A day after adding what potentially will be the biggest name to move around this year’s trade deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets (34-23-3) will host the San Jose Sharks (36-17-8) at Nationwide Arena tonight. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 5:00 PM ET.
The Blue Jackets made headlines on Friday, striking a deal with the Ottawa Senators for Matt Duchene in return for a couple draft picks and a couple prospects.
During last night’s contest in Ottawa, the upside of having him, Cam Atkinson, and Artemi Panarin all on the ice at once was clear despite the top line not finding the score sheet.
After the first line, head coach John Tortorella kept his Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson line together. Pierre-Luc Dubois centered a line with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Anthony Duclair. Then there was the fourth line with Eric Robinson, Riley Nash, and Brandon Dubinsky.
Following Friday’s game, Torts discussed the options the addition of Matt Duchene opens up, saying:
I think there’s going to be some fighting for ice time, let alone getting in the lineup. It gives me some flexibility in that area…There’s a number of different things you can do when you kind of solidify the middle ice there, so we’ll just see how it goes.
Across the ice, the Sharks enter tonight’s game winners of eight of their last ten games and come in following a 4-0 victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Defenseman Brent Burns, one of, if not the, best offensive defensemen in the National Hockey League, comes in ranked inside the top five in assists with 56 this season, and is a big part of their top-five ranked power play. Staying out of the penalty box will be key tonight.
At this point in the season, every game is critical for the Blue Jackets, who are in the thick of the crowded Metropolitan Division. The addition of Matt Duchene is a message from management that this team isn’t going to fold and play for next year. In their first game back in Columbus since the trade, Nationwide Arena should be electric tonight as fans will get their first chance to see the new look CBJ in action.