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PREVIEW: Blue Jackets, fans return to Nationwide for game vs. Detroit

Columbus looking to snap a losing skid against Red Wings

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /
BLUE JACKETS (8-10-5) vs. RED WINGS (7-14-3) 

Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, Nationwide Arena 

TV: FOX Sports OhioCBJ appFOX Sports Go app 

Radio: Blue Jackets radio network (97.1 The Fan flagship) 

In the aftermath of the Blue Jackets' fifth straight loss Sunday in Nashville, one word seemed to be the common theme between CBJ leaders Nick Foligno and Seth Jones.


For Columbus to turn things around and start playing their best hockey, that's something the team will need to continue to build through this tough stretch. It's not about trust that everyone is working hard -- the belief is the work ethic is there -- but the trust that everyone will be in the right places on the ice and work together to get out of this slump.  

"I just think we need to let loose on how tight we're gripping our sticks and just play the game and just trust one another, not do too much any single player and just do what is asked if you," Jones said. "The only way we're going to get out of this situation is we're going to do it together." 

Foligno said he has seen some signs of that trust coming together. In the last three games, that has meant defensively, as after a 10-game stretch in which the Blue Jackets gave up 4.20 per game, Columbus has allowed just seven goals over the past three games (2.33 per contest). The converse of that, of course, is that the Blue Jackets have scored just two goals in the past three games.  

"For our group, we have to find the positives," the captain said. "We have to find a way to get out of this because no one is going to help us. No article written or thing said is going to help us get out of this besides the guys in the room trying to find a way to pull together and trust one another. We start doing that and that's how you pull yourselves out of this.  

"That's what I'm focused on trying to do. We have taken some steps. It's hard to see when you're not winning, but we have taken steps. Now, it's the finishing touches where we put some plays together and start scoring some goals, start feeling good about ourselves. All of a sudden you start rolling it the other way." 

Offensively, Foligno laid out ways that can help. 

"I think we're trusting more in the D-zone, but I think we need to trust more in the offensive zone, where D wants to pinch and he knows that guy is backing him up, to trust that plays are going to get made," Foligno said. "When you're going to the net, is the guy going to get the puck there? That's the part we're still struggling with confidence in our group right now." 

Some good news -- the Blue Jackets have been authorized to sell 1,953 ticket for the game, or 10 percent of capacity, by the Ohio Department of Health. It will be the first game with fans other than player guests and team employees this season, and head coach John Tortorella has talked at length this year about how some members of the team have missed the energy provided by spectators.  

Know the Foe  

One year after being one of the worst teams of the salary cap era with just 17 wins in 71 games, Detroit is off to a better start this year, but it also seems fair to say the last-place Red Wings won't be a Stanley Cup Playoffs contender either. 

The Red Wings are in a bit of a hot streak at the moment having won three of five, but the last game turned into a disaster, as on Sunday the Chicago Blackhawks turned a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes into a 7-2 rout, the Wings' second loss by that score in six games. 

In all, Detroit's numbers are still those of a team in a rebuild, as the Wings are 30th in the NHL in scoring offense (2.13 goals per game), tied for 26th in scoring defense (3.25 allowed per game), 30th in power play at just 8.8 percent, and 30th in penalty kill at 69.7 percent. 

It also doesn't help that the Wings have been without two of their key forwards, as Dylan Larkin did not play in the Chicago series because of an undisclosed injury while Tyler Bertuzzi has been out since early February with a lower-body injury. Robby Fabbri also missed Sunday's game with an upper-body injury, while defenseman Troy Stecher has been out about a week with a lower-body injury and fellow blueliner Patrik Nemeth is in COVID protocol. 

Those are big losses as Larkin, Bertuzzi and Fabbri are among the team's top-six forwards while Stecher and Nemeth have been regulars defensively. Veteran Bobby Ryan, who scored three times in two games vs. Columbus earlier this year, leads the team with a 6-6-12 line, while Larkin has four goals and 11 points. The only other player in double digits in scoring is defenseman Filip Hronek, who has zero goals but 10 assists. 

Anthony Mantha has struggled for much of the year and has a 5-4-9 line plus a minus-13 rating. Former CBJ forward Sam Gagner has four goals in 16 games.  

In net, Jonathan Bernier might get the call after Thomas Greiss (1-11-3, 3.46, .882) went Sunday, and Bernier has had an excellent bounce-back season with a 6-3-0 record, 2.63 GAA and .918 save percentage.  

3 Keys to the Game  

Get the points: It doesn't matter how you get them, if you're a team in need of points like the Jackets, you have to leave this game with a win. Columbus earned three of four points earlier this year in a two-game set in Detroit. 

Win special teams: Nashville's special teams were in bad shape coming in but held up against Columbus. That can't happen again vs. a team that is the second-worst in the league in both PP and PK.  

Build some confidence: The biggest thing Columbus can do right now is start putting good performances together and build some belief. This is a good time to get started.  

Of Note 

The one-off game is just one of four on the CBJ schedule that is not part of a two-game series. … Cam Atkinson has seven goals in the last 10 games, not to mention an 8-5-13 line in the last 12. His eight goals in February tied for fourth in the NHL. … His nine goals and 17 points also lead the Jackets … Jack Roslovic has a 4-8-13 line in the last 14 games. … Max Domi is two games from 400 in his NHL career, and his 291 consecutive games played streak is the seventh-longest active streak in the league … After playing just one game last year that featured at least 10 combined goals between the teams, the Blue Jackets have been in four such games this year. … Columbus has scored first in 16 of 23 games and outscored teams 25-15 in first period. But the Jackets are just 6-6-4 when taking a 1-0 lead. … The Blue Jackets have won five of the last six vs. Detroit in Nationwide Arena and are 12-4-1 the last nine years vs. Detroit in Columbus. Overall, Columbus is 12-1-1 in the last 14 games against the Red Wings.  

Projected Lineup 

(Subject to change) 

Patrik Laine - Jack Roslovic - Cam Atkinson

Eric Robinson - Boone Jenner - Nick Foligno

Emil Bemstrom - Riley Nash - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Max Domi - Alexandre Texier - Kevin Stenlund

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Gabriel Carlsson - David Savard

Vladislav Gavrikov - Michael Del Zotto

Joonas Korpisalo

Veini Vehvilainen

Scratches: Mikhail Grigorenko, Scott Harrington, Dean Kukan

Taxi squad: Zac Dalpe, Ryan MacInnis, Stefan Matteau, Cam Johnson

Injured reserve: Elvis Merzlikins (upper body), Gus Nyquist (shoulder, out 5-6 months as of November), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist, LTIR) 

Roster report: The Blue Jackets will use the same skater lineup and keep Korpisalo in net. 

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