Tuesday Night Rivals: Previewing the Lightning vs Blue Jackets Matchup

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their road trip after a disappointing 4-0 loss against the New York Rangers on Sunday and head to Columbus, Ohio to face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Lightning, who sit on a 21-8-5 record, are tied for third in the league in points, along with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Blue Jackets, who sit on a 15-14-1 record, are sitting at 6th in the Metropolitan division.

Top Players:

The Lightning have struggled as of late, but not everything has been bad. Brayden Point returned to the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens on December 28, 2021. He’s played strong, considering the Lightning have played poorly over the last few games, but he’s not the only player who Lightning players have looked forward to seeing again. Nikita Kucherov is set to return sometime this week after not playing for over two months. Once he returns, Lightning fans hope to see the Lightning on top once again. For now, though, we’re going to look at the Lightning’s top 3 players this season based on points.

Steven Stamkos: 16G 23A 39P
Victor Hedman: 7G 27A 34P
Alex Killorn: 9G 20A 29P

The Lightning’s offense has been great this season but has had its struggles, especially in the last couple of weeks. The Lightning need to make sure they get Kucherov adjusted into the lineup again quickly, or things will be tough for a while.

The Lightning’s defense has struggled lately. Too many shots have been getting to the net, and even though many defensemen have been missing, the usual blue liners have had their issues over the last few weeks. Hopefully, things get better soon once everyone is 100% healthy. Tampa Bay will benefit tonight by having Cal Foote and Taylor Raddysh back available after being cleared from COVID protocols.

The Blue Jackets have been disappointing this season, with Elvis Merzlikins struggling at times and many forwards not being able to step up with Patrik Laine having been gone up until late last month. These are their top three players based on points.

Oliver Bjorkstrand: 9G 14A 23P
Jakub Voracek: 1G 22A 23P
Boone Jenner: 12G 8A 20P

The Blue Jackets’ offense has been disappointing this season, but the loss of Patrik Laine for much of the season was hard for them. Things are on the rise for them, but the offense needs to step it up if they want to beat the Lightning.

The Blue Jackets defense has been poor and has allowed an average of 31 shots a game on Merzlikins. If they want to beat the Lightning, they’ll need to figure out these massive flaws. Columbus will be without their top defenseman, Zach Werenski tonight after he has enetered the NHL’s COVID protocols.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.21 GAA, .925 sv%) will most likely start in net for the Lightning, while Merzlikins (3.20 GAA, .907 sv%) will most likely start for the Blue Jackets. Vasilevskiy has the best chance to win in net against Merzlikins, as Vasi looks to bounce back after a tough outing on Sunday against the Rangers.

Score: 3-0 Lightning
Shots: 40 Lightning/26 Blue Jackets

Top Performer: Brayden Point (1G 1A 2P)
Overall Performance: A+


The Lightning have been playing with multiple AHL players or players with COVID who couldn’t practice much. Now that they have some practice and are returnning to full health, the Lightning should be able to beat Columbus, and Vasilevskiy should be very strong in net now that he’s had time to practice and return to game shape.