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Game #31 Preview: Blue Jackets are looking for first win of 2022 versus Tampa Bay

At this rate, I may be in goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight...

NHL: APR 25 Blue Jackets at Lightning Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets
Tuesday, January 4, 2022, 7 PM ET
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Bally Sports Ohio - Radio: 97.1 The Fan
Opponent’s Blog: Raw Charge

Tampa Bay Lightning - 21-8-5, 47 points, 1st Atlantic, 3rd East
at
Columbus Blue Jackets - 15-14-1, 31 points, 6th Metropolitan, 11th East

After playing their first ever game on New Year’s Day in franchise history Saturday, in which the team squandered their biggest lead of the season yet, the Columbus Blue Jackets return to home ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a 2-3-1 start, the “Bolts” have returned to full power, going on a 15-3-1 run from November 13 through December 28. Brayden Point returned to the lineup after a long absence on December 28, Andrei Vasilevskiy returned from a Covid bout on Sunday, and Nikita Kucherov has been skating since early December.

On the flip side, the Blue Jackets have been getting the worse side of the injury bug recently, especially in net. Joonas Korpisalo is still in Covid protocol, Daniil Tarasov left Saturday’s game with an injury, and Elvis Merzlikins hasn’t practiced since colliding with Jakub Voracek in the same game. There’s a non-zero chance Cam Johnson and/or Jean-Francois Berube make their CBJ debuts tonight. As if that wasn’t enough, Zach Werenski tested positive yesterday, which means Scott Harrington is back. Huzzah!

Player to Watch - Oliver BJORKSTRAND and Jake Bean

A two-for! The one good bit of injury news for Columbus is that points leader Oliver Bjorkstrand will return to the lineup after his dealing with Omicron. I would say the team needs him, but goals haven’t really been too big an issue for Columbus, scoring an average of 3.6 per game in the past five contests. Goals against has, and with Werenski now out, Jake Bean will need to fill a much bigger role on the defensive end.

The Other Bench

It’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re gonna be good no matter what. - Riley Nash will return to Columbus after being claimed off waivers from Winnipeg. His last game as a Jet? At Nationwide Arena on November 24th, against the Blue Jackets.

Season Series

1/4/2022 - Tampa Bay at Columbus
4/26/2022 - Columbus at Tampa Bay
4/29/2022 - Tampa Bay at Columbus

Stats:

Tampa Bay Columbus
3.15 (13) GPG 3.20 (11)
2.88 (15) GAPG 3.47 (27)
18.1% (19) PP% 17.1% (23)
79.0% (T20) PK% 79.0% (T20)
51.4% (12) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 47.5% (23)
51.7% (10) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 46.3% (29)
8.6 (9) 5v5 Shot % 9.3% (6)
.921 (18) 5v5 Save % .911 (26)
Steven Stamkos, 16 G Leader Captain Boone Jenner, 12
Victor Hedman, 27 A Leader Jakub Voracek, 22
Steven Stamkos, 39 P Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND/Jakub Voracek, 23
Pat Maroon, 54 PIM Leader Andrew Peeke, 26
10-5-2 Home / Road 10-4-1
6-3-1 Last 10 3-6-1

Projected Lineups:

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Patrik Laine Captain Boone Jenner Jakub Voracek
Max Domi Jack Roslovic Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Gus Nyquist Sean Kuraly Alexandre Texier
Eric Robinson/Yegor Chinakhov Cole Sillinger Emil Bemstrom
Andrew Peeke Jake Bean
Vladislav Gavrikov Adam Boqist
Scott Harrington Gabriel Carlsson
Hopefully Elvis Merzlikins?
Cam Johnson?

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Ondrej Palat Steven Stamkos Ross Colton
Alex Killorn Brayden Point Anthony Cirelli
Pat Maroon Pierre-Edouard Bellemare Corey Perry
Boris Katchouk Riley Nash Mathieu Jospeh
Victor Hedman Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh Erik Cernak
Darren Raddysh Mikhail Sergachev
Andrei Vasilevskiy
Brian Elliot

GameThread will be up at 6:30! Until then, chat about the game here!