The Detroit Red Wings host the Columbus Blue Jackets on a Monday matinee (12 PM EST on FSD locally, NBCSN nationally and 97.1 the Ticket).
The regular season isn’t even a week old, and the Blue Jackets are already in must-win mode, according to rabid fans on social media.
Two straight losses to Nashville, plus a trade demand from star forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, and a suspect offensive attack all have Jackets fans fearing the worst.
But Blashilll sees it from a different perspective.
“We know how good Columbus is,” Blashill said. “They have one of the best defensive corps in the league, two of the top-10 defensemen in the league (Seth Jones, Grosse Pointe native Zach Werenski), they’re extremely well-coached and they play hard. It’ll be hard to get (scoring) opportunities against them. We have to compete like crazy for us to win. We competed fine the first night (a loss to Carolina), but the second night we competed like crazy (a victory) and that’s the way we have to play in order to win.”
There was very little news from the Red Wings’ Sunday practice, and there obviously won’t be morning skates before Monday’s game, so we’ll examine the Blue Jackets as best we can. Field Level Media scouted Columbus on Sunday afternoon:
The Blue Jackets swept the three-game series with the Wings last season. Columbus is seeking its first victory this season after losing on the road to Nashville 3-1 on Thursday and 5-2 on Saturday.
The latter game was tied 1-1 entering the final period. Columbus had 44 shots on goals but was stymied by Predators goaltender Juuse Saros.
“I’m looking at some of the encouraging stuff we did (Saturday),” head coach John Tortorella said. “We developed 25 scoring chances. Do we need to clean up some stuff? Sure, but I’m encouraged by a lot of different things with our hockey club.”
Forward Cam Atkinson echoed those sentiments, even though the Blue Jackets allowed three goals in the last 10 minutes.
“I thought we played overall a really, really good game compared to the first game. We got our feet wet,” he said. “The first game wasn’t our prettiest, but we did a lot of good things that we discussed after that game and we showed it. We’re going to watch a lot of tape, but we did a lot of good things. We just have to clean up the little things that cost us goals.”
Alexandre Texier and Michael Del Zotto are the only players with more than one point after two games.
The Blue Jackets did not practice on Sunday, so we’ll take a look at NHL.com’s Robby Stanley’s recap of Saturday’s game…
The Nashville Predators scored four goals in the third period, and Juuse Saros made 42 saves for a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.
“It was a little bit up and down,” Nashville forward Colton Sissons said. “We gave up some pretty good looks coming our way but capitalized on our chances that we got offensively, which is always nice and it got us a huge win.”
“We were right there, so I’m not sure what led us to get away from our style of play,” Columbus forward Cam Atkinson said. “They just capitalized on their opportunities. Forsberg comes right down and scores, but we get one right back. We’re right in it.”
Foligno gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead at 7:58 of the first period. Michael Del Zotto drove to the net, and Foligno got to the rebound. Rocco Grimaldi tied it 1-1 at 9:44 on a slap shot from the right circle.
“I’m looking at some of the encouraging stuff we did tonight,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We developed 25 scoring chances. Do we need to clean up some stuff? Sure. But I’m encouraged by a lot of different things with our hockey club tonight.”
As well as Sportsnet’s highlight clip…
And if you’re interested, you can watch the Blue Jackets website’s clips of Sunday media availabilities from Zach Werenski…
And coach John Tortorella:
DetroitRedWings.com’s Brett McWethy filed a Wings-Blue Jackets preview…
• Center Alexandre Texier and veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto have led the Blue Jackets’ offensive output in the young season, with each entering Monday’s game with two points. Texier has scored a goal and added an assist, while Del Zotto has tallied a pair of helpers. Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner have also both scored goals.
• Goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins split the starting duties in the first two games. Korpisalo gave up just two goals while making 32 saves in the opener, a 3-1 loss on Jan. 14.
• The Blue Jackets are mentored by veteran coach John Tortorella, who is in his fifth season at the helm. During his NHL coaching career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Blue Jackets, his teams have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs 11 times. He led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship and the Rangers to the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.
• Columbus got the better of Detroit last season, winning all three games. But offense wasn’t a problem for the Red Wings, at least in the first two meetings. The Blue Jackets outlasted the Wings at Nationwide Arena on Nov. 21, 2019, 5-4, and won at Little Caesars Arena a month later (Dec. 17, 2019), 5-3. Tyler Bertuzzi scored a combined three goals against Columbus last season, including two in the first meeting. Forward Adam Erne found the back of the net twice in the lone game at Little Caesars Arena.
3 Keys to the Game
Big guns firing: The top line of Mikahil Grigorenko, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand as well as the top defensive pairing of Jones and Werenski are all without a point this season. It’s a small sample size, but it can’t go on forever if the team is to contend.
Score consecutive goals: All three CBJ goals this season against Nashville were answered by multiple tallies from the Preds. Sustaining momentum is a key to success.
Good vibes: Columbus should feel pretty good about heading to Detroit, where the Blue Jackets have not suffered a regulation loss since Oct. 15, 2013. The Jackets are 8-0-1 in that stretch, so it’s time to keep that streak going.
Columbus has gone 21-4-2 vs. Detroit since Mar. 17, 2011, including an 11-1-0 mark since the start of the 2016-17 season. … The Blue Jackets are yet to score or allow a power-play goal (0-4 on PP, 6-6 on PK). … Cam Atkinson is two goals from 200 in his CBJ and NHL careers. He would be the second Blue Jackets to reach the milestone after Rick Nash. … Jones has 195 points in his Blue Jackets career, leaving him five away from the 200 mark. The defenseman also has 198 career assists. … With his 224 career points, Boone Jenner is seventh on the team’s all-time points list, one behind Brandon Dubinsky for sixth. … Greiss has played more games (22) against Columbus than any other NHL team, going 10-8-3 with a 2.78 GAA and .908 save percentage. He has a .951 save percentage against the CBJ in seven starts over the last two years.
Without an off-day skate, I can only offer you Columbus’ lineup for its game vs. Nashville…
And these tidbits from Svoboda:
#CBJ defenseman Zach Werenski, a Detroit-area native, will have his parents at tomorrow's game. No road tickets for players right now, but his childhood friend/Wings captain Dylan Larkin is leaving tickets for Zach's parents.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 17, 2021
#CBJ head coach John Tortorella says he's not sure if there will be any lineup changes ahead of tomorrow's noon game vs. Detroit. Also not declaring a goalie starter today.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 17, 2021
The Red Wings’ record against the Blue Jackets is poor, and as you and I both know, their record in nationally-televised matinee games is also poor. Here’s hoping that the Wings buck the trend on Monday!