21–7–3 (45 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7:00 P.M. – THURSDAY, MAR. 25
FOX SPORTS OHIO
When Columbus and Carolina met last Thursday in Raleigh for the first of four straight games against each other, most Blue Jacket fans would gladly accept winning three of the four.
One week later, the Blue Jackets will have a chance to do just that as they close out the series at Nationwide Arena.
No lineup changes are expected and Joonas Korpisalo is likely to start in net as Columbus will look to put a flat performance in Monday's 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes in the rear-view mirror.
"You can ask me 10 different questions about it, what happened," said head coach John Tortorella following the shutout loss. "They checked (Monday) and we couldn't get through it."
The Blue Jackets had a season-low 19 shots on goal in the loss, giving Hurricanes goalie and Parma, Ohio native Alex Nedeljkovic his second shutout of the year.
With the Chicago Blackhawks ending a four-game losing streak and picking up a win Tuesday, the Blue Jackets currently find themselves two points out of a playoff spot. They also just two points ahead of the Nashville Predators, with all three teams having played an equal number (33) of games. The Dallas Stars are five points behind Columbus in the standings, but have played just 29 games.
It's a tight race, and pending a highly improbable and epic collapse by Tampa Bay, Carolina, or Florida, there is only one playoff spot up for grabs. Every game is critical at this point, and the Blue Jackets will need to put forth a much better effort Thursday in order to keep pace in the divisional dog fight.
Here's a look at tonight's projected (and subject to change) lines for Columbus:
Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines
|16||Max Domi||96||Jack Roslovic||13||Cam Atkinson|
|71||Nick Foligno||11||Kevin Stenlund||29||Patrik Laine|
|38||Boone Jenner||20||Riley Nash||28||Oliver Bjorkstrand|
|50||Eric Robinson||49||Ryan MacInnis||23||Stefan Matteau|
*lines are subject to change
|8||Zach Werenski||3||Seth Jones|
|44||Vladislav Gavrikov||58||David Savard|
|46||Dean Kukan||15||Michael Del Zotto|
|70||Joonas Korpisalo||90||Elvis Merzlikins|
- MONDAY WAS BAD, BUT: If rose-colored glasses are your thing, the Blue Jackets did hit the post twice. Oliver Bjorkstrand did it in the first in a tie game, and Max Domi sent the painful ping echoing through Nationwide Arena in the third.
- TOO MUCH BALANCE: With respect to the fourth line, who by no means have looked bad in recent games, the trio of Eric Robinson, Ryan MacInnis, and Stefan Matteau saw over 10 minutes of ice time Monday. The Blue Jackets most skilled scorers, Patrik Laine, Cam Atkinson, and Oliver Bjorkstrand, were in the 18 minute range. It's good to have balance, but the talent discrepancy between these two sets of players should warrant a larger gap in ice time. With consecutive off days and no travel in advance of Thursday's game, top players should be well-rested and adding two or three minutes to their time on ice could prove effective.
- MAKE IT COUNT: The next Blue Jackets home game after Thursday's affair isn't until April 6th, as Columbus will go on the road for their next six games: two in Detroit this weekend, then a pair of games in Tampa Bay against the Lightning and against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise. Get back in the win column, take advantage of a weekend set with the last place Red Wings, and rediscover your mojo for four tough games in the Sunshine State.
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