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Game Preview: Blue Jackets at Islanders

Jackets travel to New York City for a pair of matinee games

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /





The Blue Jackets are headed to the greater New York area for a pair of rare back-to-back 1 p.m. starts. The first comes against the Islanders Saturday.

The Islanders currently sit one point out of the second wild card spot, and, having lost three of their last four games, they don't want to dig a hole that is any deeper for themselves.


This is yet another Jackets' opponent who comes into the game anxious for any and every point. But desperation mode isn't anything new to the Islanders. They've been in that mindset most of the second half of the season after a poor start had them lagging behind league and divisional leaders.

This is a team that has clawed up to fifth in the Metro from where they sat at seventh in at the start of 2017.

Here are five things to watch for:

Win the season series.

The Jackets are 2-1-0 against the Islanders this year. In the two games at Nationwide Arena, the Jackets have put up six and seven goals on the Islanders, but lost in New York and have yet to win a game in Barclays Center (0-3-0).

A road win for the Jackets secures the series victory, and moves them two points closer to securing a playoff berth.

 Video: Jenner on facing the Isles on Saturday

Lunchtime hockey.

Not many players have seen a back-to-back series where both games start at 1 p.m. Boone Jenner said he doesn't think he's ever played two games scheduled like that. But he is looking forward to being able to get up and get right to playing games. "It's something different," Jenner said.

Calvert, Karlsson, Anderson reunited.

Both Matt Calvert and Josh Anderson have returned to play after missing games due to injury and are back with center William Karlsson. In the two games since the three players returned to full health, that line has been clicking. John Tortorella turned to them frequently of late, and the trio has one goal and four assists in the last two contests. The lone goal was the Josh Anderson game winner on Thursday.

 Video: Calvert on facing teams chasing a playoff spot

"It feels great to be back," Calvert said Thursday. "For me personally I felt a lot better tonight. The first game back you never know what you're going to get, so you just try to work hard but I thought we played great as a line tonight." 

Don't forget the "crust."

Tortorella has talked frequently about giving this team the freedom to play, but he doesn't want them to forget some core elements of the game along the way. A few games back, Tortorella talked to his team about being more consistent in blocking shots, calling it part of the "crust" of the game. He's been pleased with the results since.

 Video: Torts on how his team has evolved

"Shot blocking is important all the time. It's part of playing defense," Tortorella said. "It's part of building a mindset and a culture within your team. Coaches have to watch (along the way). We're letting them play. We've opened up offensively. I think we're a pretty instinctive team, but don't forget about the grind of the game too."

Fresh face for the Islanders.

Rookie Josh Ho-Sang has joined the Islanders lineup after being called up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL on an emergency basis. Selected 28th overall in the 2014 Draft, the right-winger has scored three goals and three assists in eight games with New York. In Bridgeport, Ho-Sang had a 10-26-36 stat line in 48 games played, good enough for fourth in total points and third in points per game (.75) on the team.



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