Morning Skate: Blue Jackets Take On Red-Hot Devils in a Battle for First Place

By Sam Blazer on December 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm
Oliver Bjorkstrand celebrates scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils

Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

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This is a big one, folks.

The New Jersey Devils travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets in a Metropolitan Division matchup. The game will have short-term effects on the standings and could put either team in a position to pull away long-term.

Look for it to be a fantastic goaltending matchup as Cory Schneider and Sergei Bobrovsky take the respective nets. Schneider is one of the best in the division and is a big reason why the Devils have been successful.

Much like the Blue Jackets, the Devils have an overwhelmingly young forward group. They play multiple rookies who also contribute in bunches offensively. Names like Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier will be known throughout the league before too long – Hischier is last season's No. 1 draft pick, after all.

Along with a back end that includes Sami Vatanen, Will Butcher, and Damon Severson, this team will sneak up on opponents.

VIDEO: John Tortorella

Blue Jackets Projected Lineup
Forwards
# Player Stats # Player Stats # Player Stats
9 Artemi Panarin 27 GP, 7-13-20 18 Pierre-Luc Dubois 27 GP, 4-7-11 77 Josh Anderson 25 GP, 10-7-17
11 Matt Calvert 15 GP, 4-5-9 17 Brandon Dubinsky 27 GP, 3-9-12 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand 27 GP, 5-9-14
71 Nick Foligno 27 GP, 5-6-11 10 Alexander Wennberg 21 GP, 1-9-10 13 Cam Atkinson 23 GP, 6-3-9
38 Boone Jenner 20 GP, 3-5-8 45 Lukas Sedlak 14 GP, 2-1-3 64 Tyler Motte 15 GP, 3-1-4
Defensive Pairs
# Player Stats # Player Stats
8 Zach Werenski 27 GP, 8-7-15 3 Seth Jones 27 GP, 3-10-13
7 Jack Johnson 27 GP, 1-4-5 58 David Savard 26 GP, 2-5-7
53 Gabriel Carlsson 9 GP, 0-1-1 4 Scott Harrington 5 GP, 0-0-0
Goaltenders
# Player GS W-L-OL GAA SV% SO
72 Sergei Bobrovsky 21 14-5-1 2.02 .931 3
70 Joonas Korpisalo 6 1-3-0 2.81 .907 0
Three Storylines
  • Offensive Kickstarter:  An interesting note from Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella's availability is the fact that he moved the lines around looking for a kick in the pants for a few players. The placements of Nick Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand are the most notable; Foligno scored an empty net goal Friday, but needs to get going at even strength if the team is hoping to find success. Bjorkstrand started solidly but lost his touch when moved to the fourth line. If either of them can get going or a reworked fourth line that includes Boone Jenner can take advantage, a consistent balanced lineup can do wonders.
  • Finding An Advantage: When talking about the Ducks, they had decidedly bad depth at center due to injuries. It was an obvious area where the Blue Jackets could take advantage. Similarly, the Devils don't have the greatest depth. Former Blue Jacket Brian Gibbons is on fire and is scoring like crazy and Brian Boyle is always solid as a depth center. Outside of those two, the Blue Jackets should be able to find an advantage down the middle. 
  • Wrangling In The Stars:  Taylor Hall is the name to know and it has a lot to do with how much he puts the puck in the back of the net. He has 27 points on the year and is keeping the Devils afloat on nights when they need offensive help. His work on the first line keeps opposing coaches up at night due to his speed and skill. Pair that with two lightning-quick line mates, and the Blue Jackets are going to have their hands full in trying to keep pace.

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