Blue Jackets-Blues Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (11-23-6-3) at St. Louis Blues (23-13-5-1).
TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.
Prior to his recent slump, goaltender Chris Osgood had been rolling along,
picking up wins and helping the St. Louis Blues to one of the best records in
the Western Conference.
If the Blues want to beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday,
Osgood will have to rediscover his earlier form.
Osgood was 17-6-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average following a 4-2 triumph
over the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 18.
However, the Blues have won just three of their last 13 games, with Osgood
going 0-5-3 with a 2.80 GAA in his last nine starts. He's allowed nine goals in
his last two starts, including the first four in a 5-3 loss at Montreal on
Osgood will undoubtedly receive the bulk of the work for a while because
Brent Johnson cleared waivers on Thursday and will try to revive his career
with Worcester of the American Hockey League.
In 2002, Johnson became the first goalie in NHL history to record shutouts
in his first three postseason appearances. He has since been plagued by
inconsistency, and lost his starting job late last season when the Blues
Blues coach Joel Quenneville expects Osgood to realize the situation and
"Over the course of the season he's been excellent for us, but I think
these last two games he's had a couple of tough nights," Quenneville said.
"We've been relying on him and leaning on him all year and he's been pulling
through for us, but we all go through it and hopefully he can rebound and we
can rebound as a team."
The Blues' inability to score on the power play has also hurt, as has
allowing four unanswered goals in two consecutive games.
Despite having its best offensive night of the season in a 7-4 victory over
Chicago on Monday, all of St. Louis' goals came at even strength. The Blues
have just one goal in their last 22 chances with the man advantage.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, will be looking for a positive finish to their
season-high seven-game road trip.
Columbus, which started the season with a 14-game road winless streak, has
recorded eight points in its last seven away from Nationwide Arena (3-2-2). The
Blue Jackets, however, are just 1-6-1-1 all-time at the Savvis Center.
The Blue Jackets are coming in off their second straight tie, 2-2 on Sunday
at Los Angeles. Marc Denis made 16 of his 30 saves in the third period, as the
Blue Jackets earned their Western Conference-low 31st point.