If it feels like a while since you saw the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, you're not wrong. For the first time since Jan. 21, they're back on home ice and again facing a Metropolitan Division opponent. Expect to see a lot of familiar teams and faces as the NHL schedule hits its most important stretch after the All-Star break; this game is the first in a home-heavy February stretch and the first meeting of the season with the New Jersey Devils, who are doing whatever they can to hang around in the Eastern Conference's playoff picture.
The last time the Blue Jackets and Canucks met, it was the final game of a western Canadian road trip for Columbus and they wanted to end it on the right note. John Tortorella was sitting on 499 career wins and the Blue Jackets were on a roll themselves, winners of eight straight after defeating a red-hot Calgary team a couple of nights before. Seth Jones' OT winner secured that 500th victory for Tortorella and the Blue Jackets took those good vibes back home to Columbus before going on to win 16 straight games.
This rivalry doesn't have the snarl or intensity that it had when the Blue Jackets and Red Wings were Central Division foes (and that's to be expected), but these games always seem to be chippy and physical. By the time this game rolls around, the Blue Jackets will have played their final game at historic Joe Louis Arena. This game in particular will mark the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams, and you can expect a loud sold-out crowd at Nationwide Arena to help the Blue Jackets to two more points.
What is it about the Blue Jackets and the Rangers? Every game between them turns out to be a wild, entertaining, white-knuckle affair. Case in point: their last meeting on Jan. 31 at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Jackets jumped out to a 6-0 lead and had to hold on for dear life in the third period as the Rangers put on a furious push. Columbus had a 4-1 lead on Jan. 7 at Nationwide Arena before the Rangers came all the way back to win. No matter what the score reads when these teams are facing off, the game's not over until it's actually over.
Much like the Blue Jackets, the Maple Leafs can be considered as one of the NHL's surprise teams this season. After finishing near the bottom a year ago, Toronto has rebounded and is squarely in the playoff picture in the Atlantic Division. Led by talented rookies Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and excellent goaltending from Frederik Andersen, Mike Babcock's team appears to be here to stay. It should be an exciting matchup between two young, dynamic teams at Nationwide Arena.
Death, taxes, and a rocking atmosphere at Nationwide Arena for Blue Jackets vs. Penguins. It's always a big game, and this year, there's a lot on the line whenever these teams get together. Get tickets now.
The Blue Jackets don't have fond memories of their last meeting with the Predators. In their final game before the All-Star break, the Blue Jackets "wilted" in the words of their head coach and did not respond well to several pushes from the Predators. They'll be looking to flip the script in Nashville's only visit to Columbus this season, which is also Ryan Johansen's first trip back since being traded last January.
With the Eastern Conference playoff picture so compact and changing by the day, no team is truly out of the race. After making a coaching change in late January, the Islanders are heating up and one of their first victories under interim coach Doug Weight was against the Blue Jackets, a 4-2 win on Jan. 24 at Barclays Center. The Blue Jackets won the only previous engagement at Nationwide Arena, 6-2, on Dec. 10.