Skip to main content


game preview

Karlsson's role expanding for Blue Jackets

Tortorella to give young Swede power-play time against Oilers

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

OILERS (25-34-7) at BLUE JACKETS (26-30-8)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-O, NHL.TV

COLUMBUS -- Coach John Tortorella likes the defensive play of William Karlsson but wants more from the 23-year-old Swedish center.

That's why Karlsson is expected to see time on the power play when the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

"Our power play has been very inconsistent, so we're going to try some different things there," Tortorella said.

Karlsson, who has eight goals in 63 games this season and 11 in 84 NHL games, is glad he's getting a rare opportunity to play with the man-advantage.

"I've always been on the power play my entire life," he said. "Being on the bench and seeing the other guys, it's a bit frustrating, I'll say that."

Tortorella feels Karlsson and his other Swedish center, Alexander Wennberg, 21, can be more productive without sacrificing defense.

"Him and [Wennberg], as far as our center icemen, are two of our most determined and smart players away from the puck in our end zone," Tortorella said.

For Karlsson, a change in mindset is needed to get him thinking about offense.

"He's a strong defensive player down low," Tortorella said. "He's very smart in positioning. When a young player knows that he has that and is able to do that, he forgets about working on the other parts of the game and doesn't put enough pressure on himself.

"I believe that's happened with [Karlsson] offensively. We need to get some goals from him."

Tortorella shuffled lines after a 2-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Monday. Nick Foligno moves to the second line with Wennberg and Scott Hartnell while Brandon Saad replaces Foligno on the third line with Karlsson and Matt Calvert.

Saad said he is looking forward to having Karlsson as his center.

"He's got tremendous skill," Saad said. "You see how he creates out there, holds onto pucks and has that patience. It's exciting to watch him even when you're not playing with him, the plays he makes in the D-zone to lead to offense."

The Oilers will make changes as well in the second of a back-to-back after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 on Thursday for their third straight win.

Cam Talbot made 35 saves for the shutout in his ninth straight game, but rookie Laurent Brossoit, 23, will make his second start of the season in his third NHL game. He made 32 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 13.

Here are the projected lineups:

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Patrick Maroon
Nail Yakupov - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle
Lauri Korpikoski - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks - Anton Lander - Adam Cracknell

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne
Darnell Nurse - Brandon Davidson
Adam Pardy - Adam Clendening

Laurent Brossoit
Cam Talbot

Injured: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Eric Gryba (undisclosed), Oscar Klefbom (lower body), Andrew Ference (hip)
Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Iiro Pakarinen, Nikita Nikitin, Benoit Pouliot

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Alexander Wennberg - Scott Hartnell
Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - Brandon Saad
Rene Bourque - Gregory Campbell - David Clarkson

Ryan Murray - Seth Jones
Cody Goloubef - David Savard
Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Joonas Korpisalo
Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Jack Johnson (upper body)
Scratched: Jared Boll

Status report: Bourque is expected to return to the lineup after Boll replaced him vs. the Rangers. Boll had sat the previous 16 games.

Who's hot: McDavid has seven goals and 20 points in 16 games since his return from injury. … Korpisalo is 11-3-3 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage in his past 17 starts.


View More