PREVIEW: Blue Jackets return to DC to take on Capitals

PREVIEW: Blue Jackets return to DC to take on Capitals
PREVIEW: Blue Jackets return to DC to take on Capitals

After the Blue Jackets dropped a seventh straight game Thursday night to Arizona, it was suggested to Adam Fantilli that the Blue Jackets simply needed something good to happen to build confidence and pull the team out of its streak.

The CBJ rookie simply isn’t used to losing, and it’s clear he’s not enjoying this part of acclimating to the NHL game. And as such, his response was that waiting for something was foolish; the Blue Jackets have to go out and make something happen.

“It’s not gonna turn around on its own,” Fantilli said. “We have to have faith in each other, and we have to trust in each other, that everyone is going to do their job for the guy sitting next to him. That’s how we’re going to actually turn it around. It’s not just having faith and praying that it’s going to turn around. “It’s something we have to do physically and mentally.”

Fantilli’s answer showed there’s a little fire in the belly for the Blue Jackets, who will have another chance to break the losing run tonight as they take on Metropolitan Division rival Washington. These are trying days, but the No. 1 thing the Jackets need to do is keep their confidence and the “swagger” that head coach Pascal Vincent wants them to play with.

The head coach admitted his team is a bit “fragile” right now mentally, as the mistakes they are making at key times are submarining the good minutes the team is playing. The latest example came in Thursday’s loss to the Coyotes, when Columbus controlled most of the statistical categories but gave up two goals in a 28-second span of the third period to see a tie game turn into a 3-1 deficit in an eventual 3 -2 loss.

“I feel for our players right now,” Vincent said. “They are working hard. They do so many good things that we forget about because of those little mistakes, and the first thing you know, the puck is in the back of our net. I feel for them because they work hard. They really do, and they’re all-in. They want to do the right things, and right now, it’s just when they scored that goal, we’re a little bit fragile. Now we’re questioning. But we don’t need to.”

After his first multigoal game as a Blue Jacket, Damon Severson said the confidence can’t go away, as the recent run of setbacks just highlights the need for the Blue Jackets to keep that self-belief.

“I think we have to be confident,” Severson said. “We can’t grip the stick too tight. We’ve lost a bunch of games in a row now. The worst that could happen is we keep losing, so why not be aggressive and make the next play, make something happen to be a difference maker in the game? We can’t be worried about gripping our stick too tight. “We have to worry about playing our game and trusting ourselves and being confident.”

Know The Foe: Washington Capitals

Head coach: Spencer Carbery (1st season)

Team stats: Goals per game: 2.26 (31st) | Scoring defense: 2.64 (6th) | PP: 7.3 percent (31st) | PK: 83.3 percent (12th)

The narrative: Washington’s eight-year playoff streak highlighted by the 2018 Stanley Cup championship came to a close last year, as an injury-plagued team slumped down the stretch and fell short of the postseason. The Caps are still one of the older teams in the NHL and are trying to squeeze what they can out of the Alexander Ovechkin era, but time will tell if the veteran core can keep up all season in a league getting younger and faster by the day .

Team leaders: Ovechkin, now just 68 goals shy of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL record, has a team-best 11 points but just four tallies thus far, while Dylan Strome leads the way with seven goals. John Carlson has a 1-8-9 line from the blue line, while Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov have matching 3-5-8 lines to come up next on the scoring chart.

In net, Darcy Kuemper has started eight games so far and is 3-3-2 with a 3.07 GAA and .892 save percentage. Charlie Lindgren has been hot of late, winning three straight starts – including Nov. 4 . Columbus – and posting a .969 save percentage while allowing just three goals in that span.

What’s new: The Caps are 7-1-1 in their last nine games, but defense, not offense, has carried the day. Washington has allowed just 18 goals in that span, an average of 2.00 per game, while scoring 3.00 per contest. Offense has still been hard to come by, and a number of injuries aren’t helping, as the squad is without Nicklas Backstrom, Max Pacioretty, Anthony Mantha and Martin Fehervary at the moment.

Trending: The Blue Jackets have generally held in there well against the Caps in the Ovechkin years, but it’s been a struggle of late, with Washington winning seven of nine over the past two-plus campaigns. That includes a 2-1 victory for the Capitals two weeks ago tonight in which Washington scored twice in the opening period and held on for victory.

Former CBJ: Winger Sonny Milano signed an extension to stay in Washington last season, and the 2014 first-round pick of the Blue Jackets has two goals and three assists in 13 games.

Roster Report

Projected Lineup (subject to change)

Dmitri Voronkov – Adam Fantilli – Kirill Marchenko
Johnny Gaudreau – Patrik Laine – Yegor Chinakhov
Cole Sillinger – Boone Jenner – Trey Fix-Wolansky
Alexandre Texier – Sean Kuraly – Justin Danforth
Zach Werenski – Erik Gudbranson
Ivan Provorov – Damon Severson
Jake Bean – David Jiricek
Elvis Merzlikins
Spencer Martin

Scratches: Mathieu Olivier, Adam Boqvist, Andrew Peeke

Injured reserve/Injured Non-Roster: Jack Roslovic (fractured ankle, out four to six weeks as of Nov. 13); Daniil Tarasov (knee, week to week)

Roster Report: The Blue Jackets had everyone on the roster available Friday, so we’ll see this morning if any changes are in the offing.

3 Stats to Know

  • With 674 games played, captain Boone Jenner tied Rick Nash for the franchise record Thursday night and will pass him tonight. He has moved into third place this season in franchise annals in both goals (177) and points (338).
  • Johnny Gaudreau is set to play in his 700th career NHL game tonight.
  • Milestone watch: Andrew Peeke is one game away from 200 in his career. … Yegor Chinakhov is two games from 100 in his NHL career.

Who’s Hot

Erik Gudbranson has posted seven points in the last eight games with a 1-6-7 line. … Dmitri Voronkov has a 2-6-8 line in his first 11 games, becoming just one of three CBJ players in franchise history to have at least eight points in their first 11 career NHL contests along with Werenski (3-8-11) and Jakub Voracek (3-5-8). He’s currently tied for seventh among NHL rookies in points. … Adam Fantilli tied a CBJ franchise record with 10 shots on goal Thursday night. He is tied for fourth among NHL rookies in goals (four) and tied for fifth points (nine). … Alexandre Texier has a 3-3-6 line in the last six games. … Kirill Marchenko has a 4-2-6 line in the last eight contests. …Zach Werenski has assists in four straight games, tying a personal best. … Columbus ranks second in the NHL penalty kill percentage since Oct. 20, killing off 35 of 38 (92.1 percent) power-play chances over the last 14 games.

This Day in CBJ History

Nov. 18, 2014: Columbus claims defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers from Dallas. He would go on to post a 10-17-27 line in 81 games in two seasons with the team.

Nov. 18, 2021: Justin Danforth scores his first NHL goal and Yegor Chinakhov gets the winning goal in a seven-round shootout as the Blue Jackets take a 5-4 win at Arizona. Boone Jenner scored twice in the game and Zach Werenski also tallied.

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