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Game #54 Preview: Blue Jackets dance with the Devils at Nationwide

Tuesday, February 14, 2023 – 7:30 PM ET
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Bally’s Sports Ohio – Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: All About the Jersey

Columbus Blue Jackets 16-33-4 36 points, 8th Metro, 16th East
New Jersey Devils 34-13-5, 73 points, 2nd Metro, 3rd East

The Columbus Blue Jackets look to pull off a second win in a row tonight when they welcome the New Jersey Devils to town. You may remember the Devils beat the brakes off the Jackets on Halloween night in truly horrifying fashion, 7-1.

I have no idea which version of the team will show up tonight, but I do expect the results to be better than the last meeting.

Player to Watch

Patrik Laine

Laine was demoted from the top line in Saturday’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Replaced by rookie, Kirill Marchenko, the chemistry was obvious as the line immediately started producing. That was on top of mysteriously missing practice earlier in the day.

Laine has been a turnover machine lately, which honestly isn’t surprising as it has become something Jackets fans have gotten used to when watching him play. More concerning however, is his complete lack of impact on games. For as hot as Laine can get, he can get even colder when things aren’t happening for him. We have seen far too many games where his shots on goal, and even shot attempts can be counted on less than one hand.

I’ll be watching to see if Laine has any more motivation in his game tonight after his demotion. It is very concerning how he has failed to generate any consistent chemistry with any of the playmakers he has been paired on a line with since coming to Columbus.

Jackets Notes

Lane Pederson has finally gotten his immigration status sorted out, and could potentially make his Blue Jackets debut, but I’d guess Lars will want to get him some more practices before he sees game action. Elvis Merzlikins got his first win in what feels like forever, so will Larsen let him try to build some confidence by getting another start?

Off the ice, Johnny Gaudreau got bullied/harassed off Twitter by a bunch of losers from Calgary, New Jersey, and Philadelphia on his Super Bowl post. For all the guys that bolted from Columbus, I don’t think we fans were ever such babies about it, let alone abusing them on social media. It’s not that Gaudreau isn’t a man and can’t take it, but I wouldn’t want to subject myself to a bunch of insults from faceless dweebs online.

As Mike Tyson so elegantly put it, “Social media made you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.”

Hopefully the CBJ faithful in attendance show him some extra love tonight.

The Other Bench

New Jersey will be without their superstar center, Jack Hughes, for the next few weeks as he recovers from an upper body injury. The team is comfortably in playoff position at the moment, so New Jersey can even afford to be cautious with Hughes especially considering this is the deepest the team has been in some time and have plenty of other firepower to keep winning games. In the meantime, it will be up to Captain, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and rookies Dawson Mercer and Alexander Holtz to pick up their play and try to fill in the void left by the absence of Hughes.

New Jersey will be buyers come deadline and have been linked to some big fish on the market, one Timo Meier stands out. The Devils see their window is wide open, and personally, I enjoy watching them and since we won’t be seeing any playoffs in Columbus, they will be a team I follow closely come post-season.

Season Series

10/31/22 CBJ 1 @ N.J. 7
2/14/23  N.J. @ CBJ
4/6/23  CBJ @ N.J.

Projected Lines

Johnny Gaudreau Boone Jenner Patrik Laine
Kent Johnson Cole Sillinger Kirill Mrchenko
Liam Foudy Jack Roslovic Emil Bemstrom
Eric Robinson Sean Kuraly Mathieu Olivier
Vladislav Gavrikov Andrew Peeke
Tim Berni Erik Gudbranson
Adam Boqvist Nick Blankenburg
Elvis Merzlikins
Joonas Korpisalo

New Jersey Devils

Ondrej Palat Nico Hischier Jesper Bratt
Yegor Sharangovich Erik Haula Fabian Zetterlund
Tomas Tatar Jesper Boqvist Dawson Mercer
Miles Wood Michael McLeod Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves Damon Severson
Kevin Bahl John Marino
Vitek Vanecek
Mackenzie Blackwood