|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, October 4, 2019
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio Attendance: 18,776
Blue Jackets set to open against 1-0 Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who opened their season with a win on Wednesday, go on the road Friday night to help the Columbus Blue Jackets open their season.
The Maple Leafs introduced John Tavares as their new captain Wednesday before defeating the visiting Ottawa Senators 5-3 in the season opener for both teams.
"(Tavares is) the kind of man, and he's the kind of leader, he's the kind of person that our guys look up to and does everything right every day," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the game Wednesday. "He's all about winning -- he's not about John -- he's about winning.
"He's a great example to all of us. When I ask him a question, he doesn't think, 'Is this good for John?' He thinks, 'Is this is good for the team?'"
The Maple Leafs are expected to make a strong run at the Stanley Cup despite recent playoff failings. Not so much is expected from the Blue Jackets despite some playoff success last season.
Babcock said, "We have to get better. We all understand, we've laid it out very clearly where we've got to get better. Everybody knows what we've got to do to have success, and so we talk about it on a daily basis, and we're trying to work towards that."
The Maple Leafs lost in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight time last season, while the Blue Jackets pulled off a stunning four-game sweep of the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round playoff series. Columbus dropped its subsequent series in six games to the Boston Bruins.
The Blue Jackets, however, lost their leading scorer, Artemi Panarin, starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and trade-deadline acquisition Matt Duchene as free agents during the offseason.
The remaining Blue Jackets are putting a positive spin on the defections.
"There's some really good players in our system that haven't had a chance to have the spotlight because of certain players," Columbus center Nick Foligno said. "Sometimes you see a team really come together because of that."
The Blue Jackets plan to use 20-year-old rookie Alexandre Texier as Panarin's replacement on a line with center Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson.
Dubois, 21, is coming off two excellent seasons (48 points, 61 points), and Atkinson tied the franchise record with 41 goals last season. Even more is expected from Atkinson.
"He's a huge piece this year to where he has to be even better," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "The conversation I had with him this summer, he kept improving ... but we are going to need more out of him. And I believe we'll get that. I think he knows there's more there."
Gustav Nyquist and Alexander Wennberg will play alongside Oliver Bjorkstrand. Foligno will skate on a line with Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson. The fourth line will feature Riley Nash at center with combinations of Sonny Milano, Emil Bemstrom and Jakob Lilja on the wings.
The Blue Jackets have depth on defense, led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Joonas Korpisalo will get the start in goal for the opener.
"We've got a chip on our shoulder," Tortorella said. "It's there, and I hope it builds to a level that is always with us. That's important for us."
The Maple Leafs recalled center Nic Petan from the Toronto Marlies on Thursday and sent defenseman Timothy Liljegren on loan to the American Hockey League team. Center Jason Spezza is expected to make his Maple Leafs debut Friday after he was a healthy scratch Wednesday.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 3, 2019