Last night’s victory over the Detroit gave the Blue Jackets nine wins in their last 12 meetings with the Red Wings, but against tonight’s opponent, the success has not been as regular.
The Edmonton Oilers are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games against Columbus (the two teams haven't met since November 2013) and they enter tonight’s game on the heels of an exciting third period rally in Pittsburgh, albeit one that came up just short. The Oilers, down 4-0 at CONSOL Energy Center, scored four times to bring the game to 4-4 in the third period but ended up falling 6-4.
With both teams having played last night, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said the start of tonight’s game becomes even more important – especially on home ice, where his team has struggled mightily this season (12-19-2).
“Just watching how their (game) went last night, obviously they were down and they were chasing the game but they got themselves back into the game,” Richards said. “To me, it’s about getting off to a good start and not trying to chase it – and then you can manage it a little better.”
Over the last five periods, the Blue Jackets have done a solid job managing the game and playing with a lead – something they hadn’t done much of over the last few weeks. They were down 3-1 after one period in Raleigh but battled back and played well over the final 40 minutes, and in Detroit, they led 2-1 after the first period and were able to stay away from “chasing” and poor puck decisions.
“We’ve been better,” Richards said. “But there are still some areas that we can improve and need to improve.”
RETURN OF THE MURR
Ryan Murray, out since Feb. 6 with a high ankle sprain, returns to the Blue Jackets lineup tonight after missing 17 games. That’s what we do know; what we don’t know is a) who comes out of the lineup to make room for Murray and b) who he’s going to pair with.
Regardless, the Blue Jackets are getting a polished young defenseman back tonight and that’s a very good thing.
“There’s probably going to be a little rust and those types of things that go with missing some hockey and coming back,” Richards said. “The one thing is that Ryan’s a smart, efficient player. He doesn’t make it harder on himself than it has to be, and I’m talking about forcing plays. He’s a good first pass guy, keeps it simple and a good defender as far as body position and being in the right place to make plays.”
OTHER ASSORTED NOTES
Sergei Bobrovsky, fresh off a 41-save effort last night in Detroit, gets the start in goal for Columbus once again tonight.
Brandon Dubinsky is a game-time decision after missing last night’s game due to illness.