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Game Preview: Blue Jackets at Capitals, Game 1

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Here’s what you need to know as the Columbus Blue Jackets open up the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Washington D.C. against the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals
Thursday, April 12th, 2018; 7:30 p.m. EST
Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, USA Network
Radio: 97.1 WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Japers’ Rink

Columbus Blue Jackets: 45-30-7, 97 points, 4th Metropolitan, 7th East

vs

Washington Capitals: 49-26-7, 105 points, 1st Central, 3rd East

Season Series

12/2/2017 - CBJ (3) @ WSH (4) Recap
02/06/2018 - WSH (3) @ CBJ (2) Recap
02/09/2018 - CBJ (2) @ WSH (4) Recap
02/26/2018 - WSH (1) @ CBJ (5) Recap

Blue Jackets-Capitals Round 1 Schedule

Game Day Date Time
Game Day Date Time
1 Thursday April 12 7:30 p.m.
2 Sunday April 15 7:30 p.m.
3 Tuesday April 17 7:30 p.m.
4 Thursday April 19 7:30 p.m.
5* Saturday April 21 TBD
6* Monday April 23 TBD
7* Wednesday April 25 TBD
*if necessary

The Columbus Blue Jackets are back in the Stanley Cup playoffs and they open up against a familiar foe in the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals won the season series 3-1, with Columbus taking the final matchup 5-1 at Nationwide Arena back on Feb. 26. That win helped spark a 14-4-2 run to close out the regular season. The Capitals have won 12 of the previou 14 against the Blue Jackets.

Stats

Washington Columbus
3.12 (9) GPG 2.88 (17)
2.90 (16) GAPG 2.76 (10)
22.5% (7) PP% 17.2% (25)
80.3% (15) PK% 76.2% (27)
47.98% (24) EV Corsi % 51.48% (10)
101.7 (4) EV PDO 100.3 (14)
Alexander Ovechkin, 49 G Leader Artemi Panarin, 27
Evgeny Kuznetsov, 56 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 55
Alexander Ovechkin, 87 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 82
Tom Wilson, 187 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 50
28-11-2 Home / Road 19-18-4
8-2-0 Last 10 6-2-2

Capitals’ former Vezina winner in goal, Braden Holtby, struggled down the stretch, giving way to Philipp Grubauer in net. Since the 4-2 win, Feb. 9 against Columbus, Holtby (7-6-2, 3.65, .886) started just 14 games down the stretch, winning seven. Holtby has won two-straight, and five of the last six. Grubauer, in that same span, has gone 11-3-0, .934, 2.00 and will start Game 1 for the Barry Trotz. In his career against Columbus, Grubauer is 0-1-1 with a 2.48 GAA.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been one of Columbus’ most consistent players throughout the regular season, but his struggles in the playoffs are well-chronicled. Since Feb. 9, he has gone 15-5-2, .922, 2.32, with the 15 wins tied for third among all goaltenders since that date. For his career against the Capitals, Bobrovsky is 7-10-4, 3.02 GAA.

Bobrovsky started all four games against Washington, posting a 1-3-0 record, 3.04 GAA, .868 SV%. Holtby started each game versus Columbus, going 3-1, 3.32, .913. Coming in relief of Holtby Feb. 26. Grubauer made all 18 stops over the final 38:52.

Artemi Panarin has been exactly what Columbus bargained for when they acquired the dynamic game-breaker last summer in a summer trade with the Blackhawks for Brandon Saad. John Tortorella will lean on him to be just that against these Capitals in the playoffs.

In four games against the Capitals this season, Seth Jones led the Jackets with five points (one goal, four assists). Panarin had four points (three goals, one assist).

Cam Atkinson finished the regular season on a nine-game point streak (13—8-5), tying his career-high.

John Carlsson led the way for Washington with five points (two goals, three assists). Alexander Ovechkin (two goals, two assists), T.J. Oshie (four assists), and Evgeny Kuznetsov (two goals, two assists), each had four points. Ovechkin has 90 career points (46-44) in the playoffs.

Oshie missed two of the three final regular season games due to a lower-body injury. He is expected to suit up Thursday. Jay Beagle was considered questionable leading up to game day with an undisclosed upper-body injury but will be scratched for Game 1.

For Columbus, Nick Foligno will be ready to go after missing the teams’ final six games after sustaining an injury versus the Blues, and Markus Nutivaara will also be back in the lineup. Prior to getting hurt in Vancouver, the Finnish defenseman had five points (four goals, one assist) in the five of the previous seven games.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner Alexander Wennberg Thomas Vanek
Oliver Bjorkstrand Nick Foligno Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert Mark Letestu Brandon Dubinsky
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Ian Cole David Savard
Ryan Murray Markus Nutivaara
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Washington Capitals
Alexander Ovechkin Evgeny Kuznetsov Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky Nicklas Backstrom T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana Lars Eller Devante Smith-Pelly
Brett Connolly Chandler Stephenson Alex Chiasson
Michael Kempny John Carlson
Dimitri Orlov Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik Jakub Jerabek
Philipp Grubauer
Braden Holtby

Additional Jackets-Caps Links

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals Preview: Special Teams

NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes previews Jackets-Caps

Staff Predictions

Should Sonny Milano or Brandon Dubinsky Sit for Game One? A Cannon Conversation