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Game #55 Preview: Blue Jackets look to continue mastery of Red Wings

Red-hot Blue Jackets meet ice-cold Red Wings.

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Columbus Blue Jackets v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Friday, February 7, 2020 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN+, - Radio: WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Winging It In Motown

Detroit Red Wings, 13-38-4, 30 points, 8th Atlantic, 16th East


Columbus Blue Jackets, 29-16-9, 67 points, 4th Metro, 6th East

For two months, the Columbus Blue Jackets have rolled along on a nightly basis and tonight, they’ll look to reassert their dominance against the league-worst Detroit Red Wings.

Imagine that sentiment a decade ago.

The Blue Jackets seek the season-series sweep when they meet the Red Wings tonight at Nationwide Arena, a team they’ve beaten twice this season, and have dominated to the tune of a 10-0-1 record in the last 11 meetings.

Last time out against Sergei Bobrovsky and the Panthers on Tuesday night, Elvis Merzlikins picked up another shutout, and Zach Werenski scored the overtime game-winner to snap a nine-game goalless drought.

The Blue Jackets enter action for tonight’s tilt on a nine-game points-streak, and 17-game points-streak against the Eastern Conference. They’re going for their third-consecutive win overall. Meanwhile, the Red Wings played last night against the Sabres on NBCSN for some reason, snapping a nine-game losing streak with a 4-3 shootout win.

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Player to Watch

The 35-year-old veteran Jimmy Howard is 2-20-2 — hasn’t won since October — this season, sporting a 4.12 GAA, .884 SV%. Though we know the team in front of him isn’t exactly stellar either. Still, big yikes. It’s especially alarming how some of the prominent goalies around the league stack up this season when compared to Howard, who is last in the league in save percentage and goals against average (At least 24 starts). Howard is four wins away from 250 in his career and you wonder if he reaches that this year the way it’s going.

Jackets Notes

Merzlikins co-leads the NHL with four shutouts, and all in the last seven games. ... Cam Atkinson skates into tonight’s matchup two goals shy of 200 for his career. ... With Tuesday’s game-winning goal, Werenski has tied his career-high for goals in a season (16), is six goals from 60 in his career, and now has 160 career points. ... Seth Jones, for his career, is one goal away from 60, two assists shy of 200, and three points shy of 260. ... Nick Foligno is three points from 500 in his career. ... In two games against the Red Wings so far, Gustav Nyquist is 1-2—3. ... Eric Robinson (day-to-day) blocked a shot Tuesday versus Florida, and was on crutches Thursday. ... Kevin Stenlund (recalled from Cleveland) would slot back in for Robinson’s absence. ... Matiss Kivlenieks and Andrew Peeke were also recalled from Cleveland on Thursday. ... Columbus is 20-4-2 in the last 26 games versus Detroit. ... The Blue Jackets play the Avalanche tomorrow night at home to complete the back-to-back; Colorado won the first matchup in Denver, 4-2.

The Other Bench

With 30 points (13-38-4) on the season, the Red Wings are last in the NHL, sitting 13 points deep inside the NHL basement. ... Blue Jackets Insider Jeff Svoboda had an interesting note on Detroit’s futility in today’s game preview. ... Prior to last night’s victory against the Sabres, Detroit had lost six straight, and had been shutout in the back-to-back games prior. ... Jonathan Bernier (11-14-2, 2.89, .908) missed time in January with a lower-body injury but has started the last three for Detroit. ... Because of the game last night, I would expect Howard sees the net tonight. ... Detroit’s -95 goal differential is last in the NHL. ... Though team has struggled, they have some guys who can score like leading points-getter Dylan Larkin (39—15-24) who scored twice last night, and leading goal-scorer Tyler Bertuzzi (37—18-19).

Season Series

11/21/2019 DET 4 @ CBJ 5
12/17/2019 CBJ 5 @ DET 3
02/07/2020 DET @ CBJ

Stats Preview

Detroit Columbus
2.05 (31) GPG 2.67 (25)
3.80 (31) GAPG 2.46 (2)
14.7% (30) PP% 17.1% (24)
73.8% (30) PK% 82.4% (10)
46.1% (31) 5v5 Corsi % 48.40% (22)
46.4% (31) 5v5 Fenwick % 50.2% (13)
6.2 (30) 5v5 Shot % 7.2 (27)
.904 (30) 5v5 Save % .935 (1)
Tyler Bertuzzi,
G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand,
Dylan Larkin,
A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois,
Dylan Larkin,
P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois,
Filip Hronek,
PIM Leader Nick Foligno,
5-20-2 Home / Road 17-9-2
1-8-1 Last 10 8-1-1

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver Bjorkstrand
Gustav Nyquist Boone Jenner Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano Riley Nash Emil Bemstrom
Nathan Gerbe Ryan MacInnis Kevin Stenlund
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Markus Nutivaara
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks

Detroit Red Wings

Darren Helm Dylan Larkin Robby Fabbri
Tyler Bertuzzi Valtteri Filppula Justin Abdelkader
Andreas Athanasiou Luke Glendening Taro Hirose
Givani Smith Christoffer Ehn Adam Erne
Dennis Cholowski Filip Hronek
Patrik Nemeth Alex Biega
Trevor Daley Gustav Lindstrom
Jimmy Howard
Jonathan Bernier