The Washington Capitals are set to face-off against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at the Verizon Center in downtown D.C. This post will take a look at the opponent and their season so far – including stats, and player’s to watch.
The Columbus Blue Jackets currently have 12 points in the standings and are ranked 7th in the Metropolitan division. Before going any further though, here is a quick word from the Co-Editor of Fansided’s CBJ site, Union and Blue -
The CBJ have struggled to find their footing this season, as evidenced by their 6-10-0 record. The finally broke their losing streak on Saturday against the Islanders, and let’s hope they can keep that momentum. Leaders, such as Brandon Dubinsky have risen and players have faltered (Columbus Blue Jackets Shopping Nikita Nikitin?). With Boone Jenner, Matt Calvert, and (hopefully) Nathan Horton returning soon, the team should be on their way to more success this season.
As you can see, the Blue Jackets haven’t had the start they had hoped for in the Eastern conference. A lot of NHL fans thought that the Blue Jackets would struggle in the East, but what they never realized, Columbus was in arguably the toughest division in the NHL before heading East in the realignment – facing Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit 4 times ever year could cause havoc for any teams record. They have taken the right steps in their teams rebuild and just simply need time to put all the pieces together. It should be noted that no team in the NHL should be taken lightly, Columbus included.
The Blue Jackets have some weapons on their team, which include leading goal scorers Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Johansen – both with 5 on the year. Not to mention; Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Cam Atkinson who all sit 1 behind the two leaders with 4 goals this season. They may only average 2.5 goals per game (40 goals scored so far this season), but they have multiple players who can score and are dangerous when on the ice.
One weapon of the Blue Jackets is always on the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky – the reigning Vezina trophy winner. With 34 goals against, Bobrovsky is sporting a 2.75 goals against average, and a .911 save percentage. He has not had the greatest start to his season, but he is the type of goaltender that could easily take over the game at a moments notice – his current record is 5-8.
Columbus also has an improved power play – a weakness in previous years. They rank 13th in the league with a 19.6% conversation rate – they have scored a total of 11 power play goals on 56 opportunities (19 less than the Capitals). The Blue Jackets have only killed off 78.8% of their penalties, ranking their penalty kill at 23rd – a weakness that Washington should capitalize on. They have scored 2 shorthanded goals on the year though.
Washington and Columbus have met once already this season – the game was played in Washington, and the Caps won 4-1. After tonight’s match-up, the Capitals will head to Columbus twice to face the Blue Jackets – both games are set for January, the 17th and 30th.