The Blue Jackets started 2019 off on the right foot taking a big two points from a divisional rival in Carolina. They will look to continue to play well against the Florida Panthers. Things won’t be easy the Blue Jackets are on the second half of a back to back while the Panthers haven’t played since Thursday.
This season hasn’t gone as planned for the Panthers who sit nine points out of a playoff spot at the mid-way mark. With some of the moves, they made this off-season they were looking to contend in the Atlantic and be a wild-card contender. That hasn’t happened, and the Blue Jackets can ill afford to give them any hope.
The Blue Jackets have been playing very well of late winning six of their last seven games, but have fallen to third place in the Metro, two points back of Washington and one back of the Penguins. A win last night helped them make up some of that ground and another one tonight would be good to help them keep pace for that top spot in the Metro Division.
Panarin – Dubois – Atkinson
Duclair – Wennberg – Anderson
Hannikainen – Jenner – Bjorkstrand
Sedlak – Dubinsky – Nash
Werenski – Jones
Murray – Nutivaara
Harrington – Savard
- Sasha Barkov continues to be the most underrated superstar in the league. He’s having a down year by his standards, especially from a possession standpoint but he still has 16 goals and 41 points in 39 games, while playing top defensive minutes. He was passed over to be the Panthers representative at the All-Star game in favor of Keith Yandle. Barkov, however, is the Panthers nominee for the “Last Man” vote.
- The Panthers are feeling the pressure of their bad first half and have already started making changes. On December 30th they shipped out defencemen Alexander Petrovic to Edmonton for Chris Wideman and a conditional third-round pick. This is a big fall for Petrovic, as he was someone Florida protected during the expansion draft. If the team doesn't turn things around more trades could be on the horizon.
- On the second half of back to back, it’s expected that Joonas Korpisalo will get the start. He’s been very poor this season with an .884 save percentage in 13 games. It’s hard to trust him when he’s playing as poor as he has, but the Blue Jackets can’t play Sergei Bobrovksy every game, and this is a weaker match-up. Korpisalo has to give this team a chance.