Pregame #9: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Ottawa Senators


The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Ottawa Senators have already faced off once this season, and it didn’t end in favor of the Jackets. The Senators took that game 3-2, the Jackets scoring two goals in the second period and the Sens netting one in each period to carry the victory.

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

After that game, the Jackets went on a trip through California, in which they scored an exciting victory over the San Jose Sharks before dropping the next two games to the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

Now, the Jackets are back at home, and they’re going to have to shake off the road trip woes and get back to their game. In the last game against Ottawa, the Jackets couldn’t match the Senators’ speed, and couldn’t get past Sens goaltender Robin Lehner, who made 38 saves and was the game’s second star.

The Jackets will see Lehner in goal again tonight, and this time they’ll have to find ways to create enough offense to get around him if they want a better outcome than they saw last time. The goaltending situation looks much the same as it did at the start of the last matchup between these two teams: after the Jackets announced today that Sergei Bobrovsky fractured his finger, the goaltending battle is looking like Robin Lehner against CBJ backup goalie Curtis McElhinney.

Last time McElhinney started in goal for the Jackets was the October 18th battle against the Senators; a game which he left early after an awkward collision with Nick Foligno. He was then replaced by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who served the remainder of that game. Tonight, however, McElhinney will be backed up by Anton Forsberg, who was recently recalled from Springfield when Bobrovsky was placed on the IR. Hopefully McElhinney can make it through this entire game, because I don’t think we can afford one more injury.

“Being .500 is mediocre, it’s average. We have injuries, but it’s no excuse. We have to find solutions.” –Todd Richards

Bobrovsky’s fractured finger is just the latest on the list of injuries suffered by the Jackets this season.

Matt Calvert was placed on IR

yesterday, retroactive to October 24th, so he won’t be in the lineup tonight.

Cam Atkinson

suffered a nasty skate to the face against Anaheim, and

Nick Foligno took a tumble

after colliding with an official in LA.

Luckily for Atkinson and Foligno, they both escaped major injury and are both questionable for tonight’s game. It looks like Atkinson will draw into the lineup, and although Foligno refuses to say he won’t be able to play tonight, it looks like he’ll end up sitting this one out.

Add that to the list of players who were already injured before the recent road trip, and the injury list gets absurdly long.

I guess the good news is it’s still early. Better to have your top six or seven players out now, rather than when  you are fighting for a playoff spot late in the season… Right?

Overall, the Jackets are going to be looking to their healthy players to carry a lot of weight tonight, and in the upcoming games. If Lehner plays as well as he did last time, the Jackets are going to need a lot more firepower up front to make things happen. Without Nick Foligno or Matt Calvert, they’ll look to forwards like Ryan Johansen and even Alexander Wennberg to take over the reigns, for better or for worse.

Speaking of Wennberg, he’s been noticeably quiet this season. He was even “sent down” to Springfield this weekend, although he never actually left the Jackets and was “recalled” yesterday when Calvert was put in IR. Tonight, with all the injuries and recent losses plaguing the team, he has a chance to make amends and show the coaching staff what he can do.

Still looking for his first goal of the season, Wennberg needs to have a good game tonight, and the Jackets need him to play well, too. The Jackets will also be looking to rookie Marko Dano to make a difference tonight, as he will draw in on the Power Play in the absence of Foligno.

Perhaps the only really good news for tonight is the home debut of defenseman Ryan Murray, who missed the beginning of the season due to complications from knee surgery. He played his first game of the season on Sunday against the Kings, and will play his first home game tonight against the Senators.

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All that to say, the Jackets are going to have to have a better offensive showing tonight than they had in Ottawa on the 18th, and that might be difficult due to the obscene amount of injuries this team has faced this season. But, as coach Todd Richards said, “Being .500 is mediocre, it’s average. We have injuries, but it’s no excuse. We have to find solutions” (


). Finding solutions is going to be a challenge, and it starts tonight. Tonight, the we’ll find out if they can find a way around the injuries and adversity and make it happen or not. Here’s hoping they can. Go Jackets!