Preview: Columbus at Carolina
When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, January 8, 2016
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
An otherwise lackluster matchup between the bottom two teams in the Metropolitan Division gained some luster with defenseman Seth Jones set to make his debut for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday in the first leg of a home-and-home series. Jones was acquired by the Blue Jackets on Wednesday in a blockbuster deal for forward Ryan Johansen.
Jones was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft but was expendable on a deep Nashville Predators blue-line corps headed by captain Shea Weber and Roman Josi. “He’s going to be put in more spots here than he has in Nashville just because of the depth they have there,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. Johansen fell out of favor since the firing of Todd Richards and subsequent hiring of Tortorella, who benched him on multiple occasions. Carolina has dropped three straight one-goal decisions during an 0-1-2 stretch.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), FSN Carolinas
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (15-23-3): Columbus is expecting big things from Jones, who recorded one goal and 10 assists with Nashville and will be paired with Ryan Murray. “This trade could be huge for a lot of years,” Murray said. “It’s great to have a guy like that that can do it all. He’ll be on the power play. He can shoot, he can skate. He’s the total package.” After posting impressive back-to-back victories over conference leaders Dallas and Washington and scoring 10 goals in the process, the Blue Jackets’ bid for a perfect three-game road trip was thwarted in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (16-18-7): Carolina has scored only three goals during its three-game slide and may face additional stress on offense after second-leading scorer Victor Rask exited Wednesday’s 3-2 loss due to an upper-body injury. Jordan Staal recorded his fourth multi-point performance of the season, scoring one goal and setting up another against the Canucks to match his output from the previous nine games combined. Cam Ward, who is 2-3-1 in his last six starts despite allowing a total of nine goals during that span, is expected to get the start Friday.
1. The Hurricanes are 0-for-14 on the power play over their last eight games.
2. Jones notched only one assist in his last 24 contests with Nashville.
3. Carolina had killed off 25 straight penalties before allowing the winning power-play tally with 66 seconds to play versus Vancouver.
PREDICTION: Hurricanes 3, Blue Jackets 2