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Game #44 Preview/gamethread: Canucks visit Columbus for MLK Day afternoon game

Oct 18, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90) makes a shoulder save as Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser (6) looks for a rebound during the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Monday, January 15, 2024 1:00 P.M. EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
TV: Bally Sports Ohio; Radio: 105.7 FM

Vancouver Canucks (29-11-3, 61 points, 1st Pacific, 1st West)

at

Columbus Blue Jackets (13-21-9, 35 points, 8th Metro, 15th East)

It’s a rare afternoon game, and appropriately for this holiday it’s the annual Hockey is for Everyone game at Nationwide. Here is a full list of how the team is celebrating the occasion.

Player to Watch

Elvis Merzlikins

The goaltending saga continues, after the new #1 goalie, Daniil Tarasov, gave up 6 goals on Saturday night against Seattle. That followed a 5 goal effort against Winnipeg on Tuesday. He gets a break today, so Merzlikins gets to make his first start since December 29. Can he pick up where he left off, and earn more starts going forward? Since his last appearance, the team is 1-3-2.

Jackets Notes

Sean Kuraly will return to the lineup today. He also was last seen on December 29, when he left the game with an abdominal injury. The penalty kill really missed him … This was Pascal Vincent’s message to the team at practice yesterday:

“Performance will dictate your job in the future,” Vincent said he told his charges. “You have your jobs today because you’ve done something in the past, but for tomorrow and the next few weeks and the next few months, what you’re doing today will dictate your ice time.”

I don’t trust him one bit.

The Other Bench

Remember when Rick Tocchet was a candidate for the Blue Jackets head coach position in 2021? I was underwhelmed by that prospect at the time, but I have to admit I was wrong. He’s done tremendous work getting the Canucks turned around … The Canucks are at the end of a SEVEN game road trip, which began on January 4. After dropping the first game in St. Louis, they have won five straight … After a 1-0 win in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, there were concerns that a major winter storm would leave them trapped. Instead, they had to take a little road trip first:

https://twitter.com/CanucksReporter/status/1746636128998879700?s=20

Season Series

01/15/2024 VAN @ CBJ
01/27/2024 CBJ @ VAN

Stats

VancouverColumbus
3.84 (1)GPG3.00 (22)
2.53 (4)GAPG3.74 (31)
23.2 (12)PP%15.0 (25)
78.7 (20)PK%79.3 (17)
49.3 (19)5v5 Shot Attempt %47.2 (25)
49.6 (20)5v5 Unblocked Shot Attempt %47.2 (25)
12.3 (1)5v5 Shooting %9.9 (3)
92.8 (3)5v5 Save %90.6 (22)
Brock Boeser, 27G LeaderKirill Marchenko, 14
Quinn Hughes, 40A LeaderZach Werenski, 24
J.T. Miller, 58P LeaderJohnny Gaudreau, 26
Dakota Joshua, 39PIM LeaderErik Gudbranson, 51
15-7-2Home/Road8-12-4
7-2-1Last 102-4-4

Projected Lines

Columbus Blue Jackets

Johnny GaudreauCole SillingerYegor Chinakhov
Kent JohnsonAdam FantilliEmil Bemstrom
Dmitri VoronkovJack RoslovicKirill Marchenko
Alexandre TexierSean KuralyJustin Danforth
Damon SeversonAdam Boqvist
Ivan ProvorovAndrew Peeke
Jake BeanErik Gudbranson
Elvis Merzlikins
Spencer Martin

Vancouver Canucks

Elias PetterssonJ.T. MillerBrock Boeser
Dakota JoshuaTeddy BluegerConor Garland
Ilya MikheyevPius SuterAndrei Kuzmenko
Nils HoglanderNils AmanSam Lafferty
Quinn HughesFilip Hronek
Carson SoucyTyler Myers
Nikita ZadorovIan Cole
Thatcher Demko
Casey DeSmith