Anaheim, CA – Tonight the Anaheim Ducks (27-10-5) take on the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets (20-16-7) for the final time this season. The two teams have split the first two meetings with the home team winning the two games. So, with tonight’s game at Honda Center, the Ducks hope to continue that run with a victory tonight.
Season Series: 1-1 TIE
The Jackets stole this last meeting from the Ducks with an overtime winner from Mark Letestu. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who is rapidly becoming a Vezina favorite, denied 29 out of the 30 shots on goal he faced to help lead the way for Columbus. The one goal for the Ducks came on a nice wrist shot from Emerson Etem from the face off dot to Bobs right. Andrew Cogliano made a nice backhand pass from a battle along the boards to Etem who beat Bob shortside. Etem’s goal tied it after Derick Brassard, now with the New York Rangers, potted one home off the end boards to beat Jonas Hiller. Letestu’s game-winner came from a cross-ice feed from Nikita Nikitin while the Blue Jackets came up on a rush. The overtime period was full of one-and-done’s and rush after rush. Bruce Boudreau made a point after the game to state how the team was missing too many opportunities. Well, the same could be said about the Ducks right now. Maybe tonight the Ducks will finally break out.
Breakdown of the Blue Jackets:
The Blue Jackets have been a very nice surprise this season. They are currently tied with the Detroit Red Wings in points (47) but lose the tiebreaker simply because they have played one more game than the Wings. That tiebreaker right now is crucial because it puts the Wings in 8th place in the Western Conference and the Jackets in 9th place. They have won four straight games with victories over the Colorado Avalanche (4-3 OT), Minnesota Wild (3-2 SO), St. Louis Blues (4-1) and San Jose Sharks (4-0). They are a team that works hard for each other and is not going to do down easy. This is game three of a six game road trip for the Jackets before they finish the season off with a home game against the Nashville Predators.
As I stated earlier, Bobrovsky is arguably the best candidate to win the Vezina. And why not? Bob has posted a record of 17-10-6 with a 2.03 GAA and a .931 SV%. He is lightning quick and very flexible. With the addition of Marian Gaborik over the trade deadline, the Jackets now possess a top line scorer that they can depend on to score any time that he is on the ice. They have had a very balanced offensive attack so far. Maybe due to the lack of a Gaborik in their lineup for the majority of the season. They have 10 players with 15 or more points and 14 players with 10 or more points. Leading the way in points has been veteran Vinny Prospal with 27 (11 G, 16 A). Right behind him are Gaborik with 25 (12 G, 13A), however, much of that was with the New York Rangers, and Letestu with 23 (10 G, 13 A). On the blue line, defensemen Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski and Nikitin log the most minutes with Jackson leading the way at just over 26 minutes per game. Tyutin has had the biggest impact offensively, compiling 3 G and 19 A for 22 P.
Keys to the Game:
- : Bob leading the way in goal, again.
- : Continue to play for each other, as a team. That has been their biggest key all season.
- : Offense, please. Scoring goals will help. We want goals.
- : Capitalize when given chances, with Bob in net, you have to expect the Blue Jackets to rely on him.
Players to Watch:
- – G – Sergei Bobrovksy: Nothing really needs to be said about him right now except he’s arguably been the best goalie in the league this season. Last four starts: 4-0-0 with a 1.45 GAA and a .956 SV%.
- – C – Mark Letestu: In the two games against the Ducks this season, he has 1 goal and 2 assists. He looked especially good the last time these two teams met.
- – C – Ryan Getzlaf: He’s registered 2 goals and 4 assists in his last 4 games.
- – D – Sami Vatanen: He will be making his first appearance for the Ducks for a while since defenseman Luca Sbisa will be not playing tonight.
Starting Goalie Matchup:
- - Sergei Bobrovsky: 17-10-6, 2.03 GAA, .931 SV%
- - Viktor Fasth: 14-5-1, 2.16 GAA, .922 SV%
This is going to be a tough game for the Ducks. The Blue Jackets have really grown as a team this season. Honestly, it has been fun keeping track of the Jackets’ season. The Ducks are in a bit of a muddle right now, having all but lost the chance for the top seed in the Western Conference. They have lost 2 games in a row and are just 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. Cam Fowler will also be out tonight along with Sbisa. They both could return on Friday. As for the newest Duck, rookie Antoine Laganiere will not report to the Ducks immediately. He will finish his semester and than arrive to Anaheim. No word yet on Nick Bonino, but it appears he will still be out tonight.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks Andrew Cogliano Bruce Boudreau Cam Fowler Colorado Avalanche Columbus Blue Jackets Derick Brassard Emerson Etem Fedor Tyutin Honda Center Jack Johnson James Wisniewski Jonas Hiller Marian Gaborik Mark Letestu Minnesota Wild New York Rangers NHL Nick Bonino Nikita Nikitin Playoff Push Ryan Getzlaf Sami Vatanen San Jose Sharks Sergei Bobrovsky St. Louis Blues Viktor Fasth Vinny Prospal Western Conference