Oct 14, 2022 - Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets start new season with optimism

Columbus Blue Jackets raising their hockey sticks and saluting fans from the ice at Nationwide Arena.

The Blue Jackets salute fans after an April 2022 game at Nationwide Arena. Photo: Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

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.


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