The NHL is set up with another action packed night of hockey on January 28. Fourteen games are up on the board throughout Thursday night. One of these games will be between the Florida Panthers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. These two teams have had solid starts to this season. This game will drop the puck at around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
Florida has opened up this season with a record of 3-0-0, which has them tied for second place of the Central Division. The Panthers have had a nice opening to this season, sweeping Chicago and knocking off the Blue Jackets in their last game. Florida will look to keep the momentum going as this season goes along. I expect the Panthers to come out hot in this one as they look for the win.
The Blue Jackets have put up a record of 2-2-3 throughout the early part of this season, which has them in the top spot of the Central Division. Columbus has been racking in the overtime losses, which has helped them get to the top spot in the Central. The Blue Jackets have earned a point in their last five games and will look to keep it going in this one.
These two teams are sitting in playoff spots in the Central Division early this season, which should lead to a good game on Thursday night. These two teams will meet in the second half of a back to back in this one, which should also bump up the intensity. I expect both teams to try and come out quickly in this one as they look for a big two points in the Central.
The Panthers and the Blue Jackets met up three times throughout last season. The first game of the season series was in Florida on December 7. Vladislav Gavrikov scored for Columbus, but it was not enough. Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist, while Aleksander Barkov and Keith Yandle both had two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 of 34 shots to help lead the Panthers to a 4-1 win.
The second game shifted to Columbus on December 31. Colton Sceviour scored for Florida, but this time the Panthers came up short. Zach Werenski had a hat trick on the night. Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist, while Gustav Nyquist and Alexander Wennberg both had two assists. Elvis Merzlikins turned away 36 of 37 shots to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win.
The final game was in Columbus on February 4. Neither team could get any offense going throughout regulation. Sergei Bobrovsky turned away 44 of 45 shots, but it was not enough. Zach Werenski scored the game winner in overtime. Elvis Merzlikins finished with a 32 shot shutout as the Blue Jackets won 1-0 to win the season series.
Columbus hosted the first game of this season series on January 26. Cam Atkinson, Kevin Stenlund and Alexandre Texier all scored for the Blue Jackets in this one. Carter Verhaeghe had a goal and an assist, while Anthony Duclair had two assists. Patric Hornqvist tied up the game with three seconds left and scored the game winner in the shootout to propel the Panthers to a 4-3 win.
The Panthers power play has been solid to open up this season, but their penalty kill has struggled. Florida has capitalized on 3 of their 11 power play opportunities, which is a 27.3 percent power play. Florida has also given up 3 goals on 11 power plays against, which is a 72.7 percent kill rate. The Panthers will look to improve on the penalty kill in this one.
Columbus has not found a lot of success on the power play early in the season, but are dominating on the penalty kill. The Blue Jackets have only scored 1 power play goal on 19 attempts, which is a 5.3 percent success rate. Columbus has killed off 14 of 16 of their opponents power play chances, which is an 87.5 percent penalty kill.
These two teams have not been great on special teams to open up this new season. The Blue Jackets power play has not gotten going, but they could have a chance to break through on the Panthers. Florida’s power play is doing well and will have a tough test against the Blue Jackets penalty kill. If either team can get the power play going, it could be enough to propel them to the win.
I expect Sergei Bobrovsky to get the nod in the crease for Florida on Thursday night. Bobrovsky has started this season with a record of 2-0 through his starts. He has put up a save percentage of .879 and a 3.35 GAA so far this season. Bobrovsky stopped 19 of 22 shots against Columbus in Tuesday nights win in the shootout.
Joonas Korpisalo will likely get the start in the crease for the Blue Jackets in this one. Korpisalo has started in four games throughout this season, earning a record of 1-1-2. He has posted a .928 save percentage and a GAA of 2.45 through those starts. Korpisalo finished with 28 saves on 31 shots against the Panthers in the shootout loss.
These two goalies have had solid starts to this season, but Korpisalo has had the better start overall. If Korpisalo can continue to put up a strong start this season, it could be enough to lead the Blue Jackets to a win in this one. Florida will look for Bobrovsky to step up in this one as he looks to improve his numbers as the season goes along.
The Panthers are coming into this season on an undefeated run. Florida has won all three of their games to open up this season, but I think that the Blue Jackets will have a chance to end that run in this one. Columbus could not finish off the Panthers on Tuesday night, giving up a goal as time expired before losing in shootout. I expect the Blue Jackets to come out hot in this one as they look to earn the win.
BetOnline has Columbus listed as a -113 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Blue Jackets will win this game around 53.1 percent of the time. I think that Columbus will look to put up a much faster start in this one. The Blue Jackets are only favored by a little, which gives them some solid value. I like Columbus to finally had Florida their first loss of the season.