Columbus Blue Jackets (34-26-6) at Minnesota Wild (35-22-9)
|Date & Time||Saturday March 15, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Minnesota Wild -136 / Columbus Blue Jackets +124 --- Over/Under: 5
The Blue Jackets and Wild jockey for playoff positioning on Saturday when they meet up in Minnesota.
The Blue Jackets looked as though they were stuck in the midst of another disappointing season in which the expectations placed on them were as high as they have ever been thanks to a strong finish last year. Columbus made some key offseason acquisitions mainly in the form of Nathan Horton and have a number of solid playmakers in a team that gets buried in the Eastern Conference but thanks to a lackluster effort for a number of teams in the East the Jackets find themselves right in the mix in seventh place. Columbus added some pieces at the trade deadline as they brought in Matt Frattin as a part of the Marian Gaborik deal but also brought in some help on the back end to give Sergei Bobrovsky a little more to work with between the pipes.
The Wild have been playing their best hockey of the season as they have just a single loss in their last 10 contests in regulation and have a shot at chasing down the Kings for the sixth spot in the Conference but anywhere above that mark looks pretty unattainable. Minnesota has a very nice roster that is well balanced up front thanks to the addition of Matt Moulson and the return of Mikko Koivu and their blue line is anchored by the workhorse in Ryan Suter. However, the goaltending situation remains a concern for the Wild as they have to rely on the tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov and while the former has done a nice job filling in this season I can’t see them advancing past some of the other juggernauts with those two manning the crease. However, Minny has enough in the tank in front of Kuemper where they can afford to take some chances and I think they make a statement here against Columbus on home ice.