When teams are not playing well, coaches and players look ahead to schedule to find team which could be slump-buster. In the last several years that club has been Columbus quite often, also used for those making NHL picks also.
The Blue Jackets created a stir a year ago in the second half with a strong finish which gave hope to this campaign, but in unbelievable 0-8 start gave way to a coaching change and while somewhat improved, Columbus remains in last place in the Metropolitan Division, right where they started.
Detroit is back home after winless four-game road trip. After ringing up six goals on Valentine’s Day in victory over Boston, the Red Wings have tallied a half dozen scores over 12 periods. The NHL odds have Detroit favored but will they come through?
It is a busy week for Columbus (24-36), having won last night at Boston, tonight in the Motor City and home games Thursday (New Jersey) and Saturday (Florida) making it four games in six days. After winning four of six mostly to piping hot rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, the Jacket have returned to more typical form.
Offensively they, rank 20th in scoring at 2.52 goals a game and while they have balance with Scott Harnell (39 points)m Cam Atkinson (38) and Brandon Saad (38) all at the same scoring level, Columbus’ leading scorer has the fewest points among any team leader. The Blue Jackets get very little out of the power play also, with just 32 goals and ranked 23rd in scoring percentage.
Korpisalo has played 13 straight games, thus not sure if he or someone else will be in goal against Detroit offense which fallen below the Blue Jackets at 2.50, with their six-goal outburst last night. Columbus is 13-18 SU on the road and has to dig deep.
Early in the season under new coach Jeff Blashill, the Red Wings (29-31 SU) often played like a team not quite sure what to do on offense after playing a particular style under for coach Mike Babcock. Detroit was not possessing the puck like in the past and for the first seven weeks of the season was ranked very near the bottom of the league in shot attempts in the mid 20’s.
After everyone became more familiar with what was expected, the shots started rising and so did the wins and from Jan.2 thru Feb. 10, Detroit won 10 of 16 games and picked up points 11 times to move into second place in the Atlantic Division.