Thank goodness for Patrik Laine's impending return!
That should help things a bit for the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets, wouldn't ya say?
While expectations for that of a young hockey club—the youngest team in the league!— might have been that of struggles and learning how to win, the Blue Jackets' struggles and miscues have certainly been on display of late.
After a hard-fought 5-4 overtime win against the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 11—in which a three-goal lead evaporated—and a tough loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 14—a three-goal first period lead gone, again—the Blue Jackets were done in by the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night 5-2.
The road trip takes a detour back home through Columbus since Saturday's game against the Calgary Flames is postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. The club will then meet the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo on Monday, Dec. 20.
Seems like a great opportunity to work Laine back into the lineup.
After missing time since early November with an oblique strain, and then following the sudden tragic passing of his father, Laine rejoined the team earlier this week in Canada.
"It's been almost six weeks since I've been with the team so it was definitely fun (being back on the ice)," Laine said. "After the times I've had lately, it's always great to be around these guys...it was definitely fun."
His imminent return to the lineup comes just the nick of time for a team that can certainly use a big boost in the form of a 6'5", 216-pound pure goal-scorer. Laine has only played nine games this season after sustaining an injury in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 3 in Denver.
The Blue Jackets' offense has been able to hold serve in lieu of Laine, as they are top 10 in the league in goals per game (3.18) and even better since Laine went down (3.26).
Laine's addition will bring with it some lineup decisions for Larsen, specifically being who comes out of the lineup. Then there's Emil Bemstrom who hasn't appeared in a game for the Blue Jackets this season since re-joining the team on Dec. 8 after playing with the Cleveland Monsters.
With three goals and seven assists, Laine looked to be in a good place as the 2021-22 season started out. Hopefully, he can pick up where he left off.
The pending RFA is looking to shake off a bad year in 2021, and his impending return can be just the boost that ails a struggling team.