Max Domi's Injury Absence Proves To Be A Major Blow To A Young Columbus Blue Jackets Team

By Ed Francis on October 20, 2021 at 1:45 pm
The Columbus Blue Jackets looked lost more often than not Tuesday in Detroit, and the absence of Max Domi was a big part of the reason why.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Take Max Domi's stats out of the equation.

Ignore his goal, disregard his three assists, forget his team-leading plus/minus of +4 through the first two games of the season — games won by a combined score of 10-3. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets looked dreadful Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings, and the biggest part of it was Domi's mere lack of presence on the ice. 

Domi, who suffered a fractured rib in Saturday's overtime win against the Seattle Kraken, was replaced in the lineup by rookie Yegor Chinakhov. The 20-year-old was fine in his debut, seeing an even 12 minutes of ice time and nearly scored in the opening period, but was robbed by Red Wings goalie Thomas Greiss. 

But it was the residual effects of Domi being out of the lineup that led to a majority of the Blue Jackets discombobulation in the loss.

Not wanting to put two rookies together in Chinakhov and 18-year-old Cole Sillinger forced head coach Brad Larsen to change three of Columbus' four lines, with only the fourth line of Eric Robinson, Sean Kuraly, and Gregory Hofmann being untouched. Boone Jenner, who had been on the third line in the first two games, was bumped to the top line. That moved Alexandre Texier from the top line to third line, but skating on the wing opposite of Gus Nyquist, who had been on the second line to start the season. Nyquist was also moved from left to right — not a huge deal for Goose, who historically has played both sides of the wing — but his spot on the left went to Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has proven himself far more comfortable in the right wing slot. 

Shot Chart

The end result was a team that looked out of sorts. Mission accomplished on splitting the rookies up, as well as keeping Chinakhov comfortable in his spot on the right, but it cost the Blue Jackets too much secondary movement. The shots on Greiss were too few and far between, with many of his 22 saves being routine in nature and just six being in or near the crease. 

Domi's absence was also a likely contributor to Sillinger's rough night. Benched for a majority of the third period, Sillinger was held without a shot on goal, looked overpowered physically, and struggled to maintain the puck on a line with Texier and Nyquist, both of whom the rookie had played alongside only minimally throughout camp and the preseason.

Sillinger and Domi had played together frequently in the opening pair of games.

With Domi scheduled to be out two to four weeks, Columbus will need to adjust. An oddity in scheduling could give the Blue Jackets a bit of reprieve: they play just two games the first 11 days of November; a home-and-home with the Colorado Avalanche that starts in Colorado on November 3rd and concludes at Nationwide Arena on November 6th. That time frame would be right in the middle of Domi's timetable to return.