It’s been a mantra all season, that the Blue Jackets have needed players to step up into bigger roles as injuries have hit.
Such names as Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski, Boone Jenner and others have been out at times throughout the season, and now the Blue Jackets will go into tonight’s game against San Jose without all three of them.
Jenner remains on the shelf with a back injury, while Laine missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury and Werenski suffered one in the first period of that contest in Anaheim.
With those three players on the shelf, not to mention such names as Texier, Chinakhov and Korpisalo, the Blue Jackets will have some big holes to fill again tonight against the Sharks.
“Sometimes we’re forced into it, and we’re at that time of year now with guys who have been hurt some real key guys, and now there’s real key minutes (available),” head coach Brad Larsen said. “We’ve talked about the importance of every game, what it is supposed to look like for us and how we need to play and play with a purpose and make sure we’re gonna finish this thing out right. They all want to play more, so a lot of guys are going to get that opportunity.”
Against Anaheim, that meant more chances for ice time for a number of players. Vladislav Gavrikov ended up playing a team-high 24:08, while Jake Bean skated 22:58 and notched a pair of goals and rookie Nick Blankenburg topped 20 minutes for the first time as a pro. Up front, all but four forwards played at least 15 minutes.
A player who will get the chance to take advantage tonight is Gavin Bayreuther, as the defenseman will go into the lineup in Werenski’s place. The 27-year-old will dress for the 40th time this year but has skated in just one game in the last month, leaving him champing at the bit to get on the ice.
“Z is unreplaceable, but we’re gonna come together and do everything we can,” Bayreuther said. “I’d like to bring my energy, bring my poise and see what happens.”
3 Keys to the Game
Better start: The Blue Jackets have been trailing in the opening minutes of each of the first two games of this road trip. Playing from behind makes it tough right from the start.
Find a way: The Jackets have lost a pair of tough ones in the first two games of the California trip. It would make for a long flight home to fall short again.
Shore up the defense: Columbus had been much better defensively until the last two games, giving up 4.82 xG in all situations against the Kings and 3.73 against the Ducks.
Bean is coming off his second two-goal game of the season. … Sean Kuraly ranks 13th in the NHL with 225 hits (5th most in CBJ history). The center has points in four straight games played (3-2-5) and goals in each of the last two contests. Kuraly is also two points from 100 in his NHL career (38 goals, 60 assists). … Forward Jack Roslovic has five goals in the last four games and a career high of 17. … CBJ forward Justin Danforth has goals in four of the last nine games. … With 11 goals on the year, both Werenski and Adam Boqvist are tied for sixth all-time in single-season tallies among CBJ defensemen. … Jakub Voracek‘s 50 assists this season are the fourth most in franchise history. … Cole Sillinger has goals in three of the last four games. His 14 goals are tied for the fourth most in franchise history for a rookie (Sonny Milano, 2017-18). … With 25 wins on the season, Merzlikins is eighth in franchise history for a single season. … Gustav Nyquist‘s four shorthanded goals on the season are tied for second in the NHL, and he has six assists in the last four games. … Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is set to play in his 199th NHL game. … The Blue Jackets have set a new franchise record this year with 22 come-from-behind wins. Columbus also has eight wins when trailing after two periods, second in the NHL and the second most in franchise history. … Columbus won the first game of the season series, taking a 6-4 win Dec. 5 in Nationwide Arena. Boqvist had two goals in the victory.
(Subject to change)
Kent Johnson – Jack Roslovic – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Gus Nyquist – Cole Sillinger – Jakub Voracek
Eric Robinson – Sean Kuraly – Justin Danforth
Emil Bemstrom – Brendan Gaunce – Carson Meyer
Jake Bean – Andrew Peeke
Vladislav Gavrikov – Nick Blankenburg
Gavin Bayreuther – Adam Boqvist
Elvis Merzlikins (confirmed starter)
Scratches: Gabriel Carlsson, Dean Kukan
Unavailable: Patrik Laine (upper body injury, day to day); Zach Werenski (upper body injury, day to day); Yegor Chinakhov (upper body injury, day to day); Joonas Korpisalo (hip surgery, out for season); Boone Jenner (back, week to week); Daniil Tarasov (hip surgery, out for season); Alexandre Texier (indefinite leave of absence)
Roster Report: The Blue Jackets will turn to Merzlikins in net, while Bayreuther goes in for Werenski.
This Day in CBJ History
April 19, 2007: Michael Priest is named president of the Blue Jackets organization and Jim Clark is appointed as interim general manager as Doug MacLean is relieved of his duties.
April 19, 2014: Matt Calvert scores in overtime and the Blue Jackets win a playoff game for the first time in franchise history, taking a 4-3 final at Pittsburgh in Game 2 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal. Calvert put home his own rebound 1:10 into the second OT to provide the winner.
Read More: Gameday Guide: April 19 at San Jose