In the past four games, the Blue Jackets have had to play without Zach Werenskibut a team effort helped fill the shoes of one of the top defensemen in the NHL.
Jake Christiansen scored his first career NHL goal in Tuesday’s win over New Jersey, while Gabriel Carlson scored a key goal in a win last week vs. Florida with Werenski out. Gavin Bayreuther‘s fight helped turn the tide in Tuesday’s victory as well, while Andrew Peeke played a career-high 29:09 against the Devils.
With Werenski and jake bean out for the entire four-game stretch and Adam Boqvist also scratched Tuesday, the Jackets defensive corps stepped up, and now the good news is Werenski gets to be back on the ice tonight at Nationwide Arena against the Los Angeles Kings.
“I watched all the games,” Werenski said. “I think as of late, our whole group, guys have been stepping up. It’s been fun watching guys step up and help contribute to the team. I think when I was out, we went 2-2 but we played some good hockey against Pittsburgh Obviously, the Carolina game was tough, but I’m happy with the way the guys battled. Guys stepped up. It sucks being out, but when you can watch the guys work like that and play good hockey, it makes it better for sure.”
It will be nice, though, to get Werenski back, as the All-Star defenseman had a six-game point streak (2-6-8) before he left the lineup with an upper-body injury and also is fifth in the NHL with 26:03 average time on ice. He does it all for the Jackets, and he will be back in to play big minutes as a tough stretch continues vs. the Kings.
“Obviously it sucks missing games and watching, but it’s part of hockey,” Werenski said. “Stuff happens. I’m happy to be back tonight.”
3 keys to the game
Good start: The Blue Jackets should be rested after two days off, while LA is in the midst of a four-game winning streak. Columbus wants to get going early.
Win special teams: Los Angeles is near the bottom of the league in both power-play and penalty-kill percentage, so this could be an edge for the Jackets.
Big guns rolling: Some of the top players on the jackets are in the midst of scoring streaks, which is the kind of thing that can carry you to victories.
Columbus has won 10 of 14 overall and eight of 11 since the All-Star break. … Jack Roslovic has a 1-4-5 line in the last four games. … Patrick Laine notched a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s win, giving him a 14-9-23 line in the last 14 contests, plus nine multipoint games and five multigoal games in that span. … Oliver Bjorkstrand, who became the seventh player in CBJ history with 100 career goals on Sunday, has six goals in the past 10 games. … CBJ captain BooneJenner has 23 goals on the season and nine points (4-6-10) in his last eight games. Jenner also boasts an 11-12-23 line in the last 22 games. … Gustave Nyquist has four shorthanded goals on the season, tied for first in the NHL with Florida’s Aleksandar Barkov and Anaheim’s Isac Lundestrom. … Max Domi notched his 300th NHL point with an assist Tuesday and is one goal from 100 in his career. … Jakub Voracek‘s 29 primary assists are tied for third in the NHL. … The Blue Jackets have trailed in 18 of their 28 wins this year, tied for the most in the NHL, and have seven wins when trailing after two periods, the most in the NHL and the second most in franchise history. … Cumbus is an NHL-best 9-1 this year in extra time (6-0 in OT, 3-1 in shootouts). … The teams last met Jan. 6, 2020, a 4-2 win for Columbus in what was then Staples Center. The Blue Jackets won three straight in the series and two in a row in Nationwide Arena.
Projected line up
(subject to change)
Gustav Nyquist – Boone Jenner – Patrik Laine
Jakub Voracek – Jack Roslovic – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Max Domi – Sean Kuraly – Justin Danforth
Yegor Chinakhov – Cole Sillinger – Emile Bemstrom
Zach Werenski – Andrew Peeke
Vladislav Gavrikov – Dean Kukan
Gabriel Carlson – Gavin Bayreuther
Elvis Merzlikins (confirmed starter)
Jean Francois Berube
scratches: Brendan GaunceAdam Boqvist (upper body, day to day), Jake Christiansen
Injured reserves: Joonas Korpisalo (lower body, day to day); Daniel Tarasov (hip surgery; out for season); Alexandre Texier (fractured finger; out four weeks as of Jan. 27); Jake Bean (groin strain; out four weeks as of Jan. 30); Eric Robinson (knee; out six weeks as of Jan. 31)
Roster Report: Werenski returns to the lineup in place of Christiansen, while Chinakhov goes back in for Gaunce, who played only 2:42 because of injury Tuesday.
This Day in CBJ History
March 4, 2006, 2017 and 2018: Three different Blue Jackets have notched their 20th goals of the season on March 4. Nikolai Zherdev did so in 2006 at Los Angeles, Brandon Saad reached the mark in 2017 at Ottawa and Artemi Panarin scored his 20th goal a year later on March 4 at San Jose.
March 4, 2009: To bolster a push toward the first playoff bid in franchise history, Columbus acquired C Antoine Vermette from Ottawa for G Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick in the 2009 draft.
March 4, 2011: Columbus earns two penalty shots for the first time in franchise history, but Miikka Kiprusoff stops both Matt Calvert and Antoine Vermette in a 4-3 Flames win at the Saddledome.
March 4, 2018: The Blue Jackets post a 4-2 win at San Jose, kicking off a 10-game winning streak that was the second-longest in team history. Columbus outscored opponents 42-22 during the stretch.