The Blue Jackets need to brace themselves - David Backes is back tonight. No, really, he is! Promise! See?
David Backes and Jordan Leopold will play tonight. #stlblues— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 4, 2014
And look, Jordan Leopold is back too. To clear space for everyone, yesterday Adam Cracknell was placed on waivers (he cleared) and today Chris Porter was sent back down to the Wolves. If you had money on Magnus Pääjarvi winning out over Porter for a regular line-up spot, collect on that, because he has.
Updated line combos: 9-42-74, 17-21-91, 10-12-25, 56-40-75. Paajarvi is in tonight. Porter is out. #stlblues— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) January 4, 2014
And there you go. Things on the forward side of things are looking more and more normal by the day. The only one remaining in IR is Alexander Steen, and the only defenseman on IR is Roman Polak. With Leopold returning, though, that means that one of Carlo Colaiacovo and Ian Cole will have to sit, and that is not a decision that I envy Ken Hitchcock for having to make.
Brian Elliott is still in tonight as Jaroslav Halak has the plague. Jake Allen, who was re-assigned to Wolves due to their three games in a row insanity schedule has been recalled today to sit on the bench. I will say that I'm pretty sure that this quote from Hitch in Lou Korac's game preview won't do much to calm people down regarding any pending goalie apocalypse.
"We have not beat ourselves and I think the biggest factor is we've had great goaltending. Our goalie and even (Jaroslav) Halak when he was playing, they've made a difference every night. For whatever reason in the last four, five six games, we've been a little better than the opposition's goaltenders and it's given us that little bit of edge. It's not like we've outplayed teams. We didn't expect to do that, but we've certainly held our own."
Anyway, the Blues are getting their first look at Nathan Horton in a Jackets jersey tonight. Horton had a goal in his first game back, and without Marian Gaborik being healthy, he will be who Columbus leans on for scoring output.
Backes was the deciding factor in the last game, scoring the winning goal in overtime. He'll more than likely be a huge factor tonight, but so will T.J. Oshie, who has a three-game goal streak going and of course Jaden Schwartz, with a seven game point streak on the line.