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GAME DAY: vs. Minnesota

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

  Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Minnesota Wild
RECORDS - CBJ: 14-32-6 (Home: 8-13-3), MIN: 25-19-8 (Road: 12-12-5)
WHEN: Feb. 7, 2012 - 7 p.m.   |   WHERE: Nationwide Arena

FOX Sports Ohio (HD)  |  LISTEN: CD102.5 FM &

GAME DAY ON THE ROAD presented by:



A lot has changed for the Minnesota Wild in the span of a couple months. Not too long ago, they were sitting atop the National Hockey League standings and had just seven regulation losses through their first 32 games, sporting a comfortable lead over several Western Conference contenders. Despite being hammered with injuries and inconsistent scoring, they managed to steady the ship and tread water before a disastrous collapse leading up to the All-Star break.

Their play away from Xcel Energy Center catalyzed their fall down the conference standings, with an 11-game road losing streak dropping them to ninth place at one point. The Wild have since rebounded with a road win at Colorado last week, and a nail-biting overtime loss over the weekend in Dallas after a deflating 5-4 defeat at home to Nashville on Jan. 31. Minnesota led 4-1 in the third period of that game, but the Predators struck for four third-period goals – including the winner in the final minute – to stun the Wild and steal two valuable points.

Playing without captain Mikko Koivu has also been challenging for the Wild, but there is a chance he returns tonight against the Blue Jackets. The dynamic center has been missing from the Minnesota lineup for the past seven games after suffering an upper-body injury on Jan. 14 in St. Louis. Despite missing a chunk of the season, Koivu still leads the team with 24 assists and holds the club season-high points streak (seven games, Nov. 17-Dec. 2).

An unexpected source of offense for Minnesota has been veteran center Kyle Brodziak, who is currently riding a six-game points streak with seven points (3-4-7) in his last nine games overall. Spending a lot of time in the top six due to injury has sparked Brodziak’s game and helped ease the absences of both Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse, who are also on injured reserve with concussions.

Wild coach Mike Yeo is trying to work a new player into his lineup after acquiring center Erik Christensen from the New York Rangers for Casey Wellman over the weekend. Christensen gives Minnesota another option at center until Bouchard and Koivu are deemed fit to return to action.

Nash (17) Heatley (17)
Prospal (22) Koivu (24)
Nash (34) Heatley (38)
Dorsett (130) Staubitz (73)
MacKenzie (+4) Heatley (+10)
Sanford (9-12-4)
Backstrom (14-12-5)
Sanford (2.56) Backstrom (2.30)
Sanford (.913) Backstrom (.925)
• Tonight’s game against Minnesota starts a stretch that has the Jackets playing five of six and eight of 11 here at Nationwide Arena. The club is 2-2-0 its last four home games after going winless (0-3-1) the previous four home games. Tonight’s game also begins a stretch that has the Jackets playing five games in eight days.

Derick Brassard snapped a six-game goalless skid with his eighth and ninth goals of the season last Friday at Anaheim. He had last scored Jan. 17 vs. Edmonton. The multi-goal game and overtime goal were the first of his NHL career. It was his first game-winning goal since Jan. 13 vs. Phoenix, a span of eight games.

• Tonight marks the third of four meetings overall and second of two meetings at Nationwide Arena this season between the Blue Jackets and Wild. Columbus is 19-18-4 all-time against Minnesota, including a 13-6-1 mark at Nationwide. The Blue Jackets had won four of the previous five meetings prior to the Wild winning this season’s first two meetings.

• Jeff Carter scored his team-leading sixth power play goal this past Friday at Anaheim. The goal was his first in seven games as he last scored Dec. 22 at Nashville. It was his first game back in the lineup after missing the previous 10 games due to a shoulder injury suffered Jan. 8 at Anaheim.


LW - #15
  17 GOALS

• Heatley was Wild GM Chuck Fletcher’s major summer acquisition, coming over in a trade that sent Martin Havlat to the San Jose Sharks. After a sluggish start, Heatley has picked it up of late and is now Minnesota’s leading scorer. He has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last five games, a streak that includes a pair of three-point outings.

D Radek Martinek (concussion); out for the season
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely
D James Wisniewski (ankle); indefinitely
C Mark Letestu (hand); indefinitely
D Nikita Nikitin (lower body); indefinitely
D Brett Lebda (hand); week-to-week

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