Blue Jackets-Hurricanes Preview
Even when the Columbus Blue Jackets win, they lose.
With Marian Gaborik injured again, the Blue Jackets will try to
post back-to-back victories when they play the Carolina Hurricanes
on Monday night.
While Columbus salvaged a split of its home-and-home set with
Philadelphia on Saturday with a 6-3 victory, the positives of two
points gained were tempered by the loss of Gaborik, whose return
from a 17-game absence due to a sprained knee was cut staggeringly
short when the veteran forward suffered a broken right
”Obviously, it’s a big hole for our team,” coach Todd Richards
said after his club snapped a three-game skid. ”You really feel
for him. He worked hard to get back and was excited to play.”
Center Ryan Johansen will look to continue picking up the slack
in Gaborik’s absence. He scored two goals Saturday and has
registered at least one point in 12 of his last 14 games, totaling
eight goals and eight assists in that span. The fourth overall pick
from the 2010 draft is enjoying a career season with highs of 12
goals and 15 assists.
“I thought right from the first couple of shifts tonight we were
on our game,” Johansen said. “We were making plays and executing,
and that’s what you need to do to win hockey games.”
More consistency from fellow forward R.J. Umberger would also
help Columbus (15-17-4). The veteran left wing had two goals
Saturday for his first multigoal game since March 31, 2012, and
notched one of his three career hat tricks in his most recent game
versus the Hurricanes – a 5-1 victory March 23, 2012.
Johansen and Umberger may have to take plenty of shots to
continue their offensive surges if Justin Peters is in net again
for Carolina (14-14-8). He was a tough-luck loser at Tampa on
Saturday, when the Hurricanes fell 3-2 in overtime despite a
”It was real hot in there,” said Peters after he matched his
season high in saves set in a 4-3 loss to Detroit on Nov. 21.
”They were throwing a lot of rubber at the net. We battled. We
battled hard, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the two
Jiri Tlusty accounted for Carolina’s offense with both goals,
including the team’s league-high seventh short-handed goal.
However, the Hurricanes have yet to notch one of those goals at
home due to their struggling special teams.
In addition to allowing opponents to convert 20.4 percent of
their chances with the man advantage, Carolina has converted only
10 percent (7 of 70) of its power-play chances there.
Eric Staal, who assisted on Tlusty’s short-handed tally for his
team-leading 29th point, has totaled only four goals and six
assists in Carolina’s 18 home games. He has one assist in four
lifetime home games versus Columbus and one goal and three assists
in seven contests overall against the Blue Jackets.
Richards doesn’t appear to have a clear-cut choice for his
goaltender Monday – Curtis McElhinney is 0-2-0 with a 5.03
goals-against average in two starts against the Hurricanes while
backup Mike McKenna has fared little better at 0-1-0 in two starts
with a 4.67 GAA.