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Avalanche vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Preview: Two Broken Teams

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Only a couple teams can say they were hit harder by injuries this season than the Avs, and tonight they face off against one: the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Colorado Avalanche have a lot in common at the moment. Both rang in the 2014-15 season with a boatload of injuries and a pile of losses. Both teams have got some formerly-injured guys back on the roster now. Both teams had an improved December, although Columbus certainly has the edge there at 10-1-1 for the month.

Both teams currently sit in similar positions for playoff positioning:

The Blue Jackets are 16-17-3 with 35 points and are currently 10 points out of a Wild Card playoff berth.

The Avalanche are 15-15-8 with 38 points and are currently 7 points out of a Wild Card playoff berth.

Bearing in mind the Avs have played two games more than the Jackets, that distance from the playoffs looks mighty similar.

Of note for the Blue Jackets is that lovable pest and constant antagoniser of Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky, is back in the lineup. Expect him to factor into the play in a big way, because while he often isn't thought of as a top-level NHL talent, he's a sneaky playmaker who sets up goals from a couple plays back, reminiscent of Matt Duchene when he's in sneaky playmaker mode.

The Avalanche are coming off a 2-1 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers where they were brutally outshot in the third period. While a win is a win, let's hope the reality of allowing nine unanswered shots to the Oilers lights some fire under some butts.

In their last 10 games, the Avs are 6-2-2 and have taken 14 of a possible 20 points.

LINES

At the moment these lines are subject to change to God knows what. Holden may or may not be a defenseman. And when he is a defenseman, Zach Redmond may or may not be on nacho duty in the press box. These were the lines as per last game, but Coach Roy shuffled them throughout the game, so we'll wait and see.

FORWARDS, MARCH

Tanguay-O'Reilly-Iginla

Landeskog-Duchene-Briere

Talbot-Mitchell-MacKinnon

McLeod-Cliche-Rendulic

BLUEJACKET BLUE-LINE BLOCKERS

Hejda-Johnson

Guenin-Barrie*

Stuart-Holden*

These last two parings subject to change based on approximate position of the stars, phase of the moon, local pollen levels, and whether Mercury is in retrograde.

GUARDIAN OF THE CREASE

Semyon Varlamov

ENEMY INTELLIGENCE

- The Blue Jackets are coming off a reeling 6-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would likely want to put behind him. Bobrovsky was named one of the NHL's three stars for the month of December, and with good reason. He's rocking a .921 save % at the moment.

- A complete list of the Blue Jackets' current injured players: centermen Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu, and Brian Gibbons are all out. Wingers Boone Jenner, Cam Atkinson, and Nathan Horton are out as well. Their defense has mostly recovered, with only Ryan Murray remaining on IR. Still, that's seven guys.

- The Jackets were a white-hot 10-1-1 in December despite an awful, injury-riddled start to the season.

- Congratulations to forward Nick Foligno on his recent contract extension! The six-year, $33 million deal secures him a spot on the roster long term.

GAME INFO

Game airs at 6:00PM Mountain Time.

TV: ALT

Or listen live online here.