After a loss on the road in Buffalo on Thursday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets (25-17-3) return home to face the Vancouver Canucks (16-21-6) on Friday. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 7:00 PM ET.
With 38 points, only two teams in the National Hockey League are worse than the Vancouver Canucks. The Buffalo Sabres, who are one of those two teams, just beat the Blue Jackets on Thursday.
To say the Canucks have been going through a rough stretch would be putting it lightly. Since December 7th, Vancouver has won just two of their last 15 games, going 2-11-2 during that span. They haven’t won a game on the road since November 30th.
With game four of a seven game road trip on the docket for Friday, it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances against the Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
Unsurprisingly, their surface stats aren’t great. They rank 28th in the NHL in goals scored and 27th in goals allowed. A bright spot offensively has been 20-year-old winger Brock Boeser, who’s scored 18 goals with 22 assists in 40 games. Even without a calculator it’s apparent that’s pretty close to a point per game pace for the young Canuck.
One thing that may be in Vancouver’s favor on Friday is rest. They last played on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., while the CBJ will be playing in the second game of a back-to-back after taking a loss in Buffalo on Thursday.
With a five-day break on the horizon for the Jackets, however, there’s no excuse for John Tortorella’s squad to not go all out in this one.
Seth Jones, who was selected on Wednesday to represent the Metropolitan Division in the All Star Game, has been playing at another level recently. He’s registered 6 assists in five January games, and has tallied at least a point in 14 of his last 19 games after being held off the scoresheet in his previous 11 contests dating back to early November.
The Blue Jackets have an opportunity to bank two points on Friday before getting some much needed rest. After a downer on the road in Buffalo, expect the CBJ to come out strong in a game that frankly they should win handily.