After COVID delayed another series, this time against the Canes, Florida has removed the Gone Fishin’ sign from their locker room and are headed to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets.
The Jackets are fresh off a blockbuster trade that sent center Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 third-round pick to Winnipeg in exchange for winger Patrick Laine and forward Jack Roslovic. Laine will not be in the lineup for CBJ.
This is a big game for a number of reasons...
The obvious is it’s Bob (who is getting the start), Zito and more Cats than you can name facing their old team. But it also should prove to be stiffer competition than Florida’s first two games against Chicago.
Columbus is a blue collar team that can struggle offensively - which I’m sure they’re banking on Laine to eventually help - but play really solid defense.
Although the season is young and they have played four more games than FLA and DAL, and three more games than the CAR, they sit in second place of the Central Division with a 2-2-2 record.
In all honesty, I didn’t think the Cats looked too hot in that second win over the Blackhawks. They seemed slow and sloppy and the rust on Bob was evident. The reality of that game was that a rebuilding team with a rookie goalie took them to OT and almost handed them a loss.
There are still a lot of things that need to be tightened up for this squad and I think four games in the next six days should either help or hinder that.
Per Jameson Olive, the lines during practice Monday were:
Verhaeghe - Barkov - Duclair
Huberdeau - Wennberg - Hornqvist
Vatrano - Luostarinen - Tippett
Hinostroza - Acciari - Connolly
Weegar - Ekblad
Gudas - Stralman
Yandle - Juulsen
Nutivaara - Forsling
Hoping Duclair starts putting it together because his speed would be a great asset combined with Verhaeghe’s and Barky’s skill. As I mentioned before, I’m really liking Verhaeghe - the guy has great positioning and awareness on the ice.
Looking at that fourth line, I’m actually hoping the Cats can eventually move Connolly and open that spot up for someone else. I’m giving it a few more games, but I’ve never really been sold on him and I’d be willing to slot in a young guy there or someone you can get back as part of a trade.
I really like that third line...
For those of you guys looking for Nutivaara to get in, below is an update. Maybe we’ll see him at some point in the next six days?
In rookie news, Stillman and Keeper were assigned from the taxi squad to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Im not really surprised about Stillman, he looked rough against Chicago, which is a bummer because I’m really rooting for the guy to take that next step.
Lastly, here are the rescheduled games: