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Game #31 Preview/Gamethread: Back Into the Eye of the Storm

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Jackets take on the Canes - 2 of 4

Columbus Blue Jackets v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes
Saturday, March 20, 2021 - 7:00 EST
PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
TV: Fox Sports Ohio - Radio: WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Canes Country

Columbus Blue Jackets, 12-12-7, 31 points, 5th Central
@
Carolina Hurricanes, 20-7-2, 42 points, 3rd Central

The Columbus Blue Jackets play the second half of the first half of the current four game set to kick off the first half of the second half of the season series against the Carolina Hurricanes. A scant two days ago, the Jackets went to overtime to hand the Canes only their third home loss of the season. Joonas Korpisalo was very good, Oliver Bjorkstrand playmade, and Seth Jones found his scoring touch.

No updates to the lineup as of this writing, but I would not be surprised to see Elvis Merzlikins back in the net and Mikhail Grigorenko given another chance to play, assuming he’s back in good health.

Let’s talk Jackets for a second. The trade deadline is a few weeks ahead, though with all the chatter, you’d be forgiven if you thought it was this week. Are the Jackets buyers or sellers? Are the Jackets good or bad? Is the latter question more important than the former?

If you look at team stats, the Jackets are not a good team. Not in scoring, not in possession, not in defense. Yet, they sit 2 points out of a playoff spot behind a team that seems to be fading and ahead of teams missing key players. There’s room to maneuver.

If the Jackets are buyers — what ammo do they have aside from picks? Are any of the movable pieces good enough to bring back anything that can help now? And what’s the goal?

If the Jackets are sellers, it’s the same question. Are the pieces to be moved going to bring back enough to reload anything?

I’m of the opinion that Columbus does not have good enough pieces to trade to make a run for anything other than a playoff squeak-in. They also don’t have enough pieces to trade to reload the team for a quick rebuild. This team is stuck in mediocre team purgatory and the FO is going to have to make a tough decision. Personally, I think a ceiling has been reached - don’t mortgage more of the future for middling returns. Sell, Mortimer! Sell!

Player to Watch

Cam Atkinson

Welcome back to the show, Cam. You had a sterling February, no doubt in an attempt to woo me. 8-5-13 in 13 games that month. But you did not woo me. There has been no follow through! No call back. No second date. Your March numbers aren’t anything to write my mother about - 2-2-4 in 8 games, including two points against Detroit. You can’t holler at me while hanging from your best friend’s ride. Who is your best friend? His name is Oliver and he has 4-6-10 in this same month. Get your focus back on the ice, Cam. You’ve looked a little lost the last couple of games. Start a new hot streak. There’s still time to fix March.

Season Series

02/07/2021 CAR 6 @ CBJ 5
02/08/2021 CAR 2 @ CBJ 3
02/15/2021 CBJ 3 @ CAR 7
03/18/2021 CBJ 3 @ CAR 2
03/20/2021 CBJ @ CAR
03/22/2021 CAR @ CBJ
03/25/2021 CAR @ CBJ
05/01/2021 CBJ @ CAR

Lineups

Oh, probably the same as the last game.

UPDATE

Stats

Carolina Columbus
3.28 (7) GPG 2.65 (24)
2.59 (8) GAPG 3.16 (22)
31.9% (1) PP% 15.8% (25)
82.0% (9) PK% 72.6% (T28)
52.9% (T3) 5v5 Corsi % 46.2% (Dead Friggin' Last)
52.2% (8) 5v5 Fenwick % 47.4% (28)
7.4% (T25) 5v5 Shot % 8.2% (15)
.932 (3) 5v5 Save % .916 (23)
Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter, 13 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 11
Dougie Hamilton, 20 A Leader Oliver Bjorkstrand, 16
Sebastian Aho, 28 P Leader Oliver Bjorkstrand, 26
Andrei Svechnikov, 26 PIM Leader Max Domi, 37
10-1-2 Home / Road 5-7-2
8-1-1 Last 10 4-4-2