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Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook: Rough Patches
The Columbus Blue Jackets saw their worst week of the season last week, but they could end it on a higher note. Games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday saw the losing streak extended to four games, but Columbus snapped out of it with a 6-4 win over the San Jose Sharks Sunday night.
Here's the latest to catch up on in this edition of the Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook.
What Went Wrong?
One of the big factors in the week was losing Joonas Korpisalo to an injured reserve because of a non-COVID-19 illness, retroactive to December 1. Korpisalo is "doing a bit better," according to head coach Brad Larsen, but is still not ready to play or to practice.
Defensively, things weren't great either. Columbus allowed at least four goals in three of its past five games, even in the win on Sunday. Defensive issues were expected at times this season, given the younger core of players, but the Blue Jackets got a bit exposed, even against teams that aren't known for their offenses (like Nashville and San Jose).
If there's a sign of promise, it's that 22-year-old goaltender Daniil Tarasov impressed in both of his starts so far in relief of Korpisalo. Tarasov was the losing goaltender in both contests, but he stopped 63 of 68 shots and looked comfortable between the pipes.
"It's more comfortable when you have a lot of shots," Tarasov said after the 3-1 loss to Washington. "It's much easier to play, so you just be focused on the game, don't think about wrong things in your head. You keep it in the game."
If more shots are what Tarasov needs to get comfortable, Columbus is the right spot for him. The Blue Jackets currently allow the second-most shots per game (34.4) in the NHL.
Tarasov's play has drawn questions about whether Columbus may try to trade Korpisalo at or before the trade deadline. Korpisalo (3-4-0, 3.95 GAA, .885 save percentage this season) is in the final year of his contract. With a $2.8 million cap hit, he could be a very affordable pickup for a team needing to add goaltending depth for a playoff run.
Laine Nearing Return
Patrik Laine has started skating again while returning to the lineup. Laine has been sidelined with an oblique injury since November 3, and he's now listed as day-to-day on the injury report.
"He's coming along," Larsen said on Saturday. "It's day by day. Those injuries, they take time. ... As far as a timeline, I don't know."
While that likely means Laine won't be in the lineup for Tuesday's tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs and possibly Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks, there's a good chance Laine rejoins the team at some point during the upcoming five-game road trip.
This Week's Schedule
Tuesday, December 7: Blue Jackets (13-10-0) at Toronto Maple Leafs (17-7-2), 7:00 PM Eastern.
Thursday, December 9: Anaheim Ducks (13-8-4) at Blue Jackets, 7:00 PM Eastern.
Saturday, December 11: Blue Jackets at Seattle Kraken (9-13-2), 10:00 PM Eastern.
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