GAME 19: BLUE JACKETS (10-7-1) AT CANADIENS (8-9-1)
BELL CENTRE, 7:30 P.M., TUESDAY
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
The Blue Jackets ended their four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory in Detroit this past weekend, but they're still dealing with some early-season speed bumps.
The latest is an upper-body injury to center Alexander Wennberg, who missed practice Monday at the OhioHealth Ice Haus and didn't make the trip to Montreal. The Blue Jackets are also missing forwards Matt Calvert (upper body), Lukas Sedlak (ankle) and Zac Dalpe - who was placed on injured reserve Monday with an upper-body injury.
Jordan Schroeder was recalled from the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League to take Dalpe's spot, and could make his regular-season debut.
"[Stuff] happens, and we're going to have to deal with it," coach John Tortorella said. "We have injuries. We've got a number of guys nicked up, [who] are playing. We didn't have to go through some of [that] early on last year. So, I think eventually it's going to be really good and put some skin on us, as we get into the tough time of the year."
Wennberg has nine points (one goal, eight assists), and showed some chemistry with linemates Artemi Panarin and Oliver Bjorkstrand against the Red Wings. It was the first time those three played together.
Bjorkstrand and Panarin connected 1:07 into the game to give Columbus a 1-0 lead, and the trio had the puck a lot.
"Those guys are fun to play with," Bjorkstrand said. "They're smart players and make good plays. It was the first time I've played with Panarin on the line, so he's obviously a good player. It gives me more space to find an open area, and if you do, I feel like he can give the puck to you. If you have one good game together, you'd like to keep it going, so that's unfortunate [about Wennberg]."
Wennberg's absence clears a path back to the active lineup for rookie Sonny Milano, who's been scratched the past two games. The Blue Jackets have used seven defensemen and 11 forwards recently, but might go back to the normal setup with 12 forwards now that Schroeder is back. Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois is moving back to center for this game, which would could mean he and Schroeder will center the third and fourth lines.
2017-18 Season: (0-0-0). This is the first of three games this season. The Blue Jackets will play again in Montreal on Nov. 27 and host the Canadiens Mar. 12.
All-time: 11-9-3 overall; 6-5-2 in Montreal
"BY THE NUMBERS"
- 3: Goals allowed by Bobrovsky in his past two starts, on 61 shots. Each game was during a back-to-back the Jackets split against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday at Nationwide Arena (3-1 loss) and Red Wings on Saturday at Little Caesar's Arena (2-1 shootout win). Bobrovsky had allowed four goals in each of his two prior starts.
- 7: Number of quality starts among the seven that rookie goalie Charlie Lindgren has made in parts of three seasons for the Canadiens. That includes all four this season. A quality start, as measured by Hockey Prospectus' Rob Vollman, is one with a save percentage higher than the collective save percentage among goaltenders across the NHL for that season, or at least .885 on nights with 20-or-fewer shots against.
- 12: Shootout goals scored by Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson in his NHL career. Johnson is 12-for-39 overall in shootout attempts (30.8 percent), including 2-for-5 in six-plus seasons with the Blue Jackets. Each goal for Columbus decided the game.
- 12: Consecutive shootout wins for the Red Wings until Johnson beat goalie Jimmy Howard in the ninth round Saturday, ending the game after nine rounds of breakaways
- 92: Percentage of shots Bobrovsky has stopped in 344 career NHL games. He also has a .920 save percentage at home (184 games) and on the road (160 games) his career, a .920 save percentage in 63 career games played in the month of November and has a .920 percentage irrespective to which conference his opponent is from.
EYES ON: THE BLUE JACKETS
- Gabriel Carlsson has played the past two games as the Blue Jackets' seventh defenseman, playing sparingly in each game. Milano has five goals, which is tied with Bjorkstrand for second-most on the team, but hasn't scored since Oct. 21 against the Los Angeles Kings.
- Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to make his third straight start in net for the Blue Jackets, after leading Columbus to victory Saturday in Detroit with 32 saves in regulation and overtime, plus eight more in a nine-round shootout that don't count toward his stat line. Bobrovsky is 7-4-1 against the Canadiens in his NHL career (12 games), with a 2.08 goals-against average and blistering .933 save percentage.
- Tortorella might've stumbled onto an effective line combination Saturday against the Red Wings. After benching Bjorkstrand for most of the third period Friday, in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, he gave the skilled winger an enticing assignment a day later. Bjorkstrand was played right wing with Wennberg and left wing Artemi Panarin, and it paid off on Panarin's goal. Bjorkstrand fed Panarin a nice pass from the corner, which the Russian left wing one-timed into the net for his third goal. "They had the puck," Tortorella said. "Obviously, they score the first goal to give us a good start in the game. It was one of our better lines in the game, as far as generating some offense and having the puck."
- Dalpe had missed the past three games because of his upper-body injury, which might've been sustained when he was hit in the third period of the Blue Jackets' 5-3 loss last week (Nov. 6) to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Dalpe retaliated, drew an elbowing penalty, and the Rangers tied the game 3-3 on the ensuing power play. Schroder missed the start of the season with a concussion, and was assigned to Cleveland after clearing waivers. He has fiive points (two goals, three assists) in nine games with the Monsters,
EYES ON: THE CANADIENS
- Montreal is expected to start Lindgren for the fifth straight game, while Carey Price (lower body, injured reserve) and Al Montoya (upper body) are on the shelf. Lindgren, 23, has been impressive thus far. In four starts, he's 3-1-0, has a 1.24 goals-against average and has allowed five goals on 138 shots for a .964 save percentage. Lindgren has never faced the Blue Jackets. Zach Fucale, who was recalled Saturday from St. John's of the American Hockey League, could be the backup again.
- Captain Max Pacioretty is red hot for the Canadiens, who've used his production the past couple weeks to claw up the Atlantic Division standings. Pacioretty, who's playing left wing on the second line with center Phillip Danault and Andrew Shaw, has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in Montreal's past 10 games. He scored 3:08 into overtime Saturday at Bell Centre to defeat the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1, and assisted on Shaw's goal in regulation.
- The roots of Shaw's game haven't changed coming to the Canadiens from the Blackhawks in a trade during the 2016 offseason. He leads Montreal in penalties taken (6) and penalty minutes served (20), but he has also drawn seven penalties. Shaw is also producing offensively, playing with Pacioretty and Danault. He has five points (four goals, one assist) in the Canadiens' past six games, including a goal against the Sabres on Saturday.
- Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber is logging a lot of ice time this season. He's playing an average of 26:26 per game, which ranks sixth in the NHL, and logged 28:22 in Montreal's overtime victory Saturday against Buffalo. By comparison, his defense partner, Jordie Benn, logged 19:49.
"That's the bottom line … swagger, man. Playing relaxed, playing with a little bit of arrogance, a little bit of cockiness, in a good way." - Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson, on how he thinks Columbus needs to play this season.
"We're going to face some tougher [stuff] than this, losing a few games. We're not used to it around here. We didn't lose three straight until the end of last year." - Tortorella, on the Blue Jackets facing adversity early on this season
"Look at how hard we play against the elite teams in the league. We have to start realizing we're one of them, and that's not to be arrogant. It's just the reality of what we've grown into here. Be proud of that, but know how hard it is to win." - Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno
Forward lines (12)
Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Artemi Panarin - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Tyler Motte - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Josh Anderson
Sonny Milano - Jordan Schroeder - Markus Hannikainen
Defense pairings (6)
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara
Others: Scott Harrington, Gabriel Carlsson, Alexander Wennberg (injury, day to day)
Injured reserve: Lukas Sedlak (ankle), Matt Calvert (upper body), Zac Dalpe (upper body)
Lineup notes: Tortorella has gone with seven defensemen and 11 forwards the past three games, and could decide to do so again. If so, look for Carlsson or Harrington to play as the seventh defenseman.
Forward lines (12)
Alex Galchenyuk - Jonathan Drouin - Arturri Lehkonen
Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Charle Hudon - Jacob De La Rose - Byron Froese
Defense pairings (6)
Jordie Benn - Shea Weber
Karl Alzner - Jeff Petry
Victor Mete - Joe Morrow
Others: Al Montoya (upper body), Torrey Mitchell, Brandon Davidson
Injured reserve: Carey Price (lower body), Ales Hemsky (concussion-like symptoms), Nikita Scherbak (hand), David Schlemko (hand)