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Game #52 Preview: Last place Blue Jackets at first place Carolina Hurricanes

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This is a thing that is happening.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - 7:00 EST
PNC Arena - Raleigh, North Carolina
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Canes Country

Carolina Hurricanes (33-10-7, 73 points, 1st Central)

vs.

Columbus Blue Jackets (16-25-10, 41 points, 8th Central)

The last time we played the Hurricanes this season (March 24), it might have been considered a potential turning point of our season - tonight, when we play them, it’ll be a best-case scenario if none of our players seriously injure themselves. Let’s get into it, shall we?

Player(s) to Watch

Oliver Bjorkstrand, Elvis Merzlikins

Honestly, the player that I love watching most these days is Oliver Bjorkstrand. He’s the one who makes me feel like there’s something fun I can still expect from an ultimately un-fun game, so I always keep my eyes on him. Even if he can’t always turn the game around, he always tries to keep it interesting.

The other one to watch is Elvis Merzlikins - he played an excellent game against the Red Wings on Tuesday night, shutting them out in regulation and overtime and winning in a shootout. With Joonas Korpisalo out for the remainder of the season, it’s Elvis’s time to shine.

Jackets Notes

This doesn’t really have to do with tonight’s game, but there’s this news, accompanied by one of the most hilarious attempts at Photoshop I’ve seen in awhile:

Emil Bemstrom was activated off IR yesterday, so that’s exciting - less exciting is this update:

Not going to remove Ollie as my player to watch because I’m going to will him into health and into playing tonight!

The Other Bench

Carolina is having a beautiful, amazing season - must be nice! Around the same time the Jackets were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs last week, the Hurricanes clinched their playoff spot as the first-place team in the division. Here’s this fun stat:

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 (OT)
03/20/2021 CBJ 3 @ CAR 2 (SO)
03/22/2021 CAR 3 @ CBJ 0
03/25/2021 CAR 4 @ CBJ 3
05/01/2021 CBJ @ CAR

Stats

Carolina Columbus
3.20 (11) GPG 2.33 (29)
2.36 (3) GAPG 3.27 (26)
27.2% (1) PP% 14.7% (28)
84.4% (4) PK% 79.8% (14)
53.5% (3) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 46.4% (29)
53.4% (6) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 46.9% (27)
7.6 (22) 5v5 Shot % 7.1 (30)
.936 (1) 5v5 Save % .910 (26)
Sebastian Aho, 21 G Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 15
Dougie Hamilton, 31 A Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 23
Sebastian Aho, 51 P Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 38
Andrei Svechnikov, 42 PIM Leader Max Domi, 71
17-3-4 Home / Road 7-17-3
6-1-3 Last 10 1-7-2

Projected Lines

Columbus Blue Jackets
Eric Robinson Max Domi Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Liam Foudy Alexandre Texier Cam Atkinson
Mikhail Grigorenko Jack Roslovic Patrik Laine
Nathan Gerbe Ryan MacInnis Stefan Matteau
Michael Del Zotto Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov Mikko Lehtonen
Gavin Bayreuther Dean Kukan
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Carolina Hurricanes
Andrei Svechnikov Sebastian Aho Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter Vincent Trocheck Martin Necas
Cedric Paquette Jordan Staal Warren Foegele
Max McCormick Steven Lorentz Morgan Geekie
Jacob Slavin Dougie Hamilton
Jake Bean Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei Jani Hakanpaa
Alex Nedeljkovic
James Reimer