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Game 47 Preview: Back at home, Blue Jackets look to tame Bruins in Eastern Conference showdown

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Blue Jackets return home after 3-1 left-coast trip.

NHL: JAN 02 Blue Jackets at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Boston Bruins (27-8-12, 66 points, 1st Atlantic, 2nd East)

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Columbus Blue Jackets (22-16-8, 52 points, 6th Metro, 10th East)

Back home after a successful west-coast road trip in which the Blue Jackets went 3-1, they’ll host the Bruins Tuesday night from Nationwide Arena. Elvis Merzlikins earned his first- career shutout — pretty appropriately — in the win over the Golden Knights in Las Vegas in the teams’ last game on Saturday. Columbus looks to keep their impressive play going with a big matchup inside the Eastern Conference tonight.

The Bruins come in as the third-best team in the NHL and first place in the Atlantic Division. They played the Flyers last night, who are just above Columbus in the Metropolitan, and wild card standings.

The Bruins versus Flyers was a game I monitored somewhat closely, seeing the score change from 3-2 Boston, to 4-2 and then 5-2 on my phone, to me deciding to just watch the third period. Ultimately the Flyers tied the score at five, forced overtime, and defeated the Bruins 6-5 in shootout.

Tonight’s game is the middle of three between the Blue Jackets and Bruins this season. On Jan. 2 in Boston, the Blue Jackets won 2-1 in overtime, with the third matchup to come at TD Garden Mar. 16.

Player to Watch

Merzlikins (5-6-4, 2.70, .915) has been fun to watch, and with consistent playing time due to Joonas Korpisalo’s injury, John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets have been forced to see what they have in the young Latvian goaltender. The results have been favorable, with the aforementioned shutout Saturday night, and helping lead the way with a big 3-1 west coast trip. Since Dec. 31, when Elvis was forced to take over as starter due to Korpisalo’s injury, he is 5-2-0, 1.88, .943. His five wins is second in the league over that span.

Jackets Notes

The Blue Jackets come into tonight's game with points in 15 of their last 17 games (11-2-4). ... John Tortorella is two wins from 200 in his Blue Jackets’ coaching career. ... Zach Werenski (15 goals, 13 assists) comes in with five goals in his last two home games, and nine in his past 13 since returning from injury Dec. 17. ... With his goal Saturday night, Alexander Wennberg has three on the season, eclipsing last season’s total of two. ... The goal was his first since Oct. 21 at the Maple Leafs, snapping a 35-game goalless drought. ... Will tonight be Cam Atkinson’s return to the lineup? He’s been skating with the Blue Jackets for a while now, and he, along with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Andrew Peeke all practiced on Monday. ... The Blue Jackets have allowed three goals or fewer in their past 13 games. ... Kevin Stenlund earned his first-career multi-point game Saturday (two assists). ... Columbus has an 8-4-4 record in their past 16 against the Bruins. ...

The Other Bench

As you may recall, from when the Blue Jackets beat the Bruins in overtime, Boston is the worst team in extra time with 12 overtime losses, and they are 0-7 in shootout. ... Last night, Brad Marchand overskated the puck and because he moved it forward, it was recorded as an official no goal. ... David Pastrnak is fourth in the league with 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists), first in goals by five, while Brad Marchand is sixth with 63 points (20-43). ... Patrice Bergeron brings 19 goals, 20 assists into play. ... Boston is about as good as it gets in the NHL when it comes to GA/GP (2nd: 2.51), in part, to their goaltending from Tuukka Rask (17-4-6, 2.27 GAA, .925 SV%), who is ninth in the league in wins, and Jaroslav Halak (10-4-6, 2.46, .920) who started last night, but yielded five goals in the loss. ... Boston is second with just 76 5-on-5 goals allowed, while Columbus is tied (78). ... On Monday, Zdeno Chara played in his 1,000th career game as a Bruin and 1,530th overall in his 22-year career. ... David Backes has battled injuries and a series of healthy scratches this season, such as last night at the Flyers; he only has three points (one goal, two assists) in 16 games. ... Backes hasn’t cracked double-digit ice-time since Dec. 3, but he’s only appeared in six games since then. ... David Krejci (11 goals, 21 assists) scored two goals last night for his second multi-goal game this season. ... Here’s how Marchand and the Bruins lost last night, because I know you want to see it:

Season Series

01/02/2020 CBJ 2 @ BOS 1 OT
01/14/2020 BOS @ CBJ
3/16/2020 CBJ @ BOS

Stats

Boston Columbus
3.38 (7) GPG 2.63 (27)
2.51 (2) GAPG 2.65 (6)
28.0% (2) PP% 17.3% (23)
83.5% (3) PK% 81.3% (13)
49.8% (16) 5v5 Corsi % 49.1% (18)
49.5% (15) 5v5 Fenwick % 51.1% (10)
9.1 (8) 5v5 Shot % 6.8 (28)
.931 (2) 5v5 Save % .928 (7)
David Pastrnak, 36 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Zach Werenski, 15
Brad Marchand, 43 A Leader Seth Jones, Gustav Nyquist, 21
David Pastrnak, 66 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 34
Brad Marchand, 49 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 50
12-6-3 Home / Road 12-9-2
6-1-3 Last 10 6-2-2

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Sonny Milano Pierre-Luc Dubois Emil Bemstrom
Gustav Nyquist Boone Jenner Nick Foligno
Nathan Gerbe Alexander Wennberg Kevin Stenlund
Jakob Lilja Riley Nash Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Markus Nutivaara
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
John Moore Steve Kampfer
Tukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak