Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NHL Network; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Eyes on the Prize
Columbus Blue Jackets (42-30-4, 88 points, 5th Metro, 9th East)
Montreal Canadiens (41-28-8, 90 points, 4th Atlantic, 8th East)
This is a big one. Columbus is two points behind Montreal for the final playoff position in the East (with a game in hand). A regulation win puts Columbus in that spot and in control of their own destiny. A loss would mean a four point hole with just five games left to play. For a month now we’ve talked about must win games. This one may finally truly be one.
Our colleagues at Eyes on the Prize phrased it quite well:
In an 82 game season, the words “big game” and “must-win” are used to make some games feel more important. When you get to the second half of the season, the vernacular adds “four-point game”, a game where the swing is, you guessed it, four points.
There is nothing exaggerating how big Thursday’s game against Columbus really is. If Montreal wins in regulation, they will be four points up and fully in control of their own destiny. If Columbus wins in regulation, the two teams will be tied and Columbus holds a game in hand.
Of course, there is still a scenario where both of these teams make the playoffs as the Carolina Hurricanes remain in striking distance, but if either team misses the playoffs, you can’t say that they didn’t play a playoff game. Thursday night will be a playoff game.
Player to Watch
Carey Price is out ... OUT OF THIS WORLD. In the first year of his massive 8 year, $84 million deal, Price has returned to form with a 2.49 GAA and .918 SV%. In the last 10 games, he is 6-3-1 with a 2.20 GAA and .927 SV%. That includes an 8 goal loss to Anaheim!
Price is 2-0 against the Jackets this year, allowing just 3 goals on 68 shots.
Is the first line back? Pierre-Luc Dubois broke his goalless drought on Sunday in Vancouver, while Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson both scored against the Islanders on Tuesday ... Atkinson’s empty netter was his 39th of the season, which brings him within two of Rick Nash’s franchise record ... Speaking of Nash, he’s been hanging around the front office this season, which hints that a management job may be part of his retirement in the near future ... Another possible job: could he be a replacement for Bill Davidge, who is retiring as Fox Sports Ohio studio analyst?
The Other Bench
While the Jackets were beating the Islanders, the Canadiens kept pace by blowing out the Panthers, 6-1 ... 15 goal fourth liner Paul Byron was injured in a fight in that game, and will not make the trip to Columbus ... Perhaps you’re like me and thought that Montreal couldn’t replace Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty, who were both traded in the offseason. Well, we were wrong. The two leading point scorers for the team this season were part of those deals: Max Domi with 68 points and Tomas Tatar with 57.
01/18/2019 MTL 4 @ CBJ 1
02/19/2019 CBJ 2 @ MTL 3
03/28/2019 MTL @ CBJ
|3.00 (14)||GPG||3.04 (13)|
|2.86 (11)||GAPG||2.86 (11)|
|12.4% (31)||PP%||15.5% (28)|
|80.6% (15)||PK%||84.5% (3)|
|54.08% (4)||EV Corsi %||50.04% (13)|
|100.5 (9)||EV PDO||100.1 (13)|
|Brendan Gallagher, 33||G Leader||Cam Atkinson, 39|
|Max Domi, 41||A Leader||Artemi Panarin, 52|
|Max Domi, 68||P Leader||Artemi Panarin, 78|
|Max Domi, 80||PIM Leader||Pierre-Luc Dubois, 62|
|18-16-4||Home / Road||21-16-2|
|Artemi Panarin||Pierre-Luc Dubois||Cam Atkinson|
|Ryan Dzingel||Matt Duchene||Josh Anderson|
|Alexander Wennberg||Boone Jenner||Oliver BJORKSTRAND|
|Nick Foligno||Brandon Dubinsky||Riley Nash|
|Zach Werenski||Seth Jones|
|Markus Nutivaara||David Savard|
|Dean Kukan||Adam McQuaid|
|Tomas Tatar||Phillip Danault||Brendan Gallagher|
|Artturi Lehkonen||Max Domi||Andrew Shaw|
|Jonathan Drouin||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||Joel Armia|
|Charles Hudon||Nate Thompson||Jordan Weal|
|Victor Mete||Shea Weber|
|Brett Kulak||Jeff Petry|
|Jordie Benn||Christian Folin|