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Preview: Bruins kick off 2024 in Columbus

Start of the new year like we ended the last year?

NHL: Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7:00 PM

Where: Nationwide Area — Columbus, Ohio

How to follow: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Opposing SB Nation site: The Cannon

Know your enemy

  • 12-18-8, 32PTS, 8th in the Metropolitan Division
  • Johnny Gaudreau: 7G-18A-25PTS; Zach Werenski: 1G-24A-25PTS; Adam Fantilli: 11G-12A-23PTS
  • Elvis Merzlikins: 7-8-6, 3.25 GAA, .907 save percentage; Spencer Martin: 3-7-1, 3.62 GAA, .889 save percentage

Game notes

  • The Boston Bruins have some mojo going! They closed out the year in Detroit with a statement 5-3 win over the Red Wings.
  • The Bruins last saw the Blue Jackets on December 3rd, where a Brad Marchand natty hatty sent B’s fans hone happy with a 3-1 win at TD Garden. The Black and Gold have been to Lumbus lately, losing 5-2 on November 27th, extending a then-losing streak to three games.
  • Tonight, they’ll face a Columbus Blue Jackets squad who can’t find any solid footing yet seem to give the Bruins fits. Let’s all hope this isn’t a trap game?
  • The Jackets are 4-3-3 in their last 10, most recently losing to the Sabres in OT on December 30th.
  • Connor Bedard may be the Calder favorite, but Adam Fantilli is on pace for a 30-30-60 campaign and that’s not anything to scoff at. If Columbus needs any source of positivity, it’s easy to look at the former Michigan man and no. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft as hope for the future.
  • I’ll be intrigued to see what the line combinations look like. Merkulov has centered the third line twice, just with different linemates. Tonight, he’ll go down to the fourth line with Jakub Lauko and Oskar Steen on his wings.
  • Matt Grzelcyk will come back in for Parker Wotherspoon to keep stride while managing his time recovering from his injury. He’ll line up next to Kevin Shattenkirk.
  • JVR will re-enter the lineup as well, with Freddie as his center and Danton Heinen finishing the line at RW.
  • No confirmation from Monty on who’s in net, though my guess would be Ullman. They’ll go up against Spencer Martin, who has given the Bruins fits as a random NPC brick wall when he faces the Black and Gold.
  • Let’s start 2024 on the right note!