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Preview: Islanders vs. Blue Jackets

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (22-15-5) VS. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (15-24-4)

7 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDERWNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM

FIVE THINGS:

1. BOUNCE BACK:

The Islanders are looking to bounce back after a pair of low-scoring efforts, a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals and a 4-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders had 20 shots on goal Saturday, which was just as concerning as the scoreline.

“We have to shoot the puck more,” Casey Cizikas said. “I think we’ve had too many games this year where we’ve had 20-25 shots or less. For us to be successful we need to have 30 or more shots every game.”

It’s in the Islanders’ best interests to make it a shooting gallery on Tuesday, as the two current Columbus goalies – Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo – have a combined 14 games of NHL experience.

2. HAMONIC DAY-TO-DAY:

Travis Hamonic (lower body) is still considered day-to-day. The Islanders’ ice-time leader was absent at Monday’s practice, so his status is up in the air for Tuesday’s game. 

JOHNNY BOYCHUK BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT

3. ISLES-JACKETS III:

The Islanders took the first two meetings with the Blue Jackets, winning 4-0 on Oct. 20 and 3-2 on Dec. 12. Kyle Okposo had two goals and an assist in the 3-2 OT win (including the memorable 2-on-0 OT winner), while Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves for the shutout in October. Sergei Bobrovsky did not play in the teams’ first two meetings and is still recovering from a groin injury, meaning the Islanders will miss the former Vezina winner for a third time this season. 

The Blue Jackets are currently eighth in the Metropolitan Division, while the Islanders are third. The Islanders are 4-6-0 in their last 10, while Columbus is 4-5-1. 


4. BLACK-AND-BLUE JACKETS: 

The Blue Jackets are dealing with key injuries at the moment, playing without their top two goalies and captain Nick Foligno. 

Foligno suffered an upper-body injury on Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and was placed on injured reserve Saturday. Foligno has 25 points (6G, 19A) in 39 games this season and is one year removed from a 31-goal, 73-point season, both career highs. With the departure of Ryan Johansen, the loss of Foligno is a big blow to the Blue Jackets’ offense. 

Sergei Bobrovsky left the Blue Jackets-LA Kings game on Dec. 8 with a groin injury and has been sidelined since. The former Vezina winner had a rocky start to the season, going 2-8-0 in October, but had turned things around before his injury. In 15 games since Nov. 1 Bobrovsky was 9-4-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.  

Backup Curtis McElhinney sprained his ankle in the Blue Jackets’ shootout win over the Washington Capitals on Jan. 2, so Columbus is trusting its crease to Forsberg and Korpisalo, who, as mentioned, have a combined 14 games of NHL experience. 


5. SETH JONES: 

The Ryan Johansen-Seth Jones trade was the talk of the hockey world last week, as Columbus and Nashville made a straight-up trade exchanging two of the league’s top young talents. 

In Jones, the Blue Jackets acquired a big-bodied (6’4”, 208 lbs.) and offensively-inclined defenseman with the potential to anchor a back end down the line. Jones, the fourth-overall pick in 2013, made the Predators in his first NHL training camp and scored 25 and 27 points in his first two seasons. Jones averaged 22:39 TOI in his first two games with the Blue Jackets, playing alongside 2012 second-overall pick Ryan Murray. Between Jones and Murray, the future of the Blue Jackets’ blue line looks bright.  

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