Here's to hoping for a different outcome than the first two contests this season.
Tonight, we will see the third and final meeting between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning. And oh yes, they are the best, by a lot.
The Lightning hold the highest record in the league at 44-11-4 (yes, you read that right) for 92 points, which is 15 points ahead of the next closest club.
The Blue Jackets have been outscored by a total of 12-2 in both loses to the Lightning earlier this season. This is not a good look.
One of the questions surrounding the Blue Jackets for the entire season is should they sell soon-to-be unrestricted free agents Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, or keep them as rentals to make a run? Nothing like a game against the league's best to give some more clarity to that subject (or confusion?).
Panarin – Dubois – Atkinson
Duclair – Foligno – Anderson
Robinson – Wennberg – Bjorkstrand
Sedlak – Nash – Sherwood
Murray – Jones
Werenski – Savard
Harrington – Nutivaara
- The Tampa Bay Lightning already have three, yes, three, players over the 70-point mark already this season. It then makes sense that the Lightning are ranked first in the league in goals for, but no sir, incredible offense isn't enough for them. They also have the league's fourth-ranked goals against. Even their starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy gets in the mix, who is having a Vezina-trophy caliber season with a 2.32 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.
- Artemi Panarin recorded his 300th NHL point on Saturday against his former club in the Chicago Blackhawks, pushing his current point tally to 67. He is on pace to break his own franchise record for the Blue Jackets' single season point-getter, which is his 82 from last season. The good news: he doesn't seem to be cooling down anytime soon, with seven points in his last four games.
- The Blue Jackets have a chance to jump to second place in the Metropolitan Division with a victory tonight, which would also put them five points behind the first-place New York Islanders. The Metro has been a blood-bath for nearly the entire season, and the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins are also within one and two points (respectively) of Columbus. The bottom line: every point matters from here on out.
- Boone Jenner ("nicked up") and Markus Hannikainen (sick) were both out for Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, and their status for tonight's matchup is still to be determined. If they are both still out, the likely fill-ins will be Eric Robinson and Kole Sherwood, who would be making his first home start as a member of the Blue Jackets, following his debut against the Blackhawks.
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