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Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Wild

Columbus host the Wild for their final meeting of the season

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /





With the 2017 trade deadline in the rearview mirror and 22 games to play, the Blue Jackets (39-16-6) are back on home ice Thursday to face the Minnesota Wild (41-14-6).

You may recall the last time these two teams met. It was New Year's Eve and both teams were riding record win streaks (14 games for Columbus and 12 games for Minnesota) when they collided in St. Paul for an intense contest in which the Blue Jackets earned a 4-2 victory.


Thursday's game may not have as much hype, but it has no less meaning.

The Jackets returned from their bye week invigorated and have collected five of six available points in the three games since the break.

As of Wednesday, the post-bye push has propelled the Jackets to second in the Metro Division and third in the League behind Washington and Minnesota.

This is the second and final time the two teams will meet this season.

Video: CBJ@MIN: Atkinson wrists one five-hole on breakaway

Here are five things to watch for:

Striving for full health in Columbus.

For Tuesday's game in Montreal, the Blue Jackets were without the services of center William Karlsson after he fell ill and returned to Columbus. The team was off on Wednesday, but the hope is Karlsson will be ready to return Thursday.

Welcome Kyle Quincey.

Wednesday, the Jackets traded Dalton Prout to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Kyle Quincey. The 31-year-old defenseman has played in 548 regular season NHL games in his career and has four goals and eight assists in 53 games with the Devils this season. He is expected to add defensive depth and playoff experience to the Jackets' bench as they play down the stretch.

Video: Quincey interviews for first time as a Blue Jacket

Welcome Lauri Korpikoski.

The Jackets made another deadline move, trading prospect Dillon Heatherington to the Dallas Stars in exchange for veteran forward Lauri Korpikoski. The Finn has eight goals and 20 points in 60 games this season. Jarmo Kekalainen said in post-deadline comments that Korpikoski can play on both the left and right sides, and brings speed as well as penalty killing ability to the roster.

Striving for full health in Minnesota.

Minnesota is missing a few key players due to recent bouts with illness and injury. Zach Parise and Jason Pominville have missed two games after contracting the mumps, and defenseman Ryan Suter left Monday's game against Winnipeg at the end of the first period and did not return to the game.

New Faces in Minnesota.

Minnesota added some new faces of their own via trade. Center Martin Hanzal and forward Ryan White joined the Wild from Arizona and have each played two games with their new team. White has one goal with Minnesota, and Hanzal has two assists since joining Minnesota. 

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