Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-5-3, 15 points, .536 P%, 4th Central
Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4-4, 16 points, .571 P%, 3rd Central
The Columbus Blue Jackets and their unending stream of headlines head to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. Since Saturday, the Blue Jackets have seen:
-a controversial and poorly officiated game where the league inadvertently allowed a goal to stand following a botched replay
-Patrik Laine benched for more than 26 minutes Monday night
-Cam Atkinson said postgame that Laine “has to be better”
-Aaron Portzline speculate that Torts might want out of Columbus
-Mikko Koivu abruptly retired on Tuesday afternoon
-Reporting from the Dispatch late on Tuesday night that Laine was benched for blowing off an assistant coach
-A terse press conference from Torts and Laine saying “everything is fine” and “we’re by it”
With all of that behind them (hopefully), the Blue Jackets actually get to play hockey tonight. The Jackets desperately need two points tonight - by actual points, they’re in a playoff position, but with games getting postponed and teams shutting down left and right, points percentage is becoming increasingly important. In that area, the Jackets are just sixth in the division, ahead of only Nashville and Detroit. They have to find a way to start getting results, and quick.
One area the Jackets can look for some improvement as they seek a win tonight? Going to the front of the net.
At both 5v5 and on the power play, the Blue Jackets just abandon the area in front of the net. They don’t attack it, and they don’t take shots from that area. Columbus, when they’re moderately successful offensively, have generated rebounds and greasy goals from areas surrounding the net. They’re simply not doing that this year, nor are they scoring much at all - the offense is 23rd in goals per game. Send the puck on net, generate rebounds, and crash the crease. Good things happen that way.
Surely the coaching staff can get that message across.
Player to Watch
After being sat for 26 minutes on Monday night for ... something, he’ll play tonight.
Laine will play Thursday in Chicago, no further disciplinary measures etc.— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) February 10, 2021
Tortorella was emphatic that the situation is in the past.
"We ... are ... by it."#CBJ
How will Laine respond? He says he is by it as well, and is motivated to use this lesson to get better. But will he have a short leash? Will he get his usual deployment, or will he lose minutes here and there? How will lines be juggled in the middle of the game, and whose wing will he be shuffled to?
All story lines to pay attention to as we go through the game tonight.
Andrew Peeke is projected to make his season debut tonight, drawing in for Dean Kukan ... Elvis Merzlikins is still on injured reserve, but he did make the trip to Chicago ... Laine said in his post-practice comments that this benching will “absolutely not” affect his chances of signing long term ... Stenlund will draw in to the lineup following Koviu’s retirement ... Zach Werenski skated on his own in the Ice Haus yesterday, but did not make the trip to Chicago
The Other Bench
Lucas Wallmark was removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 list, leaving Ryan Carpenter as the Hawks’ only player on the list ... Kevin Lankinen had an assist in his last game on the game winning goal, the first rookie goalie to have an assist since Mackenzie Blackwood ... Chicago is coming off a two game sweep of the Dallas Stars ... The Blackhawks are driven by special teams success, ninth in the league on the penalty kill and fourth on the power play, while their 5v5 numbers are bottom third of the league
01/29/2021 CBJ 2 @ CHI 1
01/31/2021 CBJ 1 @ CHI 3
02/11/2021 CHI @ CBJ
02/13/2021 CHI @ CBJ
02/23/2021 CHI @ CBJ
02/25/2021 CHI @ CBJ
04/10/2021 CHI @ CBJ
04/12/2021 CHI @ CBJ
|2.79 (20)||GPG||2.71 (23)|
|2.79 (17)||GAPG||3.14 (23)|
|35.6% (4)||PP%||13.2% (26)|
|83.0% (9)||PK%||77.4% (22)|
|46.97% (27)||5v5 Shot Attempt %||45.14% (30)|
|47.91% (25)||5v5 Unblocked shot attempt %||45.30% (30)|
|5.42 (31)||5v5 Shot %||9.12 (11)|
|.922 (10)||5v5 Save %||.915 (20)|
|Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, 6||G Leader||Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alexandre Texier, Nick Foligno 4|
|Patrick Kane, 11||A Leader||Oliver Bjorkstrand, 7|
|Patrick Kane, 17||P Leader||Oliver Bjorkstrand, 11|
|Duncan Keith, 12||PIM Leader||Oliver Bjorkstrand, 23|
|4-1-1||Home / Road||2-3-1|
I have no idea what to do with these line projections. This is how they skated in practice yesterday, but how long they stay this way, or which line gets the majority of deployment, is anyone’s guess. The ongoing philosophy seems to be “riding the hot hand” according to the coaching staff, but Boone Jenner and David Savard still get heavy usage by the coaching staff, so who knows.
Will the coaching staff let these percolate and allow for chemistry to develop as we cross the quarter pole of the season? Doubtful, but we can hope.
|Patrik Laine||Jack Roslovic||Cam Atkinson|
|Max Domi||Kevin Stenlund||Oliver Bjorkstrand|
|Mikhail Grigorenko||Boone Jenner||Alexandre Texier|
|Eric Robinson||Riley Nash||Nick Foligno|
|Vladislav Gavrikov||Seth Jones|
|Scott Harrington||David Savard|
|Michael Del Zotto||Andrew Peeke|
|Mattias Janmark||Pius Suter||Patrick Kane|
|Alex DeBrincat||Dylan Strome||Dominik Kubalik|
|Philipp Kurashev||Carl Soderberg||Brandon Hagel|
|Andrew Shaw||David Kampf||Madison Bowey|
|Duncan Keith||Ian Mitchell|
|Calvin De Haan||Lucas Carlsson|
|Nikita Zadorov||Nicolas Beaudin|