Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Florida Panthers – Prediction, Preview and Odds

The Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Florida Panthers with both teams heading in opposite directions this season. The Blue Jackets have won just 17 of their 35 games while the Panthers have won 25 of their 37 games this season. The Blue Jackets are looking to climb out of the bottom of the Metropolitan Division while the Panthers are looking to stay near the top of the Atlantic Division and the upcoming game should be a good one as a result.

Blue Jackets look for defense to step up.
The Blue Jackets have shown promise this season with an offense that is scoring 3.17 goals per game. Boone Jenner, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexandre Texier have combined for 36 goals and 33 assists to lead the top line, but the rest of the forward unit has also stepped up. Gustav Nyquist, Max Domi and Jack Roslovic have combined for 22 goals and 28 assists, while defensemen Adam Boqvist and Zach Werenski have added 13 goals and 32 assists from the point to open up the offense.

The offense has looked very good, but the defense is one of the worst in the NHL, allowing 3.46 goals per game. Jake Bean, Zach Werenski and Vladislav Gavrikov have combined for 4.2 defensive points and 149 blocked shots, but the rest of the defensive unit has struggled, allowing opponents to carry the puck into the offensive zone at will. In addition, Elvis Merzlikins has struggled as the starting goaltender, posting a 687 626 .911 save percentage and a goals-against average on 687 shots of 3.04.

The Panthers offense has been dominant this season.
The Panthers have had a great start to the season, led by an offense that is scoring 3.92 goals per game. Aleksander Barkov and Anthony Duclair have scored 29 goals and 23 assists combined, while Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett have combined for 35 goals and 58 assists on the top two lines, but the rest of the offense has also stepped up. Carter Verhaeghe, Eetu Luostarinen and Frank Vatrano have combined for 26 goals and 30 assists, while defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour have added 14 goals and 34 assists from the point to put the offense over the top.

The offense has been dominant, but the defense has also stepped up, allowing 2.92 goals per game. Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar have combined for 4.8 defensive points and 118 blocked shots, while Radko Gudas and Gustav Forsling have combined for 3.5 defensive points and 83 blocked shots to give the Panthers two great defensive pairings. The hope is that goaltender Jonas Johansson can step up in net as he makes his debut with the team in the next game, but he has a .880 save percentage and a 3.89 goals-against average on 200 shots this season.

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