The Battle Ahead: Busy Week(end)

By Jacob Nitzberg on February 10, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Feb 2, 2020; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90) and teammate Vladislav Gavrikov (44) during the second period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Blue Jackets got four points out of a possible six last week.

Elvis Merzlikins played phenomenally in net, notching the NHL's first star of the week.

However, the Blue Jackets' week came crashing down quickly when Seth Jones was injured Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Cam Atkinson also reaggravated a lower-body injury, and both are out for tonight's tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Last Week:

The Blue Jackets have had a next-man-up mentality, and there's no better time to fully embrace it right now, due to their best defenseman (and best player) being out indefinitely.

Let's take a look at the week ahead, which the Blue Jackets enter with a record of 30-17-9, good for 69 points and third place in the Metropolitan Conference.

Monday, February 10th vs. Tampa Bay (35-15-5, 75 points.)

  • Season Series: 0-0-0
  • Tampa Bay's Last Five Games: 5-0-0

The rematch is finally here. You can bet that the Lightning will come into Nationwide Arena with a bad taste in their mouth. Getting swept by the Blue Jackets in the first round last year certainly left a bad memory, and they'll likely come flying out of the gate.

The Lightning are once again led by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos (injured, will not play tonight), and Brayden Point. Defenseman Victor Hedman is putting together an excellent year, and Andrei Vasilevskiy is his usual, outstanding self.

It'll be the two teams' first meeting this year, and they happen to meet at a time when they're the two hottest teams in the NHL: the Blue Jackets are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. The Lightning? 8-1-1.

It'll be a good one, folks.

Thursday, February 13th @ Buffalo (24-24-8, 56 points.)

  • Season Series: CBJ 1-0-1
  • Buffalo's Last Five Games: 2-2-1

Next, the Blue Jackets will head to Buffalo for a matchup with the Sabres.

Jack Eichel scored in overtime to give the Sabres a win over the Blue Jackets on February 1st. The Blue Jackets looked lost and disoriented in that one, and they'll have to start much more quickly to get the two points.

Friday, February 14th vs. New York Rangers (27-23-4, 58 points.)

  • Season Series: Tied 1-1-0
  • New York's Last Five Games: 3-2-0

After Buffalo, the Blue Jackets will travel to the Big Apple for their second game of a back-to-back against old friend Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers.

Last time the two clubs met, third-period heroics from Oliver Bjorkstrand led the Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win in New York. Matiss Kivlenieks notched his first NHL win. It's possible that Kivlenieks may get the nod in net again.

Sunday, February 16th @ New Jersey (20-24-10, 50 points.)

  • Season Series: CBJ 2-0-0 
  • New Jersey's Last Five Games: 2-1-2

The Blue Jackets will wrap up their week with a trip to New Jersey in a must-win game. In two games against the Devils this season, the Blue Jackets have won both by a collective score of 10-1. 

It won't be a walk in the park, though. The Devils recently defeated the Flyers, a team the Blue Jackets are trying to stay ahead of, 5-0. A 60-minute effort will be needed.

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

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