Columbus Blue Jackets start new season with optimism
Hockey is back.
- But with a new season comes new challenges for a young Blue Jackets team with a second-year coach that has not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their last two seasons.
Driving the news: The team started the season Wednesday night in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes with a 4-1 loss.
- Tonight's home opener against the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning is at 7pm.
Flashback: The team won a playoff series for the first time against Tampa Bay during the 2018-19 season, but were then knocked out in the second round by the Boston Bruins.
- The Jackets have yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs in franchise history.
🚨 What we're watching: Fans are hoping that left wing Johnny Gaudreau and forward Patrik Laine will be the powerful duo who can take CBJ to the next level this year.
Catch up fast: Gaudreau, aka "Johnny Hockey," signed the most lucrative contract in franchise history in the offseason: $68.25 million over seven years.
- He tied for second in the NHL in scoring with 115 points last season for the Calgary Flames.
- Laine was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets in January of 2021. In July, he signed a four year, almost $35 million contract extension.
- He ranked ninth for most power play goals and 14th for overall goals in the NHL last season.
Yes, but: Laine sustained an upper body injury during Wednesday's game and and will miss three to four weeks.
Zoom in: The team has four players that hail from the Columbus area: centers Jack Roslovic, Cole Sillinger and Sean Kuraly, plus right wing Carson Meyer.
🥅 Threat level: Starting goalie Elvis Merzlikins was out for Wednesday's game due to sickness, while backup Joonas Korpisalo is out while recovering from hip surgery.
- That left Daniil Tarasov — also recovering from off-season hip surgery — to start in the season opener, though Merzlikins is expected to start Friday, per a CBS report.
Of note: Alexandre Texier is not playing this season after a recommendation from the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, per an August announcement.
What's more: Captain Boone Jenner was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft and has been a staple on the CBJ roster and fan favorite since.
- Jenner missed the end of last season due to a back injury, but saw action in two preseason games and the season opener.
💥 The bottom line: There is no better sound in Columbus than the boom of the cannon at Nationwide Arena after a CBJ goal.
- Tickets for tonight's game start at $61, but drop below $40 for the next few home games.
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