The Columbus Blue Jackets have won two games in a row and have picked up at least a point in six of their last eight contests. After a win last night in Washington, they’ll be back at Nationwide Arena tonight to face the New York Rangers. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 7:00 PM ET.
Tonight’s opponent for the CBJ is a familiar Metropolitan Division foe: the New York Rangers. After getting off to a 4-7-1 start this year, the Rangers are 4-0-1 in their last five games. Like the Jackets, the Rangers will be playing in the second game of a back-to-back tonight at Nationwide. Their fate wasn’t as fortunate as the CBJ, however, as they’re coming into town following a 3-2 overtime loss to the Red Wings in Detroit on Friday night.
Both Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets and Henrik Lunqvist for the Rangers started last night, so it remains to be seen who gets the nod in net for either club. Could very well be a battle of the backups at Nationwide this evening.
Offensively, the CBJ have been strong all year. They sit just outside the top ten, 11th to be exact, in scoring, averaging 3.25 goals per game. The same can’t be said for the Rangers, who come in ranked 27th in the National Hockey League, averaging just 2.63 GPG.
As we all know, special teams have been a struggle for the CBJ all season long. Although they’ve now tallied three power play goals in the last two games, they still sit at 27th in the NHL, converting on a measly 14.5% of their chances. The Rangers, for the record, are middle of the pack.
Both of these teams allow plenty of opportunities for opponents on the man advantage, so special teams will likely be a big factor tonight in their matchup. The Jackets allow the seventh most PP opportunities in the NHL, which could cause them trouble considering their penalty kill unit is currently ranked 23rd in the league.
On the other side of things, the Jackets draw the third most penalties in the league, averaging nearly four power play opportunities per night. Combine that with the Rangers top ten ranking in man advantage opportunities allowed, and the CBJ could be in business if their power play keeps clicking.
We all know once a hockey game starts you can throw out all the numbers. But there are indicators here that the Jackets could have an advantage tonight against the Rangers if things continue the way they have. Only time will tell to see if things play out that way during the course of 60 minutes.