The Blue Jackets haven’t had much success this season against the New Jersey Devils, something they hope to rectify when they meet for a third time tonight at the Prudential Center.
Way back on Nov. 1 (doesn’t that feel like years ago?), with the Blue Jackets battling injuries and particularly so at the goaltending position, Anton Forsberg made his first NHL start in Newark and nearly led the Jackets to a much-needed, slump-busting win. They carried a 2-1 lead into the third period but gave up a pair of third period goals, the latter coming off the stick of defenseman Adam Larsson midway through, and dropped a 3-2 decision that was their fifth straight loss.
And most recently, the Devils executed a near-perfect road game in typical Devils fashion last Saturday at Nationwide Arena. Cory Schneider – who will start tonight for New Jersey – was terrific, polishing off a 33-save shutout in a 2-0 victory with a solid third period when the Jackets threw everything they had toward his net.
Columbus is in a similar spot tonight, looking to snap a seven-game losing streak that has included some tough-luck losses and a few lackluster performances. If they’re going to crack Schneider and a stingy Devils defense, they have a pretty good idea of what they’ll need to do.
“You have to stick to your game plan and you have to be resilient,” said defenseman Dalton Prout. “I think (the Devils) play the same way for 60 minutes and I think it frustrates teams, and maybe they bend, they break and that’s how they get their chances. We just have to be sticklers out there and outlast them.”
The Blue Jackets were dealt a big blow during last Thursday’s game against Montreal, when Brandon Dubinsky took a scary fall after scoring a first period goal and had to leave the game. He took the ice for practice the next day, but developed concussion-like symptoms early in the skate and received an official diagnosis shortly thereafter.
Dubinsky has missed the past three games due to that concussion, but he’s ready to go and will be back in the lineup tonight. He skated on a line this morning with Artem Anisimov and Brian Gibbons as Todd Richards looks to get all of his lines involved, and he shuffled the deck during the pre-game skate.
Here are the other lines: Foligno-Johansen-Atkinson, Hartnell-Wennberg-Dano, Tropp-Letestu-Boll. And the defense pairs: Johnson-Savard, Tyutin-Prout, Falk-Goloubef.
The Blue Jackets recently got Sergei Bobrovsky back from a groin injury that forced him to miss 17 games, and he played well in a 5-3 loss to Washington earlier this week. Bobrovsky has not faced the Devils this season, with Forsberg and Curtis McElhinney splitting the previous two meetings.
Bobrovsky has struggled against the Devils in his career, owning a 2-3-1 record with a 3.81 goals-against average and .882 save percentage.