Josh Dunne Impresses In Debut, Despite Blue Jackets' Loss

By Jacob Nitzberg on April 15, 2021 at 11:55 pm
Apr 15, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets rookie center Josh Dunne (21) skates in his first NHL game during the second period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Dunne didn't show up on the scoresheet tonight in his NHL debut, but that wasn't too surprising.

The big, bruising center's best aspect is his defensive game, and he was excellent in that regard tonight. He played all 11:07 of his ice time tonight at five-on-five, and he was one of the Blue Jackets' best players tonight, in a game where it felt like nothing went right for them as they fell 4-1 to the Stars.

"I thought (Dunne) did some good things," said John Tortorella postgame. "You can see that he's an intelligent player because he asks the right questions. He asked questions that I don't think some guys who have played in this league five, six, seven years would ask. That's what's frustrating to me, with some of the guys with us right now. THat's encouraging for a big man, a young guy, first game. All through the day, as we were showing him bits and pieces of our concept, not trying to overload him, he asked the right questions, so that's encouraging."

He's dipped his toe in the water, and now Dunne will have the rest of the season as an opportunity to grow as a player and learn the ropes of the NHL, which is certainly a step up from NCAA Division 1 hockey.

Quick Start, Then...Nothing

The Blue Jackets scored on their first shot of the game, and boy, was it pretty. Jack Roslovic and Michael Del Zotto combined for a nifty move, with Del Zotto receiving a pass, faking a shot, and executing a pass right to Roslovic's stick. All the Columbus native had to do was hold his stick there, and the puck ricocheted off it into the net.

After that, though, there wasn't much. The Stars tied it up, then went ahead in the waning moments of the second period. In the third period, the Stars were the aggressors, and put the Blue Jackets on their heels during the final frame. The Stars played like a team fighting for their playoff lives, and the Blue Jackets played like a team who doesn't have much to play for.

Bjorkstrand's Brief Scare

With the clock winding down at the end of the first period, Oliver Bjorkstrand was the recipient of a puck to the face that cut him. He was not on the bench at the beginning of the second period. After receiving stitches, he eventually rejoined the team with a cage on his helmet and got back on the ice.