25–7–5 (55 points; .743%)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
6:00 P.M. – SATURDAY, JANUARY 15
BALLY SPORTS OHIO
ESPN+ (Out Of Market)
Whatever it was in the water for the Columbus Blue Jackets in Raleigh on Thursday night, let's hope head coach Brad Larsen had it sent to Sunrise.
On the heels of a dominant 6-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Blue Jackets are in the Miami suburb for a Saturday evening game against the Florida Panthers.
Thursday's victory was a tall task — the Hurricanes had the best point percentage in the entire NHL entering the game. With their loss, and the Panthers' 7-1 win Friday night against the Dallas Stars, it's Florida who now has the best point percentage in a row. Yes, Saturday's game will be the second game in three nights that Columbus plays against — statistically — the best team in hockey.
Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger, two rookies who have had their ups and downs this season but seem to be more consistent since the COVID-19 pause ended, combined for three of the six Blue Jacket goals Thursday. They'll need an equally strong performance for Columbus to notch another one in the win column.
|PACES & PROJECTIONS|
|25.5%||MONEYPUCK'S ODDS TO WIN||74.5%|
|30.0%||THE 538'S ODDS TO WIN||70.0%|
|81.6||EVOLVING HOCKEY'S POINT PROJ.||114.0|
|82.0||82-GAME POINT PACE||121.9|
The Panthers have been tough on both sides of the puck, but it's their second-ranked scoring punch that makes them a dangerous team — and one that can win the Stanley Cup. Florida has scored four or more goals in eight consecutive games. They are 7-0-1 during that stretch, and averaging a video game-like 5.6 goals per games. The defense has been there, too, allowing just 22 goals in those eight games (an average of 2.8 per game).
There's plenty of balance across the Panthers offense, but it's Jonathan Huberdeau who leads the charge. His fourteen goals and 37 assists have him at 51 points on the season, nearly twice as much as Oliver Bjorkstrand's team-leading 26 points for Columbus. Huberdeau has points in seven consecutive games, but it's not a streak that's stayed alive by the skin of its teeth. The 28-year-old has four goals and 14 assists during that stretch, an average of more than 2.5 points per game.
Five other Panthers — Aaron Ekblad (32), Sam Reinhart (29), Carter Verhaeghe (29), Alex Barkov (28), and former Blue Jacket Anthony Duclair (28) — have more points than anyone on Columbus. Seven Panthers have hit double-digit goals this season, more than any other team. They run four lines deep, and their depth gives opposing defenses very little to breathe.
After struggling his first two seasons in Florida, Sergei Bobrovsky is earning his seven-year, $70 million dollar contract this season. He's 18-3-3 on the season, with a 2.49 goals against average and a save percentage of .921. That save percentage is identical to what he averaged during his seven seasons in Columbus, and only slightly behind his 2.41 GAA during his tenure as a Blue Jacket.
DO IT AGAIN!
What the Blue Jackets were able to do against the Carolina Hurricanes makes it difficult to accept this season as one that should be written off. Having a good game is one thing, but that may have been the best game Columbus has put together since the 2018-19 postseason run. Florida has an explosive offense, a capable defense, and a future Hall-of-Famer between the pipes, so the story is the same as it was Thursday in Raleigh: a recipe for disaster. Can Columbus flip the tables for a second straight game? Florida played (and dominated Dallas, 7-1) Friday night, so the Blue Jackets' best chance may be to pounce on the Panthers early.
From Tuesday's game preview: "(Cole) Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov have been quiet, but both players are showing their growth in some under-the-radar ways."
Thursday, they weren't so quiet. The rookie duo scored three goals, and all three were of the highlight-reel variety. The Blue Jackets have not lost a game when either player scores a goal, going 3-0-0 when Chinakhov scores and 5-0-0 when Sillinger tallies one.
Just a reminder here: It's a 6:00 P.M. start in Sunrise. It's also back on Bally Sports Ohio, after ESPN/Hulu had the exclusive rights to Thursday's game.
|29||Patrik Laine||38||Boone Jenner||14||Gus Nyquist|
|28||Oliver Bjorkstrand||34||Cole Sillinger||16||Max Domi|
|42||Alexandre Texier||96||Jack Roslovic||59||Yegor Chinakhov|
|50||Eric Robinson||7||Sean Kuraly||52||Emil Bemstrom|
|8||Zach Werenski||27||Adam Boqvist|
|44||Vladislav Gavrikov||2||Andrew Peeke|
|46||Dean Kukan||22||Jake Bean|
|90||Elvis Merzlikins||70||Joonas Korpisalo|
*SUBJECT TO CHANGE