New York Rangers (37-29-4, tied for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division) versus Columbus Blue Jackets (36-27-6, tied for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division)
Puck Drop: Sunday, March 21 at 7:00 pm
Venue: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
An important two points are up for grabs tonight, as the push to the playoffs continues as the Columbus Blue Jackets play host to the New York Rangers. After dispatching of the Montreal Canadians Thursday, the Blue Jackets return to the ice to face a club who will have some familiar faces. One in particular will be Rick Nash. He will make his début when he touches the Nationwide Arena ice. Nash was not present the Rangers visited the Blue Jackets last November. He was sidelined with a concussion from a hit he took in a previous game with the San José Sharks. Not only will he be in the lineup, but the newly acquired Martin St. Louis will be present as well.
For the Blue Jackets organization, playoff hopes are starting to become a reality. They are currently tied with the New York Rangers for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division with 78 points each. The Blue Jackets have a winning record at home of 19-12-3. In their last 10 games, they are 7-2-1, which has them in contention for a playoff spot. Heading into tonight’s game, the Blue Jackets hold the regular season series at 2-1, with the road team winning each game. The last time these teams met was November 7, with New York winning 4-2 in Columbus.
The reigning Vezina trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, will be in net tonight. He brings a record of 27-17-4, with a goals against average of 2.48. The 6’2 goalie is one of eight Olympians on the ice tonight. Bobrovsky represented Team Russia at the Sochi Olympics. He was in net during the epic game against the United States. Unfortunately, he was on the losing end. However, he will be forever linked to TJ Oshie and his shootout performance.
The Blue Jackets showcase a wealth of youth and grittiness, once thought of about the Rangers. Ryan Johansen, the Columbus’ first round pick in 2010, leads the team in points with 52. Also, he is the leading goal scorer with 27. Defenseman James Wisniewski leads the team in assists with 33. Fellow defenseman Nikita Nikitin leads all players with a +12 differential. Other players to watch out for are Cam Atkison, Boone Jenner, RJ Umberger, and former Buffalo Sabres forward Nick Foligno.
In this matchup, the Blue Jackets have two former Rangers in their lineup. Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov were part of the Rick Nash trade, along with defenseman Tim Erixon and a 2013 first round draft choice. Both Dubinsky and Anisimov are at the top of the team ‘s offensive leaders. Anisimov has 19 goals and 33 points, thus far. Dubinsky is second in team scoring, behind Johansen with 42 points. Also, he serves as an alternate captain for the team. Defenseman Tim Erixon is with the Springfield Falcons, the American Hockey League affiliate for Columbus. If the team makes the playoffs, watch the Blue Jackets call him up for depth purposes. Another former Ranger is Fedor Tyutin. The defenseman was originally drafted by New York in the 2001 entry draft, in the second round. In 2008, he was traded to Columbus, part of a deal that saw Nikolai Zherdev come to New York. For the season, Tyutin has four goals and 24 points with a +7 differential. He is part of a defense corps that is a good mix of youth and veteran players. It would not be a shock to see this team named as one of the top NHL defenses in the next few years.
Currently, the Blue Jackets have one injury to their roster. Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray is listed with an injured knee.