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Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook: Canada Cruel to Columbus
The Blue Jackets have, for the most part, so far dodged the COVID-19 outbreak ravaging its way across the NHL. Games have been postponed around the league, international travel has been paused outright, and protocols have tightened up to nearly eliminate close contacts outside of practices and games.
That’s not to say they’ve been completely clear. Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, and Gabriel Carlson were all put into COVID-19 protocols on Sunday. It’s unclear if any of them tested positive, but all are vaccinated.
Here’s what you need to know in this week's edition of the Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook.
Canada Cruel to Columbus
Columbus kicked off last week on Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks after an overtime win over the Seattle Kraken the Saturday prior. Roaring to a 3-0 lead over Vancouver at the end of the first period, the Blue Jackets appeared to be on cruise control.
Unfortunately, they didn’t maintain that same intensity throughout the rest of the game. New Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau rallied the troops, and Vancouver tied things up in the third before scoring the go-ahead goal on the power play with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
“I’m not sure what happened, why we stopped playing,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larson said. “You knew they were going to be better. It wasn’t like that was a big surprise, but we just didn’t have the jam for two periods. We didn’t deserve to win. We hung on and hung on and hung on, but we didn’t deserve to win. We got what we deserved.”
Things weren’t much better on Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers. While the Blue Jackets kept superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl out of the goal column, it was Edmonton’s depth players like Jesse Puljujarvi, Warren Foegele, Derrick Ryan, and Brandon Perlini who found the back of the net to coast to a 5-2 victory and snap a six-game losing streak.
“We played a lot of good minutes, but things aren’t really going well lately,” Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist said after the Edmonton game. “We’re still in it, we just have to find our game and string together some wins.”
Columbus is 2-7-1 in its last ten games.
The Week Ahead
As of writing, both Blue Jackets games on the schedule this week are still on. Columbus will play a home-and-home series with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday and Thursday (with the road game on Monday).
Sabres forward Alex Tuch, who was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in the Jack Eichel trade, is set to make his Buffalo debut Monday night. Tuch has been sidelined throughout the season due to offseason shoulder surgery.
“It’s been a long road,” Tuch said after practice on Sunday. “Coming to a new team, trying to mesh with your teammates but you’re not able to go in and battle, has been difficult. At the same time, I think it’s made it really easy on me, coming into a new city. They’ve been very welcoming. I’ve had some ups and downs, like any other rehab process, but I like where I’m at right now and I’m excited to get going here.”
Matchups at a Glance
Buffalo Sabres: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen 2-2-1 (1.96 GAA) .939 save %
Columbus Blue Jackets: Elvis Merzlikins 11-7-1 (3.06 GAA) .911 save %, 1 SO
2.67 goals per game (23rd)
29.5 shots per game (22nd)
Leading Scorer (points): Kyle Okposo (six goals, 14 assists)
Leading Scorer (goals): Tage Thompson (10 goals, eight assists)
3.18 goals per game (10th)
29.9 shots per game (21st)
Leading Scorer (points): Oliver Bjorkstrand (nine goals, 14 assists)
Leading Scorer (goals): Boone Jenner (11 goals, 7 assists)
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