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At the Rink: Jets at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets are looking for someone, anyone, to take charge and end the tailspin that has them tied for the fewest points in the NHL.

Coach Todd Richards is putting center Ryan Johansen with Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell on the top line in hopes of ending a three-game losing streak for the Blue Jackets when they play the Winnipeg Jets at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

"As a line we look at each other as guys who really need to step up for this team," Johansen said. "We're going to have to make sure we're on top of our game tonight."

Johansen leads the Blue Jackets with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists). Foligno is second at 20 (10-10) followed by Hartnell's 14 points, including five goals.

"What we need is a collective group to come together, try to get everybody to drive it," Richards said. "I know that's not going to happen every night. So you're looking at who's going to drive it, who's going to drive it tonight?

"Is it Ryan? Are we waiting for Ryan to do it because he's got the most points? Are we waiting for a guy like Jared Boll to go out and do it and get us physically in the game?"

Hartnell moves up from the second line and replaces Boone Jenner on the left wing. Jenner is expected to center a line with left wing Matt Calvert and Jack Skille.

Johansen wants he and his linemates to set the tone to pull the Blue Jackets out of a 2-10-2 slide.

"We're all kind of looking at each other in this room. We need guys to step up," he said. "Our line will try to play a heavy game down low and create some chances for each other; use our size and take it to the net."

Winnipeg has lost two straight but coach Paul Maurice sees positives from a 4-3 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings and a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

"The results the last two games make you feel like the quality has dropped," he said. "In fact none of that happened."

The Jets will be without defenseman Toby Enstrom, who Maurice said is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The timing was perfect for Grant Clitsome to replace Enstrom after sitting the past four games.

Clitsome was a ninth-round selection in the 2004 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets and played 94 games over three seasons with them before being claimed off waivers by the Jets in February 2012.

"I feel comfortable being around the rink" he said. "Everything feels familiar. It's a little bit nostalgic playing in a building where you started your career.

"It's a big two points for us. We need to get going in the right direction again. From an old team perspective, it will be fun."

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler

Evander KaneMathieu PerreaultDustin Byfuglien

Adam LowryMark ScheifeleMichael Frolik

Chris ThorburnJim SlaterMatt Halischuk

Grant ClitsomeZach Bogosian

Mark StuartJacob Trouba

Adam PardyPaul Postma

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Anthony Peluso

Injured: Toby Enstrom (lower body)


Scott Hartnell - Ryan JohansenNick Foligno

Matt Calvert - Boone JennerJack Skille

Brian Gibbons - Artem Anisimov - Cam Atkinson

Corey Tropp - Alexander Wennberg - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski

Jordan Leopold - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Cody Goloubef (knee), Ryan Murray (knee), Fedor Tyutin (knee), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Mark Letestu (groin), Nathan Horton (back)

Status report: The Jets put forward TJ Galiardi on waivers Tuesday. He had no points in 17 games while averaging 10:29 of ice time. "Mostly we're looking at roster flexibility with having six healthy D right now and having such a tight schedule; preparation in case we need to bring somebody up," Maurice said. No further roster moves have been made… Hutchinson (3-1-1, 1.38 GAA) will start and Pavelec is expected to start Wednesday at the Buffalo Sabres… Tropp is expected to return to the Blue Jackets lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games.

Who's hot: Johansen has points in 14 of 20 games and has six multi-point games….Slater scored his first goal of the season Sunday against the Blues and won 7 of 11 faceoffs.

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