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Game 37 Preview: Blue Jackets face Maple Leafs for third time in 15 days

Dec 23, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Jiricek (55) checks Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Friday, December 29th, 2023 – 7:00 ET
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Bally Sports Ohio – Radio: 107.5 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

Toronto Maple Leafs (17-9-6, 40 points, 3rd Atlantic, 5th East)
Columbus Blue Jackets (11-18-7, 29 points, 8th Metropolitan, 15th East)

In a weird quirk of NHL scheduling, the Columbus Blue Jackets will finish their season series with the Toronto Maple Leafs just 15 days after kicking it off. After getting out to a 5-0 lead in two periods on December 14th (don’t ask about the third) and playing much better on Saturday than the 4-1 loss would indicate, the Jackets look to put up another good performance to finish the 2023 home slate.

Player to Watch

William Nylander

The term “big four” gets thrown around in Toronto a lot, but most NHL fans mainly think of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner when talking about the Leafs. William Nylander is challenging that notion this year. Not only does he lead the team in points (and assists), he’s tied for fourth in the entire league at 46 points. His 30 assists also leads Toronto (tied for 7th in the league), and his 16 goals is second on the team (Matthews has 28; Nylander’s in an 11-way tie for 14th in the league in scoring). He has two goals and three assists against the CBJ so far this year.

Jackets Notes

Zach Werenski took a bad fall against New Jersey Tuesday and is considered week-to-week. … Sean Kuraly also missed practice yesterday, suggesting he’ll be out tonight as well. … In better news, Jack Roslovic took reps as the 13th forward, suggesting he could return very soon. … Radio play-by-play man Bob McElliott returned to the booth Tuesday after a scare with a surprise food allergy. Glad to have you back, Bob! … Gavin Brindley is lighting up the World Juniors, posting four goals and an assist in two games so far. The USA faces Czechia at 11am today on NHL Network.

The Other Bench

The Leafs have had an interesting stretch through this series…

Erasing a 5-goal deficit in the third versus the Blue Jackets, only to lose in overtime.
Then thrashing former GM Kyle Dubas and the Penguins 7-0 (good job, Toronto!).
Lost 5-2 to the Rangers.
Then got obliterated 9-3 by the Sabres right after we obliterated the Sabres 9-4 right after the 6-5 game.
Beat us 4-1 heading into the Christmas break.
Lost 4-2 to the Senators, the only team in the East worse than us, heading out of the Christmas break.

Idk man, I just work here.

Season Series

12/14/2023 – CBJ 6 at TML 5 (OT)
12/23/2023 – TML 4 at CBJ 1
12/29/2023 – Toronto at Columbus


3.53 (4)GPG3.08 (19)
3.38 (23)GAPG3.64 (31)
25.5% (7)PP%14.9% (25)
79.4% (17)PK%82.0% (12)
49.5% (17)5v5 Shot Attempt %47.1% (26)
49.2% (18)5v5 Unblocked Shot Attempt %47.4% (24)
9.0% (11)5v5 Shooting %10.0% (6)
.909 (18)5v5 Save %.907 (21)
Auston Matthews, 28G LeaderK. Marchenko and B. Jenner, 13
William Nylander, 30A LeaderZach Werenski, 24
William Nylander, 46P LeaderZach Werenski, 25
Max Domi, 52PIM LeaderErik Gudbranson, 44
4-3-3Last 103-4-3

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Johnny GaudreauAdam FantilliJustin Danforth
Yegor ChinakhovDmitri VoronkovKirill Marchenko
Kent JohnsonCole SillingerEmil Bemstrom
Alexandre TexierBrendan GaunceMathieu Olivier
Damon SeversonDavid Jiricek
Ivan ProvorovAndrew Peeke
Jake BeanErik Gudbranson
Elvis Merzlikins
Spencer Martin/Daniil Tarasov

Toronto Maple Leafs

Matthew KniesAuston MatthewsMitch Marner
Tyler BertuzziJohn TavaresWilliam Nylander
Nick RobertsonMax DomiCalle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMannDavid KampfNoah Gregor
Morgan RiellyTJ Brodie
Mark GiordanoTimothy Liljegren
Simon BenoitJake McCabe
Martin Jones
Ilya Samsonov