The Columbus Blue Jackets (26-19-3) will continue their stint out west on Thursday as they take on the Arizona Coyotes (12-28-9) at Gila River Arena. Coming off a loss in Vegas, the Jackets are looking to salvage a .500 record on their quick two-game road trip. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 9:00 PM ET.
After going up against, and losing to, the best team in the National Hockey League on Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets face an opponent on the opposite side of the spectrum on Thursday. With 68 points, the Vegas Golden Knights are atop the NHL, while the Arizona Coyotes and their 33 points are 31st in the league.
The Coyotes have, however, won two games in a row heading into Thursday’s matchup with the Jackets.
A bright spot for the Coyotes this season has been the play of 19-year-old Clayton Keller, who leads the team in both goals (14) and assists (22). The leading goal scorer for the CBJ, Josh Anderson, scored his 15th goal of the season on Tuesday in Las Vegas, his first of 2018.
Thursday’s game appears primed to be low scoring, as the Jackets rank 28th in scoring while the Coyotes rank 30th. You’d think that would favor the CBJ with their Vezina-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, but Antti Raanta’s 2.58 goals-allowed average and .918 save percentage aren’t that far off from Bob’s 2.50 GAA and .919 SV%.
Columbus does have some good news, with Cam Atkinson coming back into the lineup tonight after missing some time due to injury. Maybe he can provide a much-needed boost to the offensive production for the club.
The Blue Jackets will get another break after Thursday, this time for the All Star Game, with the next game not coming until next Tuesday back at Nationwide Arena. A loss against the worst team in the league would mean an awful long break for the CBJ, so they might as well go out there and win this one on Thursday.