The Blue Jackets are in the midst of a three-game point streak (2-0-1) into Vancouver to take on the Canucks tonight in the last game of the team’s Western Canada swing. Columbus should be riding high after Wednesday night’s comeback overtime win over Edmonton, and the fact there’s a cannon in Vancouver’s downtown Stanley Park has to be a good omen for what’s to come.
What They’re Saying
Facing a generational talent like Connor McDavid on Wednesday night, the Blue Jackets’ youngsters showed they also might be a force to be reckoned with.
First-year player Kirill Marchenko tied the score in the third period and fellow rookie Kent Johnson won the game in overtime as the Blue Jackets took a 3-2 victory against the Oilers.
The two are among the top-scoring rookies in the league, and each day they are looking more and more like the impact players the Jackets thought they would become when they were drafted.
“That’s one of the best feelings, an OT winner,” Johnson said after his first-ever NHL overtime goal. “That was a huge win for us.”
Perhaps most impressive is that the Blue Jackets, as young as they are, are starting to show they can handle the ebbs and flows of hockey games. In each game of the three-game point streak, Columbus trailed, but the Blue Jackets were able to battle back and leave with points.
“Hopefully these guys, you start to believe in yourself and know that they can stay in any game,” head coach Brad Larsen said. “They continue to check, play hard, battle, block shots and do all the things that are required to win some games. Two tough environments here the last couple of games, and they didn’t take a step back at all.”
Know The Foe: Vancouver Canucks
Head coach: Rick Tocchet (First week)
Season Stats: Goals per game: 3.27 (11th) | Scoring defense: 3.96 (31st) | PP: 22.2 percent (15th) | PK: 65.9 percent (32nd)
The narrative: The Canucks were in the news for all the wrong reasons last week, stringing along head coach Bruce Boudreau before eventually firing him Sunday and installing Tocchet as the new leader of the squad. Boudreau turned things around a season ago for the Canucks but they never really got going this season, thanks to a defense that is in consideration as one of the worst in the league. And with captain Bo Horvat in the last year of his contract, some more major changes could be afoot for a team that’s made just one playoff appearance the last seven seasons.
2022-23 leaders: Vancouver’s biggest issue has been keeping pucks out of the net, but the Canucks are pretty good at putting them into the net. Elias Pettersson leads the way, as the now 24-year-old leads the team in scoring with 56 points on 19 goals and 37 assists. Despite the trade rumors swirling around him, Horvat is tied for seventh in the league with 31 goals among his 50 points, while Andrei Kuzmenko’s first NHL season has yielded a 21-22-43 line. Quinn Hughes is the top scoring defenseman at 4-39-43 to place seventh among NHL blueliners in scoring, while Ohio native J.T. Miller has 18 goals.
An injury to starting goalie Thatcher Demko has sidelined him since early December, though he was struggling at the time. Spencer Martin has a team-best 25 starts and is 11-13-1 with a 3.94 GAA and .875 save percentage.
What’s new: Tocchet has spent two games behind the bench, earning a 5-2 win in his debut Tuesday over Chicago before Seattle dominated a 6-1 decision Wednesday night. The Canucks are just 3-11-0 in their last 14 and allowing more than four goals per game in that span, which simply isn’t a winning formula. Adding Demko to an injured list that already included Tanner Pearson and Tucker Poolman has been a big reason for the struggles.
Trending: Columbus earned a 4-3 OT win over Vancouver on Oct. 18 in Nationwide Arena, giving the Blue Jackets four wins in the last five games of the series.
Former CBJ: None, though bruising winger Dakota Joshua did play at Ohio State and Miller is a native of East Palestine, Ohio.
3 Keys to the Game
Get the lead: The Blue Jackets have battled back in the last few contests, but getting ahead of a team like Vancouver that has been through a lot recently would be a good start.
Youthful exuberance: Getting more games like Wednesday’s that feature two goals from rookies would be a welcoming sign for the team’s bright future.
More from the top players: As we note right below this, the CBJ top line has produced in recent games, and your best players have to be your best players.
3 Stats to Know
- The CBJ top line is playing well, with Boone Jenner scoring in three straight games, Patrik Laine posting seven points (2-5-7) in the last four games, and Johnny Gaudreau notching six points (1-5-6) in the last four contests.
- No NHL player since Normie Himes in 1928-29 has finished a season with double digits in goals and zero assists, but Marchenko reached those marks with a goal Monday. He is 10th all-time among CBJ rookies in goal scoring with 11 tallies, and he is tied for the most tallies ever by a Jackets player in the first 25 games of his career (Matt Calvert, 2010-11).
- Milestone watch: With 626 games played in union blue, Boone Jenner is set to tie Cam Atkinson (627) for the second-most games played in CBJ history.
Gaudreau ranks sixth in the NHL in assists since Nov. 10 with 8-30-38 in 36 contests. … Laine has a 5-8-13 line in the last nine games. … Joonas Korpisalo has a .922 save percentage in his last 10 appearances. … Jack Roslovic has six points (1-5-6) in the last seven games and a 3-17-20 line in the last 27 games. … After his first-ever NHL overtime goal Wednesday as part of a two-point performance, Johnson now has 9-14-23 line and is 11th all-time among CBJ rookies in points. He’s also sixth among NHL rookies in goals and fifth in points, and his OT winner was just the ninth ever for a CBJ rookie. … Marchenko’s 11 goals are fourth among NHL rookies. … Adam Boqvist has eight assists in the last 12 games. … CBJ rookies lead all NHL teams in goals and place second in points with 27-31-58 in 48 games.
This Day in CBJ History
Jan. 27, 2001: In the midst of its inaugural season, Columbus sells out a home game vs. Anaheim that would start a streak of 58 consecutive sellouts at Nationwide Arena.
Jan. 27, 2004: Columbus acquires center Alexander Svitov and a third-round pick in the 2004 draft for defenseman Darryl Sydor and a fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft.
Jan. 27, 2008: Rick Nash scores just 12 seconds into the NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta, setting a new record for the fastest goal at the event. Playing in his third All-Star Game, Nash finished with a hat trick in the game.
Jan. 27, 2009: Nash scores a hat trick including the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory in a home game vs. Detroit. Included was his 20th goal of the season, and he would go on to notch 40 goals while leading the Blue Jackets to their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Jan. 27, 2022: The Blue Jackets post a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers in Nationwide Arena that features two goals apiece from Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly, while Zach Werenski notches three assists.
Projected Lineup (subject to change)
Johnny Gaudreau – Boone Jenner – Patrik Laine
Kirill Marchenko – Cole Sillinger – Kent Johnson
Liam Foudy – Jack Roslovic – Emil Bemstrom
Eric Robinson – Sean Kuraly – Mathieu Olivier
Vladislav Gavrikov – Andrew Peeke
Tim Berni – Erik Gudbranson
Gavin Bayreuther – Adam Boqvist
Scratches: Gustav Nyquist (upper body injury, out indefinitely), Nick Blankenburg (upper body injury, day to day)
Injured reserve: Yegor Chinakhov (high ankle sprain, out six weeks as of Dec. 21); Carson Meyer (oblique, out six to eight weeks as of Jan. 11); Jake Bean (shoulder, out four to six months after surgery in November); Jakub Voracek (upper body, out indefinitely); Zach Werenski (shoulder surgery, out for season); Justin Danforth (shoulder surgery, out for season)
Roster Report: Bemstrom and Bayreuther will slot back into the lineup because of the injuries to Nyquist and Bayreuther, while Korpisalo gets the start again in net for a third straight game on this trip.