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Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Bruins

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets


Todd Richards has some difficult decisions to make regarding his roster, but for an NHL head coach, that's not always a bad thing. 

The good news is that his roster is nearing 100 percent health and the Blue Jackets are getting a big piece back in their lineup for Saturday's matinee against the Boston Bruins. Fedor Tyutin makes his season debut and it couldn't come at a better time; when playing a big, physical team like the Bruins, one can never have enough experience on the back end.

As one of the Blue Jackets' leaders on the blue line, Tyutin will be a huge addition. 
Up front, there are also some questions. The Blue Jackets recalled Ryan Craig from Springfield (AHL) on Friday afternoon, which means there's a chance they could be missing a regular forward on Saturday. Matt Calvert did not practice with the team on Friday and there has been no update on his status; but he did play Thursday night against Buffalo.

Boone Jenner
skated on left wing with Anisimov and Comeau during Friday's practice and there's a chance that line could remain intact if Calvert can't play. 

There are some simliarities between these two teams, and it's not limited to their identical 2-1-0 records entering Saturday's game. Both the Bruins and Blue Jackets like to play uptempo, physical brands of hockey that start inside their own blue lines. These are a couple of "defend first" teams with strong goaltending and above average special teams, which should make for an exciting match-up at Nationwide Arena.

As new members of the Eastern Conferece, the Blue Jackets will get to see the defending Eastern Conference champions three times in 2013-14 but this is their only meeting in Columbus.

For the Blue Jackets, this game is about continuing what they've established in their last two games (both road victories) and getting back to their style of hockey on home ice. Their only appearance at Nationwide Arena wasn't a memorable one, an opening night loss to the Calgary Flames that wasn't among their best performances. They have a chance to put that behind them and string together some wins, and it will take a collective effort against a Bruins team that's built to go toe-to-toe with the NHL's best.

The Bruins retooled in the offeason, signing Jarome Iginla (which is pretty ironic) and trading for Loui Eriksson to add some punch up front. Tyler Seguin was traded to Dallas along with Rich Peverley, but the Bruins seem like they're doing just fine; Milan Lucic is leading the way with a three points in three games and Patrice Bergeron has been solid as one would expect. Tuukka Rask has been strong between the pipes and gives the Bruins a chance to win every single night, and it always helps having one of the NHL's best defenses playing in front of you.

A big key to Saturday's game is going to be in the face-off circle: the Blue Jackets have won over 54 percent of their face-offs so far this season, which has given them some additional time with the puck and helped them drive play. The Bruins are a strong face-off team in their own right and they also like to play a tidy game in the neutral zone, so this should be quite the chess match between Todd Richards and Bruins coach Claude Julien.



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