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Game #15 Preview: Will luck be with CBJ against Vegas tonight?

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The Jackets need to swing their momentum in the opposite direction, and a win against the Knights would really help.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas Golden Knights at Columbus Blue Jackets

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 7:00 EST

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

TV: Fox Sports Ohio - Radio: WBNS FM

Opponent’s blog: Knights on Ice

Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-6-3, 13 points, 6th Metro, 12th East

vs.

Vegas Golden Knights, 8-5-2, 18 points, 4th Pacific, 7th West

I don’t even know, man.

The last few games have been tough to watch: working backwards, we were shut out by Calgary on Saturday at home, lost to the Blues (which was a close one), and got waxed by the Oilers also at home, 4-1.

Not really an ideal momentum to have going into tonight’s game against Vegas, a current powerhouse out West.

So, like, where to start? A number of holes can be poked in the Jackets’ game right now. They’re having a tough time scoring — they’re able to find the net and release some shots, but not incredibly accurately, resulting in making the last few opposing goalies look like rockstars. Ironically, they found the most success in the last three games against Jordan Binnington, defending Stanley Cup champion.

Okay, more holes to poke. I’m tired of beating a dead horse, but the power play is abysmal. This is not helped by the fact that the Jackets seem to be in a little bit of a rut right now as far as not drawing or capitalizing on their PP opportunities, but they are being penalized and teams are able to capitalize against them. I am really not one to ever complain about officiating — I absolutely, truly cannot imagine a job I would be worse at than being an NHL referee — but the calls haven’t been in the Jackets favor as of late.

This tweet from the Calgary game pretty much sums it up:

Meanwhile, Vegas has been in a bit of a slump themselves — blowing a 2-goal lead in a loss against the Jets, losing to the Canadiens on Halloween, and suffered their “worst game of [the] season” against the Avs on October 25.

So, all things considered, I guess it could be anyone’s game.

Player to Watch

I, personally, have been impressed by Elvis Merzlikins lately. He looked solid against the Oilers last week even though it was an otherwise bad game, and I also thought he looked good against Calgary, making some necessary saves and seeming pretty comfortable navigating the crease in a fast-paced, chippy game.

It will be interesting to see how this goaltending saga unfolds within the team — before the season started, I was of the opinion that Korpisalo would be the regular starter, but his performance has been lackluster lately and Elvis seems hot on his heels. I also think we’re wasting Merzlikins by not playing him... and if he’s out-performing Korpi, he should be starting.

Jackets Notes

Alexandre Texier, come back. Oliver Bjorkstrand, step your production up. Pierre-Luc Dubois, keep doing what you’re doing. Seth and Z... I don’t know what’s going on but let’s get it figured out. Milano, love the aggression, hate the penalties drawn. Kole Sherwood, sorry you got punched in the face the other night. That looked like it hurt.

The Other Bench

The Knights have a small but powerful influx of players returning to the roster from injury. Nate Schmidt was out for a dozen games with a battered knee, and Alex Tuch joined him in a return from an upper-body injury that cost him 13 games. Having them fresh and ready to go could definitely spell trouble tomorrow night.

Combined with the defense of potential Vezina candidate Marc-Andre Fleury, the Blue Jackets are going to need to come out strong against the Knights if they don’t want this game to head south reaaaaaal quick.

Season Series

11/5/2019: VGK @ CBJ

1/11/2020: CBJ @ VGK

Stats

Vegas Columbus
3.13 (13) GPG 2.43 (26)
3.00 (14) GAPG 3.57 (25)
25.0% (5) PP% 13.6% (25)
89.1% (2) PK% 74.4% (26)
50.97% (12) 5v5 Corsi % 49.51% (20)
51.57% (11) 5v5 Fenwick % 51.33% (12)
6.3% (27) 5v5 Shot % 5.5% (29)
.907 (25) 5v5 Save % .905 (27)
Mark Stone, 8 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 6
Mark Stone, 10 A Leader Seth Jones, 6
Mark Stone, 18 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 10
Brayden McNabb, 22 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 13
4-2-0 Home / Road 3-4-1
5-3-2 Last 10 4-3-3

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Gustav Nyquist Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver Bjorkstrand
Sonny Milano Alexander Wennberg Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Emil Bemstrom Riley Nash Kole Sherwood
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Scott Harrington David Savard
Vladislav Gavrikov Dean Kukan
Joonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins

Vegas Golden Knights

Jonathan Marchessault William Karlsson Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty Paul Stastny Mark Stone
Tomas Nosek Cody Easkin Cody Glass
Will Carrier Nicolas Roy Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb Nate Schmidt
Jon Merrill Shea Theodore
Nick Holden Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury
Malcolm Subban