Matchup at a Glance
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||35 (5th Metropolitan)||32 (6th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.43 (25th)||2.24 (26th)|
|Goals Against||3.11 (26th)||3.22 (27th)|
|Power Play||24.4% (1st)||19.5% (T-11th)|
|Penalty Kill||80.2% (20th)||75.4% (29th)|
|5v5 Corsi %||45.9% (26th)||49.1% (T-22nd)|
|PDO||99.3 (22nd)||97.5 (28th)|
View from Columbus
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the quintessential case of a good team turned bad because of injuries. Only three Jackets (Jared Boll, Ryan Johansen, and David Savard) have dressed for all 35 games the team has played thus far. Columbus has lost several key pieces for various stretches this season, and as a result, has been well out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference for most of the season.
Yet Columbus is also 8-1-1 in its past 10. A big reason why has been the play of Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, whose .921 save percentage belies his 14-9-2 record. He just might be able to pull this team back into playoff contention, should he stay healthy of course.
View from Arizona
That's what Coyotes fans are undoubtedly asking for after the 6-0 drubbing they faced against Dallas on New Year's Eve. Before that game however, Arizona was riding much more consistent defensive play and strong goaltending from Devan Dubnyk.
The plus side for the Coyotes going forward is that management now seems to fully realize that a long-term plan is needed to make the Coyotes a competitive team. Both majority owner Andrew Barroway and general manager Don Maloney are looking toward slowly building the team up from within, in the face of a disappointing regular season performance.
Keys to the Game
- New Year, Clean Slate - A lot of the past year has been frustrating, to say the least. 2015 will offer the Coyotes a chance to start fresh.
- Stay Out of the Box - Columbus has the most lethal power play in the NHL, while Arizona has the second worst penalty kill. That's not a matchup Arizona wants to have on the ice very much in this game.
- Pepper Brobovsky - The Columbus netminder is good. Really good. But Columbus' possession stats are not. If Arizona can control the flow of the game, they can put the pressure on Bobrovsky to steal this one.
Nick Foligno is having himself a career year. He is poised to blow past his previous career best of 15 goals and 32 assists in 82 games in Ottawa this season, as he has 17 goals and 15 assists in just 34 games.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is on the cusp of double-digit goals once again for Arizona. His markedly improved play in the past couple of months is going to be key if Arizona wants to stabilize its defense.
It should become much clearer after viewing this list why Columbus has struggled all year. Currently on injured reserve are Nathan Horton (degenerative back condition - out for season), Ryan Murray (knee), Artem Anisimov (tricep), Mark Letestu (groin), Brian Gibbons (knee), Boone Jenner (back), and Cam Atkinson (upper-body).
For Arizona, Chris Summers (upper body) remains questionable for tonight's game, while Joe Vitale (lower-body) will likely return after missing the previous two games.
Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Arizona time in Glendale.