Game Preview: After An Impressive Opening Night, The Columbus Blue Jackets Are Back At Nationwide To Battle The Seattle Kraken

By Ed Francis on October 16, 2021 at 7:05 am
Boone Jenner and the Columbus Blue Jackets are back in action at Nationwide Arena as they face Seattle in just the third game ever for the Kraken.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
1-1-0 (2 points)



No one saw that coming.

The Columbus Blue Jackets opened the season with an emphatic two points Thursday night as they "destroyed", to quote Elvis Merzlikins in a post-game interview, the Arizona Coyotes 8-2 at Nationwide Arena.

Seven different Blue Jackets found the back of the net, including a pair from Oliver Bjorkstrand, one from newcomer Jake Bean, and Boone Jenner's first goal as the Columbus captain.

Seven was the number of Blue Jackets who had multi-point games, too. But Bjorkstrand and Max Domi led the way, combining for three goals and four assists on the night. The duo, along with Merzlikins, were selected as the Three Stars of the night.

While the score itself was lopsided, some stats were indicative of a closer game. Arizona had a dozen more shots on goal than Columbus (38-26), more scoring chances, more hits, and the final expected goals tally was 3.95 to 2.01 in favor of the Coyotes. For the Blue Jackets, those numbers serve as a reminder that a better effort will be needed to keep the wins coming.

“I didn’t think we played that well, but we found ways to score,” said head coach Brad Larsen after the game. "We have such a better game in us."

“We have a lot of work to do.”

That work will need done in short order if the Blue Jackets are to start the season with a pair of wins, as the expansion Seattle Kraken are in town Saturday.

The Kraken come to town splitting their first two games in franchise history. They bounced back from a 3-0 deficit on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights to tie it in the third period, but Vegas escaped with a 4-3 win. Thursday, the 4-3 final was in favor of the Kraken, with Seattle's first win in franchise history coming in Nashville. Former Blue Jacket Alexander Wennberg was named the First Star of the game, assisting on Seattle's second goal of the game and scoring the third.

Seattle is a team build on defense and goaltending, led by former Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano and former Edmonton Oiler Adam Larsson. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer started the first two games for Seattle, but Chris Driedger could be in line for his first start of the season. 

Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines*

29 Patrike Laine 42 Alexandre Texier 93 Jakub Voracek
14 Gustav Nyquist 96 Jack Roslovic 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand
38 Boone Jenner 34 Cole Sillinger 16 Max Domi
50 Eric Robinson 7 Sean Kuraly 15 Gregory Hofmann
8 Zach Werenski 22 Jake Bean
44 Vladislav Gavrikov 27 Adam Boqvist
4 Scott Harrington 2 Andrew Peeke
Starting Goalie Backup
90 Elvis Merzlikins 70 Joonas Korpisalo
 *subject to change


  • A FLUKE, OR SOMETHING MORE?: The Blue Jackets looked like world-beaters Thursday, but it can't be ignored that it was against one of the few teams projected by most to finish below Columbus in the league standings. The Kraken are a much tougher opponent, both physically and in skill set. Nationwide Arena should be rocking, but Saturday will be the third time in five nights that the Kraken have been the opponent for another team's home opener. They'll be used to the noise. Can the Blue Jackets reproduce the results of opening night, despite tougher opposition?
  • POWER PLAY POTENTIAL: With two goals on three power play attempts, the Blue Jackets had their first multi-goal opening night on the man-advantage since burying three goals in the 2007 opener against Anaheim. Those goal scorers were Rick Nash, Sergei Federov, and Ron Hainsey, if you're curious. Columbus' power play units looked aggressive, yet loose, in the Thursday opener. Can they strike special teams gold again Saturday?
  • ELVIS' ENCORE: Wearing the #80 in honor of his friend and former teammate Matiss Kivlenieks, Merzlikins was dominate Thursday. He stopped 36 of 38 Arizona shots, for a .947 save percentage. The Coyotes first goal didn't go to review, but the argument could have been made that Merzlikins was interfered with. The other came in the final minutes with Columbus up by six goals. Elvis made a few dazzling saves in the game, including a stop on a 3-on-2 rush in which he made back-to-back saves, first the pad and the second with the glove. Will Elvis repeat his phenomenal night between the pipes in the sophomore game of the season?

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