Game Preview: Blue Jackets Seek Series Split Against The Blackhawks

By Ed Francis on February 25, 2021 at 7:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic (96) stick handles against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Blackhawks
10-6-4 (24 points)

7:00 P.M. – THURSDAY, FEB. 25


At some points during Tuesday's first of two games with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked like they deserved no points (and may God have mercy on their souls.)

In other moments, though - Patrik Laine's lasers on the power play, as an example - it looked like they deserved two points and the victory.

So perhaps the one point they got for the overtime loss is a fair compromise.

When they face the Blackhawks for the second of two games at Nationwide Arena on Thursday night, the Blue Jackets will not be seeking such compromise. It will be the final game of four straight at home; a stretch in which the Blue Jackets really needed to pick up no less than six of a possible eight points. A win would give them five points; not ideal, but not a complete failure. 

A loss, however, means they'd finish with just three points in the four home dates. In very winnable games such as these, it's the type of cold streak that can send a team spiraling out of playoff competition. 

Yes, the "P" word. Based simply on point pace, the Blue Jackets are currently destined for a 59 point, 6th place finish. That would be eight points behind the Blackhawks pace of 67, who are in 4th and tied for the final playoff spot. Dallas sits between the two teams, on pace for 64.

A regulation win Thursday, though, would shake that up: the Blue Jackets pace would increase to 61, and the Blackhawks would move into a point-paced tie with Dallas at 64. A loss, however, would send the Blue Jackets to a pace of 56 and the Blackhawks up to 69 - a difference of 13 points, as opposed to three. Big difference.

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

29 Patrik Laine 96 Jack Roslovic 13  Cam Atkinson
38 Boone Jenner 42 Alexandre Texier 71 Nick Foligno
50 Eric Robinson 20 Riley Nash 16 Max Domi
25 Mikhail Grigorenko 11 Kevin Stenlund 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand
8 Zach Werenski 3 Seth Jones
44 Vladislav Gavrikov 58 David Savard
53 Gabriel Carlsson 15 Michael Del Zotto
Goalie Backup
70 Joonas Korpisalo 70 Matiss Kivlenieks


  • YO JOONAS: With Elvis Merzlikins week-to-week with an upper body injury, Joonas Korpisalo will need to manage a heavy workload. He's having the worst season of his career in both save percentage and goals against, and while the defense in front of him has been downright bad at times, Korpi has looked rather inconsistent and it's easy to see that his frustration is often getting the best of him. Korpisalo needs a strong start, not only for the team - but for himself.
  • POWER PLAY EXCITEMENT: Patrik Laine has made the Columbus power play one to watch. They're converting at an eye-popping 29% since Laine's debut, and have went from 30th to 18th in the NHL in power play percentage. For the first time in a long time, the Blue Jackets power play is something to take very seriously.
  • JONESIN' FOR JONES: Seth Jones has quietly turned his season around. Not only has he found the defensive game he's brought to the team in years past, but he's also now tied for the team lead in assists, at 10. His 31:58 of ice time in Tuesday's game was a career high for any regular season game, and despite the 6 Chicago goals in that game, Jones was only on the ice for two of them - and one of those was when the Blackhawks had a 5-on-3 power play. He finished the game +1, and was one of five Blue Jackets who had a multi-point game. If he's found his old self, that's a fantastic thing for Columbus.

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