Game Preview: Blue Jackets Continue Florida Road-trip with Saturday Showdown with the Panthers

By Sam Blazer on April 3, 2021 at 7:07 am
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno (71) takes a shot on Florida Panthers goaltender James Reimer (34) during the first period at BB&T Center.
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
24–9–4 (52 points)



The Blue Jackets are in an odd spot once again after splitting a series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They enter into Saturday on the outside looking in for the playoff race and time is not on their side.

They are set to take on a red-hot Florida Panthers team that has been able to score in spades. Additionally, this Panthers club has been getting solid goaltending as well to keep them afloat. 

Initially considered to possibly be a fringe playoff team, the Panthers have shown that with strong play down the middle that you can dominate. Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkov have led the Panthers and shown that they are a force to be reckoned with. 

A win for the Blue Jackets may give the front office hope that a run may be in the cards. It isn't entirely something to dismiss but it has been said so many times over that there is no real reason you should believe it. If they can fire on all cylinders (a big if right now), they can play with any team. 

Is tonight the night they put it all together?

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

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

50 Eric Robinson 16 Max Domi 29 Patrik Laine
28 Oliver Bjorkstrand 96 Jack Roslovic 13 Cam Atkinson
38 Boone Jenner 42 Alexandre Texier 71 Nick Foligno
26 Zac Dalpe 20 Riley Nash 19 Liam Foudy

*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


  • WHERE TO GO FROM HERE: After splitting their recent two-game set against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blue Jackets for a lack of a better are directionless. They are more than likely sellers at the deadline but they have a faint sense of hope while only a few points outside the playoff race. They oscillate back and forth between buyer and seller, when is a final decision going to be made?
  • DOMI THE CENTER: Early in the season, it was believed that Max Domi was going to be the answer at center ice for the Blue Jackets in their middle six. As other tensions grew and other questions arose, Domi's role in the middle of the ice diminished and he was relegated to being a winger. Domi is once again getting an opportunity to play center and this time with Patrik Laine on his wing. If it is going to work ever, it will need to work right now as Domi is getting the chance he has needed.
  • MERZLIKINS MINUTES: The Blue Jackets have been relying on the goaltending of Elvis Merzlikins of late and they have looked like a different team at times. They are going on what could possibly be his third straight start and with Korpisalo tending to an unspecified injury of late, it looks like it is Merzlikins' net. Given his prior workload, do you have to be worried about Merzlikins' minutes?

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