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Game #65 Preview: Blue Jackets try to get back on course in Winnipeg

Here’s what you need to know

Winnipeg Jets v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

Friday, March 25, 2022 - 8:00 EDT
Canada Life Centre - Winnipeg, Manitoba
TV: Bally Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Arctic Ice Hockey

Columbus Blue Jackets (32-29-3, 67 points, 5th Metro, 9th East)

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Winnipeg Jets (30-24-10, 70 points, 6th Central, 10th West)

Which classic rock banger should be the appropriate soundtrack for this preview? The obvious choice “Jet,” or the underrated “Peg”?

Player to Watch

Pierre-Luc Dubois

After an underwhelming debut with the Jets last season, former Columbus first round pick PLD has returned to form this year. He has already reached the second highest point total of his career (50) and those 25 goals and 25 assists are two and 11 away from his career highs, respectively, set in 2018-19 season. One of the most striking stats is that 13 of his goals have come on the power play. In the first four seasons of his career, he scored 10 total power play goals.

Dubois is an RFA this summer with arbitration rights. With a contract like this, he could demand a big raise from his current $5M salary. Is that something Winnipeg can match? They currently have $16M of cap room for next year, so they might have to move players out. At 23 years old, PLD is the youngest forward currently on the Jets’ roster, which is hard to fathom compared to the youth movement in Columbus.

Jackets Notes

Joonas Korpisalo’s struggles this year now have an explanation, as it was revealed on Thursday that he had been battling a hip injury. Now he finds himself on the IR and will have surgery to repair that hip ... The good news is that Elvis Merzlikins has recovered from the back tightness he experienced on Saturday that caused him to leave that game early, and miss Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh. Keep an eye on the workload balance between Elvis and J.F. Berube ... Another player returns from IR today in defenseman Adam Boqvist. This will be the first time in a long time that we’ve seen this best defensive lineup intact ... Patrike Laine and Jack Roslovic will be making their first return to Winnipeg tonight. I’m interested to see what sort of reaction they get from the crowd.

The Other Bench

Once counted out of the playoff race, a recent hot streak has pulled the Jets within reach. They are just three points behind Dallas for the final wild card spot, though they’ve played two more games than the Stars. Vegas is also in between ... Given their position, they did some buying AND selling on Monday’s trade deadline: Winger Andrew Copp was traded to the Rangers and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was traded to Pittsburgh. They dumped Bryan Little’s contract on Arizona. At the same time, they acquired forward Zach Sanford from Ottawa and re-acquired Mason Appleton from Seattle, who selected him from the Jets in the expansion draft ... Do we talk enough about Kyle Connor’s place among elite forwards in the league? He’s at 40/40/80 already, which is good for fifth in the league. He has had at least 50 points in every season since he’s become a full-time NHLer, and has been on a 70+ point pace in each of the last three seasons ... Connor Hellebuyck started last night in a 5-2 loss to Ottawa, so I’m penciling in Eric Comrie as the starter tonight.

Season Series

11/24/2021 WPG 0 @ CBJ 3
03/24/2022 CBJ @ WPG

Stats

Winnipeg Columbus
3.11 (14) GPG 3.23 (12)
3.06 (18) GAPG 3.70 (30)
21.8% (13) PP% 18.5% (23)
76.1% (23) PK% 78.1% (20)
49.6% (17) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 47.0% (25)
49.2% (18) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 46.3% (29)
7.6 (27) 5v5 Shooting % 9.4 (6)
.922 (12) 5v5 Save % .906 (30)
Kyle Connor, 40 G Leader Patrik Laine, 25
Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler, 40 A Leader Jakub Voracek, 42
Kyle Connor, 80 P Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND and Patrik Laine, 48
Pierre-Luc Dubois, 90 PIM Leader Sean Kuraly, 53
17-12-2 Home / Road 14-16-0
6-3-1 Last 10 4-4-2

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Gus Nyquist Jack Roslovic Patrik Laine
Jake Voracek Cole Sillinger Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Eric Robinson Sean Kuraly Justin Danforth
Emil Bemstrom Brendan Gaunce Yegor Chinakhov
Zach Werenski Andrew Peeke
Vladislav Gavrikov Jake Bean
Dean Kukan Adam Boqvist
Elvis Merzlikins
J.F. Berube
Winnipeg Jets
Nikolaj Ehlers Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor Pierre-Luc Dubois Evgeny Svechnikov
Zach Sanford Paul Stastny Mason Appleton
Adam Brooks Dominic Toninato Jansen Harkins
Josh Morrisey Dylan Demelo
Brenden Dillon Neal Pionk
Logan Stanley Nate Schmidt
Eric Comrie
Connor Hellebuyck