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Game Preview: Raise the Curtain

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Welcome to Opening Night!

NHL: New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It has been five months and sixteen days since the Blue Jackets skated off the ice at the PPG Paints Arena and entered the long, hard offseason. Have you missed hockey? I’ve missed hockey. Last season was the most successful in franchise history, and it was a LOT of fun, but it’s disappointing that it ended after just five extra games. I am ready to watch this team build on that. I know the management, coaches, and players are ready too.

The last couple openers have been disappointing in the face of high expectations. A last minute lost to the Rangers in 2015 started an 8 game losing streak from which the team never recovered. Last year, it was a third period collapse against Boston, but the team quickly recovered and steadily climbed up the standings.

Yesterday, I went over the new look lineup. Also yesterday, Josh Anderson and Markus Nutivaara were assigned to the Cleveland Monsters. Anderson is there for conditioning, while Nuti will stay there long term to get regular playing time.

Another thing to watch: Bob skated this morning, which suggests that Joonas Korpisalo will start tonight. This saves Bob for Chicago tomorrow. Confirmation will come closer to gametime. Stay tuned.

UPDATE AT 4:58 P.M.: Bob is the confirmed starter.

Tonight’s opponent is the Metro Division rival New York Islanders. The Islanders started poorly last season before firing coach Jack Capuano. Under new coach Doug Weight, the Isles went on a 24-12-4 run and missed the playoffs by one point. After an offseason trade with Edmonton, captain John Tavares now has Jordan Eberle as another top winger opposite 34-goal scorer Anders Lee.

Before I go too far in praising Weight, I should point his head-scratching decision to scratch young star Josh Ho-Sang for elderly ex-Jacket Jason Chimera. That’s good news for the Columbus defense.

Who else will be at the game? As is tradition, I’ll be waiting next to the cannon in the second intermission and I hope to see some of you there.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Alexander Wennberg Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano Nick Foligno Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Pierre-Luc Dubois Brandon Dubinsky Matt Calvert
Zac Dalpe Lukas Sedlak Markus Hannikainen
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Jack Johnson David Savard
Ryan Murray Gabriel Carlsson
Joonas Korpisalo
Sergei Bobrovsky
New York Islanders
Anders Lee John Tavares Jordan Eberle
Andrew Ladd Mathew Barzal Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier Brock Nelson Jason Chimera
Nikolay Kulemin Casey Cizikas Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Calvin De Haan Dennis Seidenberg
Thomas Hickey Scott Mayfield
Thomas Greiss
Jaroslav Halak