Game Preview: Scrambling For Answers, Blue Jackets Make First Trip Of The Season To Tampa Bay

By Ed Francis on March 30, 2021 at 7:05 am
Game Preview: Scrambling For Answers, Blue Jackets Make First Trip Of The Season To Tampa Bay
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Whether or not the Columbus Blue Jackets are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline is something that the 5th Line will have an answer to soon.

24–8–2 (50 points)

7:00 P.M. – TUESDAY, MAR.30


There are just seven games left before the April 12th cutoff for trades, and the Blue Jackets play the Tampa Bay Lightning four times between now and then.

The first two of those come this week from Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, and the first of those two is slated for a 7:00 p.m. puckdrop Tuesday. 

"You're going to find out a lot about who we are as individuals, as a team, as we go on this trip," said Columbus head coach John Tortorella following Saturday's loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the first of two ugly losses by the Blue Jackets over the weekend. 

If the current four-game losing streak is any indication, the Blue Jackets will certainly not be buyers. If the way in which they've lost is any indication, the Blue Jackets will certainly be big-time sellers.

Columbus was off the ice in all forms Monday, though made three changes to the roster. The club waived defenseman Scott Harrington, and sent forward Ryan MacInnis and goalie Cam Johnson to the taxi squad.

Johnson's move is a clear indication that Joonas Korpisalo is ready to return to the lineup after missing the weekend games with a lower-body injury. With no word on the status of Emil Bemstrom, who is currently on injured reserved with an undisclosed injury, the Blue Jackets will likely insert Mikhail Grigorenko into the lineup. If it is Grigorenko, it will be his first time drawing into the lineup since February 23rd. 

Look for an all-too-familiar balanced attack that has brought Tortorella's former team, the Lightning, an absurd amount of success in recent years. Victor Hedman (33), Steven Stamkos (31), Ondrej Palat (31), and Brayden Point (30) are all at or above 30 points on the season. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, will need a point from forward Oliver Bjorkstrand to have their first 30-point player of the shortened season. 

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

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

28 Oliver Bjorkstrand 11 Kevin Stenlund 29 Patrik Laine
16 Max Domi 96 Jack Roslovic 13 Cam Atkinson
38 Boone Jenner 42 Alexandre Texier 71 Nick Foligno
32 Zac Dalpe 19 Liam Foudy 50 Eric Robinson

*lines are subject to change

8 Zach Werenski 3 Seth Jones
44 Vladislav Gavrikov 58 David Savard
43 Mikko Lehtonen 46 Dean Kukan
Goalie Backup
90 Elvis Merzlikins 70 Joonas Korpisalo


  • NOW WHAT?: The "easy part" of the Blue Jackets six-game road trip is behind them. They were outscored 7-2, outshot 63-39, and outplayed in nearly every aspect against the lowly Detroit Red Wings in consecutive days. From the last place team in the division to the first, Columbus now battles the league-best Lightning twice in three nights. The Lightning have lost two straight, and haven't lost three straight since February of 2020; a span of 66 games. 
  • NEW FACES FOR AN OLD FOE: Despite their early-season woes, the Blue Jackets were able to take three of four points from the Lightning in their only two matchups of the season. In the day off between those two games, the Blue Jackets moved disgruntled center Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, neither of which have went up against Tampa Bay in a Jackets jersey. 
  • "YOU WOULDN'T LIKE ME WHEN I'M ANGRY": Columbus has had some success against the defending Stanley Cup champions, but for just the third time since 2016, Columbus will meet a Tampa Bay team that has lost consecutive games leading into the game. It happened in April of 2019, when the Blue Jackets ended the Lightning's historic season with four straight L's. The time before that? 2016, and it also involved the Blue Jackets, as Columbus and Boston defeated the Lightning before the Blue Jackets sent the Lightning to a third straight loss. An angry Tampa team and a struggling Columbus squad may well lead to one of only two results: a drubbing at the hands of Stamkos and company, or from the "just crazy enough to work" department, a surprise 60-minute effort and win from the Blue Jackets.

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