John Tortorella looks to keep his Columbus Blue Jackets playing solid hockey tonight at home against the Anaheim Ducks. The Blue Jackets are playing much better hockey than they were this time a year ago. Remember that epic slide last year to open the year up? The Blue Jackets lost eight straight games before Tortorella was brought on board to get them going in the right direction. He got the Blue Jackets heading in the right direction, as they went 7-4 following the eight-game skid.
The idea wasn’t to have them a playoff team by any means in 2015-16, but improvements had to be seen, and perhaps within a few years the Blue Jackets would be looking at the playoffs. Improvements were seen, and now with Tortorella in his second-year behind the bench, there will have to be more this season. So far so good in Columbus, with the Jackets entering tonight with a record of 5-3-2. That doesn’t look like much, but just think about how they started the season out a year ago.
The Blue Jackets hope to be one of the surprise teams of 2016-17. The Edmonton Oilers are already jumping into that circle, but with so much time to go, why not the Jackets? They will unfortunately be without defenceman Seth Jones tonight, after he was placed on IR. So, the Blue Jackets will not have him in the lineup for a considerable amount of time. Jones is part of the rebuilding process in Columbus and this could put a dent in their progress this season. The Blue Jackets will welcome the Ducks to Columbus tonight, for what hopefully is an unfriendly greeting.
The Ducks were cold, cold to start last season as well. It wasn’t until the second-half of the season until they turned it around, and actually blossomed into favorites to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. Like clockwork though, he Ducks failed to produce in the playoffs. The Ducks are looking at an old friend to get them in the winners’ circle again. They hired Randy Carlyle, who was the man in charge behind the bench when they won the Stanley Cup in 2007. It reeks of desperation by the Ducks. It’s a different age, a different style of hockey from 2007, and the Ducks do not have the kind of roster they have that they did then. What worked back then, may not work now for Carlyle.
The Ducks have opened the season at 6-5-2, which doesn’t evoke much confidence in the job he’s been doing. The Blue Jackets are statistically better than their record indicates. In all major categories, they in fact rank very highly. The Jacket’s offence are averaging 3.10 goals per game, including 2.10 goals against. Which means the Blue Jackets are 5th in the nation in scoring and 2nd in goals against. Sergei Bobrovsky has been stellar in net, posting a GAA of 1.79 with a 0.947 save percentage. The Blue Jackets have leaned on him and he’s come through in a big way. The Ducks are only 2-3-2 on the road, continuing their trend of being good at home, but lackluster away from Anaheim. I feel that the price in this game is being dictated by the names here. The Ducks have the brand name, and conversely, everyone sees the Blue Jackets as a bunch of losers still. Columbus should be bigger favorites in this spot. The Blue Jackets take it against the Ducks tonight.
PICK: BLUE JACKETS TO WIN -118