by John Carlisle, bluejackets.com
Break out the garlic and holy water. The Columbus Blue Jackets have some Devils to exorcise.
Columbus (3-4-1) heads east to the Garden State Saturday for its only meeting of the year with New Jersey (5-4-1), perennially one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, at 7:30 p.m. in Continental Airlines Arena.
The Jackets hope to denounce the Devils after vanquishing their own demon, a four-game losing streak, Friday night in a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. CBJ goaltender Pascal Leclaire earned his first career shutout by turning away 38 Los Angeles shots. Nikolai Zherdev and Fredrik Modin each scored goals for Columbus, even though the team fired only 14 shots on goal.
“Pascal stole it for us,” Jackets head coach Gerard Gallant said. “It was a big win, and we owe Pascal for that one. We needed the win, whether it was an ugly win or not.”
Leclaire has started only 42 games in his young career, but if Friday’s game is any indication, the Quebec product is starting to thrive in his role as the No. 1 goalie.
In stark contrast, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has stood in net for 822 career games and posted a 2.21 GAA with 82 career shutouts, making him arguably one of the best goalies in NHL history. Brodeur has struggled some this year, at least by his lofty standards. He’s 5-4 with a 3.02 GAA but is fresh off a shutout win himself. He stonewalled the Florida Panthers Thursday as New Jersey won 2-0.
Columbus has faired slightly better than average against Brodeur as the star netminder is 3-2 with a 2.67 GAA lifetime against the Blue Jackets, but in 2005-06, the CBJ earned an exciting 3-2 overtime win over Brodeur and the Devils on a game-winning goal by injured CBJ defenseman Bryan Berard.
Though the young talent is starting to mesh, the Jackets will need contribution from their veterans to win road games against tough teams. Defenseman and team captain Adam Foote has some experience slaying the Devils. While playing for the Colorado Avalanche, Foote collected a goal and two assists in a pivotal Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals in New Jersey. Foote and the Avalanche, facing elimination, won the game and then went on to win the series.
Proud representatives of the Czech Republic will battle it out as Jackets right wing David Vyborny will skate opposite Devils left wing Patrik Elias, his former 2006 Olympic teammate. The partnership ended with the Olympics, though. Don’t be surprised to see a few “checks” of a different sort between these two.
Live coverage on FSN Ohio begins with IceBreaker, the pre-game show, at 7 p.m. and includes the Blue Jackets Ice Cap post-game show immediately following the game.