NHL Game Preview: The Battle For Last Place In the Eastern Conference

Boone Jenner and Brady Tkatchuk face off
Photo: Jason Mowry | USA Today Sports

On Thursday, March 14, at 7:00 PM EST, the Columbus Blue Jackets will play the Ottawa Senators at home. Both teams are at the bottom of their respective divisions. Ottawa is 15th in the Eastern Conference, and Columbus is 16th. The two teams have played each other twice this season, with the Blue Jackets winning the first matchup 4-2 and the Senators winning the second 6-3. While neither team is competing for a playoff spot, both teams want to win this series for the year.

Last 5 Games

The Blue Jackets have won two out of their last five games. They beat the Vegas Golden Knights 6-3 and the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Inconsistency has been getting the better of the Blue Jackets at times. For example, in their game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the only three goals scored were within the first five minutes. Both teams went scoreless for the rest of the game, and Montreal won 3-0. A few minutes of inconsistency cost the Blue Jackets a game that was otherwise very close.

In their last five games, the Ottawa Senators are 1-3-1. In their most recent game, they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in overtime. In the last ten games, the Senators only have three wins. Their offense has improved to 3.17 goals a game average but their defense and goaltending have been lacking and they have let their goals-against average get up to 3.51.

Who Is Out

The Blue Jackets have some new players that will be out with injury. Yegor Chinakhov is out with an upper-body injury.
Justin Danforth is still out with a concussion.
Sean Kuraly is considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
Patrik Laine, Kent Johnson, and Adam Fantilli all remain out.

The Senators have their own injury issues and have a few players either recently placed on the IR or still out.
Thomas Chabot did not play in Tuesday’s game and may be out for this game, too.
Rourke Chartier is out with an upper-body injury.
Travis Hamonic, Matthew Highmore, Zack MacEwan, and Josh Norris remain out.

Who Is In

With the injury list growing, the Blue Jackets have had to make several call-ups from the Cleveland Monsters. Trey Fix-Wolansky, Carson Meyer, Brendan Gaunce, and Mikael Pyythia have all been called up for Thursday night’s game. Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins had been pulled in for Tuesday’s game, and Daniil Tarasov filled in. Tarasov may get the nod as a reward for his play on Tuesday.

Ottawa’s Parker Kelly will be eligible to play after his recent suspension for an illegal check to the head. Zack Ostapchuk, who had filled in for the left wing, may be sent back to the AHL if Kelly is to play.

Who to Watch For

In his last five games, Blue Jacket’s newcomer Alex Nylander has scored four goals. He’s been on a hot streak since his debut nine games ago. Another Alex on the team also has a streak going for him. Alexandre Texier has one goal and four assists for five points in his last five games. Daniil Tarasov stopped 19 of 19 shots in the loss to Montreal. He is 2-2 in his last four starts; keep an eye out for his athleticism and quick saves.

For Montreal, Jake Sanderson has been doing great in his past five games. He has one goal, three assists, and a +/- of 4. Drake Batherson has had two goals in his last three games. He currently has 23 goals and 25 assists for the season. Look for him to try and add to his totals.

The Odds

As mentioned, both teams are sitting at the bottom of their divisions. The Senators have a slightly better record and, according to Oddspedia.com, are favored to win with a -122. The Blue Jackets will have a home arena advantage but that has not seemed to matter much this season. They are a +114 to win.

The Blue Jackets have a home record of 9 wins and 18 losses, and the Senators have an away record of 7 wins and 14 losses. The Blue Jackets have won 8 of the last 14 matches played in the last six years.

222. Laine in the Sand CBJectively Speaking

Patrik Laine is on his way out of Columbus, and we have to talk about it – not just from a hockey perspective, but from a people perspective. We also discuss the Cleveland Monsters insane Calder Cup run, the Stanley Cup Finals, Adam Fantilli changing his number, and so much more.Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Thread, and Twitter: @CBJectivelyPodCheck us out on Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube: CBJectively SpeakingRate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen!Check out our website: www.cbjectivelyspeaking.comCheck out our merchandise: www.cbjectivelymerch.comJeremy's Stories: https://insidetherink.com/author/jpaul/Laura's Stories: https://insidetherink.com/author/lnorman/
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Lance Schrock

Credentialed Writer covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. Host of the BrewJackets Podcast.

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