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Game 31 Preview: Avalanche at Blue Jackets

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Colorado Avalanche
5: MT / 7 ET / 12 GMT
Columbus Blue Jakcets
15-9-6 December 5th, 2009
13-10-5
36 pts Nationwide Arena
31 pts
t-4th in West
Columbus, OH
10th in West

 

The Avalanche continue their 5-game trek tonight with their first visit to the fine city of Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. For whatever reason, these matchups always seem to be entertaining. There's been some chippy games and some back-and-forth games in the last few years. There's that annoying cannon, of course, and, if you happen to watch the Columbus feed you'll be watching two of the biggest homers in all of sports. Actually, analyst Danny Gare left after last season, so I don't know that new analyst Bill Davidge will be as bad, but given that he played for (*sigh*) The Ohio State University and coached at Miami of Ohio and that he's paired with pom-pom-toting Jeff Rimer, I think it's a fair guess. Neither team is playing well right now (both teams are3-4-3 in their last 10)

There's added intrigue in the game as it's the first return to Columbus for Adam Foote since his "controversial" trade to Colorado in 2008. When Foote missed both trips to Columbus last year, we was quietly (and not-so-quietly) accused of having a touch of Columbus flu to avoid any controversy. Sadly, I have another engagement tonight and will not be able to see the game until tomorrow. I won't have a recap up for this one.

Craig Anderson (neck) is not expected to play tonight, which should give Peter Budaj his 2nd straight start. Statistically, he's the better goalie. Columbus' Steve Mason has had a tough sophomore season, with a 3.46 GAA and an .888 save percentage.  In his 22 starts, he's allowed 3 goals or more 14 times. The Jackets are 3-7-4 in those games, so I think the Avs goal tonight is clear: score.

As strange as it is to see the BJ's goaltending collapse (they went from 9th in the league last year to 29th so far this year), it's nothing compared to what happened to their powerplay. They had the worst PP in the league last year (yes, even worse than ours). This year? #1. They have almost doubled their PP efficiency so far, improving from 12.7% to 24.8%. Amazing.

Besides Andy, the Avalanche will be without the usual suspects tonight - David Jones, Ruslan Salei and Kyle Cumiskey. The BJs are without Rusty Klesla, Derek Dorsett, Andrew Murray, Frederik Modin. Raffi Torres and Marc Methot are both questionable.

Avalanche vs Blue Jackets coverage

The Cannon

 

 

Colorado Columbus
7th 36 Points  15th 31
9th 2.97 GF/G  7th 3.04
21st 2.93 GA/G  29th 3.46
17th 19.7 PP%  1st 24.8
18th 79.4 PK%  23rd 78.2
30th 26 S/G 17th 29.4
26th 33.1 SA/G 23rd 31.4
29th 46.7 FO%  13th 50.2
16th 14 PIM/G  20th 14.4
Stastny 30 pts Top Scorer Nash 30 pts