DETROIT – No Ohio-based hockey team has ever posted a winning season against the team from the North. And that dates back to the Cleveland Barons of the 1970s.
If Columbus wins at least one of two games from the Red Wings on the weekend, it would mark the first time a team from the state of Ohio has registered a winning season against the Original Six franchise.
The Blue Jackets will get two shots at hanging a third loss on the Wings this season when the Central Division rivals meet in a home-and-home series beginning Saturday afternoon at Nationwide Arena. In three previous meeting this season, the Jackets are 2-0-1 against Detroit.
Despite their league-worst win/loss record, the Blue Jackets, for whatever reason, seem to have luck on their side when it comes to playing the Red Wings his season. In three previous meetings this season, Columbus has handed the Wings a pair of regulation losses in the last five weeks.
“I think they always play well against us,” Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “Now we have to be ready and play for 60 minutes. That’s been our problem against them.”
The physical Blue Jackets make life hard for teams that play a certain style. And the Wings, apparently, seem to be one of those teams that have found it difficult against the in-your-face Jackets, who are ranked second in the Western Conference in total team hits (596), and leads the conference in fighting majors (24) and penalty minutes (358).
Columbus has been involved in nine straight one-goal games, but is tied with Buffalo for the second-most one-goal losses (6) this season. The Jackets are 4-3-2 in their last nine.
“Just look at their last few games here they’ve been playing a lot better,” Ericsson said. “They’ve won a few games and have got their confidence up. They’re always a hard team to play against. They always play hard and if you’re not going to play your best game you’re probably going to lose. They have our number this year, so we better come out strong.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
D JACK JOHNSON – Back from a shoulder injury, Johnson is a huge presence along the Blue Jackets’ blue line, where he leads their defensemen in average ice-time (26:15). In addition to scoring a goal on Tuesday, Johnson led all skaters with 26:53 ice-time in his return to action after missing the previous four contests. Johnson also had a team-high three blocked shots on the night – a 4-3 win over Edmonton. He re-established his own Blue Jackets’ record for ice-time when he skated 34:59 in a 4-2 win over Detroit on Feb. 2. … While his minus-9 is a little disappointing, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise as the former standout at the University of Michigan has finished on the wrong side of the plus/minus rating in six of his first seven seasons in the league. … In 21 career games against the Red Wings, Johnson a goal and three assists. His is minus-20 against Detroit is his lifetime low against any NHL club.
Season Series: 1-2-0
2011-12 Season Series: 4-2-0
All-Time Series Season: 50-15-1-6
Columbus’s Season Record: 7-12-4
Top Scorer vs. Red Wings: James Wisniewski – 2 Goals, 1 Assist in 3 Games; Derek Dorsett – 1 Goal, 2 Assists in 3 Games; Fedor Tyutin – 3 Assists in 3 Games; Derick Brassard – 3 Assists in 3 Games.
Red Wings’ Top Scorer –Niklas Kronwall – 3 Assists in 3 games.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
Tickets to this game and all 8 remaining regular-season contests at The Joe are currently available for purchase at the JLA box office (313-396-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at DetroitRedWings.com.
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