Welcome to a new week and to Columbus Blue Jackets Blasts. We have a lot to get to including an update on the status of the goaltending throughout the organization. We also tried something new and took to Twitter to have fans give a suggestion for a topic to discuss. And then we’ll end with some tidbits and side dishes around the Blue Jackets.
Resetting the Goaltending Situation
Suddenly, the goaltending depth for the Blue Jackets is being tested in a big way. Jean Francois-Berube got the start Sunday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
In a surprising turn, Jet Greaves signed an entry-level contract on Sunday and was called up to serve as the backup. That’s because both Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo are dealing with lower-body injuries.
Merzlikins left Saturday’s practice due to his lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Korpisalo remains day-to-day although he has been doing some skating recently.
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The Blue Jackets tandem in net Sunday night are considered their fourth and sixth goaltenders in the organization. Their number three Daniil Tarasov has his own lower-body injury and is still out indefinitely. Then there’s the Cam Johnson situation.
Many of us expected Johnson to be the one to get the call since he has an NHL contract. Instead, the Blue Jackets opted to give Greaves his ELC. While Johnson has performed well in Cleveland, it’s still interesting that the team elected to pass over him for this opportunity.
Recall that Brad Larsen said at the start of the season that Johnson was in a tough place given he came to camp out of shape. Whether that’s still playing a role in this is unknown. But you have to wonder given so many injuries why he was passed over. With just one year left on his current deal, it seems he and the team are heading in different directions once this season is over.
As for Greaves, he signed an AHL contract with the Monsters in July 2021 and has played for them and for Kalamazoo in the ECHL. He played with the Barrie Colts before from 2018-20 and made an appearance at the Erie Junior Showcase last summer. He played well and clearly got the attention of the Blue Jackets. He has a 4-6-0 record with the Monsters this season.
With Korpisalo’s status unclear at this point, the goaltending situation will be interesting to watch as we countdown to the Mar 21 deadline. How many games will he get into? How many teams would be interested in acquiring him? And can the Blue Jackets find a satisfactory deal for him with a month to go before the deadline?
But the story here is Berube. In front of his wife and 19-month old son Cayden, J-F put on a show especially in the third period. The Blue Jackets defeated the Sabres 7-3. Berube stopped 33/36 including all 18 he saw in the third period. As for what’s next, Larsen admitted postgame the entire goaltending situation is day-to-day. Aren’t we all at this point?
Fan Topic: Growth & Development
I thought we’d try something a little different this week. We took to Twitter and asked the fans for a topic of their choosing to discuss. Thank you to @paledragoncbus for this one.
I like this question because it can go any number of ways. It’s subjective based on what criteria is used to evaluate growth and development. While there are many good candidates to choose from, the one player I will choose is Cole Sillinger.
The reason? Sillinger came into the NHL as an 18-year old and has been a lineup regular. We knew there would be a lot of growing pains. But he has handled everything thrown at him well.
In saying that, Sillinger still has a lot of development to go through. But he’s off to a tremendous start. To be in this position at 18 only bodes well for future seasons. The priority moving forward for him will be to refine his game and perfect the details. He’ll eventually be counted on as a consistent top-six center playing against the league’s best.
But the fact he not only started the furthest behind being just 18, he had to learn the rigors of the center ice position, including positioning, faceoffs and other important details. His game has grown with each passing game.
Even on his off nights, Sillinger still finds a way to make some sort of impact even if it doesn’t hit the scoresheet. Whether it’s a big hit (on Ryan Reaves) or just good decision making, he’s showing improvement on his decision making. Then on his good nights, he’s impacting the game.
While others have seen growth in their game (Adam Boqvist, Andrew Peeke, even captain Boone Jenner), no one has taken a bigger step in my mind than Sillinger.
Side Dishes Galore
- Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Sabres was historic for the Blue Jackets. That marks the first time in franchise history the team has scored at least seven in consecutive games.
- Patrik Laine recorded a pair of assists Sunday giving him a nine-game point streak. That is tied with Calgary’s Elias Lindholm for the longest active current points streak in the NHL.
- Laine also have at least two points in three straight home games. Only two Blue Jackets in franchise history have had a longer such streak. David Vyborny had five games in 2005-06 and Artemi Panarin had four games in 2018-19.
- Max Domi collected his 200th NHL assist when he assisted on Dean Kukan’s first period goal. He becomes the seventh member of the 2013 draft class to get to 200 assists. He is one goal shy of 100 for his career.
- Has it seemed to you that response goals happen a lot? Well according to the NHL, there have been 17 occurrences where two teams scored within 10 seconds of each other. The 17th occurrence was Tage Thompson and then Boone Jenner scoring 10 seconds apart. That’s certainly one way to get the goal back.
- These next set of games for the Blue Jackets will really tell us about them. They host the Maple Leafs. Then they play the Panthers and Hurricanes on the road before coming home to host Pittsburgh. That’s a gauntlet. But then after that is a lot of home cooking.
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I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.