Blue Jackets’ Boqvist Looking Forward to New Year

Saturday afternoon when the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Chicago Blackhawks, it will feature a meeting of two defensemen who were traded for each other. For Seth Jones, it’s his first game at Nationwide Arena since the trade. For Adam Boqvist, he’s hoping to turn the page onto better things for 2023 and beyond.

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Saturday marks the 117th possible game for Boqvist with the Blue Jackets since the big trade. It also marks his 59th game with the team in which he is playing. This means he’s missed about half of the possible games.

Talk about a difficult task in finding consistency and getting up to game speed.

Not only will Boqvist play in just his seventh game of the season Saturday, he finds himself playing with a different partner on the blue line than from the game Thursday night on Long Island. With Andrew Peeke as a health scratch, Gavin Bayreuther enters the lineup and is expected to play with Boqvist.

We caught up with Boqvist Saturday morning to discuss his return and looking forward to a more fruitful 2023. He can’t wait to turn the calendar to a new year.

Boqvist Looking Ahead

“I haven’t played much the last few months,” Boqvist said. So I just want to get my feet wet and get going. Hopefully we win (on Saturday) and finish the year off in a good way.”

Adam Boqvist Columbus Blue Jackets
Adam Boqvist is looking forward to a better 2023. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Coach Brad Larsen knows the challenge Boqvist is trying to overcome. It comes down to one simple concept.

“You gotta play. That’s it,” Larsen said of Boqvist. “There’s no substitute for games. Anybody who’s hurt and you’re out for long-term, you’re playing catch up right away. It doesn’t matter what you do in the gym. It does help you get back up to speed quicker and you’ve got to put that work in. But as far as your timing and your one-on-one battles and the things that happen instinctively in the game, you just gotta play.”

Related: 3 Blue Jackets’ Priorities For the Rest of the Season

From Boqvist’s perspective, imagine what he has had to overcome. He’s had multiple injuries. He’s also trying to get up to speed without letting frustration creep in. For him, overcoming all of that is a mental thing.

“It’s tough. But I just want to get my mind in the right way. I’ve watched a lot of hockey from home. I’m trying to just work as hard as I can to get back faster. But obviously I want to play and that’s what it’s all about. It’s frustrating watching from up top. But I’m back now so it’s all good.”

Finding Chemistry

Boqvist will be trying to find his game while playing with a different defensive partner. While he’s played with Bayreuther in previous seasons, this will be the first time the pair has played together in 2022-23. This presents a different challenge.

“It’s different to play with different partners all the time,” Boqvist said. “I did play a few games with (Bayreuther) last year. It’s his first game in a long time also. So we’re just going to keep things simple and go from there.”

On top of catching up, Boqvist is running the point on the top power-play unit. He is being given an opportunity to show what he can do. At the end of the day, it’s about finding consistency no matter what the situation is in the game.

“We have to play good for 60 minutes and play (as a unit) of five. If we buy in and keep things simple, that will go a long way for us.”

Boqvist is rusty. He’s said that himself. Every game is another opportunity for him to find his game and to get closer to making an impact on the outcome of games. He’s ready to tackle 2023 head on and ready to turn the page on 2022. “Oh absolutely I’m ready to turn the calendar.”

Side Dishes

  • As mentioned, Saturday marks the first time Jones is back at Nationwide Arena since the trade. The last time the Blackhawks played in Columbus, he had Covid and couldn’t play. Expect a tribute video for him during the first period.
  • Max Domi is also back at Nationwide Arena for the first time since his trade to the Carolina Hurricanes. Will he get recognized in some way? We believe the answer will be yes.
  • Jack Johnson is back too. It’s just one big old reunion on New Year’s Eve.

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  • Andrew Peeke will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. According to Larsen, it’s not for a lack of effort. But more about decisions he’s making with the puck.
  • The Blue Jackets are carrying three goalies on the roster with Joonas Korpisalo, Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov together. Larsen said Saturday morning that Tarasov is trending the right way despite some rollercoaster results. He needs to be playing so we’ll see what the team does about this in the coming days.
  • Patrick Laine remains out on Saturday due to Covid.
  • Kirill Marchenko is expected to play on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Kent Johnson Saturday. Talk about a quick rise up the ranks.
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