Welcome back, hockey fans! It may just be preseason hockey and it might not actually count in the standings, but our favorite guys were back on the ice. The Columbus Blue Jackets opened their preseason hosting the Chicago Blackhawks in Nationwide Arena. Artemi Panarin would make his debut in Columbus, and Pierre-Luc Dubois would make his first appearance in Nationwide. Returning to the ice tonight would be Zach Werenski, his first appearance since breaking his face in Game 3 vs Pittsburgh.
The game started very ... well, hope you like penalties. Both teams saw man advantages wasted, including a unique penalty taken by the Blue Jackets. After someone (maybe Dubois, I honestly forget) was chased from the circle, Markus Hannikainen stepped in and violated the rules of the faceoff himself. As a result, the team was assessed a bench minor. Apparently this is a new point of emphasis for the league this year.
The Blackhawks opened scoring halfway through the first period on the 5 on 3 following the faceoff penalty. The shot from Cody Franson beat Joonas Korpisalo at his near post and gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Jackets went on the power play shortly afterward as John Mitchell went off for slashing. Slashing has been a point of emphasis for the officials this preseason. That power play also fell by the wayside without the team taking advantage. Power play struggles continue, apparently. Almost immediately after, Vinnie Hinostroza would go off for slashing Dean Kukan. While on the power play, the Jackets would earn a power play with Vitaly Abramov being boarded. Panarin, Werenski, and Abramov each had quality chances denied by Anton Forsberg. The penalties were killed by Chicago. After one period, the Hawks led 1-0.
Chicago opened the second period by capitalizing on a bad turnover by Blake Siebenaller as Laurent Dauphin put a gift in the slot right past Korpisalo. Graham Knott immediately went to the Chicago penalty box for tripping (or maybe tackling) Zach Werenski. The Hawks killed the penalty, and then the Jackets immediately went to the kill for a faceoff violation. What a stupid rule.
Nick Moutrey and John Hayden had a ... minor disagreement after Hayden demolished Moutrey with a big cross check. Hayden would earn a double minor, and the Jackets had another power play. They would not capitalize, and shortly after halfway, Jan Ruuta would make it 3-0 on a fluke bounce. Ruuta took a shot that missed the net entirely, bounced off of Korpitalso’s skate, and it went in. Immediately following, the Hawks made it 4-0 on a wicked wrister from Nick Schmaltz. Korpisalo seemed displeased.
Korpisalo gave up a 5th to Matthew Highmore, and Korpi was visibly frustrated. The Blue Jackets challenged for goaltender interference, and the goal was overturned. Nick Moutrey had a wide open net and completely fanned on his chance late in the period that would have gotten the team on the board. On the other end, Vinnie Hinostroza let a wrister fly past Korpisalo, extending the lead to 5-0, where it would remain until the end of the period.
The Jackets replaced Korpisalo with Matiss Kivlenieks for the third period, which was always the plan. It’s great to see that the coaching staff isn’t panicking about a score in a meaningless game and is sticking to their plan. Kivlenieks is a Latvian goaltender and was signed to an entry level contract after winning the 2017 USHL player of the year award.
Finally, in the third period, the Columbus Blue Jackets got on the scoreboard. Seth Jones picked up a rebound off the boards (do they look springier this year?) and buried one behind Forsberg.
The third period passed without much fanfare until, with 3:19 remaining, Seth Jones notched his second of the night to make it 5-2. Jones is just so good. He’s primed for a big season.
With 2:20 to go, the Jackets pulled their netminder (why not?), but neither team could find the back of the net.
FINAL: Chicago Blackhawks 5 Columbus Blue Jackets 2
Don’t worry about the score. Seriously. It’s the preseason. Getting ramped back up into game shape and mindsets takes time, and this was the team’s first real look at some of the younger guys. They’ll be okay. Just look at the individual skill sets instead of the actual box score.
Artemi Panarin likes to shoot the puck. He’s going to be a weapon on the power play. He may not have ended up on the scoresheet, but he was everywhere on the ice. I mean everywhere.
Speaking of the power play - I noticed that the team is still doing the same stupid “drop pass and then pass it to the guy standing at the blue line instead of carry it in” method of zone entry that completely didn’t work at all the second half last season. Let’s hope this is just preventing teams from scouting new power play plays, because I can’t watch another season of that. See, Jackets? Look what you made me do.
I really hope the officials do not call regular season games as tightly as they have this one. Watching 800 whistles in a row was so awful - it reminded me of an NFL game: borderline unwatchable.
Pierre-Luc Dubois is going to make this team if he keeps this up. He looked good out there. He looked strong in the corners, his faceoff numbers were solid, and he looked confident in the center of the ice. I think he makes it.
The team takes the ice tomorrow night for a preseason game against the St. Louis Blues.