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Game #47 Preview: Struggling Blue Jackets visit reloaded Panthers

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Here’s what you need to know

Columbus Blue Jackets v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Monday, April 19, 2021 - 7:00 EST
BB&T Center - Sunrise, Florida
TV: Bally Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Litter Box Cats

Columbus Blue Jackets (15-22-9, 39 points, 7th Central)

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Florida Panthers (28-12-5, 61 points, 2nd Central)

It was just a little over two weeks ago that the Blue Jackets were last in Sunrise, and that pair of three-goal defeats effectively put the nail in the coffin of the season. It is a much different lineup taking the ice tonight, with Boone Jenner and Zach Werenski on injured reserve for the remainder of the season, the trio of Nick Foligno, David Savard, and Riley Nash traded prior to the deadline, and Liam Foudy banished to Cleveland.

Player to Watch

Rather than a single player to watch, I want to discuss what we’re looking for in these final ten games:

  • Play the kids. I really don’t need to see much of Scott Harrington, Zac Dalpe, or Stefan Matteau. We know who these veterans are, and they’re not part of the long term future of this team. Keep newcomer Josh Dunne in there, who has impressed in his first two NHL games. It’s good to see Andrew Peeke again but is he well served by dragging Harrington up and down the ice? Why not see if he can effectively replace Savard on Vladislav Gavrikov’s right side?
  • Can a goalie step up? This current five game losing streak features the Jackets surrendering at least four goals each game. This is unacceptable. Neither goalie has been oustanding this year, and we need at least one to put together some strong starts to raise his trade value.
  • Don’t give up. The most frustrating part of the losses in Dallas is that the Jackets were playing well and keeping things close, but then they folded at the first sign of adversity. This team looks mentally soft, which has not been said before about John Tortorella’s teams here. Put in 60 minutes of effort. The talent may not be there to hang with a roster like Florida’s, but if they lose on talent I can take that. I can’t take them not even playing to their fullest ability.

Jackets Notes

Speaking of goalies, Joonas Korpisalo has been pulled mid-game in two of his last three starts, including Saturday night in Dallas. History suggests that Elvis Merzlikins would get the start today after coming on in relief in that game ... Max Domi has earned a whopping 28 penalty minutes in his last three games. He needs to rein in his temper, because he has been the most effective center here for Patrik Laine, and it hurts that top line if Domi is in the box for nearly a third of the game (and stapled to the bench after that) ... In happier news, the Blue Jackets signed Powell native and Ohio State alumus Carson Meyer to an entry level contract for the 2021-22 season. Meyer was a sixth round draft pick back in 2017 but was not offered an NHL contract last summer despite scoring 31 points in 35 games for OSU. He was signed to an AHL contract instead, and he has embraced that opportunity with 13 points in 14 games so far for the Monsters. We’ll see next year if his scoring touch can translate to the NHL. If Kole Sherwood re-signs this summer, there’s a chance that three Ohio AAA Blue Jackets alumni could play for the Columbus Blue Jackets at the same time. Pretty cool.

The Other Bench

After sweeping Columbus, the Panthers embarked on a six game road trip of their own. The 2-3-1 record is underwhelming for them, but they’ve earned points in their last three ... The Panthers were active shoppers at the deadline, acquiring Sam Bennett from Calgary, Lucas Wallmark from Chicago, and Brandon Montour from Buffalo. They also signed Nikita Gusev as a free agent after his contract with New Jersey was terminated ... The new players played a big role in the 5-3 victory over Tampa on Saturday, with Bennett and Montour scoring goals. That was the first defeat of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy on home ice this season.

Season Series

01/26/2021 FLA 4 @ CBJ 3 (SO)
01/28/2021 FLA 2 @ CBJ 3 (SO)
03/09/2021 FLA 4 @ CBJ 203/11/2021 FLA 5 @ CBJ 4 (OT)
04/03/2021 CBJ 2 @ FLA 5
04/04/2021 CBJ 0 @ FLA 3
04/19/2021 CBJ @ FLA
04/20/2021 CBJ @ FLA

Stats

Florida Columbus
3.16 (10) GPG 2.43 (28)
2.69 (12) GAPG 3.28 (26)
21.9% (11) PP% 13.7% (28)
80.0% (14) PK% 78.6% (19)
51.9% (10) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 46.2% (30)
52.1% (6) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 46.9% (27)
7.5 (24) 5v5 Shot % 7.6 (20)
.926 (5) 5v5 Save % .909 (28)
Aleksander Barkov, 18 G Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND and Cam Atkinson, 14
Jonathan Huberdeau, 30 A Leader Jack Roslovic, 20
Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, 45 P Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 33
MacKenzie Weegar, 41 PIM Leader Max "Madman" Domi, 67
14-4-3 Home / Road 7-14-2
6-3-1 Last 10 2-7-1

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Patrik Laine Max Domi Eric Robinson
Oliver BJORKSTRAND Jack Roslovic Cam Atkinson
Mikhail Grigorenko Alexandre Texier Zac Dalpe
Stefan Matteau Josh Dunne Ryan MacInnis
Mikko Lehtonen Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov Michael Del Zotto
Scott Harrington Andrew Peeke
Elvis Merzlikins
Joonas Korpisalo
Florida Panthers
Mason Marchment Aleksander Barkov Nikita Gusev
Jonathan Huberdeau Sam Bennett Anthony Duclair
Frank Vatrano Alexander Wennberg Patric Hornqvist
Juho Lammikkko Lucas Wallmark Owen Tippett
Gustav Forsling Mackenzie Weegar
Keith Yandle Radko Gudas
Markus Nutivaara Brandon Montour
Chris Driedger
Sergei Bobrovsky