The Columbus Blue Jackets open their post-Christmas schedule by welcoming the Boston Bruins to Nationwide Arena on Tuesday. A Blue Jackets win will give them 13 straight wins and points in 15 straight. The Bruins hope to give Columbus their third loss in three tries this season.
Last time out, the Blue Jackets held on for a hard-fought 2-1 win over Montreal on Friday. Sam Gagner and Brandon Saad scored the goals, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves to give the Blue Jackets their 12th straight win. The win also gave Columbus three wins in their first three games of this homestand.
In franchise history, the Blue Jackets have gone 4-0 in a four-game homestand just once, March 3-9, 2013. The Blue Jackets are healthy coming off the break. Don’t expect any lineup changes. They will hold a full morning skate at 10:30 A.M.
The Bruins last played on Friday in Raleigh, where they lost in overtime 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Boston was up 2-0 early in the second before Carolina rallied to score the game’s last three goals, including the overtime winner from Teuvo Teravainen. Ryan Spooner and Brad Marchand scored the Bruins’ goals.
Tuesday is their third game of their four-game road trip. With both Frank Vatrano and David Pastrnak back in the lineup, the Bruins will most likely run a similar lineup to the one they had on Friday. That means Tuukka Rask is expected to start.
Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena – 7:00 p.m. EST
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and NESN
Radio Broadcast Channels: 97.1 The Fan and 98.5 The Sports Hub
Boston Bruins: 18-14-4, 40 points
Road Record: 10-5-4
Hot Players: Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak
Key Injuries: Matt Beleskey (lower-body), John-Michael Liles (upper-body)
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-David Backes
Frank Vatrano-Austin Czarnik-Riley Nash
Anton Bildh-Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
Tuukka Rask (Projected Starter)
Columbus Blue Jackets: 23-5-4, 50 points
Home Record: 13-3-1
Hot Players: Cam Atkinson, Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Gagner
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (back, on LTIR)
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Scott Hartnell-Lukas Sedlak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Markus Nutivaara-Ryan Murray
Sergei Bobrovsky (Projected Starter)
1) The Blue Jackets enter Tuesday as the league’s hottest team, winning 12 straight games. They have also earned at least a point in a franchise-record 14 straight games, going 13-0-1. They have gone more than a calendar month since their last regulation loss, a 2-0 loss to Calgary on November 23rd.
2) The Blue Jackets have scored first in 22 of their 32 games, going 17-2-3 in those 22 games. They have outscored their opponents 31-15 in the first period this season, helping them to the largest goal-differential in the league at +45 coming into Tuesday. The Blue Jackets are also second in the league in both goals-for and goals-against.
3) Both goaltenders come into Tuesday’s matchup as hot as anyone in the league. Sergei Bobrovsky comes in with the most wins in the league with 21. He’s 21-5-2 with a 1.87 goals-against and .935 save percentage. Tuukka Rask is 17-4-3 with a 1.87 goals-against and .930 save percentage. Bobrovsky has never defeated the Bruins. They are the only team, except Columbus, that Bobrovsky hasn’t defeated.
4) The Bruins have handed the Blue Jackets 40% of their regulation losses this season. The Bruins are 2-0 against Columbus outscoring them 11-5 in those meetings. A poor last 40 minutes in the first meeting and a poor first 20 meetings in the second meeting doomed the Blue Jackets. Columbus scored first in both meetings and lost both in regulation. These are the only two losses in regulation for the Blue Jackets when scoring first.
Columbus must get to Rask early. The later in the game it gets, the better he plays. For the Blue Jackets to extend their winning streak to 13, they must start fast, then do a better job of locking down the Bruins.
Boston must get their top-line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak going early if they want to win. They’ve enjoyed great success against Columbus, especially this season. That line, except for Bergeron, combined for all six goals in the first meeting. Given how well each goaltender is playing, expect a low scoring game.