Columbus Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook: Postponements Galore
Through no fault of the team or your humble Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook writer, this is going to be a rather boring entry. COVID-19 shut down the NHL entirely last week, leading to three postponements for Columbus.
Making matters worse, the NHL has extended the pause into this week, meaning postponements of Monday’s scheduled game against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tuesday’s contest against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Assuming no further hiccups, the Blue Jackets will next take to the ice Thursday against the Nashville Predators to open up a three-game homestand. Columbus’ last game was on December 16, which would mean exactly two weeks without game action.
Here’s what you’ll need to know for the week ahead in this installment of the Blue Jackets Weekly Notebook.
Slew of Players Still in COVID-19 Protocols
Though the Blue Jackets were far from the only team to get bit by COVID-19 during the current surge, they’ve certainly been hit hard. Gabriel Carlsson, Boone Jenner, Joonas Korpisalo, Andrew Peeke, Eric Robinson, and Jack Roslovic are all still in protocols waiting to see if they can clear in time for Thursday’s game.
“If you entered this season thinking it was going to go smoothly or that these things weren’t going to happen, you’d be fooling yourself,” Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen said . “It always felt like it wasn’t if these circumstances were going to come about, it was kind of when.”
Nashville is going through the COVID ringer as well, with seven of their own players in protocols.
Other Injury News
For some positive news on the medical front, Adam Boqvist (upper body), Dean Kukan (wrist), and Patrik Laine (oblique) were all seen skating on the ice during Sunday’s practice. Columbus can’t wait to get those three back, but with COVID-19 still looming large in the locker room, players are still feeling like there’s another shoe waiting to drop.
“When we came into the season, it felt like a regular season,” Boqvist said. “You could go out to dinner, go shopping, see friends on the road trip.“
“This thing (COVID-19) is bigger than hockey. We have to do everything we can to stay safe. It’s been going on for two years, but we’re gonna do what we have to do and go from there.”
Weekly Matchup Previews
Thursday, December 30
Nashville Predators (19-10-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (14-13-1)
7:00 PM Eastern, Nationwide Arena
Nashville Special Teams
Power Play: 22/86 (25.6%), seventh in NHL
Penalty Kill: 77/97 (79.4%), 20th in NHL
Columbus Special Teams
Power Play: 13/70 (18.6%), 19th in NHL
Penalty Kill: 59/75 (78.7%), 22nd in NHL
Nashville Players to Watch
Goaltender Juuse Saros: 15-8-1, 2.22 GAA, .924 save %, two shutouts
Defenseman Roman Josi: 10 goals, 19 assists in 30 games
Left Wing Filip Forsberg: 13 goals, nine assists in 21 games
Saturday, January 1
Carolina Hurricanes (21-7-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets
1:00 PM Eastern, Nationwide Arena
Carolina Special Teams:
Power Play: 20.89 (22.5%), 10th in NHL
Penalty Kill: 94/106 (88.75), second in NHL
Carolina Players to Watch
Goaltender Frederik Andersen: 16-5-0, 1.93 GAA, .930 save %, one shutout
Defenseman Jaccob Slavin: one goal, 14 assists in 29 games
Center Sebastian Aho: 15 goals, 17 assists in 26 games
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