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Wild @ Blue Jackets: Game preview, TV schedule, start time

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The Wild go on the road to face the team with the NHL's worst record.

Ryan Johansen and Jonas Brodin have been linked in trade rumors, but for tonight, they square of against each other.
Ryan Johansen and Jonas Brodin have been linked in trade rumors, but for tonight, they square of against each other.
Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

MINvCLB

Tonight the Wild face-off against the least of the East: the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus missed the postseason last year, but they entered the season with high hopes after Todd Richards (former Minnesota Wild head coach) led the Jackets to a scintillating finish where they won 15 of their final 17 games. In the offseason, GM Jarmo Kekelainen made one of the biggest splashes when he acquired Brandon Saad, a 22-year-old winger that was one of the biggest offensive threats on the Cup-winning Blackhawks team. They weren't seen as a playoff lock, but it was widely agreed that they could make some noise this season.

Well, I suppose that they have made noise, being the most compelling dumpster fire in the NHL. It's not just that Columbus has been losing, they've been losing with style. Not only did an 0-8 start pretty much eliminate them from playoff contention before the calendar turned to November (getting Richards fired in the process), they also replaced Richards with John Tortorella, which has looked to be an absolute disaster.

Not only has Tortorella not managed to turn the Jackets around in any meaningful way, he's clashed extremely hard with Ryan Johansen, their 2010 first-rounder. Johansen, a former 30-goal scorer, has experienced every motivation-by-public-humiliation tactic on Tortorella's book: Getting benched, getting called out for fitness in the press, regular demotions to the fourth-line, and healthy scratches. With this coming off the heels of a bitter contract dispute over the summer, no wonder the 23-year-old center is rumored to be trade bait (with the Wild reported as having shown interest).

But Columbus' problems run much deeper than Tortorella and his questionable motivation skills. Their defensive corps are among the worst in the league, if not the very bottom of the barrel. Jack Johnson is their de facto #1 defenseman, but he's terrible everywhere but the power play- he has a mere 4 even-strength points all season long. Ryan Murray is a player that should eventually be able to play at a high level, but he's just 22 and missed most of last season due to injury. David Savard has been fine, but beyond that? Nothing. Justin Falk has even seen some action. Yeah, that Justin Falk. That's how bad this defense is.

Checking in on the Wild now. After dropping two games in Florida, this game should be one where the Wild can make up for the points they lost. The Wild played poorly against Tampa Bay, but had a good, strong game against Florida where they ran into a red-hot Al Montoya*.Unless Parise's knee continues to be bad, there aren't too many things to worry about with Minnesota right now.

Projected Lineups

Minnesota Wild

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Zach Parise

Mikko Koivu

Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter

Charlie Coyle

Justin Fontaine

Thomas Vanek

Mikael Granlund

Jason Pominville

Chris Porter

Jarret Stoll

Ryan Carter

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Ryan Suter

Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser

Marco Scandella

Mathew Dumba

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk

Niklas Backstrom (by default)

Columbus Blue Jackets

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Boone Jenner

Brandon Dubinsky

Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell

Alexander Wennberg

Brandon Saad

Gregory Campbell

Ryan Johansen

Nick Foligno

Jared Boll

William Karlsson

Rene Borque

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Ryan Murray

David Savard

Jack Johnson

Cody Goloubef

Fedor Tyutin

Dalton Prout

Goalies

Anton Forsberg

Joonas Korpisalo

*How many times has anyone ever said that?