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Game #51 Preview: Blue Jackets seek redemption against Panthers

Columbus looks to avenge previous two lopsided losses

Florida Panthers v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

Thursday, February 24, 2022 - 7:00 EST
BB&T Center - Sunrise, Florida
TV: ESPN+/Hulu; Radio: 105.7 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Litter Box Cats

Columbus Blue Jackets (26-23-1, 51 points, 5th Metro, 10th East)
at
Florida Panthers (35-11-5, 75 points, 1st Atlantic, 1st East)

Our Blue Jackets will get one final shot at redemption against the Florida Panthers tonight. You may recall the offensive onslaughts provided by Florida in the first two meetings when they victimized the Blue Jackets for 17 goals. Chants of “We want ten!” haunted Zach Werenski’s dreams after surrendering nine goals in their first meeting, only to allow eight goals in the next matchup.

The Jackets head back down to Florida a revitalized team, having won 8 of their last 10 games. They’ll get a chance to use tonight as a real measuring stick against the Eastern Coference’s best. Talk about a heat check!

Player to Watch

Zach Werenski

Obviously, Patrik Laine is the story right now with his incredible point streak, but Werenski has quietly put together his own six game point streak. As mentioned earlier, Werenski stated how embarrassed he was with the defensive performance against the Panthers this year. Hopefully Z can keep the point streak alive while keeping the Panthers offense to less than a touchdown.

Boone Jenner

Since Werenski will miss tonight’s game with injury, I’m going to go with the safe bet. With all the injuries, this is a game where (on paper) the Jackets have no chance of winning. Tonight is a game where the intangibles of a captain come into play as the wild card. He’s been doing it all year, but can Boone Jenner lead his team into battle and will his team to victory as the massive underdogs?

Jackets Notes

The hits keep coming for the Jackets. They announced yesterday that Daniil Tarasov underwent season-ending hip surgery after he wasn’t recovering with rest and rehab. Its a tough blow, considering the Blue Jackets deadline plans. Thankfully J.F. Berube has shown himself to be a capable backup in his two games.

Elvis Merzlikins was back at practice and could get the start in net. He also will be looking to regain some of his pride, having been yanked in both of his starts against Florida after getting shelled early both times. This is a game that all of the Jackets players should have had circled on their calendars.

The Other Bench

Florida is coming off a rare loss in which they blew multiple leads to the Nashville Predators. Prior to that defeat, the Panthers had not lost at home since December 16th, so expect them to be in a sour mood and ready to get back to their winning ways. Panthers captain, and BFF of Patrik Laine, was recently asked about his current hot streak.

The Panthers are aware this is an energized Laine and Blue Jackets team, and will look to put a stop to that tonight.

Season Series

2/24/22 CBJ @ FLA
1/31/22 FLA 8 @ 4 CBJ
1/15/22 CBJ 2 @ 9 FLA

Stats

Florida Columbus
4.23 (1) GPG 3.28 (11)
2.90(15) GAPG 3.64 (31)
20.8% (14) PP% 17.7% (23)
79.0% (18) PK% 80.9% (14)
56.0% (1) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 47.9% (21)
55.8% (1) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 47.0% (26)
9.48% (5) 5v5 Shooting % 9.45 (6)
.922 (14) 5v5 Save % .904 (30)
Aleksander Barkov, 23 G Leader Boone Jenner, 21
Jonathan Huberdeau, 55 A Leader Jakub Voracek, 32
Jonathan Huberdeau, 72 P Leader Boone Jenner, 39
Radko Gudas, 63 PIM Leader Andrew Peeke, 32
23-4-0 Home / Road 12-13-0
7-3-0 Last 10 8-2-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Patrik Laine Boone Jenner Jakub Voracek
Gus Nyquist Cole Sillinger Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Max Domi Sean Kuraly Yegor Chinakhov
Brendan Gaunce Jack Roslovic Justin Danforth
Zach Werenski Andrew Peeke
Vladislav Gavrikov Adam Boqvist
Gavin Bayreuther Dean Kukan
Jean-Francois Berube
Jet Greaves

Florida Panthers

Carter Verhaeghe Aleksander Barkov Maxim Mamin
Jonathan Huberdeau Sam Bennett Anthony Duclair
Mason Marchment Anton Lundell Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg Eetu Luostarinen Patric Hornqvist
Mackenzie Weegar Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling Radko Gudas
Lucas Carlsson Brandon Montour
Sergei Bobrovsky
Jonas Johansson

Go Jackets!