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Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes Game Preview

JL Matthews
Grushin / Shutterstock / Edited by Author

Raleigh, NC -- The Carolina Hurricanes (33-10-7, 73pts) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (16-25-10, 42pts) meet tonight for their final matchup of the 2020-21 season.

Carolina is coming off a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. The victory kept the Canes at the top of the Central Division standings with only six games left in the season.

The Canes have now secured at least a point in each of their last nine games, including a six-game road trip. With four of their last six games against teams that have already been eliminated from the playoffs, the Division title seems within their grasp.

"I think the outer people, the coaches and management and fans and media, think of [winning the Division] way more than the players do," Brind'Amour said. "I think [the players] just want to go out and play well."

"We're playing a team tonight that's not [going to be] in the playoffs, but we need to treat it like they are," Canes forward Warren Foegele said. "You have to play the same way. We have to get ready for the playoffs, and the way to do that is to play the same way."

"We know we're getting close to the finish line, but we're not there yet," Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour said ahead of Saturday night's game. "You just got to guard against that mentality because the other team is going to play hard."

Indeed, Columbus has played Carolina hard all season. They've gone 3-3-1 against the Canes; five of the seven games have been decided by one goal.

Seth Jones (3g, 5a) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (2g, 5a) are a big part of why the Blue Jackets, who currently sit in last place in the Central Division, have had success against the Canes. Shutting down Jones and Bjorkstrand will be essential for the Canes to keep the point streak going.

That said, Columbus is shorthanded tonight. Patrik Laine is out with an illness; Boone Jenner has a broken finger; Zach Werenski is done for the season after suffering a hernia.

Lineup News

Coach Brind'Amour reported that none of players who missed Thursday's game due to injury (Brock McGinn, Jesper Fast, or Petr Mrazek) will play tonight.

In addition, Cedric Paquette is doubtful.

"We'll see right at the game time [if Paquette can play], but I would say [it's] very, very improbable," Brind'Amour said.

Alex Nedeljkovic (13-4-3, .932 SV%, 1.94 GAA) will start in net for Carolina. Nedeljkovic has won five of his last six starts

Elvis Merzlikins (7-12-3, .916 SV%, 2.80 GAA) will start for Columbus. Merzlikins broke a nine-game winless streak in his last start, a 41-save shutout victory against the Red Wings.

The Canes' expected lines:


Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas

Steven Lorentz — Jordan Staal — Warren Foegele

Max McCormick — Morgan Geekie — Drew Shore


Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton

Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce

Jake Bean — Jani Hakanpaa


Alex Nedeljkovic

James Reimer

Injuries: Brock McGinn (upper body), Jordan Martinook (lower body), Petr Mrazek (lower body), Jesper Fast (lower body), Cedric Paquette (undisclosed), Jake Gardiner (healthy)

Columbus' expected lines:


Eric Robinson — Max Domi — Oliver Bjorkstrand

Liam Foudy — Alexandre Texier — Cam Atkinson

Stefan Matteau — Jack Roslovic — Emil Bemstrom

Nathan Gerbe — Ryan Macinnis — Mikhail Grigorenko


Michael Del Zotto — Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov — Mikko Lehtonen

Dean Kukan — Gavin Bayreuther


Elvis Merzlinkins

Matiss Kivlenieks

Injuries: Patrik Laine (illness), Gustav Nyquist (IR Shoulder), Boone Jenner (finger), Zach Werenski (hernia)

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JL Matthews is a writer with interests spanning history, humor, tv/film, parenting, and more. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he is a 6x Top Writer on Medium. Follow him on News Break, Medium, and Twitter for updates and latest work.

Raleigh, NC

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