Game #72 Preview/Gamethread: Bleu Jackets voyage to Montreal

Here’s what you need to know

Saturday, March 25, 2023 - 7:00 P.M. EST
Centre Bell - Montreal, Quebec
TV: Bally Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Eyes on the Prize

Columbus Blue Jackets (23-41-7, 53 points, 8th Metro, 16th East)


Montreal Canadiens (28-38-6, 62 points, 8th Atlantic, 15th East)

The Blue Jackets have strung together consecutive victories for just the fifth time all season, thanks to last night’s overtime win over the Islanders. Can they make it three in a row for the first time all season? Does anyone outside of the locker room want them to?

San Jose (tied in points but with one more game played than Columbus) plays at Calgary at 4, and Chicago (one point ahead of Columbus) plays at Minnesota at 5.

Player to Watch

Kent Johnson

I’m still shaking with excitement over how freaking cool it was that KJ pulled off the Michigan goal last night, and I got to be there for it. It happened on exactly the same day as Mike Legg first pulled off that move for Michigan in 1996. Ironically, Johnson never successfully pulled off the move while wearing the maize and blue, though he did score that way in the BCHL, for Team Canada in the World Juniors, and now in the NHL. I’m guessing it won’t be his last attempt, either.

Here’s a neat video where he walks Jody Shelley and Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre through the details of doing the move:

Jackets Notes

The Jackets suffered two injuries last night, to Mathieu Olivier and Erik Gudbranson. Neither will play tonight, and Brad Larsen suggested after the game that Gudbranson’s injury will be more long term than Olivier’s ... Jake Christiansen and Trey Fix-Wolansky are the emergency recalls to replace Gudbranson and Olivier, respectively ... Shout out to Hunter McKown, who made his NHL debut last night. He was 77% in the faceoff circle, and despite playing the second-fewest 5v5 minutes on the team (ahead of just Olivier, who left early), he was fourth on the team in individual expected goals. If he had any jitters, he didn’t show it. Hopefully he earns more ice time tonight.

The Other Bench

Montreal is hitting a skid, and they have injuries everywhere. The latest is Big Josh Anderson this week, diagnosed with a high ankle sprain which will end his season. You hate to see it ... Others done for the season include Kaiden Guhle, Christian Dvorak, Arber Xhekaj, first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky, and exciting young star Cole Caufield ... Last year, the Canadiens started winning games when Martin St. Louis took over as coach. It was right around now that they started a nine game losing streak to clinch last place. With the number of games left against good teams playing for playoff position, and now some more injuries stacking up, it’s still possible the Jackets will do the same. But I’m not disappointed in them winning games where they play hard and the young, skilled players do their thing. It was critical that St. Louis salvaged the games of Suzuki and Caufield, just like it’s important now for a guy like Kent Johnson to gain confidence.

Season Series

11/17/2022 MTL 4 @ CBJ 6
11/23/2022 MTL 3 @ CBJ 1
03/25/2023 CBJ @ MTL


Montreal   Columbus
2.76 (27) GPG 2.72 (29)
3.69 (27) GAPG 3.89 (31)
17.1% (28) PP% 19.7% (22)
72.7% (29) PK% 76.0% (22)
45.4% (29) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 45.5% (28)
45.6% (28) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 45.3% (29)
9.2 (8) 5v5 Shooting % 7.9 (24)
.906 (26) 5v5 Save % .904 (27)
Cole Caufield, 26 G Leader Boone Jenner, 25
Nick Suzuki, 35 A Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 49
Nick Suzuki, 57 P Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 67
Arber "Wi-Fi" Xhekaj, 101 PIM Leader Mathieu Olivier, 81
15-17-3 Home / Road 9-21-5
2-6-2 Last 10 3-6-1

Projected Lineups

Johnny Gaudreau Boone Jenner Kirill Marchenko
Liam Foudy Jack Roslovic Kent Johnson
Eric Robinson Sean Kuraly Lane Pederson
Trey Fix-Wolansky Hunter McKown Emil Bemstrom
Jake Christiansen Adam Boqvist
Tim Berni Andrew Peeke
Gavin Bayreuther Nick Blankenburg
Elvis Merzlikins
Michael Hutchinson
Rafael Harvey-Pinard Nick Suzuki Mike Hoffman
Jonathan Drouin Kirby Dach Denis Gurianov
Rem Pitlick Jake Evans Brendan Gallagher
Michael Pezzetta Chris Tierney Alex Belzile
Michael Matheson David Savard
Joel Edmundson Justin Barron
Jordan Harris Johnathan Kovacevic
Jake Allen
Samuel Montembeault

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