BLUE JACKETS (7-12-0) at SENATORS (8-5-5)
TV: FS-O, RDS2, TSN5
OTTAWA – Ottawa Senators coach Dave Cameron will juggle his top lines Thursday in the hunt for more consistency against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Cameron will flip right wingers Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan. Stone will play with Matt Puempel and Mike Zibanejad, while Ryan will play with Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman.
After a hot start, the Hoffman-Turris-Stone combination has one goal in the past seven games.
Ryan has three goals and four assists in his past six games.
When asked what he hoped to achieve with the switch, Cameron said: “Just a little bit more balance. You start your year with certain lines and put them together for a reason and then you think you can get somebody else going by making a switch here or there."
Stone is averaging a point a game with three goals and 13 assists.
“I think production has been there; I’ve been getting some chances, but I need to score a few more goals. That’s just the way it is,” Stone said. “I always expect a lot of myself. I feel I’m a good player in this League and able to contribute on a night-to-night basis.”
Cameron said he thinks Stone needs to change that kind of thinking.
“I think he’s putting too much emphasis on the offensive side," Cameron said. "He just has to relax and let his instincts take over; manage the puck and everything will fall into place after that."
The Senators are playing the fourth game in a five-game homestand; they are 1-0-2 so far and 3-3-4 at home this season.
Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators with Andrew Hammond out with an injury.
Curtis McElhinney will start in net for the Blue Jackets, who have won three games in a row for the first time this season. Their last win was a 3-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
“I liked our heaviness in that game,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. “That’s a big team. They always try and intimidate you with their skill and their power and their physicality and I thought we took it to them, mostly, in that game. When we’re playing really well, that’s our team. We’re really big, we’re heavy and we skate really well. That’s the identity we need to have. That has to be the standard every time we step on the ice.”
The Blue Jackets are 7-5-0 after John Tortorella took over for Todd Richards behind the bench.
“I think we’ve played better and we have some good things happening as far as the results happening in the past few games,” Tortorella said. “The thing I am encouraged most about in the last few games here is just playing as a team. I think that’s important. They’re all good teams in this League. I think we are one of them. The teams that win hockey games play as a team and I think we’re making strides in the right direction there.”
The Blue Jackets have yet to have a game go to overtime or the shootout; the Senators have had nine games go beyond regulation time.
Here are the projected lineups:
Boone Jenner – Ryan Johansen – Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert – Nick Foligno – Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell – William Karlsson – Rene Bourque
Kerby Rychel – Gregory Campbell – Josh Anderson
Jack Johnson – David Savard
Ryan Murray – Cody Goloubef
Kevin Connauton – Fedor Tyutin
Injured: Brandon Dubinsky (elbow), David Clarkson (back), Jared Boll (foot), Alexander Wennberg (lower body).
Scratched: Michael Chaput, Dalton Prout.
Mike Hoffman– Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Matt Puempel – Mika Zibanejad – Mark Stone
Milan Michalek – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Alex Chiasson
Curtis Lazar – Zack Smith – Chris Neil
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Chris Wideman
Scratched: Shane Prince, Jared Cowen
Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Andrew Hammond (undisclosed)
Status report: Cowen, who missed the past two games after blocking a shot, is healthy, but Cameron wanted to give him another practice before considering a return to the lineup.
Who's hot: Karlsson has three goals and three assists in his past four games … Ryan has three goals and four assists in his past six games … Saad has four goals in his past three games … Johansen has a goal and two assists in his past three games.