Columbus Blue Jackets: Staring Down The Barrel – Showdown in Tampa

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 19: Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning defends the net against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 19, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 19: Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning defends the net against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 19, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning face off tonight for the second time this season, so that means it’s time for another Staring Down The Barrel!

When the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in October, we talked with Chase Kimball of

He gave us some great answers before the Lightning handed the CBJ their first shutout loss of the 2017-18 season. His responses prompted us to reach out to him again for a second SDTB appearance in anticipation of tonight’s rematch.

Check out Chase’s work and all of BBTB’s content on their site to learn and enjoy some Lightning-related articles.

Murphy: CBJ advanced stats paint good picture

Do you think both Stamkos and Kucherov get to 100 points?

I think that both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have the ability to break the 100 point mark this season. Whether or not they do it, however, will depend on a few things. Stamkos and Kucherov feed off of each other. They’ve said time and time again how much they enjoy playing with each other and how well they compliment each other’s play styles. An injury to either would not only shorten their season but impact the other linemate as well. This was very visible last season. Kucherov had a great year, but his frustration was evident. No one could play with Kucherov on the level that Stamkos could, and that decreased his offensive output. I 100% believe that if Stamkos would have been healthy last season, Kucherov would have won the Art Ross Trophy. If he came as close as he did last season without Stamkos, imagine what he could do with him healthy. It’s a scary thought if you aren’t the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Mazziotti: Don't panic about Alexander Wennberg's start

What trade would you like to see the Lightning make this year as they make a Cup run?

The trade I would most like to see isn’t for a certain player on another team, but instead to make way for a player that is already with the Bolts. Currently, Slater Koekkoek is stuck in a sort of hockey purgatory in which he gets a frustratingly small amount of playing time. He undoubtedly has the skill to play, but for some reason, he is a healthy scratch most nights. The reason has a name, and it’s Andrej Sustr. His play has steadily declined over the past few seasons, and he’s filling what should be Koekkoek’s spot. Koekkoek is a talented young defenseman and I really believe that if given time to play and grow as a player, he can be a valuable asset to any team he plays on. My ideal scenario would be trading Sustr for nothing in particular, maybe some depth offense from a team that needs help on the blue line or a draft pick. The most beneficial part of that trade would be getting Koekkoek on the ice. He’s shown a lot of promise in the few games he’s played so far and I think he has nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, as things are looking now, it’s possible that Koekkoek could be the one traded. I’d hate it for the Bolts, but he deserves to be somewhere where he will be able to play and contribute. Personally, I hope that’s with the Lightning.

Espy: Who is the best CBJ player of 2017-18?

The last matchup was an even sided game with some weird plays that ended up being the difference. How do you see this matchup playing out?

I see this matchup going mostly the same way. Whenever two talented teams play like this, it usually comes down to a strange bounce helping out one team or the other. I think tonight will be another battle of the goaltenders. Vasilevskiy has been on a hot streak lately and Bob is always solid in net. If Stamkos and Kucherov get hot, there’s little that can be done to stop that. However, both had rough games against the Rangers on Thursday, with more of Kucherov’s shots missing the net it seemed than turning into scoring chances. His frustration was very evident and was almost palpable. I think a key thing to look for in this game is the rebound of the duo. If the two hit the ice on their feet, it’ll be bad news for the Blue Jackets. The Lightning have to tighten up defensively too. They allowed way too many odd-man rushes against the Rangers including 3 breakaways. Luckily, Vasilevskiy was on his toes and bailed the Bolts out on many occasions. If Vasy didn’t play the way he did, the Rangers game wouldn’t have even gone to overtime. They can’t rely on that against the Blue Jackets though, as they have shown that they have one of the better offenses in the league so far. If Stamkos and Kucherov struggle and the team forces Vasilevskiy to keep them in the game like they did against the Rangers, it’ll go to the Blue Jackets.