The Columbus Blue Jackets (9-4-0) face the Tampa Bay Lightning (10-2-2) in what will be the final game in the Sunshine State for the CBJ this regular season. The puck drops tonight shortly after 7pm ET. Here’s ten things you need to know to get ready for the matchup:
- The Blue Jackets are coming off a 7-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Seven goals is the most the CBJ have scored since a 7-0 win on February 25th last season over the New York Islanders.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have only lost four games this season: two in regulation and two in overtime. Two of those losses have come in their last three games, including a 2-1 OT loss to the New York Rangers in their last contest on Thursday.
- The CBJ have gone 4-2-0 on the road this season, with two of those four wins coming in overtime.
- Last year, the Jackets were 2-0-0 against the Lightning in Tampa.
- Sitting atop the National Hockey League standings are the Lightning and their 22 points on the season. The Blue Jackets are in a three-way tie for fourth in the NHL with 18 points. The other two teams with 18 points are also in the Metropolitan Division (New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins).
- The Lightning have the top-two players when it comes to points in the NHL with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov ranking first and second respectively. The highest CBJ player on that list is Artemi Panarin, who’s 50th in the category.
- The top three Jackets players in terms of goals scored last year were Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, and Artemi Panarin (would have been second on the team with his 31 goals). That trio has scored a total of eight goals this year. Atkinson has missed the last two games due to illness, so we’ll give him a pass on that one.
- On Thursday against the Panthers, John Tortorella praised his defensemen for being involved offensively, indicating that he felt the team played below the hashes more than any other game this season. Against the Lightning, who are averaging nearly four goals per game, watch to see if the gameplan changes at all for the CBJ. It would be un-Tortorella-like to back down from the challenge.
- The last contest between the Lightning and Blue Jackets came a little over two weeks ago at Nationwide Arena. TBL goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy shutout the Jackets, making 43 saves, in the 2-0 Tampa Bay win.
- The Lightning and Jackets are two of the four teams this season who have a positive double-digit goal differential. Tampa Bay is +16 on the year, while the CBJ are +11.
Tonight’s game will feature a couple of the top teams in the NHL so far in this young season. Tortorella’s squad is coming off one of their best games of the year while the Lightning are looking to bounce back from a rare loss. Get your popcorn ready.