Game Preview: Blue Jackets Take Momentum To Dallas For First Of Two Against Stars

By Ed Francis on March 4, 2021 at 7:05 am
Patrik Laine and the Columbus Blue Jackets are in Dallas for the first time this season.
Russell LaBounty-USA Today
6–7–4 (16 points)

8:30 P.M. – THURSDAY, MAR. 4


Don't let their record fool you; the Dallas Stars are a very good team.

So if the Columbus Blue Jackets can catch them on a cold streak, there shan't be any complaints from the 5th Line. 

The Blue Jackets may be in luck, as they make their first ever trip to Dallas as a divisional foe. The Stars are coming off a home-and-home with the Tampa Bay Lightning in which they were outscored 7-0 by the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Including the consecutive shutouts, Dallas has lost three straight, and is coming off one of their worst months in recent memory. Between four postponed games due to COVID-19, the Stars went just 2-5-3 in February, and are 2-7-4 in their last 13 games overall. One of those wins came at Nationwide Arena, a 6-3 victory over the Blue Jackets on February 2nd in Patrik Laine's Columbus debut. It was also the debut of the reverse retro jerseys, so for any fans who may be superstitious (or at least a little stitious), that's perhaps equally at fault.

The 17 games played by the Stars is a league low, and it's been difficult for the Stanley Cup runners up to find any sense of routine. They started the season a week late, due to their first four games being postponed as a virus precaution. In the middle of February, four more games were moved for the same reason. The lack of games, practice, and playing time has shown not only in the standings, but in the statistics, too: Dallas' equatorially hot start to the power play has cooled and they now rank 10th in the league at a still-decent 23.4%. They're averaging 2.71 goals per game; the exact same amount that the grind-and-grit Blue Jackets average this season. 

Columbus, meanwhile, is yet to have a game postponed. They've played 24 games; more than 40% the Stars total of 17. Many of those games have been neck-and-neck throughout, but the Blue Jackets (and their fans) were given a bit of a reprieve Tuesday night against Detroit. They defeated the Red Wings 4-1, and looked about as good as they have all season in the process. 

If Columbus is to make a legitimate effort to get back into the race, a pair of regulation wins over a team they'll be battling against for a potential final spot - such as Dallas - is a must. 

Here's a look at tonight's projected (and subject to change) lines for Columbus:

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

29 Patrik Laine 96 Jack Roslovic 13 Cam Atkinson
52 Emil Bemstrom 20 Riley Nash 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand
16 Max Domi 42 Alexandre Texier 11 Kevin Stenlund
50 Eric Robinson 38 Boone Jenner 71 Nick Foligno

*lines are subject to change

8 Zach Werenski 3 Seth Jones
53 Gabriel Carlsson 58 David Savard
44 Vladislav Gavrikov 15 Michael Del Zotto
Goalie Backup
70 Joonas Korpisalo 35 Veini Vehvilainen


  • WHATEVER WORKS: In Tuesday's game, Riley Nash centered a line with Emil Bemstrom and Oliver Bjorkstrand, a combination that head coach John Tortorella had never tried before. Vladislav Gavrikov and Michael Del Zotto were paired together for the third straight game, the only three games this season in which they've lined up together. Max Domi, Alexandre Texier, and Kevin Stenlund - three centers - made up the third line Tuesday. But it worked, and a similar (or identical) lineup can be expected until its proven not to work. 
  • THE ATKINS(ON) DIET: A steady dose of Cam Atkinson has proven itself healthy for the Blue Jackets. Atkinson continued his hot streak Tuesday night, scoring shorthanded and later adding an assist for his 3rd multi-point game in the last six contests. He leads the team in goals, points, and his 14.7% shooting percentage is a career high. Many of his minutes have been with Patrik Laine opposite of Atkinson on the wing, and the diverted attention by opposing defenses has proved beneficial. 
  • KORPI RISING: Joonas Korpisalo may be beginning to find his game. Despite going 1-3-0 in his last four starts, Korpisalo has a save percentage of .935 in those games. By the slimmest of margins (he had a .934 save percentage over four starts in January), it's Korpi's best four-game output of the season. A struggling offense isn't on him, and his 1.77 goals against over those four starts is a great sign for the Blue Jackets.