Blues-Blue Jackets Preview
The St. Louis Blues have been getting plenty of offensive
production throughout their lineup.
The struggling Columbus Blue Jackets are just looking for
someone to step up after trading star forward Rick Nash last
St. Louis will try to extend its best start in 15 seasons on
Thursday night when the Blue Jackets open their longest homestand
of the season.
Playing six games in the opening nine days of the season was a
daunting task, but the Blues (5-1-0) completed that stretch with
three straight wins following a 3-2 road loss at Chicago on Jan.
Led by Chris Stewart and Vladimir Tarsenko, who each have four
goals, seven Blues have found the back of the net at least twice.
Nine have recorded at least four points in St. Louis’ quickest
start since opening 7-1-0 in 1997-98.
“Everybody’s scoring right now, so it’s working good,”
defenseman Roman Polak told the Blues’ official website after
assisting on Vladimir Sobotka’s game-winner in their last game,
Sunday’s 5-4 overtime victory over Minnesota.
It’s a different story in Columbus, where the Blue Jackets will
play their next six games. They are struggling to score goals
without Nash, who was traded to the New York Rangers in July after
leading the team in goals and points in each of the previous five
Center Artem Anisimov, who was acquired in that deal, is tied
with Mark Letestu and Vinny Prospal with a team-high two goals.
That trio has combined for four of the Blue Jackets’ seven goals
during their last five games.
The lack of scoring makes it even more critical for Columbus
(2-4-1) to avoid falling behind. They’ve given up the first goal
five times, been outscored 7-2 in the first period and have fallen
behind 2-0 on three occasions. The Blue Jackets were down by two in
the first period of Tuesday’s 3-2 loss at Minnesota.
“We play our best hockey when we’re playing from behind, but it
seems like we’re always playing from behind,” said defenseman Jack
Johnson, whose third-period power-play goal was the team’s first
score with the man advantage in five games. “It would be nice to
get a lead for a change.”
More shots would also be nice after Columbus had a season-low
The Blues, though, are yielding a league-low 19.5 shots per
Columbus is hoping a pair of call-ups can generate a spark after
center Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and defenseman Tim Erixon were
recalled Wednesday. Marchessault had 16 goals and a team-high 45
points in 42 games for the Falcons, while Erixon led all
Springfield defensemen with five goals and 24 assists in 40
It’s uncertain if Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott will be in net
for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, the Blue Jackets former coach, but
either one could give Columbus fits.
Halak is 3-0-0 with a 1.69 goals-against average and two
shutouts in four starts, and another clean sheet would tie Glenn
Hall’s franchise record of 16. Halak, though, has allowed six goals
on 34 shots in his two road starts.
Elliott won both of his starts against the Blue Jackets last
season, giving up one goal each time.
First-year Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky has yet to
face St. Louis.
Backup Steve Mason has turned aside 60 of 62 shots while winning
his last two starts against the visiting Blues.
St. Louis won 2-1 in its last visit to Nationwide Arena on March
11, and has won four of five there.