GAME 51: BLUE JACKETS VS. DEVILS
NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7 P.M.
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: CD 102.5 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
SETTING THE STAGE: For the Blue Jackets, there may be no better way to get into the second-half groove than by playing a large portion of their games within the Metropolitan Division. It's the best division in hockey, ultra-competitive from top to bottom, and there's not a lot of breathing room or margin for error.
On Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, Columbus faces the New Jersey Devils for the first time this season. It's kind of a new-look Devils team, too, after some offseason moves geared toward adding offense and speed were made by GM Ray Shero. Taylor Hall was the blockbuster addition in a major trade with the Edmonton Oilers, a deal that saw the Devils send former first-round pick Adam Larsson the other way.
When New Jersey made the Hall deal, it was a signal that they were ready to embrace a shift in philosophy. They knew that, in order to compete in this division, they needed more scoring and balance and bringing in one of the game's fastest and most dynamic young wingers, they gave themselves a chance to do that.
And while it hasn't translated into results as quickly as they would have liked, the Devils have a chance to win every night with a top-flight goalie like Cory Schneider between the pipes.
Tonight's game at Nationwide Arena is the second half of a back-to-back for both teams coming off OT losses; the Blue Jackets were in Pittsburgh last night while the Devils hosted Calgary.
NOTEWORTHY NEWS: Despite practicing two straight days, Markus Nutivaara remained out of the lineup due to injury. There's no update yet on his status for tonight's game against New Jersey. The Blue Jackets' used the same lines and pairs on Friday as they did Tuesday. John Tortorella will address the lineup approximately two hours before the game.
PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:
Saad - Wennberg - Foligno
Jenner - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Calvert - Karlsson - Anderson
Hartnell - Sedlak - Gagner
Werenski - Jones
Murray - Johnson
Harrington - Prout