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Game 45 Preview: Brad Larsen isn’t an idiot.

See the light. All glory to the tank!

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, January 19, 2023 - 7:00 PM ET
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
TV: Bally Sports Ohio - Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Anaheim Calling

Anaheim Ducks (12-28-5, 29 points, 8th Pacific, 15th West)
at
Columbus Blue Jackets (13-28-2, 28 points, 8th Pacific, 16th East)

Brad Larsen isn’t an idiot. He’s an architect.

We’ve all complained about Larsen’s deployment, but it’s all an illusion. Larsen is a master of the art of Zui Quan, where one pretends to be a drunken idiot so that they may catch their opponent off guard. And the opponent is success. Brad Larsen is an architect, and the tank his magnum opus. Everything goes according to his plan. Use the first period to convince your adversary that you will put up a fight, that you are a threat to their success. Then, collapse in the second, the long change ensuring your soldiers have no means of escape. Depending on this, either put up a moderate but unsuccessful fight in the third, or continue the downward spiral if you opponent refuses to capitalize.

But sometimes, extreme measures must be taken. Just look at Tuesday night versus Nashville. Keep up through the first, enough that Nashville must fight through the second. The collapse looks promising, but alas! it is the second half of a back to back, and one of his goalies just welcomed their firstborn, meaning he has no choice but to allow his best netminder to tend the crease. Tarasov could steal the game! And he almost is! 21 saves on 23 shots!

Then, disaster: Gustav Nyquist scores! The team could tie it up, and the beautiful tank would be in ruins! What to do? Can’t sit the goal scorer, that’s too obvious. Again, Larsen must feign idiocy, not blatant corruption. But an architect always builds in backup, and he put any and all young talent in the doghouse unless absolutely necessary all season! Bench those treacherous fools!

But it’s still too close! Tarasov cannot, no will not see the light! See the glory of the tank! His save percentage ticks up, up, up, while Nashville’s lead remains but one. Two minutes left, you must pull Tarasov, surrender the empty netter to secure Nashville’s lead. But that would be too dangerous. It risks a score with an extra attacker. No, Larsen chooses a more subtle, more subversive route. He calls for the Kuraly line. They’re hapless defensively! Either they surrender what an empty netter would, or they burn enough time to prevent that bastard Laine from scoring. He already wrecked the thing in Detroit! Larsen must defend his work, must preserve his masterpiece, must drive on for the glory of the tank.

Brad Larsen isn’t an idiot. He’s an architect.

Player to Watch

Trevor Zegras

Look at the fool, Dallas Eakins. He’s merely a novice in Zui Quan, actually playing his young, skilled players! They’re stealing him wins, left and right, sabotaging their imitation of Larsen’s tank. And the worst offender? Trevor Zegras. Doing such blasphemous things as scoring as if he plays lacrosse, deking as if trying to hypnotize the goaltender, and worst of all, having a notable personality! He’s likable. The twit has nine points in the last ten games, and four goals in his last six! And most preposterously, the bafoon Eakins has allowed Zegras to play an average of 19:20 a night, giving him nearly a third of the game to work his heinous black magic! At this rate, not only will the Ducks only finish 29th in the league, but Zegras will actually develop into an actual star player, a nightly contributor! How asinine!

Jackets Notes

Don’t worry, that bit’s done now ... In addition to Bemstrom and Johnson, Mathieu Olivier also sat the last 13-plus minutes of the Nashville game. ... Who’s starting in net tonight? No clue! ... With the Chicago Blackhawks beating Buffalo 4-3 in OT, your Columbus Blue Jackets are once again the worst team in the National Hockey League.

The Other Bench

Despite Zegras’ best efforts, the Ducks are 0-4-1 in their last five. ... The Ducks are coming off a Monday/Tuesday back-to-back of their own, losing to the Pennsy teams. ... This is the third game in a six-game road trip for Anaheim. ... According to my back-of-the-napkin math, the loser of this game will earn control of the coveted 32nd spot in the rankings, at least by points percentage.

Season Series

1/8/2023 - Anaheim at Columbus
3/17/2023 - Columbus at Anaheim

Stats

Anaheim Columbus
2.27 (32) GPG 2.50 (30)
4.18 (32) GAPG 3.89 (30)
16.7% (28) PP% 14.4% (32)
72.1% (30) PK% 76.7% (18)
43.6% (31) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 45.2% (29)
42.4% (31) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 45.1% (29)
6.6% (31) 5v5 Shooting % 7.6% (27)
.908 (25) 5v5 Save % .904 (30)
Adam Henrique, 15 G Leader P. Laine & J. Gaudreau, 12
Troy Terry, 24 A Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 29
Troy Terry, 36 P Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 41
Max Comtois PIM Leader "Maniac" Mathieu Olivier, 51
4-15-4 Home / Road 10-14-1
3-6-1 Last 10 3-7-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Johnny Gaudreau Captain Boone Jenner Patrik Laine
Gus Nyquist Cole Sillinger Kirill Marchenko
Kent Johnson Jack Roslovic Emil Bemstrom
Eric Robinson Sean Kuraly Mathieu Olivier
Vladislav Gavrikov Adam Boqist
Tim Berni Erik Gudbranson
Nick Blankenburg Andrew Peeke
Elvis Merzlikins
Danill Tarasov

Anaheim Ducks

Adam Henrique Mason McTavish Troy Terry
Max Comtois Trevor Zegras Ryan Strome
Frank Vatrano Sam Carrick Jakub Silfverberg
Max Jones Jayson Megna Brett Leason
Cam Fowler Dmitry Kulikov
Simon Benoit John Klingberg
Urho Vaakanainen Kevin Shattenkirk
John Gibson
Anthony Stolarz