A week ago today, the Columbus Blue Jackets saw their Christmas break start early, as their game that Monday night in Buffalo was postponed, followed by a postponement of the Thursday rematch in Columbus. The reason? Six Blue Jackets had tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return from the western road trip: Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, Eric Robinson, Andrew Peeke, Gabriel Carlsson, and Joonas Korpisalo.
Prior to that, a game scheduled for Saturday, December 18 in Calgary was postponed due to an outbreak that a majority of active Flames players go on the COVID list. There were players and staff for the Kraken, Canucks, and Oilers that tested positive before, during or after their games with the Jackets, so it’s not surprising that the highly-contagious Omicron variant spread through the Columbus locker room as well.
In addition to the league eventually postponing all Wednesday and Thursday games, emergency restrictions imposed by the Canadian government regarding cross-border travel means games between US and Canadian teams are postponed for the time being as well.
What does this mean for the Jackets? Most immediately, there will not be a game at Nationwide tonight against Toronto, and Tuesday’s game in Chicago was postponed on Sunday night as well.
The @NHL, @NHLPA agree to temporary changes to CBA, including reintroduction of taxi squads; three additional games postponed.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 27, 2021
Full Details: https://t.co/A2XIXRM2yX pic.twitter.com/hcUzfPJEhh
The Jackets will have not played in at least two weeks when they finally return to competition. Will they be rusty or rested?
The good news? Five of the six players in protocol were asymptomatic, and the other had just mild symptoms. All were vaccinated. Upon return to practice on Sunday, there were no additional positives. One hopes that the re-imposed COVID rules help limit any further spread.
You can read more about the situation here. We also discussed it on last week’s Cannon Cast.
If Thursday’s game does happen, it should be long enough that the quarantine period for infected players will have expired. If not, there will need to be call-ups from Cleveland. The move to add Daniil Tarasov as backup goalie was announced on Sunday. Surely there won’t be a problem calling up any other players from the Monsters...
.@TheAHL today announced that due to league COVID-19 protocols affecting the Monsters, our game vs. Grand Rapids scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, December 27, at 7:00 p.m. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland has been postponed.https://t.co/RQWIEH601F— Cleveland Monsters (@monstershockey) December 26, 2021
Ah, well, nevertheless.
If all goes according to schedule, the Jackets will play in Chicago on Tuesday, will host Nashville on Thursday, and Carolina on Saturday.
There was good news on the injury front, with Adam Boqvist being very close to return, and Patrik Laine presumably not long after that, as he returned to practice two weeks ago in Canada.
All three #CBJ players on IR -- F Patrik Laine and D Adam Boqvist/Dean Kukan -- practiced today but no guarantee per Brad Larsen they can play by Tuesday. Boqvist is doing better and seems closest; they continue to monitor Laine, and Kukan is "a bit away"— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) December 26, 2021
Dalerrific previewed the WJC here, and you can use that article as an open thread to discuss the tournament, and the performance of the four Columbus prospects participating. Stanislav Svozil was a star of the opening day on Sunday:
mama mia czechia pic.twitter.com/GhoRvpy5H9— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) December 27, 2021
Kent Johnson didn’t earn a point on any of Canada’s six goals in that game, but he did get a goal and assist in their warm-up game against Russia. He has also flashed his puck skills in practice:
Kent Johnson's pre-game routine is something else pic.twitter.com/cGJhkXpO8O— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 24, 2021
What the hell?
Oh cool, a question a Blue Jackets legend on Jeopardy!:
I’m sorry, come again..? #CBJ pic.twitter.com/fdylcZGBwl— CBJ Artillery (@CBJArtillery) December 22, 2021
- Why use a picture of Rick Nash in a Bruins uniform, as that was the team he spent the least time on in his long career?
- I hate when they ask a sports question that doesn’t actually involve any sports knowledge to get the answer.
- The consensus reaction on hockey twitter is that no one remembered him ever being called the “Slim Reaper.” Dude wasn’t Phil Kessel fat or anything like that, but he was far from “slim.” Apparently it was briefly a nickname used by some New York Rangers teammates:
Nash said #NYR players Kevin Klein and Marc Staal made it up, and he “has no idea why.”— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 22, 2021
Asked if that nickname ever made it out of the Rangers’ room ...
Nash: “I didn’t think so, but it must have if it was on Jeopardy! I was surprised.”
Ohio Sports Update
The Cincinnati Bengals are good now, probably thanks to Trey Hendrickson’s good luck CBJ jersey:
First game as Pro Bowl selections for @Joe_MainMixon, @Real10jayy__ and Trey Hendrickson. @Bose | #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/t7lSDxqcE0— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 26, 2021
The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, keep falling victim to self-inflicted disasters.
It’s not all bad news in C-town, however. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the surprise team of the NBA season, and a win on Sunday puts them in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, comfortably controlling their path to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left in 2018. They’re a young and fun team, but unlike the young and occasionally fun Blue Jackets, these Cavs can actually play defense. Imagine that.
Play me out
I’ve written before in this space about the 2007 masterpiece Raising Sand, an unlikely collaboration of Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and bluegrass star Alison Krauss (I often link to their song “Killing the Blues” if the Jackets beat St. Louis). An initial attempt at an immediate follow-up was abandoned, and I figured that meant the album would remain a one-off. Much to my surprise, they got back together after 14 years and released that second album, Raise the Roof, last month. I don’t know that it’s quite as perfect as the first one; it’s certainly not as novel. It’s also much more moody. That being said, it’s still extremely well-done and I’ve been listening to it in between albums of Christmas music for the last week. Each singer has a very distinctive and powerful voice, and they blend together so beautifully.