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Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Devils

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

BLUE JACKETS (3-5-0) vs. DEVILS (1-3-4)


They're not quite there yet, but the Blue Jackets are starting to get healthy.

Fedor Tyutin returned to the lineup last weekend against Boston, Marian Gaborik rejoined the group on Saturday after a bout with the flu, Nick Foligno (personal reasons) was back for Sunday's win over Vancouver...things are beginning to look up on the injury front. The two big absences remain Matt Calvert and Nathan Horton, and as of this week, there were no updates on either player as they continue their respective rehabilitations.

New Jersey is dealing with its own set of issues amidst a rocky start to the season. Ryane Clowe (concussion) remains out of the Devils lineup and Patrik Elias (illness) will not play on Tuesday night in Columbus. The Devils will have Stephen Gionta and captain Bryce Salvador in their lineup, and Cory Schneider is expected to start in goal after a 22-save shutout on Saturday against the New York Rangers.

After being spelled for one game, Sergei Bobrovsky returns to the Blue Jackets' net on Tuesday. 

While Sunday's win over the Canucks was a step in the right direction, the Blue Jackets want to make sure that train keeps rolling - and it starts Tuesday against New Jersey. Ending a four-game losing streak and earning their first win on home ice was a collective sigh of relief, but it was only the first of four consecutive games at Nationwide Arena and the start of a stretch that sees the Blue Jackets play eight of nine at home.

In other words, they have to put the skid in the rear-view mirror and focus on the task at hand: with a strong home stand, there's a good chance the Blue Jackets could find themselves in one of the Metropolitan Division's playoff spots by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. There's a long way to go and plenty of hockey to be played between now and then, but with their division rivals struggling out of the gate, the door is ajar for the Blue Jackets to get their foot in if they start to consistently play well at home.

The Devils won their first game of the season on Saturday, a 4-0 shutout of the Rangers at the Prudential Center. Schneider was excellent between the pipes and New Jersey got contributions from everyone, a good sign of the team game they like to play under head coach Pete DeBoer. 

Despite their early season struggles, the Devils have a strong foundation and added several pieces over the summer after losing star forward Ilya Kovalchuk to the KHL. GM Lou Lamoriello signed veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe and Damien Brunner to help make up for some of the scoring lost when Kovalchuk left, but to this point, the Devils are waiting for most of those guys to get going.

On the Blue Jackets' side, they're also waiting for some of their veterans to rev it up offensively. RJ Umberger's first goal of the season stood as the game-winner against Vancouver, a just reward for a guy who has had a boat load of chances in the first eight games. Marian Gaborik is pacing the Jackets in the scoring department, with a line of 3-5-8 in his first seven contests of 2013-14.


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