The Blues haven’t played a game at Nationwide Arena since November 15th, 2019. Back then, the Blues were the defending Stanley Cup champions. Now, they’re focused on making the playoffs with a home ice advantage. They’re also trying to work through how to win a game in extra time. After an overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets and a shootout loss in an admittedly good game against the Penguins, the Blues do need to start to get both available points in a game. One isn’t going to cut it. The Blues are still three points up on the Minnesota Wild for second in the Central, and 16 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for first. If there is to be home ice in the playoffs, it’s going to have to come by putting space between themselves and the Wild.
Columbus, 31-28-3 on the season, is 15 points out of the last Eastern Conference wild card playoff spot currently held by the Washington Capitals. They’re 4-4-2 in their last ten and suffered a 7-2 drubbing on Thursday to that very team. It’s easy to assume that they’re going to come out of the gate swinging this afternoon - the Blues are going to have to counter, and counter hard.
The Blues haven’t had to deal with Patrik Laine for a bit, at least not since 2020, when he was traded from the Winnipeg Jets to the Jackets. Laine his a noted Blues killer, and this year he’s been tearing it up against opponents. He’s leading in scoring with 24 goals and 22 assists. He’s not the only guy out there that the Blues’ defense is going to have to track - Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand are just as dangerous, especially with the team having assist machines Jakub Vorachek and Zach Werenski on the roster.
The Jackets might want to keep their eyes on David Perron, who’s running a five game scoring streak.
This is the Blues’ last game before Monday’s trade deadline. Will the team be saying goodbye to anyone on the ice this afternoon? It’s tough to predict Doug Armstrong this time of the year. The most the Blues can do is focus on this afternoon’s game and skate out of Columbus with a win.