing an NHL-worse 3.57 GA/GP. But credit new head coach Barry Trotz who has helped to instill, and implement a stingy defensive unit (2.34 GA/GP — that’s first in the NHL). The defense also does a better job of limiting shots at the net (30.4 SA/GP, 10th), where last year, again, they were dead-last (35.6). Also credit goaltenders Robin Lehner (17-9-4, .929 SV%, 2.08 GAA) and Thomas Greiss (16-8-2, .927, 2.28).

The Islanders have been without Thomas Hickey (upper body) since December and Andrew Ladd (leg) since November.

Season Series

12/1/2018 CBJ 2 @ NYI 3
2/14/2019 NYI @ CBJ

Stats

NY Islanders Columbus
2.82 (22) GPG 3.27 (8)
2.34 (1) GAPG 3.02 (t-15)
16.1% (26) PP% 16.3% (25)
80.1% (t-16) PK% 84.2% (t-2)
48.32% (22) EV Corsi % 49.92% (14)
102.5 (2) EV PDO 100.2 (13)
Anders Lee, 18 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 31
Mathew Barzal, 32 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 42
Mathew Barzal, 48 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 64
Scott Mayfield, 48 PIM Leader Josh Anderson, 48
16-10-2 Home / Road 15-11-2
6-6-2 Last 10 5-5-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Anthony Duclair Alexander Wennberg Oliver Bjorkstrand
Lukas Sedlak Riley Nash Markus Hannikainen
Ryan Murray Seth Jones
Zach Werenski David Savard
Scott Harrington Markus Nutivaara
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo

New York Islanders

Anders Lee Brock Nelson Jordan Eberle
Michael Dal Colle Mathew Barzal Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier Valtteri Filppula Leo Komarov
Matt Martin Casey Cizikas Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Adam Pelech Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews Scott Mayfield
Thomas Greiss
Robin Lehner

Original Source
Author: William Chase