The Panthers remain in contention for the top spot in a suddenly heated division race. Florida enters in second place in the Discover Central with 61 points and a 28-12-5 overall record through 45 games, leaving the Panthers just one point back of the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes. Meanwhile, Columbus has been trending in the opposite direction as of late. The Blue Jackets have slid down to seventh place in the division standings with 39 points and a 15-22-9 overall record in 46 games.
Can the Panthers keep pace atop the Discover Central with a win at home over the Blue Jackets on Monday night?
Blue Jackets preparing for rough finish to regular season scheduleColumbus was unable to stop its slide on Saturday night, falling short on the road 5-1 versus the Dallas Stars. Vladislav Gavrikov opened the scoring with his second goal of the season but the Blue Jackets surrendered five unanswered goals to lose their fifth straight game. Joonas Korpisalo allowed four goals in 16 shots before getting pulled. Elvis Merzilikins took over and stopped 15 of 16 shots in the loss.
The Blue Jackets have been humbled by injuries this season. With 11 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, Columbus has a lot of youngsters vying for future roles with the franchise. With many of those remaining games against teams vying for a postseason spot, it’s not out of the question for the Blue Jackets to stumble to the finish line.
Korpisalo is scheduled to be back between the pipes for the Blue Jackets on Monday evening. The 26-year-old comes in with a 9-12-7 overall record to go along with a 3.21 GAA and .896 save percentage in 31 games (29 starts). Korpisalo had a rough April, going 1-2-1 with a 4.35 GAA and .880 save percentage in six starts. He comes into Monday’s matchup still looking for his first win of the year versus the Panthers. Korpisalo is 0-2-1 with a 3.05 GAA and .910 save percentage in four starts against Florida this season.
Panthers get back on winning track vs. LightningFlorida won for the second time in three games with a 5-3 victory on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. Frank Vatrano scored the game-winning goal while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 of 31 shots to earn the win. Brandon Montour, Patric Hornqvist, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Anthony Duclair also scored for the Panthers.
No thanks!! 🚫 pic.twitter.com/plDOwuz3QX— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 18, 2021
Five days after being acquired from the Calgary Flames, Sam Benett made his debut against the Lightning on Saturday. Bennett debuted on the second line between Huberdeau and Duclair but could move around while head coach Joel Quenneville tinkers with his lineups prior to the NHL playoffs.
Chris Driedger is expected to patrol the crease once again for the Panthers on Monday evening. The 26-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba had a breakout campaign in 2019-2020, finishing 7-2-1 with a 2.05 GAA and .938 save percentage in 12 games (11 starts). He picked up right where he left off this year, going 12-5-1 with a 2.09 GAA and .927 save percentage in 20 games.
Driedger has gotten stronger as the year has gone on and is currently having his best month of the year. In five April starts, he is 3-1-1 with a 1.77 GAA and .928 save percentage. The Panthers’ goaltender has made two starts versus the Blue Jackets this season, finishing 1-0-1 with a 0.96 GAA and .968 save percentage in those matchups.
- Blue Jackets are 10-4 in their last 14 Monday games.
- Blue Jackets are 22-49 in their last 71 overall.
- Blue Jackets are 16-36 in their last 52 games as an underdog.
- Panthers are 6-0 in their last 6 vs. NHL.
- Panthers are 20-6 in their last 26 Monday games.
- Panthers are 5-0 in their last 5 home games
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Columbus has struggled in this series as of late, losing each of the last four meetings and seven of its last 10 games on the road in Florida. The Panthers are currently battling for the top spot in the Discover Central race and should be able to stay focused at home against the struggling Blue Jackets. After letting several veterans go at the trade deadline, Columbus has filled its roster out with young players, which will inevitably make for a rough finish to the regular season. Take the Panthers to cover the puck line at home in this Discover Central clash on Monday night.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams are projected for 5.5 goals but that number seems a bit low in this spot. As good as Driedger has been this season, he seems due for some regression after posting a 1.77 GAA in five starts this month. On the other hand, Korpisalo has struggled as of late, posting an unsightly .876 save percentage over his last five starts. He’s also struggled against the Panthers, posting a 4.35 GAA and .910 save percentage in four starts against them this year. Take this matchup to go over the projected total on Monday night.