Mar 26, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36) is checked by Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (51) during the third period at Rogers arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 1-0 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks @ Columbus Blue Jackets: Keys To The Matchup

The Columbus Blue Jackets enter their 8th game of the year 2-5, on a four game losing streak, and off their worst loss of the year by far, a 4-1 beat down at the hands of Washington Capitals. The Canucks are coming in 5-3-1, losing in a shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday in Consol Energy Center. We have a beautiful day in Columbus, Ohio, and it’s a good day to get this season turned around, and headed into the right direction.

We will be looking at the keys to the matchup for tonight’s game that pits the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets, against the always consistent Vancouver Canucks.

Columbus Blue Jackets Offense vs. Vancouver Goaltending

Oct 6, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack (31) makes a save as Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman (6) looks for the rebounded puck during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets offense has been putrid at best during this losing streak, they are averaging 2.14 goals a game, good for 23rd in the league. The Canucks goalies have combined to allow 2.78 goals a game which ranks 18th in the league. Roberto Luongo has played in 8 of the 9 games, Eddie Lack has played in just the one, a shootout win against the Calgary Flames on October 6th. That was the second game of a back to back, just like the Canucks are heading into today.

No matter what goalie we face, the fact is, we need to capitalize on the chances we get and bury them into the back of the net. We have been getting chances, but bad bounces here, no one around to eat up juicy rebounds there, the long and short of it is the Blue Jackets need to find a way to finish those chances.

Something tells me John Tortortella will try to gamble and put Eddie Lack in-goal tonight against our struggling offense, in hopes of stealing a win while getting Luongo a rest.

Curtis McElhinney vs. Vancouver’s Offense

Curtis McElhinney will make his first start of the season between the pipes tonight against the Canucks.

Today he has the task of shutting down a pretty potent Vancouver offense that ranks in the top half of the league at 2.89 goals a game. The Canucks are a veteran offense that has played together for a while now, exactly the team the Blue Jackets have had trouble defending. The entire team has looked like a chicken with its head cut off against opponents that can move the puck effectively. That’s exactly the point where Bobrovsky has been left for dead and goals get scored. Which leads to Bobrovsky’s confidence dropping and soft goals rearing their ugly heads. The whole team needs to rally around McElhinney, and give him a solid effort in his first start of the season, so that exact thing doesn’t happen.

Tonight the Sedin twins need held in check, along with former Buckeye Ryan Kesler, and Mike Santorelli. If the Blue Jackets can fix their issues, McElhinney should be able to settle in, get comfortable, and have a decent game.

Todd Richards vs. Struggling Veterans

Dalton Prout has been a healthy scratch for three straight games, after last night’s stinker, Richard’s said Prout would play in tonight’s game against the Canucks. He has said Ryan Murray and David Savard have been playing well enough to not sit, so that leaves only one option, a veteran has to sit.

Oct 17, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Rene Bourque (17) scores a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) as defenseman Nikita Nikitin (6) defends during the first period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The only question is which veteran will be the one to be a healthy scratch, I see two options, James Wisniewski and Nikita Nikitin. Wiz has been struggling all season, especially with puck handling, he seemed to rectify that last night however. Nikitin had a horrible turnover in his own zone that lead to a goal that demoralized an already shaky team. Coach Richards gets paid a lot of money to make these decisions, and I hope he makes the right one.

If it were me, I might bring up Tim Erixon, who is excelling in Springfield and sit both Wiz and Nikitin. That move won’t be made today, so I say Nikitin sits, but don’t be surprised if Wiz continues his struggles, to see that exact scenario play out. Something needs to change, and Coach Richards needs to be the catalyst to make it happen.

There you have it, the keys to the game, now comes prediction time.

If the Blue Jackets faithful comes out to support the team, and the players can feed off that energy, the Blue Jackets pull off a close 3-2 victory. If we come out flat, watch out it could be another long night.

Hopeful optimist says: CBJ 3  Canucks 2




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