Blue Jackets News & Rumors: Finland, Injuries & Finding Positives


For anyone involved invested in the Blue Jackets, that should be the first course of action to take given the way their recent games have gone. The past cannot be changed. Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to improve. If the Blue Jackets are going to find their way out of this mess, they have to do it together as a team.

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That leads us into this week’s edition of Blue Jackets News & Rumors. This week is a new opportunity, one that could help bond the team. That’s where we will begin. The timing of their cross-Atlantic trip might be just the thing they need.

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Finding Themselves in Finland

When it was announced that the Blue Jackets would be participating in the Global Series in Finland, it was met with a lot of excitement. Countrymen Patrik Laine and Joonas Korpisalo were heading home to play in front of their fans. GM Jarmo Kekalainen gets to have his team play in his native country, which carries an extra level of pride for him being the first European GM in the NHL.

Even despite the recent performances of the Blue Jackets, that shouldn’t take anything away from the week to come. It’s a unique opportunity to spend a week in Finland, bonding with teammates, meeting with fans and representing the NHL on the world stage.

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The unique opportunities presented will be once in a lifetime. This is a chance for the Blue Jackets to have fun. Fun could be the thing that finally helps them get out of their funk. As Brad Larsen said on Sunday, they are hoping that this presents them a chance to reset.

“We don’t play until Friday,” Larsen said. “Maybe this is the perfect time to reset. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Brad Larsen and Pascal Vincent, Columbus Blue Jackets
Brad Larsen hopes that Finland is a chance for the Blue Jackets to reset. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Blue Jackets will play the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and Saturday in Tampere. Excluding the travel, the team gets four days off, then play two games, then fly back and don’t play again until the following Thursday. After a hectic schedule to start the season, they can take advantage of the extra time and hit the reset button. They need to. They must put this last stretch behind them.

There’s no better time than now to start fresh. We’ll see soon enough if they use this week to their advantage.

Injury Report

The Blue Jackets have already seen their share of injuries to start the season. Here is the latest on where they stand and how soon we might see these players back.

  • Nick Blankenburg suffered an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve on Oct 23. He is considered day-to-day.
  • Adam Boqvist broke his foot and was placed on injured reserve on Oct 26. He is expected to miss six weeks.
  • Justin Danforth suffered a torn labrum. Post surgery, he is expected to recover in six months.
  • Joona Luoto remains on the injured/non-roster list and has missed the team’s first nine games. There is no official timeline as to a return.

Meanwhile goaltender Joonas Korpisalo just completed a rehab start in the AHL. On Saturday, he made 38 saves to help the Cleveland Monsters to a win. He was called back to the Blue Jackets Sunday and could see his first action of the season after recovering from hip surgery. Because of the Global Series, the team can carry three goalies so Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov will be allowed on the roster together.

The early impact of these injuries? Guys who brought energy and a new level to their game are now on the shelf. Blankenburg was a spark plug on every shift while Danforth even found time on the top line for a bit. The Boqvist injury hurts too because they miss his offense and it forced them to bring David Jiricek up now.

With players coming in and out of the lineup, the pairs have not been consistent. The Blue Jackets have not been afforded the time to develop chemistry within the pairs. It has shown clearly in their play allowing 44 goals in their first 10 games this season. The injuries are not an excuse but it has been a factor when both Zach Werenski and Vladislav Gavrikov have had multiple partners shuffle in and out.

Any Positives?

When the Blue Jackets are just 3-7-0 and occupy last place in the Eastern Conference, there’s not much going right. Is there anything positive to take from their recent play?

Outside of their 5-1 win in New York against the Rangers, the answer is no. Since then, they lost to the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 after falling down 5-0. Then they were shutout by the Boston Bruins 4-0. Then before leaving for Finland, they were hammered by the New Jersey Devils 7-1. That means they were outscored 17-4 this week.

The Blue Jackets also went all of October without scoring a single power-play goal. Given the talent on the team, that’s hard to fathom but true.

Related: Blue Jackets’ Power Play Holding Team Back

As mentioned above, going overseas now could be a positive if they want it to be. Whatever it takes to turn the page from October and start fresh. That would be their biggest positive right now.

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But if you’re looking deep for some positives, here are two for you to consider. Jiricek does not look out of place. He has a lot to learn but you can see why there is hype on this player. And then the second positive is that the long-term outlook remains bright despite this poor start. We knew there would be some bumps this season. But unlike past situations, the prospect pipeline wasn’t as strong as it is now.

If you’re in, you’re in for the long haul both good and bad. Just know good talent will be coming soon. As for the here and now, there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix for their flaws. But if they are going to turn it around, they must come together one shift at a time, one period at a time and one game at a time.