Blue Jackets 2022-23 Season Opener Ends in Disappointment

The Columbus Blue Jackets have officially started their 2022-23 season. A massively disappointing 4-1 loss on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes had both positive and negative takeaways but it was mostly a difficult night for the Blue Jackets. It was essentially a tale of two halves, as they seemed pretty strong for roughly the first 30 minutes of the game before it fell heavily in Carolina’s favor.

New First Line Delivers in Limited Time

Johnny Gaudreau made an impact in his debut for his new organization. Not in the way that many may have expected though, as he showed a side of his game that wasn’t advertised prior to the season. His defensive play was great in the first period with a couple of noticeable plays in his own zone.

Patrik Laine scored the game’s opening goal less than a minute into the second period, however, he was unfortunately injured just a few minutes later. After a hit from defender Brett Pesce behind the net in the offensive zone, he skated slowly to the bench before eventually heading into the locker room. He was unable to return to the game, and his status moving forward is unknown. The only update received during the game was that he suffered an upper-body injury, which appeared to be related to his right arm.

Patrik Laine Columbus Blue Jackets
Patrik Laine was injured early in the second period. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Laine was replaced on the first line by Jakub Voracek for the majority of the second period. Meanwhile, Cole Sillinger took his spot on the top powerplay unit. During the first power play of the game, he had a phenomenal play ending in a goal that was eventually disallowed due to offside after a coach’s challenge. The third period saw the line thrown into a blender as Yegor Chinakhov started the period alongside Gaudreau and Boone Jenner before Sillinger found himself taking Jenner’s spot later on.

Physicality & Defense Are Hit or Miss

In the first period, the Blue Jackets looked like a much more physically demanding team. New additions Mathieu Olivier and Erik Gudbranson were throwing the body quite a bit and even Sillinger got in on the action, throwing a big one of his own. The second period was a much different story though. Following Laine’s aforementioned injury, things appeared to swing in favor of the opposition, as Pesce, Brent Burns, and Jaccob Slavin took control of the game physically and were able to help use that to catapult Carolina forward.

The Blue Jackets also struggled in their own zone in the second half of the game. They had a strong first period on that front as well, but the scoring chances and shots on goal were heavily in favor of the Hurricanes after that. Jack Roslovic had a brutal turnover due to a lack of awareness behind his own net, which handed Seth Jarvis Carolina’s opening goal. They were unable to bounce back after that and it snowballed into a terrible performance for the remainder of the game.

Tarasov Has Mostly Strong Performance

Daniil Tarasov was named the starter for the Blue Jackets’ opener early on Wednesday morning following the announcement that Elvis Merzlikins had fallen ill. Having the starting goaltender out for opening night is never an ideal situation, however, Tarasov performed as well as could be expected given the circumstances. The Russian goaltender stopped 39 of 43 shots, many of which seemed to be prime scoring chances.

Related: Blue Jackets Roundtable: 2022-23 Season Preview

Overall, the first night of the season was one to forget for the Blue Jackets as they’ll look to bounce back in their home opener on Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s important to remember though, they were able to hang with the Hurricanes while they had their entire team on the ice. Losing Laine was a major turning point in the game against a very, very good hockey team. It’s easy for fans to panic after a difficult first game, but there’s promise in this team when they get back to full strength. Losses are always hard on the players and fans, but the most important thing will be seeing how they bounce back in their next difficult test against Tampa Bay.

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