NHL Preview – New Jersey Devils @ Columbus Blue Jackets

NHL Preview – New Jersey Devils @ Columbus Blue Jackets

12am) New Jersey Devils @ Columbus Blue Jackets

With the end of the season approaching, we see a battle tonight between two Eastern conference teams at the lower side of the scale tonight. The Columbus Blue Jackets seek to continue their winning ways as they hold off an attack from a visiting New Jersey Devils team.

The Devils are nearly there. They’ve got one of the youngest cores in the league, one of the quickest developing elite goaltenders, they’re nearly hitting their stride, but they’re not quite there yet. This season has shown a team building chemistry. They’ve not particularly been great either at home or on the road this season. They currently occupy the 25th spot in the league, 13th in the East, and 7th in the Metropolitan. The Devils have a plethora of guys out injured tonight, including Salvador, Clowe, Havlat, Ryder and Boucher. Cory Schneider gets the start between the sticks tonight and although he’s playing for a bad team, it’s not representative of how good Schneider has played this season. He’s taking over from the great Martin Brodeur stylishly and is quickly forging his claim as an up-and-coming elite goaltender. He’s posted a 2.19 GAA and .928 SV%. It just makes you wonder how much better his numbers would be if he had a quality team in front of him. They’ve only mustered 10 wins from 27 against divisional rivals this season.

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The Blue Jackets will be disappointed with their campaign this season after coming off a visit to the playoffs last season, mounting a good challenge in the process. They’ve struggled with consistency problems this season and lack of defensive depth, but they’ve shown shades of greatness. Their form at home has been inconsistent as well, only earning 14 wins from 36 contests. They sit just above of the Devils by 2 points, 24th in the league, 12th in the East and 6th in the Metropolitan. They’re not struggling too bad with injuries other than David Clarkson, Rene Borque and Justin Falk. Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start tonight. He hasn’t produced the big time numbers this season which he’s become accustomed too, but he’s been red hot in his last 5 games, all wins, posting a 2.17 GAA and a .940 SV%. They’ve fared better in divisional games than the Devils, but still not great, going 11-11-3, most of the wins coming in Columbus.

It’s hard to weigh up a game at this stage in the season when both teams are our of playoff contention, but despite the inconsistency, Columbus have shown better quality and more competitive Hockey, and they’ve won 9 of their last 10 games, currently on a 6 game win streak, whereas the Devils have lost 5 straight. Offensively, the Jackets are firing well and Bobrovsky has been phenomenal in net which is a hard duck to break when he’s in form. I like the Jackets to send the Devils back to Jersey with another loss on their record tonight.


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