Blue Jackets Blasts: COVID Updates, Korpisalo, Flyers & More

The Columbus Blue Jackets might be starting to trend in the right direction when it comes to COVID protocol. We update you on that as well as the latest rumblings around Joonas Korpisalo, what to make of the Philadelphia Flyers and more.

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They’re Back

The Blue Jackets got some welcomed news on Sunday morning involving the players on COVID protocol. Cole Sillinger and Vladislav Gavrikov were activated from protocol and played in Sunday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators. In addition, defenseman Adam Boqvist skated in the team’s optional skate but did not play in the game. Boqvist now remains the only Blue Jacket on the COVID protocol list.

Adam Boqvist Columbus Blue Jackets
Adam Boqvist skated on Sunday and is inching closer to a return. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last week, the NHL announced that there would be changes to the way COVID protocol is handled. Here is a quick rundown of the new guidelines.

  • The current protocols will remain in effect until Feb 3. So long as the number of positive tests continue to decline and pending a review by both the NHL and NHLPA’s medical experts, the new protocols would go into effect at that time.
  • Fully vaccinated players and staff will not be tested during the All-Star Break. The only tests would be done if needed for travel or if someone is experiencing symptoms.
  • After the All-Star Break, there will be a single test upon reentry to the club’s facilities. After which there will be no more asymptomatic testing or testing of fully vaccinated close contacts.

Related: Blue Jackets Leaders Help Team Navigate Through COVID Challenges

  • Testing after will be “for cause” only, in the presence of symptoms or if needed to cross the border.
  • The post-COVID “testing holiday” will remain at 90 days, but symptom-based testing can still be done at the team physician’s discretion. Testing for cross-border travel post-COVID will be dictated by the relevant health authority, which is currently 90 days for entry to the U.S. and 180 days for entry to Canada.
  • The NHL and NHLPA will meet on Jan 31 to see if they’ll be able to relax COVID protocol enhanced measures.

This is welcomed news around the league. Within the Blue Jackets, both head coach Brad Larsen and Zach Werenski each shared their thoughts on these new protocol measures that will be going into effect. They each said that they are happy with the new protocols. Obviously not having to test as much is a positive. But perhaps also playing with as few interruptions and players missing as possible will be received well.

It continues to be a day-by-day thing with COVID protocols, but maybe, just maybe we are heading in the right direction overall. Jan 31 will be a big day especially if the recent positives continue to decline.

As for injuries, Justin Danforth was spotted at the Ice Haus skating on Sunday. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec 31 and was expected to miss six weeks. It’s encouraging to see him skating and seemingly on track for a return in a couple of weeks.

There is still no timeline on a return to action for goaltender Daniil Tarasov. He remains out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

Oilers Hesitant on Goalie Market

Both Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talked about the latest surrounding the Edmonton Oilers and goaltending on 32 Thoughts the Podcast on their Jan 21 episode. The question considered was do the Oilers need to make a desperate move to save their season?

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They said that the Oilers have explored every goaltending option seemingly available. But there’s an issue. The prices seem to be very high. You know the old saying. When someone needs help, expect teams to throw an anchor and not a life preserver.

Korpisalo’s name was mentioned as part of this conversation. The Blue Jackets aren’t just going to give away Korpisalo. They have a price in mind and if it’s not met, they will hold on. Pressure will start to mount as the deadline approaches. But if the Oilers are holding off because of prices, it’s a strong indicator that the Blue Jackets’ price is set.

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Korpisalo’s season has not been good. So their hope is that past performance (an All-Star Game, the 5OT classic against Tampa Bay in the playoffs) will be enough for someone to meet the perceived asking price.

The Oilers did get a huge win on Saturday night against the Flames with Mikko Koskinen in net. Is this the start of a rebound or did they have one good night? These next couple of weeks will be of utmost importance for the Oilers.

Freefalling Flyers

What do you do if you’re the Philadelphia Flyers? After a brutal 6-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, they’ve now lost 11 games in a row. If that’s not bad enough, they have two separate 10-game losing streaks in the same season. That’s never happened in Flyers history.

Their 10th straight loss was a 2-1 loss on home ice to these Blue Jackets. Their only goal came from Gerry Mayhew with just over seven minutes left in the game. In my eyes, they look lost and without a concrete plan.

For a team who has this much tradition on their side, it cannot sit well with anyone within the organization to see this constant losing. Reportedly, GM Chuck Fletcher is supposed to address the state of the team at some point in the coming week.

The Flyers already made a coaching change. That hasn’t done anything to get them going in the right direction. It seems they continue to go backwards. The question they have to consider is what’s next. Do they need to blow this up and start over after the season?

And we haven’t even talked about the future of captain Claude Giroux. The Flyers will eventually have to decide how to handle this one. And Giroux will need to think about things too.

They made some deals (Cam Atkinson, Rasmus Ristolainen.) But they have many things to address. What a fall from grace for a team that was one of the league’s best before the pandemic put a halt to the 2019-20 season. I’m not sure there’s an easy solution here. Let’s see what Fletcher says this week. It’ll be very interesting.

Side Dishes

  • Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was asked about the Blue Jackets and how different they look. He was open and honest about that on Friday. Among the things he said, they’re a more skilled team with more speed that doesn’t dump and chase as much. It’s noteworthy because it’s being noticed around the league that it’s a much different Blue Jackets’ team. This is the early stages of that transition but that’s one reason for fans to be excited about what’s to come here.
Mike Sullivan
Mike Sullivan talked about how much different the Blue Jackets look these days. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
  • Nationwide Arena had a sellout on Friday night for the Penguins game, 18,477. Given how Canada is handling attendance restrictions, it’s encouraging to see a full building enjoy hockey on a Friday night. Let’s hope that normalcy returns everywhere soon.
  • Before their seven-day break to start February, the Blue Jackets have four games, three of them at home. It won’t be easy. The Flames, Rangers and Panthers with a road game against the Canadiens in there. This will be a chance to prove how they stack up to three of the best teams in hockey on home ice.