Game Preview: First Place is Up for Grabs at Nationwide As the Blue Jackets Take on the Washington Capitals

By Paul Berthelot on December 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand search for the puck in a scramble in front of the net

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The defense needs to be tighter. Especially against the high powered Washington Capitals.

The Blue Jackets have had early leads in each of their past two games, and both times have seen that lead slip away. Against the Philadelphia Flyers they were able to win the game in overtime but still a two goal third period lead should be enough for this team to hold.

At the end of the Flyers game we saw John Tortorella change his defensive pairs around, notably stapling Zach Werenski to the bench, and using Ryan Murray and Seth Jones to protect the late lead. Tonight he is going to stick with those pairs and use Jones-Murray as the top pair, with Werenski and Scott Harrington on the third pair.

This is the same defensive set-up used the last times these teams met, in November in Washington. Jones and Murray were great together, matching up against the Alex Ovechkin line and held them in check as the Blue Jackets took the game 2-1.

The Blue Jackets will need more of that tonight as the battle for first place in the Metro division continues. The Capitals enter the game with 35 points just one up on the Jackets. This is a big game and another opportunity for the Blue Jackets to make a statement.


PROJECTED LINES

Panarin – Dubois – Atkinson

Foligno – Jenner – Anderson

Dubinsky – Wennberg – Duclair

Bjorkstrand – Nash – Hannikainen

DEFENSEMEN

Murray – Jones

Nutivaara – Savard

Werenski – Harrington

GOALTENDER

Bobrovsky

STORYLINES

  • Home Cooking. This is the start of a six game home stand for Columbus. This is really good chance for them to make a push and climb up not only in the divisional race but in the Eastern Conference. They have a chance here against a divisional rival to set the tone for this stretch of games.
  • The Duke. Anthony Duclair gets back in the line-up, having not played in the last four. The Blue Jackets want to have a faster line-up as the Capitals have plenty of speed upfront. It doesn’t hurt either that last time these two teams met Duclair scored a power play goal.
  • Keep streaking. Cam Atkinson continues to light the world on fire. He extended his point streak to 12 with an assist on Thursday. He has 13 goals and 20 points over this streak. He’s been the Jackets best player and will need to be again if they are to beat the Capitals.

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