GAME 72: BLUE JACKETS VS. MAPLE LEAFS
NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7:00 P.M.
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: 97.1 & BLUEJACKETS.COM
The Blue Jackets may have secured a playoff spot, but there are still games to be played and points to be gained.
The next opportunity to do just that comes Wednesday when the Jackets welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs to Nationwide Arena for the second time this season. The last time these two teams met, Toronto was coming into town off a back-to-back, and the Jackets won 5-2.
This time, the game marks the opening matchup of a back-to-back for the Jackets. It is also the first of six games the home team will play in the next ten days.
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The Maple Leafs come to Columbus hungry. They currently sit in the second wild card spot in the East, but aren't content to stay there. The Leafs (33-23-15) are just one point behind the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic with 11 games to play and a game in hand.
Toronto has won three of their last five games and earned at least a point in four of the last five. They have five players on their roster with 50 points or more, including their three dynamic rookies, Auston Matthews (32-25-57), Mitch Marner (17-39-56) and William Nylander (19-33-52).
Here are five things to watch for:
Minding the net.
As the Leafs have strung together wins as of late, Frederik Andersen has been in net. He's started the last seven games and won five of those contests (5-1-1). Former Blue Jacket Curtis McElhinney is Toronto's other goaltender option, but with points at a premium, it's likely Andersen gets the call.
30 goal club.
The Jackets' Cam Atkinson earned his 30th goal earlier this month at Nationwide Arena. The same milestone could come to pass again for another player if Nazem Kadri, who sits at 29 goals on the season, puts the puck in the net. Just like Atkinson, this would be the first season in his career that Kadri reaches the 30-goal mark.
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Rookie Lukas Sedlak has played at center all season for the Jackets. With 14 healthy forwards on the roster, for head coach John Tortorella to get Sedlak in the lineup means that the young Czech is moving to left wing. "I'm not sure if he can play left wing, but we're going to see tomorrow," Tortorella said.
Video: John Tortorella on his recent lineup changes
In a year of setting records, the Jackets can set another one the next time they win at Nationwide Arena. The most points ever earned by a Jackets team on home ice is 53. This year's team tied that marker Thursday when they beat Florida 2-1. The next point earned at home will set a new franchise record.
In the only other game between the Leafs and the Jackets this season, the Jackets scored five goals, each by a different player. But three members of the team provided two helpers on the night. Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, and Alexander Wennberg each had two assists in the Jackets' win Feb. 15.
PRACTICE NOTEBOOK: WENNBERG RETURNS
PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:
Foligno - Wennberg - Bjorkstrand
Jenner - Dubinsky - Anderson
Saad - Gagner - Atkinson
Sedlak - Karlsson - Calvert
Werenski - Jones
Johnson - Savard
Quincey - Nutivaara