Let’s get one thing square right off the bat: both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets got screwed by NHL decision makers yesterday. To wit: Nino Niederreiter somehow was assessed a fighting penalty even though he didn’t even remove his gloves, never mind throwing an actual punch.
The Blue Jackets, though, have a right to be the more furious party, and their justified irritation probably only became more pronounced when they found out the story behind the story, as reported by Aaron Portzline of The Athletic earlier today. Essentially, an arena video assistant said (incorrectly) that it was a good goal into a hot mic, and the officials - believing that the assessment had come from Toronto rather than from the in-arena video room - went with it, despite the war room and senior NHL officials trying desperately to get the on-ice officials’ attention before the puck was dropped. (If you haven’t read the story, it’s absolutely worth your time.)
So...what’s on tap for the encore, then?
For one thing, the Hurricanes will look very similar to yesterday’s lineup. On the heels of having played yesterday, the Pride of Parma, Ohio, Alex Nedeljkovic, will make his first start of the season in goal. When last we saw him in game action, he was holding the Pittsburgh Penguins at bay in a 6-2 Hurricanes win just days before the season was suspended due to COVID. Other than that, the lineup will look the same as it did yesterday, and here it is:
Andrei Svechinkov - Sebastian Aho - Brock McGinn
Nino Niederreiter - Vincent Trocheck - Teuvo Teravainen
Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele
Jordan Martinook - Morgan Geekie - Jesper Fast
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei - Dougie Hamilton
Haydn Fleury - Jake Gardiner
Injuries and scratches: Petr Mrazek (thumb), Max McCormick (IR upper body), Martin Necas (upper body)
Taxi squad: Jake Bean, Steven Lorentz, Joakim Ryan, Antoine Bibeau
A back-to-back, after yesterday’s epic fail of officiating blunders, is probably the best chaser the Blue Jackets could ask for. Instead of being forced to stew over their rotten luck for two or three days, they get to go right back at it and take out their frustrations on the ice. Their lineup will have a couple of changes; Mikko Koivu and Liam Foudy will come out of the lineup, to be replaced by Kevin Stenlund and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Joonas Korpisalo will start again, less out of merit than necessity: the numbers two (Elvis Merzlikins) and three (Matiss Kivlenieks) goalies are both injured, and the player who will serve as Korpisalo’s backup, fourth-stringer Cam Johnson, has never played an NHL game.
Here is how the Jackets will look tonight:
Patrik Laine - Jack Roslovic - Cam Atkinson
Max Domi - Alexandre Texier - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nick Foligno - Riley Nash - Eric Robinson
Boone Jenner - Kevin Stenlund - Mikhail Grigorenko
Dean Kukan - Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Michael Del Zotto
Injuries and Scratches: Mikko Koivu (healthy), Liam Foudy (healthy), Gabriel Carlsson (healthy), Matiss Kivlenieks (lower body), Zach Werenski (IR lower body), Elvis Merzlikins (IR upper body), Gustav Nyquist (IR shoulder), Brandon Dubinsky (LTIR wrist)
Taxi squad: Emil Bemstrom, Andrew Peeke, Stefan Matthau, Adam Clendening
Referees: Chris Rooney #5, Ghislain Hebert #22
Linesmen: Tyson Baker #88, Jonny Murray #95