It's now or never for the Blue Jackets.
34–26–7 (75 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
8 P.M. – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8
FOX SPORTS OHIO
FOX SPORTS GO
After a thrilling comeback win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday at Nationwide Arena – one in which Columbus scored four times in the final eight minutes of regulation to come from 3-1 down – they've got little time to ride that high. A critical three-game swing through western Canada starts tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Blue Jackets face a Calgary Flames team that's in a playoff fight of its own.
The Flames are in a precarious spot.
Calgary has a one-point edge on Vancouver for third place in the Pacific Division and only a two-point bulge on the Western Conference's final playoff spot. Every point is vital at this point in the season, and while the Flames haven't been a good home team this season, there's no better time than the stretch drive to kick things into gear. The Blue Jackets have collected points in 22 of 31 road games this season, and they'll need a strong showing on this trip to hang in the race.
Sunday's win was, without question, a huge sigh of relief for John Tortorella's team. With the teams around them having two and (in some cases) three games in hand, the Blue Jackets needed to get a win against the Canucks. What they didn't foresee, in all likelihood, was the way in which it happened – and that's where they hope to grab some momentum and energy heading into this trip.
Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:
Goaltender: Korpisalo (expected)
- Lineup Shuffle. Tortorella mixed up his lines and defense pairings at practice in Calgary, according to multiple reports. The most notable change is on defense, where Ryan Murray practiced alongside Zach Werenski on the top pairing. Murray skated with Markus Nutivaara on Sunday, and those two have a long history playing together, but it appears Nutivaara will be a healthy scratch tonight in Calgary. It's a curious decision, to say the least.
- Elvis Ready? Elvis Merzlikins made the trip out west and practiced with the team yesterday. As reported by The Athletic's Alison Lukan, Merzlikins is recovering from a concussion suffered when he collided with Ottawa's Anthony Duclair. The Blue Jackets will play three games before heading home this weekend, so it's quite possible Merzlikins returns to the net at some point on this trip.
- Build Something. The Blue Jackets have an opportunity to put their recent struggles in the past and keep going forward. It was on this trip a year ago when they got their act together and went on a late run to sneak into the playoffs, before eventually upsetting the Tampa Bay Lightning in a four-game sweep. It's different this time around, but the Blue Jackets *are* in a playoff spot as the trip begins. Their goal is to keep pace, solidify their spot, and keep piling up points through what is set up as a brutal March schedule.