The Arizona Coyotes and the Columbus Blue Jackets meet in NHL action from the Nationwide Arena on Thursday night.
The Arizona Coyotes will try to surprise some folks after missing the playoffs for the 8th time in 9 years last season following a 24-26-6 finish and a 5th place ending in the West division. The Coyotes bring in some fresh faces like Ryan Dzingel and Alex Galchenyuk up front as well as Carter Hutton between the pipes to replace the losses of Michael bunting, Alex Goligoski and Derick Brassard to name a few. Phil Kessel is back after leading the ‘Yotes with 43 points and 20 goals last season while Jakob Chychrun had 41 points and Conor Garland had a team-high 27 assists. Hutton will likely split time in goal with Adin Hill who is the only returning goaltender from last year’s staff with Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta no longer on the roster.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be out to get back into the postseason after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16 following a last place finish in the Central division with an 18-26-12 record. The Blue Jackets underwent a slight roster overhaul, shipping out stalwarts in their roster like Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson while bringing in pieces like Jakub Voracek and Adam Boqvist as well as multiple draft picks. Oliver Bjorkstrand is also back after leading the Blue Jackets with 44 points including team-highs of 18 goals and 26 assists while Columbus will be hoping to get bigger contributions from the likes of Jack Roslovic, Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski, Max Domi and others.
Arizona is 5-12 in their last 17 games overall and 3-7 in their last 10 games as an underdog while the over is 4-0 in their last 4 road games. Columbus is 0-5 in their last 5 Thursday games and 18-41 in their last 59 games overall while the over is 4-0 in their last 4 home games.
This might be my least favorite game on the board on Thursday’s card, and for good reason as the Coyotes and Blue Jackets are the two teams most likely to finish at the bottom of their respective divisions this year. However, there’s little to like about the Coyotes, as their big answer to overhauling the roster in the offseason was signing a goalie in Carter hutton who won just one game with the Sabres last season. Make the change of scenery case all you want, you can take Hutton out of Buffalo but you can’t take Buffalo out of Hutton. Columbus dealt with tragedy in the offseason and aren’t in a good spot from a team standpoint to begin with, but I do think the Blue Jackets are the more likely of the two to start the year on a high note. Give me Columbus here.