Friday night, the Maple Leafs are making a trip to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. This will be the third of four straight home games for the Jackets, of which they won the first two. Here are a few pre-game notes to be aware of:
Toronto is off to a great start so far with a 7-3-0 record, and rank 5th in the league with an average of 3.3 goals per game. Joffrey Lupul is having a great season early on, and Phil Kessel is coming off a game where he had a hat trick against the Ducks. This Maple Leaf team is going to make it very hard on the Blue Jackets, who are hoping to increase their winning streak to three games.
The biggest thing that the Jackets have going for them at the moment is how good the defense has looked recently. In the past two games, the Jackets have allowed only two goals, and they have had an aggressive presence in front of Sergei Bobrovsky. James Wisniewski is finally showing signs of life on the ice, and as I have mentioned in earlier stories, David Savard has been playing very well all season.
Four Game Home Stand
Of the four in a row at home that the Jackets are in the middle of, these last two are definitely going to be the toughest. A win on Friday night would get them back to .500 after a poor start to the season, and would put them in a position to start moving up the standings and the power rankings.
However, for them to do this, the fundamentals that we have seen in the past two games are going to have to remain with the club. If they are aggressive with the puck, increase their one-touch passing and continue to block shots, then they will prove that they are a better team than what they had shown early in the season.
While at the game on Tuesday night, I saw an interesting stat: After Tuesdays win, the Blue Jackets are 29-0-0 under Todd Richards when they are in the lead after the 2nd period. That is absolutely amazing to me, and is a statistic that I had completely missed. I am sure that I’m not the only one.
I think that stat really says something about how important that first goal can be in every single game. I am also excited to see how high that number can get before we get a “1″ in the loss column.
Friday nights game should prove to be a tough one for Columbus, but it will be a close game, and an exciting one. I hope that Nationwide Arena is packed full of loud fans ready to cheer the home team to victory.
Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets