Enjoy, Blue Jackets fans. There’s only one night left to be together.
The final game of the season at Nationwide Arena will be against Tampa Bay tonight, and it’s fair to say it’s been a fun year. After 18 months of not being able to all be together as we weathered a global pandemic, this year has spanned 41 home games, with the 5th Line showing up in droves to support the Blue Jackets.
And don’t think this will go unnoticed by the Blue Jackets players and staff.
“We’ve been saying it all along – and I’ve been here a long time – we have tremendous fans,” Larsen said. “They’ve been coming out all year. You are a great boost to our group. They are always boisterous. This is such an underrated ice rink. It’s a shame they don’t get enough credit for what they do for our group. I would expect them to enjoy this final game here at home.”
Columbus is 20-15-5 at Nationwide this year in a season that started with an incredible 8-2 win at home to Arizona and has included a slew of comeback wins, late draws and overtime winners.
The Blue Jackets are averaging 16,187 fans per game this season, a mark that occupies Nationwide Arena at 89.2 percent despite having a team with a slew of new faces this year.
“It’s definitely exciting,” said Peeke about the last home game. “The fans are great here. What they have shown in this building night after night is something we cannot take for granted. We know what they bring to the table and how much that helps us throughout the season. It would be great tonight to get a win for them.”
However, following a 4-1 loss in Tuesday’s Lightning, the Blue Jackets will be without two key players in the second leg. defender Zach Werensky and Nick Blankenburgwho left this game against Tampa for a spell are out tonight and tomorrow’s finals in Pittsburgh.
3 keys to the game
Equal Effort: The Blue Jackets were step-by-step with the Lightning Tuesday night and need to bring the same style of play tonight.
Get shots through: Tampa Bay blocked 25 shots Tuesday, which benefits the Bolts, but Columbus can time his shots better and put them in the net to cause chaos.
Again, in the final game in front of the home fans, it’s a last chance to go out with a post-game cannon shot.
The Blue Jackets have scored 250 goals this season, missing six to break the franchise record of 256 set in 2018-19. … Forward Jack Roslovic has nine goals in his last eight games and a career-high 21. … Jakob Woracek54 assists this season is the third-most in franchise history. … Voracek (5-54-59) has the most assists by an NHL forward in a season while scoring fewer than 10 goals. … He’s also three points from 800 (221-576-797) in his NHL career. … Cole Sillinger has scored goals in four of their last eight games. His 15 goals are the fourth-highest in franchise history for a rookie, behind only Pierre-Luc Dubois (20, 2017-18), Rick Nash (17, 2002-03) and BooneJenner (16, 2013-14). … Werenski finishes with 48 points, a new career high and third-most in a season for a CBJ defenseman. … with 26 wins this season Elvis Merzlikins is the eighth in franchise history for a single season. The goalie has a .928 save rate in his last five appearances. … Only 36 players in franchise history have played 82 games in a season at fullback Gustave Nyquist and defender Andrew Peek pace to reach the total if they play in the last two games. …Nyquist is two points from 400 points in his NHL career (162-235-398) and his four shorthanded goals this season share second place in the NHL. He has eight assists in the last eight games. … After an 11-game streak without a goal, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in two straights. He is tied to patrick laine for the team leadership with 26 goals. … The Blue Jackets set a new franchise record this year with 23 wins. Columbus also has nine wins when trailing by two periods, second in the NHL and tying the most in franchise history. … Tampa Bay has won the two games of the season series by a combined 11-3 record, and outscored opponents 40-19 in the last seven games.
(subject to change)
Gus Nyquist, Jack Roslovic, and Jakub Voracek
Yegor Chinakhov – Cole Sillinger – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Eric Robinson – Justin Danforth – Emil Bemstrom
KentJohnson – Brendan Gaunce -Carson Meyer
Vladislav Gavrikov -Andrew Peeke
Dean Kukan -Jake Bean
Gavin Bayreuther – Gabriel Carlsson
Elvis Merzlikins (confirmed starter)
Jean Francois Berube
Healthy scratches: none
Not available: Zach Werenski (broken nose, season out); Nick Blankenburg (upper body, out of season); Sean Kuraly (foot, out of season); Adam Boqvist (lower body injury, day to day); Patrik Laine (upper body injury, day-to-day); Joonas Korpisalo (hip surgery, seasonal absence); Boone Jenner (back, out for the season); Daniel Tarasov (hip surgery, seasonal absence); Alexandre Texier (unlimited leave of absence)
Roster Report: After Werenski and Blankenburg were injured in the last two games on Tuesday night in Tampa, Bayreuther and Carlsson are in the line-up.
This day in CBJ history
April 28, 2012: The Blue Jackets signed Shawinigan (QMJHL) forward Michael Chaput to a three-year entry-level contract.