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Game #41 Preview: After ending decade on high note, Jackets look to continue point streak in Boston

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Let’s start in 2020 the way we ended in 2019.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, January 2, 2020 - 7:00 EST
TD Garden - Boston, Massachusetts
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN+; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Boston Bruins (24-7-10, 58 points, 1st Atlantic, 2nd Eastern)

vs.

Columbus Blue Jackets (18-14-8, 44 points, 6th Metro, 10th Eastern)

Well, it’ll be interesting to see how the Jackets plan to top Tuesday’s game.

The CBJ are coming off an unprecedented (by me, at least) 4-1 win over Sergei Bobrovsky (and, less importantly, the rest of the Florida Panthers lineup) in which Elvis Merzlikins FINALLY 1. got his first home start and 2. his first NHL win... also Zach Werenski scored a hat trick, marking his third, fourth and fifth NYE goals in the last two years and being the first CBJ defenseman to score a hat trick since 2006.

No big deal, right?

Even more interesting is the larger picture, in which the Jackets currently hold the longest point streak in the NHL at 11 games, despite the roster being decimated by injury. Here’s a tweet to put it all into perspective:

Nobody ever said hockey made sense! And if they did say that, they must not be familiar with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So, after establishing the context under which the Jackets are playing in Boston tonight, it’s time to speculate: how will the Jackets injury-riddled, odds-defying squad hold up against the 1st placed team in the Eastern Conference?

Player to watch:

Well, I’m going to go ahead and say the obvious, for a second game in a row: Elvis Merzlikins. After being put in a lot of crappy situations (and, to be fair, letting in some crappy goals) in his meager number of on-ice appearances thus far this season, he absolutely proved everyone wrong on Tuesday night — he’s not a bad luck charm, as some of the more superstitious fans have asserted — he just hadn’t been given a solid chance yet. With Joonas Korpisalo out the next 4-6 weeks recovering from a torn meniscus, Elvis will have plenty of upcoming chances to further prove his worth to this team.

Jackets Notes:

We’re already well aware of the injured team members that are about to outnumber the healthy players, so I’ll say this: The NHL went ahead and slapped John Tortorella with a $20,000 fines for his righteous outburst against the referees on Sunday’s home game against the Blackhawks. Interestingly enough, he’s also been hit with a “conditional” fine of $25,000 valid through Dec. 29, 2020 in the instance of another similar outburst taking place. Ah, Torts.

The Other Bench:

David Pastrnak, Tukka Rask, and Tyler Bertuzzi will be heading to the All Star Game later this month, and Patrice Bergeron is in contention for the Last Man In vote. Noticeably missing from this lineup is the team’s high-performer Brad Marchand, who Boston fans say was snubbed and I say was a fair dose of karma. It’s cool to be good at hockey but when you are a well-known jerk, it’s hard to feel bad!

Another thing worth mentioning but that I have a hard time feeling sympathy towards given CBJ’s situation is that Boston is dealing with some notable injuries right now too. Click here to check out their current IR list.

Season Series:

1/2/2020 CBJ @ BOS
1/14/2020 BOS @ CBJ
3/16/2020 CBJ @ BOS

Stats

Boston Columbus
3.37 (8) GPG 2.63 (26)
2.41 (1) GAPG 2.75 (7)
26.9% (3) PP% 17.3% (23)
85.2% (2) PK% 81.1% (15)
49.7% (18) 5v5 Corsi % 50.2% (13)
49.3% (18) 5v5 Fenwick % 52.5% (7)
9.2 (6) 5v5 Shot % 6.7 (28)
.932 (3) 5v5 Save % .925 (19)
David Pastrnak, 29 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 13
Brad Marchand, 39 A Leader Gustav Nyquist, 19
Brad Marchand, 59 P Leader Gustav Nyquist, 28
Brad Marchand, 47 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 41
14-1-8 Home / Road 6-6-6
4-2-4 Last 10 6-0-4

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Gustav Nyquist
Nathan Gerbe Pierre-Luc Dubois Kevin Stenlund
Jakob Lilja Riley Nash Ryan MacInnis
Justin Scott Alexander Wennberg Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Gabriel Carlsson Dean Kukan
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Brett Richie
Jake DeBrusk Par Lindholm David Backes
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara Brandon Carlo
Jeremy Lauzon Matt Grzelcyk
John Moore Steve Kampfer
Jaroslav Halak
Tukka Rask