Blue Jackets put home streak on line against Rangers
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets try for a club-record seventh straight victory at home when they play the first-place New York Rangers on Friday in a Metropolitan Division clash at Nationwide Arena.
The Rangers (13-4-0), who are highest-scoring team in the NHL at 4.2 goals per game, routed the Canucks 7-2 on Tuesday in Vancouver for their third straight victory.
“It was our third game in four nights and our guys really paid the price,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. “We have to heal our wounds here a little bit because we are a little banged up and we are going to get ready for Columbus on Friday.”
Left wing Chris Kreider rejoined the Rangers on Thursday and is expected to play Friday, after being sidelined with an upper-body injury.
Kreider, who has three goals and eight assists in 11 games, was sent back to New York from Edmonton on Sunday for further evaluation relating to cervical/spinal issues by team doctors. He missed four games in late October because neck spasms.
Left wing JT Miller (seven goals) leads the Rangers in points this season with 17 in 17 games. Right wing Michael Grabner has a team-most 10 goals.
The team is backstopped by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (9-4-0), who owns a 2.24 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
“We just know sooner or later good things are going to happen,” Lundqvist said. “Someone is going to make a big play and the big thing is when guys are getting an opportunity, they are seeing net, they are not seeing a goalie right now and that's huge to be able to score when you are under pressure.
“That gives you a lot of confidence.”
Columbus's home winning streak tied a club record.
Blue Jackets associate coach Brad Shaw has helped the team's defense blossom.
“Brad Shaw is one of the most intellectual guys I've met as far as how he looks at the game,'' Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “It's a huge hire for us … I think it's the youngest group in the league, our back end.
“I think it's a perfect time for them to come together here. Our engine is our back end.”
Zach Werenski, a 19-year-old rookie defenseman, was tied for third in rookie scoring and fourth among NHL defensemen through Wednesday's games with five goals and eight assists in 14 games.
“I don't think he knows just how good he can be,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said of Werenski. “That's exciting. He comes to work every day with the right attitude to get better. He realizes he can make a difference when he's on the ice.”
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is 8-4-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
Foligno leads all Blue Jackets with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 14 games. He's matched his 2015-16 total with five multi-point games.