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Game #40: An old acquaintance returns

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He may not be recognizable, however

NHL: DEC 07 Blue Jackets at Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN+; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Litter Box Cats

Florida Panthers (20-13-5, 45 points, 3rd Atlantic, 8th East)

at

Columbus Blue Jackets (17-14-8, 42 points, 7th Metro, 12th East)

It’s time to say goodbye to 2019 and ring in the New Year with a showdown against the visiting Florida Panthers, featuring the first return of Sergei Bobrovsky to Nationwide. This is an interesting contrast of styles, with the Panthers scoring goals in bunches and also giving up a bunch, whereas the Jackets don’t score consistently but are very stingy on defense. Well, at least they were with Joonas Korpisalo in net...

Player to Watch

Elvis Merzlikins

For anyone wishing that Elvis would get more frequent playing time, congratulations! Your wish has been granted.

/finger curls down on a mummified monkey’s paw

With Korpi out for “weeks” now is the opportunity Elvis has been waiting for. Will he get better with more frequent appearances? He has had a knack for giving up goalies early in his starts, and that happened even when he started on four straight Saturdays in late November and early December.

The defense must step up to help him, though it should be noted that in his last two decisions, the opponent was held to fewer than 30 shots on goal.

Jackets Notes

Korpisalo and Seth Jones were announced as members of the Metropolitan Division All Star team. Nick Foligno is the Columbus nominee for the Last Man In fan vote ... Korpisalo will miss several weeks with his knee injury. Matiss Kivlenieks has been called up in his place ... Korpi had a save percentage of .942 during the ongoing 10 game point streak.

The Other Bench

Jonathan Huberdeau is the Florida rep on the Atlantic Division All Star team. Aleksander Barkov is the Last Man In nominee ... Florida swept a weekend back-to-back with victories over Detroit and Montreal ... It’s far from certain that Bob will actually play tonight. Recently he has been trading starts with Chris Driedger since December 21. Driedger allowed six goals on 83 shots in wins over Carolina and Detroit, while Bob has given up 15 goals in his last three, including wins over Dallas and Montreal and a loss to Tampa Bay. He has an .861 save percentage in those games.

Season Series

12/07/2019 CBJ 1 @ FLA 4
12/31/2019 FLA @ CBJ
02/04/2020 FLA @ CBJ

Stats

Florida Columbus
3.55 (2) GPG 2.59 (27)
3.34 (28) GAPG 2.79 (8)
23.4% (8) PP% 16.9% (22)
78.5% (22) PK% 80.8% (16)
49.5% (18) 5v5 Corsi % 50.7% (11)
50.3% (12) 5v5 Fenwick % 52.9% (6)
9.1 (7) 5v5 Shot % 6.6 (29)
.905 (28) 5v5 Save % .923 (11)
Jonathan Huberdeau, 16 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 13
Jonathan Huberdeau, 37 A Leader Seth Jones, 18
Jonathan Huberdeau, 53 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 27
Dryden Hunt, 24 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 41
7-6-3 Home / Road 11-8-2
6-4-0 Last 10 6-0-4

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Nathan Gerbe
Gustav Nyquist Boone Jenner Kevin Stenlund
Eric Robinson Alexander Wennberg Alexandre Texier
Jakob Lilja Riley Nash Ryan MacInnis
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Gabriel Carlsson Dean Kukan
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Florida Panthers
Jonathan Huberdeau Alexsander Barkov Evgenii Dadonov
Brett Connolly Vincent Trocheck Noel Acciari
Frank Vatrano Brian Boyle Mike Hoffman
Colton Sceviour Dominic Toninato
Keith Yandle Aaron Ekblad
Riley Stillman Anton Stralman
Michael Matheson Joshua Brown/Mark Pysyk
Sergei Bobrovsky
Chris Driedger

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