Blues Season Opener Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets – 10/15/22

The wait is finally over! After finishing the preseason with a 6-2-0 record, the St. Louis Blues (0-0-0) are set to kickoff their regular season tonight against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets (0-2-0). The Blues and Blue Jackets squared off twice in the preseason, each team going 1-1-0.

St. Louis Blues' Gameday Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Justin Faulk and Jordan Binnington
Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Justin Faulk and Jordan Binnington (The Hockey Writers)

In injury news, forward Alexey Toropchenko, who was originally given a December timeline for his return form offseason shoulder surgery, has been practicing with the team and is ready to return to game action — a miraculous and timely recovery that will further solidify the team’s bottom six. He had this to say on Thursday when asked if he was going to be in the lineup for the season opener on Saturday:

“Yep, 100%. Excited, feel strong, ready to go. Of course, hard work all summer. You can see where I’m at right now. Way ahead of schedule and I’m ready to go.”

St. Louis Blues Projected Lineup


  • Brandon Saad – Ryan O’Reilly – Jordan Kyrou
  • Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Vladimir Tarasenko
  • Jake Neighbours – Brayden Schenn – Ivan Barbashev
  • Alexey Toropchenko – Noel Acciari – Nathan Walker
    • Scratched: Logan Brown (injured), Josh Leivo
Alexei Toropchenko St. Louis Blues
After offseason surgery, Alexey Toropchenko is healthy and in the lineup for the St. Louis Blues (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)


  • Nick Leddy – Colton Parayko
  • Torey Krug – Justin Faulk
  • Niko Mikkola – Robert Bortuzzo
    • Scratched: Calle Rosen


  • Jordan Binnington – Thomas Greiss

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lineup


  • Johnny Gaudreau – Boone Jenner – Justin Danforth
  • Yegor Chinakhov – Jack Roslovic – Jakub Voracek
  • Gustav Nyquist – Cole Sillinger – Kent Johnson
  • Eric Robinson – Sean Kuraly – Mathieu Olivier
Kent Johnson Columbus Blue Jackets
Rookie Kent Johnson was called up from the AHL Cleveland Monsters after Patrik Laine’s injury (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)


  • Zach Werenski – Adam Boqvist
  • Vladislav Gavrikov – Andrew Peeke
  • Jake Bean – Erik Gudbranson


  • Daniil Tarasov – Elvis Merzlikins

Quick Look at the Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets kicked off their regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 12, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes by a final score of 4-1. The league got a look at Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine together on the same line, albeit a short look. After he scored the team’s lone goal 11 seconds into the second period, Laine took a hit and didn’t return to action. The upper-body injury he suffered turned out to be a sprained elbow, lading him on the injured reserve (IR). He’s expected to be out for 3-4 weeks. Undoubtedly, it’s a tough blow for a team looking to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this season.

Columbus took on a tough foe in the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, losing the game by a final of 5-2. Johnny Gaudreau recorded his first goal of the season and as a Blue Jacket, but he was outdone by Steven Stamkos (two goals) and the Lightning. Still winless on the young season, Columbus head coach Brad Larsen had this to say following the game:

“We had some juice early on, but how we played tonight, we were really sloppy. We weren’t good enough tonight.”

Players to Watch

St. Louis Blues: Robert Thomas

Although Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou signed matching eight-year extensions with the Blues this summer, most of the attention seems to be going Thomas’ way. It could be because he signed his deal first back in July, but it’s also because in doing so the team seemed to name him their de facto “future face of the franchise.” Thomas set career highs in all major statistical categories in 2021-22 and seems set to have at least a repeat performance this season.

Robert Thomas St. Louis Blues
Robert Thomas signed an eight-year, $65 million extension in the offseason (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Being in the middle of a line flanked by Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tarasenko is going to lend itself to a plethora of scoring opportunities for all involved. This trio was in place throughout much of the preseason and generated plenty of scoring chances in their limited action. I expect Thomas to get plenty of playmaking chances tonight against a porous Blue Jackets defense.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Johnny Gaudreau

Johnny Gaudreau always bears viewing when he’s on the ice, so listing him as a player to watch is a bit on the nose. His career year in 2021-22 led him to sign a massive contract this offseason to make Columbus his home and to be the new face of this franchise. Even before Laine was injured, it was clear that the Blue Jackets’ offense is set to run with him at the helm.

Johnny Gaudreau Columbus Blue Jackets
Johnny Gaudreau, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Through two games this season, he’s scored one total point (one goal, zero assists) while averaging 20:34 of ice time — two minutes more than he did in 2021-22. All signs point to the Blue Jackets getting him on the ice as much as possible, with tonight’s game being no exception. He’s going to get every opportunity tonight to show off his playmaking ability in both 5-on-5 and the power play.

Where You Can Catch the Game

Columbus Blue Jackets @ St. Louis Blues – 7:00 PM

Related: Blues’ 2022-23 Season Could Be Filled With Milestones

With the regular season comes regular broadcast coverage. Tonight’s season opener takes place at 7:00 PM at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO. You can watch the game live on Bally Sports and Bally Sports+ or listen to the broadcast on 101 ESPN and the 101 ESPN app.

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