The Columbus Blue Jackets looked sharp in their first game without Joonas Korpisalo having to carry the load. Korpisalo tore his meniscus against the Chicago Blackhawks, resulting in at least 4-6 weeks on the shelf. It’s a tough pill to swallow for John Tortorella, who had his team playing great hockey with a hot goaltender.
Korpisalo was selected to go to the All-Star Game, though he will be working on getting back to the starting lineup in Columbus instead. Life without Korpisalo went pretty well against the Florida Panthers. Elvis Merzlikins was able to get the first win of his career after eight winless starts. He was able to cool off a hot Florida Panthers’ offence in a 4-1 win on New Year’s Eve.
Merzlikins stopped 36 of 37 saves in the first win of the season and his career. He was 0-4-0 as Korpisalo’s backup this year, so it was a nice confidence booster for Merzlikins to get a win in his first start as the starter for at least January. It’s only one game, though, and Merzlikins is going to need to be sharp for plenty of more games to keep the Blue Jackets’ heads above water.
Merzlikins was under a lot of pressure against a good Panthers’ offence and he managed to stick in there for three periods. With the win, the Blue Jackets are winners in six of their last eight games. Considering the injuries, and Korpisalo is just one on a long list for the Blue Jackets, that’s a pretty good run for this team. It included two wins over the 27-9-5 Washington Capitals.
The Blue Jackets enter TD Garden with a record of 18-14-8. It’s crazy to think that some people had Tortorella on the hot seat only a month ago. The Blue Jackets lost a lot of talent in the offseason and weren’t going into this season with any expectations. Not a whole lot of the blame can go on Tortorella for that, and if anything, he has this lineup playing above their potential.
Boston are on the heels of an ugly 3-2 loss in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils have been playing better hockey most recently, and if you don’t take them seriously that can happen. The Bruins were on a three-game winning streak before losing to the Devils on Tuesday night in Newark. They’ll be back home tonight where they’ve been much better in 2019-20. Head below for our free Blue Jackets vs. Bruins pick.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Boston Bruins Betting Odds:
Blue Jackets vs. Bruins Prediction:
The Blue Jackets have been beaten down by injuries, but Tortorella has been able to get the most out of the group he has healthy. The injury list is a mile long for the Blue Jackets, as they continue to pile up high. Alexandre Texier, a highly regarded rookie forward for the Jackets, left against the Panthers with an upper-body injury. The Blue Jackets placed him on the IR, so he will be unavailable against the Bruins tonight. Texier leaves with 6 goals and 7 assists on the season. He was in the top-10 in points on the roster, so he joins Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstand as regular contributors to have to sit down with an injury.
The injuries to their depth pieces are much deeper, as the Jackets have had to deal with injuries to Sonny Milano, Ryan Murray, Scott Harrington, and Andrew Peeke as well. There are more, but it’d take us an entire page to go over them all. The Bruins have recently had to deal with injuries as well, though their list is not nearly as long. However, David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy on the shelf hurts. They’ll want to get those two back and hope it’s nothing serious for the spring. Boston should be able to still play well without them in the meantime, though. Note that the Bruins have lost just one game in regulation at TD Garden this season. They’re 14-1-8 heading into Thursday night.
Tuukka Rask has been doing his job this season, as he continues to play well at 32 years old. Rask owns a 2.31 GAA and 0.923 save percentage, with a 2.22 GAA at home in Boston. Overall, the Bruins lead the NHL with 2.41 goals against per game. How many more injuries can the Blue Jackets take and still find success? I think it’s going to show against a physical Boston defence on the road tonight. A lack of depth is not a recipe for success against the Bruins at TD Garden. Columbus have notched just 2.56 goals per game on the road this season, so it may be tough to frustrate Rask in this one.
All the while, the Blue Jackets are going to have to hope they get a repeat performance out of Merzlikins between the pipes. He just earned his first win, but has still been shaky with a 3.14 GAA and 0.90 save percentage in 11 appearances, nine starts and two in relief. Note that it was his first start at home. His other eight starts all came on the road where he struggled mightily. Merzlikins owns a 3.68 GAA and 0.879 save percentage on the road. Look for the Bruins to top the Blue Jackets by a score of 4-1 or 4-2 on Thursday night in Boston.