Columbus Blue Jackets Staring Down the Barrel: Streak on Line in MSG

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 10: Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Rangers on November 10, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 10: Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Rangers on November 10, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Columbus Blue Jackets look to extend their winning streak to five games coming off of their Christmas Break.

We hope you enjoyed your Christmas and we hope the Columbus Blue Jackets are ready to go after their three day break. They return to the New York metro after some traveled throughout North America for the holiday, while others stayed in New York.

The Rangers will host the Jackets for the first time this year. New York is in an interesting team that is in a “rebuild” but started off the season hot and were in a playoff position for much of October and November. They now find themselves in fifth in the division but, with Henrik Lundqvist in net, they are always a threat to take home two points.

Ahead of tonight’s game in Madison Square Garden I sat down with Steve Paulus of to go over the Rangers and tonight’s game. With so much going on with one of the NHL’s most talked about teams, I hope you will join me in reading more of his work as the season goes on.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

Lansing Murphy (LM): With the Rangers in a rebuild, there have been plenty of opportunities for some young guys. Which rookie has impressed you most?

Steve Paulus (SP):  I have to name two rookies.  Filip Chytil was a first round draft pick in 2017.  He’s climbed from the fourth line to the first line and had a five game goal scoring streak.  He’s growing in confidence and we expect him to get even better.

The other rookie is Brett Howden, obtained in the Ryan McDonagh deal last season.  He won the third line center job in training came and hasn’t faltered.  He smart and strong on draws.  Scoring will come.

LM: How has new head coach David Quinn handled the difficult situation?

SP: David Quinn was hired because of his reputation as a teacher. Boy, has he had to do a lot of teaching.  Although the Rangers are rebuilding, he hasn’t conceded the season. He wants to win and he wants to make the playoffs. The Rangers have had leads in recent games against Tampa, Winnipeg and Toronto and they lost all of those games. You can see the frustration in his press briefings, but so far, he’s clearly been the right choice for the job.

LM: Which notable players will be traded by the deadline as the Rangers rebuild?

SP: Kevin Hayes has been the team’s best player. He is an UFA after this season and eligible to be signed to an extension in January. It’s a big question. If he isn’t re-signed, he will be the Rangers’ most attractive trade option.

Mats Zuccarello is an UFA after this season and we expect him to be traded. Veteran defenseman Adam McQuaid will be an option.  Some see Chris Kreider as a trade chip, but he has one more year on his contract. I suppose that anyone on the team is available for the right price.

LM: Where do the Rangers match up best against the Jackets.

SP: That’s a tough one. I suppose that the answer is in goal. Henrik Lundqvist has singlehandedly kept the Blueshirts in many games this season. His numbers aren’t great, but he’s had an outstanding season. Like the Jackets, the most of the Rangers’ scoring is coming from a handful of players including Hayes, Mika Zibanejad and Kreider.

LM: How will tonight game play out?

SP: The Rangers have been very good at Madison Square Garden. They have only lost one game in regulation at the Garden out of the last 14 home games.  Then again, they’ve won only one out of their last five in regulation, losing four in extra time. Believe it or not, they are yet to win a game in regulation on the road. They have been good at getting points netting at least one point in six out of their last eight. I guess I am saying that they will compete and could surprise the Blue Jackets.  Don’t be surprised if the game goes to overtime. It’s a toss up.

Next. Will the Secondary Scoring Return. dark

Thanks again to Steve Paulus for sitting down with me. Tonight’s puck drops at 7pm.