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Game #1 Preview: Blue Jackets at Red Wings

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It’s finally here!

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 7:30 EST
Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Winging It In Motown

Columbus Blue Jackets (2017-18 record: 45-30-7, 97 points, 4th Metro, 7th East)

vs.

Detroit Red Wings (2017-18 record: 30-39-13, 73 points, 5th Atlantic, 13th East)

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of talking about hockey. I’m ready to get back to actually watching hockey. Fortunately, the Blue Jackets season finally starts tonight! With sky high expectations for the season and an uncertain future beyond that, it’s critically important to start the season strong. Step one is securing two points tonight against a rebuilding Detroit team.

Note: I’m trying a new format for game previews this year. By popular demand, we will go back to just one preview post rather than two. Let us know in the comments what you think of this format, and feel free to offer any further suggestions.

Player to Watch

Alexander Wennberg. The young Swedish center has been called out specifically by coach John Tortorella for having a lackluster training camp. That’s not good for someone who the coach expected to challenge Pierre-Luc Dubois for 1C. While Wennberg will start the game on the second line, his line may get fewer shifts if they are ineffective, or Wennberg may get swapped out in favor of Riley Nash. I hope this doesn’t happen, as I’ve always thought highly of Wennberg’s game. I think that Foligno/Wennberg/BJORKSTRAND line can be very good this year. All three players have something to prove. Foligno can have a bounce back year by moving back to wing. BJORKSTRAND had 40 points last year, but had a low shooting percentage. If that turns around he could score over 20 goals this season. Wennberg will likely never shoot as much as we want him to, but he can be an elite assist producer and should put his partners in position to score: BJORKSTRAND for snipes and Foligno to clean up rebounds and tip-ins around the net.

Jackets Notes

Joonas Korpisalo gets the start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky scheduled to start tomorrow night at home against Carolina ... Ryan Murray (groin) was activated off the IR yesterday and Scott Harrington (concussion) was placed on IR to make room for him ... Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson were announced as alternate captains, joining the returning Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner in the leadership group.

The Other Bench

These are not your older brother’s Red Wings. Last season was the second consecutive year they missed the playoffs after 25 straight appearances prior to that. Fan expectations are appropriately low ... For the first time in a long time, Henrik Zetterberg will not be part of the Red Wings roster. The Zetterbeard will make an appearance, however, for the ceremonial puck drop ... The Nyquist/Larkin/Mantha is still a line that can do damage. There are players in the bottom 6 to watch out for as well, like Abdelkader, Athanasiou, and former Jacket Thomas Vanek ... With veterans Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall out with injury, the defense will feature many young players.

Season Series

10/04/2018 CBJ @ DET
10/30/2018 DET @ CBJ
11/26/2018 CBJ @ DET

2017-18 Stats

Detroit Columbus
2.59 (28) GPG 2.88 (17)
3.10 (23) GAPG 2.76 (10)
17.5% (24) PP% 17.2% (25)
77.5% (23) PK% 76.2% (27)
48.83% (20) EV Corsi % 51.48% (10)
99.6 (20) EV PDO 100.3 (13)
Anthony Mantha, 24 G Leader Artemi Panarin, 27
Dylan Larkin, 47 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 55
Dylan Larkin, 63 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 82
Justin Abdelkader, 78 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 50
16-16-9 Home / Road 19-18-4
0-0-0 Last 10 0-0-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Alexander Wennberg Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Boone Jenner Brandon Dubinsky Josh Anderson
Anthony Duclair Riley Nash Sonny Milano
Zach Werenski David Savard
Ryan Murray Markus Nutivaara
Dean Kukan Gabriel Carlsson
Joonas Korpisalo
Sergei Bobrovsky
Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist Dylan Larkin Anthony Mantha
Tyler Bertuzzi Frans Nielsen Michael Rasmussen
Justin Abdelkader Andreas Athanasiou Thomas Vanek
Darren Helm Christoffer Ehn Luke Glendening
Dan Dekeyser Dennis Cholowski
Trevor Daley Libor Sulak
Jonathan Ericsson Nick Jensen
Jimmy Howard
Jonathan Bernier