Game Preview: Red Wings Come To Town As Blue Jackets Look To Avoid A Winless Homestand

By Ed Francis on November 15, 2021 at 7:05 am
On the heels of consecutive losses for the first time this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets hit the ice Monday at Nationwide Arena for the third time in a three-game homestand as an old foe comes to town.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


Detroit Red Wings
8–6–2 (18 points; .563%)



Expectations were relatively low coming into the season, so saying that a pre-Thanksgiving game is a must win may feel a bit out of sorts. 

But this sure does feel like one.

After two tough losses on home ice to division rivals over the weekend, the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to salvage their three-game homestand with two points against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday at Nationwide Arena.

Without a win, the Blue Jackets hot 7-3-0 start would become a much more pedestrian 7-6-0. Losing three at home in four nights would be a blow to a young Columbus team who is seemingly on the verge of sticking around as a competitive team earlier than expected. On the eve of another three-game road trip, the slump could be deflating. 

Monday gives the Blue Jackets a second crack at the 2021-22 Red Wings; Detroit defeated the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Columbus' third game of the season. It was Cole Sillinger and company's first road game of the season — and their first loss of the season, as well.

3.08 GOALS FOR 2.88
21.2% POWER PLAY 13.5%
81.1% PENALTY KILL 75.9%
30.1 SHOTS FOR 29.3
51.7% FACEOFF WINS 49.5%
60.0% THE 538'S ODDS TO WIN 40.0%
20.0% THE 538'S PLAYOFF ODDS 14.0%
95.6 82 GAME POINT PACE 92.2

Know the Foe

The Red Wings are, at least statistically, a bit of an anomaly this season. Both sides of their special teams unit rank in the bottom ten, as are both sides of the shots on goal total. They're also in the bottom ten in goals against per game, and in the bottom half of the NHL in goals scored per game. Yet here they are, with points in ten of their first 16 games. 

Top line winger Tyler Bertuzzi has been a huge part of Detroit's early success. He has nine goals and seven assists for a team-leading 16 points, and his +9 plus/minus leads the team, too. Only 14 players in the NHL — half of those playing for the Washington Capitals or Florida Panthers — are off to a better start in that category.

Like the Blue Jackets, the Red Wings are also seeing success with a teenager: 19-year-old Lucas Raymond, the 4th overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry draft, has been sensational for Detroit thus far. His 15 points (six goals, nine assists) leads all rookies, and the race for the Calder could come down to Raymond and Sillinger. In Columbus' loss to Detroit last month, Raymond had a goal and an assist — one of three multi-point games for the rookie.

Bertuzzi, Raymond, and the Red Wings would love to put it away in short order. Following four games at home — winning three of them — Monday starts the beginning of a four straight on the road for the Red Wings, including a quick turn around with a game Tuesday night in Dallas. 


  • TOUGH LUCK: It's not like the Blue Jackets haven't had a chance in either home game in the weekend set. They were less than 90 seconds away from overtime with the Capitals, and one bad 63 second spell against the New York Rangers turned a 2-1 lead in the second period into a 4-2 deficit. Young teams have bad bursts without explanation, but several of the goals in these sequences were the result of dumb luck or goaltending miscues. Composure may not always lead to luck being on the Blue Jackets' side, but it sure won't hurt. If Columbus can put together a full game, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to salvage the three-game set with a pair of points.
  • ELVIS IS BACK IN THE BUILDING: Elvis Merzlikins' performance Saturday was one of the worst in his career, statistically. His .878 save percentage in the Rangers loss was the worst of his season by a country mile. As a goalie who historically plays better with consistent playing time, it's a fair question to ask if the week off between starts had anything to do with Merzlikins' struggles. 
    • ROSIE ISN'T RIVETING — YET?: As impressive as Jack Roslovic looked in the latter stages of the 2020-21 season, he's looked equally as unimpressive to start the 2021-22 season. His 12 straight games without a goal is his longest such streak since the 2018-19 season and the third longest of his career. Amongst forwards who have played in at least five games with the Blue Jackets this season, Roslovic ranks above only Gregory Hofmann for expected created goals, according to MoneyPuck. Combine that with his total of zero shots on goal in high-danger scoring chances, and it paints a clear picture that the Columbus native is having a sophomore slump in his second season with the Blue Jackets. Defensive woes haven't made the season any easier. But there is some degree of hope: Roslovic's expected goals allowed totals of 0.30 and 0.31 over the Capitals and Rangers, respectively, were his two best performances of the season, per NaturalStatTrick. His game scores were also in the positive range for both games, two of the three games since opening night in which he's accomplished said feat. Roslovic is a big part of the team and will need to improve for the Blue Jackets to sustain how they've started.

      Confirmed Lines

      LW C RW
      59 Yegor Chinakhov 34 Cole Sillinger 93 Jakub Voracek
      14 Gustav Nyquist 38 Boone Jenner 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand
      50 Eric Robinson 7 Sean Kuraly 42 Alexandre Texier
      15 Gregory Hofmann 96 Jack Roslovic 17 Justin Danforth
      LD RD
      8 Zach Werenski 22 Jake Bean
      44 Vladislav Gavrikov 2 Andrew Peeke
      5 Gavin Bayreuther 27 Adam Boqvist
      Starting Goalie Backup
      90 Elvis Merzlikins 70 Joonas Korpisalo

      *subject to change