Here are the Keys to the Match Up for tonight’s game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New Jersey Devils:
Same Cohesive Play: Regardless of who is in net, the Jackets offense and defense need to just copy and paste Sunday’s performance. They need to take responsibility in the defensive zone whether it’s the McBackup in net, or the former Vezina Winner. For the first time this season, both the Jackets D and offense were on the same page on Sunday. While they allowed the Canucks to out-shoot them, overall it was a solid performance by the entire team.
Continue the Upswing / Hit NJ While They’re Down: Sunday’s win was big for the Jackets, as it got them off a four game skid. In addition, they are now performing at an 18th best 992 PDO. New Jersey on the other hand is currently ranked 29th with a 967 PDO, which ties them with bottom dwelling Florida. New Jersey earned their first win over the weekend against the New York Rangers, and may be on the upswing themselves. Put simply, you have two teams that want to prove that their wins over the weekend were not a fluke, and that their struggles out of the gate are finally ending. The Jackets simply need to prove that they are the team we saw Sunday.
Take Advantage of the PP: The Jackets are 26th in Goals For (18), whereas New Jersey 27th with 17. When looking at Goals Against, Columbus is 13th for fewest (22) and New Jersey is 17th (24). Columbus has a 946 SH% and New Jersey is just behind them with 944%. Where these two teams are dissimilar is on the man advantage. Columbus currently has a PP% of 20.0, whereas the Devils are operating at a 5th worst 11.5%. The Devils are tied for dead last with a few teams with 3 power play goals. The Jackets come into this game with 6. However, the Devils have the fewest penalty minutes in the league (60), so there may not be many PP chances for the Jackets.
Take More Shots: Since the Devils statistically will not allow as many PP chances, the Jackets will need to earn this one at even strength. The Canucks out shot the CBJ on Sunday, but the Jackets made the most of their scoring attempts. Throughout the majority of the first period, the Jackets had 1 shot and 1 goal. This type of “luck” cannot happen every night, so the Jackets need to get more high quality shots. They get plenty of pucks towards the net, but they need to be ON net. A puck that misses wide rarely creates a scoring chance, unless there is a fortunate bounce or it is miss-played by the defense.
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