The Metropolitan Division: Part I – The Columbus Blue Jackets
With the 2013-14 season looming closer, well be taking a look at the new and old Division match-ups in the new formed Metropolitan Division in this weekly blog. The first team we look at is one that the Devils aren’t all that familiar with, and haven’t played against since November 23, 2011: the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- New Jersey at Columbus: Tuesday, October 22, 7:00 PM
- New Jersey at Columbus: Tuesday, December 10, 7:00 PM
- Columbus at New Jersey: Friday, December 27, 7:00 PM
- Columbus at New Jersey: Thursday, February 27, 7:00 PM
After losing half of the 2012-13 season thanks to the lockout, the Devils and Blue Jackets will be facing off against each other for the first time in a month shy of two years. It will also be the first time the Devils visit the city of Columbus since March 20, 2011. The second match-up in mid-December is a part of a 3-game Metropolitan Division road trip for the Devils, travelling to play the Rangers on December 7 and the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 13. The final match-up between these teams is also the first game back from the Olympic Break for both teams, meaning we’ll be welcoming back NHL hockey with some meaningful, Division-based play right out of the gate.
A lot has changed for both of these teams since they last met, both having gained and lost big stars in the process. For the Columbus Blue Jackets, only 7 players on their current roster played in the last game against the New Jersey Devils (Nikita Nikitin, RJ Umberger, Ryan Johansen, James Wisniewski, Derek Mackenzie, Jared Boll, and Fedor Tyutin). The biggest reason behind this was the blockbuster trade during the 2012 off-season that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers and gave the Blue Jackets Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Tim Erixon. In a separate deal with the Rangers, the Blue Jackets also acquired Marian Gaborik in April 2013. On top of this, the goaltending duo for the Blue Jackets has completely changed. What was once led by Steve Mason and Curtis Sanford, now consists of 2013 Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney.
The Devils have had their fair share of losses and gains since 2011 as well. The Devils have 11 players in their current roster that were with the team back in November of 2011, but have lost the likes of Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and David Clarkson in the process. The Devils haven’t been without gains, however, as they’ve picked up key contributors like Stephen Gionta, Steve Bernier, and Andrei Loktionov, as well as some fresh faces from free agency (Jaromir Jage, Ryan Clowe, Michael Ryder, and Cory Schneider).
Both teams missed the playoffs in the shortened season with the Columbus Blue Jackets tying the Minnesota Wild for 8th place in the West, but losing the tie-breaker for having two fewer wins than the Wild and the Devils finishing in 11th, 7 points out of the playoffs. Columbus finished with a 24-17-7 (55 pts) record, and the Devils finished at 19-19-10 (48 pts).
So what can we expect from these two teams? Honestly, it’s been so long since they’ve played each other that it’s rather hard to tell. Both teams will come out next season with something to prove having both had less-than-desirable finishes last season. The teams also seem to have a pretty similar structure to them: offenses that can score goals when called upon, but the real backbone of the team lies in the goaltending. The last time these teams played was a 2-1 shootout victory for the Devils, with the match-up before that being a 3-0 shutout. Again, though, the teams have changed so much since then that it’s difficult to draw any parallels from these scores. I would expect a hard-fought, goaltenders duel between these teams, however.
Posted on August 23, 2013, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, Game Preview, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL and tagged Blue Jackets, Boulton, Brodeur, Columbus, Devils, elias, New Jersey Devils, NHL. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.