The Battle Ahead: The Bruins, Then Three Metro Opponents

By Jacob Nitzberg on January 13, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Jan 9, 2020; San Jose, California, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno (71) and defenseman Zach Werenski (8) and defenseman Seth Jones (3) react during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose.
Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets aren't going to have much time for relaxation this week.

With four games in seven days, it'll be a hectic time for the Blue Jackets' injury-depleted roster.

Although the Blue Jackets have been playing well, thanks to contributions from all over the place, their schedule this week is a tall ask for any NHL team, especially when the week ends in a back-to-back as the Blue Jackets' does.

Let's take a look at the week ahead, which the Blue Jackets enter with a record of 22-16-8, good for 52 points.

Tuesday, Jan. 14 vs. Boston (27-8-11, 65 pts.)

Season Series: CBJ 1-0-0 

Boston's Last Five Games: 3-1-1

The Boston Bruins are first up for the Blue Jackets, who won in Boston, 2-1, on January 2nd thanks to an overtime game-winner from Pierre-Luc Dubois. 

The game will be the first of three in a row at home for the Blue Jackets, and it's a great opportunity to make a statement at Nationwide Arena against one of the best teams in the NHL.

Thursday, Jan. 16 vs. Carolina (27-16-2, 56 pts.)

Season Series: CBJ 2-0-0

Carolina's Last Five Games: 3-2-0

Next up, it's the Carolina Hurricanes, who the Blue Jackets haven't played since October.

The Blue Jackets won in Carolina way back on October 12th, 3-2. Then, the Blue Jackets beat them at Nationwide Arena on October 24th, 4-3 in overtime.

The Hurricanes will be the first of three consecutive Metropolitan Division opponents the Blue Jackets will play, but they are the only one ahead of the Blue Jackets in the standings. This is likely the most important game of the week from a playoff standpoint, although, of course, they all are important.

Saturday, Jan. 18 vs. New Jersey (17-21-7, 41 pts.)

Season Series: CBJ 1-0-0

New Jersey's Last Five Games: 2-2-1

The Blue Jackets have won eight in a row against the Devils and 11 out of their last 12. This is a must-win for Columbus, given their recent dominance of the Devils and the season the Devils are having. 

The only time the two teams have played this season came on December 21st, a 5-1 Blue Jackets victory that came with a price: Oliver Bjorkstrand left the game with a rib injury after scoring two goals. 

Games in the NHL are never a given, though. Anything can happen, and the Blue Jackets can ill-afford to look past the Devils, who are coming off back-to-back wins in Washington and vs. Tampa Bay.

Sunday, Jan. 19 @ New York Rangers (21-19-4, 46 pts.)

Season Series: NYR 1-0-0

New York's Last Five Games: 2-3-0

Wrapping up the week is a date with old friend Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers, who won the lone meeting between the teams thus far, 3-2, on December 5th in Columbus.

Playoff teams find ways to get points in tough situations, such as the second legs of back-to-backs, and that's exactly what the Blue Jackets need to do here.

Elvis Merzlikins is unlikely to play four games in a week, especially both legs of a back-to-back. With Joonas Korpisalo still injured, Matiss Kivlenieks or Veini Vehvilainen may see their first NHL game against the Rangers.

What are your predictions for this week? Let us know.

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