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Game #57 Preview: Jackets seek an offensive bolt in playoff rematch vs. Tampa

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Here’s what you need to know

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Four
Remember this?
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Monday, February 10, 2020 - 7:30 EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
TV: NBCSN; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Raw Charge

Tampa Bay Lightning (35-15-5, 75 points, 2nd Atlantic, 3rd East)

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Columbus Blue Jackets (30-17-9, 69 points, 3rd Metro, 6th East)

For the first time since a shocking sweep in the first round of last spring’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning come to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. Will the Bolts be seeking revenge for that embarrassment? Will Nick Foligno get revenge for Steven Stamkos sucker-punching him?

This was an obvious choice for a national game, so it is a 7:30 p.m. start and will be on NBCSN. However, yesterday NBC announced that most markets will get the Capitals/Islanders game instead, since Alex Ovechkin is just two goals shy of 700. Only Columbus, Tampa Bay, and New York will see the Lightning/Jackets game on NBCSN. Jackets fans outside of Central Ohio? At this point it seems like you’re out of luck. It’s unclear as of this writing whether it will still be blocked out on NHL.tv for you.

This is, of course, absurd. The Jackets only get two national games all season, and now this one is getting bumped. Meanwhile the historically terrible Red Wings were on national TV twice in the last week, and will be on next weekend as well. 700 goals is a rare feat (only seven players have reached that mark) but it’s an arbitrary one. Him tying or passing Wayne Gretzky’s record would be truly historic; hitting 700 is a mere footnote. It does not define his greatness; he is already great. He has scored many goals and will score many more. What happens if he doesn’t score two goals tonight? Will NBCSN flex in every subsequent game until he hits the mark? Do we think he’ll manage to score two goals against the fifth-stingiest team in the league?

The sad thing is I’m sure they’ll be rewarded with good ratings, and nothing will change with the way we’re seen by the network. It’s a damn shame, because the Jackets and Lightning are two very compelling teams and their contrasting styles will make for an interesting game to watch. If the Jackets were on national TV more often, and if they got marketed correctly, I’m sure they could bring in more ratings than they have. The ratings for their playoff games last spring were excellent!

Player to Watch

Liam Foudy

Shocking news came in Sunday night as it broke that prospect Liam Foudy would be added via emergency recall from his junior team. Aaron Portzline explains here how exactly this move works, with the Jackets being able to call him up at a time convenient for his junior team. He may just be here for one game before going back. It’s also unclear as of this writing who he is replacing in the lineup. Cam Atkinson left Saturday’s game with an injury, so it could be for him. I am assuming for now that Foudy will play center, so I’m penciling him in on the fourth line.

Foudy has 20 goals and 23 assists in 32 games this season with the London Knights of the OHL. He was also one of the three stars of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in January. He has NHL-caliber speed, which will help against the Lightning. Hopefully his goal scoring translates, as this team desperately needs an offensive spark.

Jackets Notes

The Jackets have scored just four goals in their last three games. Only one of those goals came at 5v5 ... Over the weekend, they shut out the Red Wings but fell in the third period to the Avalanche ... Elvis Merzlikins started both legs of the back-to-back, and while starting three games in four days feels ambitious for most goalies, I fully expect Torts to continue riding him until Joonas Korpisalo comes back ... Elvis has five shutouts in his last nine games ... Seth Jones took an ugly spill into the goal in the first period on Saturday, but returned for the start of the second period. Cam Atkinson left in the third period with an apparent leg injury and his status is uncertain.

The Other Bench

The only team as hot as the Jackets is the Lightning. They are both 8-1-1 in their last ten games, and the Lightning are 18-2-1 since December 23. They carry a six game win streak into this game ... Their last game was a 3-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday ... The Lightning lost defenders Jan Rutta and Ryan McDonagh last week with lower body injuries ... that first line is freaky good, and both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have ten game point streaks.

Season Series

02/10/20 TBL @ CBJ
03/27/20 CBJ @ TBL
04/02/20 TBL @ CBJ

Stats

Tampa Bay Columbus
3.58 (2) GPG 2.63 (26)
2.73 (6) GAPG 2.41 (2)
24.4% (5) PP% 16.9% (23)
83.9% (3) PK% 82.9% (9)
52.3% (6) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 48.7% (21)
51.8% (6) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 50.6% (12)
10.1 (1) 5v5 Shot % 6.9 (28)
.925 (8) 5v5 Save % .935 (1)
Steven Stamkos, 26 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver BJORKSTRAND, Zach Werenski, 17
Nikita Kucherov, 42 A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 25
Nikita Kucherov, 67 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 42
Pat Maroon, 62 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 52
17-8-3 Home / Road 18-10-2
8-1-1 Last 10 8-1-1

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Gus Nyquist Boone Jenner Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano Riley Nash Emil Bemstrom
Nathan Gerbe Liam Foudy Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Markus Nutivaara Andrew Peeke
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos Brayden Point Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat Anthony Cirelli Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn Cedric Paquette Patrick Maroon
Carter Verhaeghe Mitchell Stephens Yanni Gourde
Victor Hedman Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev Kevin Shattenkirk
Braydon Coburn Luke Schenn
Andrei Vasileskiy
Curtis McElhinney