GAME 49: BLUE JACKETS AT RANGERS
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, 7 P.M.
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: CD 102.5 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
SETTING THE STAGE: Every team is in the same position, scrambling to get back up to speed and having players flying in from Los Angeles and elsewhere, but the Blue Jackets know it's not only time to get back to work, but it's time to get back on track.
Their unofficial second half begins with the New York Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, marking Columbus' first visit to MSG this season. It goes without saying that, given the compacted nature of the Metropolitan Division standings, this is a big game - but the Blue Jackets would be well-served to return to their approach of taking one day at a time. Tuesday, like Monday, is another work day, and they have a tough opponent on their hands that stole two points from them at Nationwide Arena a few weeks back.
As the NHL resumes its schedule after the All-Star Weekend, the Blue Jackets (68 points) sit five points ahead of the Rangers, but they have not played their best hockey of late. Columbus is 5-7-0 since Jan. 5 when its 16-game winning streak ended, but more importantly in the eyes of head coach John Tortorella, the commitment to defense has not been as prevalent as it was during the streak.
The offense has been there, the power play has re-heated, but the goals against have become a concern in recent weeks. Stronger play away from the puck is what the Blue Jackets are looking for, and that has to be a priority from the get-go on Tuesday night.
NOTEWORTHY NEWS: The Blue Jackets held a Monday afternoon practice at MSG, and they did so without defensemen David Savard and Markus Nutivaara (injury) and their three All-Stars, who were en route to New York. Savard played Thursday in Nashville but was in some visible discomfort during the game. His status for Tuesday is unknown. Columbus recalled defenseman Dean Kukan from Cleveland (AHL), which is currently on a brief break for the AHL All-Star Classic in Allentown, Pa.
PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:
Saad - Wennberg - Foligno
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Jenner - Karlsson - Anderson
Hartnell - Sedlak - Gagner
Werenski - Jones
Murray - Johnson
Harrington - Prout