Panthers-Blue Jackets Preview

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers are among the

worst teams in the NHL on the power play, so there’s no surprise

that both are in major droughts.

The Blue Jackets bring a six-game home skid into Tuesday night’s

matchup with the Panthers, winless in their last six on the

road.

Florida (29-36-11) has already been eliminated from playoff

contention and Columbus (33-31-11) will be soon. These franchises

have combined for one playoff appearance and no postseason wins

over the last 10 seasons.

The Blue Jackets are 0 for 30 on the power play in their last

nine games while the Panthers are 4 for 47 in their last 17.

Columbus owns the third-worst unit in the league at 13.9 percent,

just ahead of Florida’s 13.3 mark.

“Our power play is a big reason why we haven’t had the same

success we had earlier in January and February,” Columbus coach

Scott Arniel admitted.

Goals of any kind have been hard to come by for either team.

The Blue Jackets have never lost seven straight at home, and

haven’t given the fans at Nationwide Arena much to cheer about

recently. They narrowly avoided their third straight home shutout

in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Vancouver despite a 40-24 edge in

shots.

“We just couldn’t score, couldn’t bury it,” forward R.J.

Umberger said. “We peppered them with shots from everywhere. We had

a lot of rebounds. It’s frustrating when you get those chances and

don’t score.”

The Panthers have been shut out twice in the first four games of

this trip, which ends Tuesday. They have scored three times in the

last two games, and fell 2-1 in a shootout to Pittsburgh on Sunday

despite a 38-28 advantage in shots.

“That’s as good a road game as we can play as a group,” coach

Peter DeBoer said. “I thought we limited their opportunities. We

got shots … but our fourth line gets us a goal and we can’t find

a way to find another one.”

David Booth, one of Florida’s two 21-goal scorers, has not

scored in his last seven games. Mike Santorelli, third on the team

with 18 goals, has none in his last eight road games.

Florida is 0-4-2 in its last six on the road. The Panthers have

not lost seven straight on the road since a 0-10-3 slide Oct.

27-Dec. 17, 2005.

Umberger had the Blue Jackets’ lone goal Sunday, moving him one

point shy of his career-high point total of 55 set last season.

Columbus, though, has been largely stymied despite outshooting

its last three opponents. The Blue Jackets lost to Vancouver backup

goalie Cory Schneider after defeats earlier this month to Boston’s

Tuukka Rask and Detroit’s Joey MacDonald, also backups.

“It’s in our heads and it’s been going on for a few games now,”

Arniel said. “The same pucks aren’t going in like they were

earlier.”

The Blue Jackets have won three straight against Florida for a

6-4-0 advantage in the all-time series, winning 3-2 on the road

Jan. 19 on Umberger’s power-play goal in overtime.