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Game #39 Preview: Blue Jackets Look to Close out 2018 with Boom vs Senators

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Here’s what you need to know about the New Year’s Eve matchup between Ottawa and Columbus.

Ottawa Senators v Columbus Blue Jackets

Monday, December 31, 2018 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Silver Seven

Ottawa Senators (15-20-4, 34 points, 8th Atlantic, 16th East)

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Columbus Blue Jackets (22-13-3, 47 points, 2nd Metro, 5th East)

It’s New Year’s Eve and the Columbus Blue Jackets are looking to close the month of December out in style with a win over the woeful Ottawa Senators. Columbus had a season-high five-game winning streak, and eight-game points streak, ended Friday night in a 4-2 loss against the Maple Leafs. Ottawa played a back-to-back stretch, losing to the Islanders 6-3 Friday night before falling to the Capitals 3-2 at home Saturday night.

Monday’s meeting against the Senators marks the first matchup this season, and first of three.

Player to Watch

Sergei Bobrovsky has become the elite goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky again. Not that anyone is surprised. I’m not. Yes, I urged the play of Joonas Korpisalo when ‘Bob’ struggled early on. But I also knew his game would come around, as evident of being named NHL First Star of the Week ending Dec. 23, and as we close out the month of December, Bobrovsky is 6-4-1 (.909 SV%, 2.78 GAA) for the month. His numbers were even better in November (8-2-0, .932, 2.11) and in his 16 victories this season (.947, 1.69). Bobrovsky’s 16 wins this season places him in a four-way tie for third the league.

Of the 73 goals allowed by Bobrovsky this season, he has allowed three or more goals on 14 occasions. Two or fewer, 14 times. More than three, six times. It’s really just a few bad starts that cloud the bottom line. Since giving up 23 goals over his first six starts, he rebounded with a stretch of six games over the next seven in which he surrendered just one goal. And aside from a few plain weird starts, such as the 9-6 loss to the Flames in which he allowed eight, ‘Bob’ has kept the goals against to a minimum for the most part. Even the rare five goals allowed against the Red Wings was a 7-5 victory for Columbus back on Nov. 26.

Whether it was bad play by Bobrovsky early, defensive-lapses, and just freakish game oddities, Sergei has more resembled the ‘Bob’ of old, more often than not.

Jackets Notes

Artemi Panarin scored his 100th career goal against the Maple Leafs Friday night. ... In the month of December, Columbus is 2-for-37 on the power play (5.4%) which is last in the league. ... The PP is in a current 0-for-19 funk. ... Despite four-straight wins including two over the Devils, a win over the Flyers and and Rangers, head coach John Tortorella liked how his team played in their loss to the Maple Leafs, calling it the best game they played of the last five. ... Nick Foligno will miss the game due to a scheduled surgery for his daughter in Boston. ... Eric Robinson (10 goals, nine assists with Cleveland), who made his NHL debut in last season’s finale, has been recalled from Cleveland to take Foligno’s roster spot, but will not play. ... Scott Harrington has now played in a career-high 34 games. ... He set the new personal-high of 33 games when he suited up against the Rangers in New York last Thursday.

The Other Bench

Ottawa enters the matchup last in the Atlantic Division and looking all the way up the Eastern Conference standings. From the struggles on the ice to the video that surfaced in November of players badmouthing coaches and joking about the team in an Uber, things have not gone smoothly, to say the least.

The Senators allow a league-worst 3.92 goals-per-game while simultaneously allowing a league-high 37.4 shots-per-game.

Injuries have also taken their toll, with goalie Craig Anderson out with a concussion, high-scoring defenseman Thomas Chabot (10 goals, 28 assists), in the middle of a career-year, is out with an upper-body injury for three weeks, Justin Falk (upper body) has missed the last two games, former Blue Jacket Marian Gaborik (who I honestly forgot all about) is out with a back issue, Christian Jaros (broken finger), Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) missed the last game, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (achilles) out four-to-six months.

Aside from Anderson, the Senators have also utilized the services of Marcus Hogberg, who made his NHL debut in the loss against the Capitals Saturday and will start tonight, former Blue Jacket, Mike McKenna, and Mike Condon in net.

Matt Duchene (15 goals, 22 assists) looks to be back to his old self, scoring 1.12 points-per-game after scoring just 49 points (23-26) a season ago. Mark Stone (18-25) is also a point-per-game player (1.10), as well as the aforementioned Chabot (1.00).

Season Series

12/31/18 OTT @ CBJ
2/22/19 CBJ @ OTT
4/06/19 CBJ @ OTT

Stats

Ottawa Columbus
3.15 (t-11) GPG 3.24 (9)
3.92 (31) GAPG 3.03 (19)
21.8% (11) PP% 13.4% (30)
74.5% (28) PK% 79.2% (16)
43.58% (31) EV Corsi % 49.50% (16)
100.0 (15) EV PDO 101.0 (7)
Mark Stone, 18 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 23
Thomas Chabot, 28 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 29
Mark Stone, 43 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 41
Mark Borowiecki, 58 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 40
4-13-1 Home / Road 10-8-2
3-6-1 Last 10 6-3-1

Projected Lineup

Columbus Blue Jackets

Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Anthony Duclair Alexander Wennberg Josh Anderson
Lukas Sedlak Boone Jenner Oliver Bjorkstrand
Markus Hannikainen Brandon Dubinsky Riley Nash
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Ryan Murray Markus Nutivaara
Scott Harrington David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo

Ottawa Senators

Brady Tkachuk Colin White Mark Stone
Zack Smith Matt Duchene Ryan Dzingel
Mikkel Boedker Chris Tierney Bobby Ryan
Nick Paul Tom Pyatt Jack Rodewald
Ben Harpur Dylan Demelo
Maxime Lajoie Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki Christian Wolanin
Marcus Hogberg
Mike McKenna