Three Things: Another Record For Werenski, Luca's First (But Not Last) NHL Goal, And Jet's Strong Statement

By Ed Francis on April 17, 2024 at 8:15 am
The Columbus Blue Jackets doubled up the Caroline Hurricanes in the season finale Tuesday night. Here's three things from the 6-3 victory to close the books on 2023-24.
© Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

It was a rough year.

But Tuesday's season finale?

Not so rough.

Zach Werenski broke one record and tied another, Luca Del Bel Belluz scored on his second shift in the NHL, and Jet Greaves had another impressive outing as the Columbus Blue Jackets sent the 5th Line home happy in a 6-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes to close out the 2023-24 season.

Here are three things from Tuesday's finale:

Zach Werenski Writes His Name Into The History Books — Twice

Werenski needed one assist to break the single-season assist record for a Blue Jackets defenseman.

He got that — then a goal, then another assist, and then another goal. It was a four-point night for the leader of the Columbus defense. The big night for Werenski gave him 57 points on the season, tying him with Seth Jones for the franchise record for most points in a season from a defenseman.

Z's motivation for the big night was a request by Jeff Rimer, the long-time broadcaster and voice of the Blue Jackets who retired at the conclusion of the game.

Happy retirement, Jeff.

Luca Del Bel Belluz, Gavin Brindley Make NHL Debuts

Tuesday was the NHL debut for a pair of prospects in the Blue Jackets organization — and it will not be the only time we see them on the ice at Nationwide Arena, if their first game was any indication. 

Luca Del Bel Belluz was brought up (or is it down?) from Cleveland on emergency recall, and barely made it in time for the game. His first shift ended with a trip to the penalty box. His second shift had a slightly different ending:

Del Bel Belluz's first career goal put the Blue Jackets up 1-0 less than four minutes into the game. He ended up with 9:35 of ice time in the game and won four of ten faceoffs. 

It was also the debut for Gavin Brindley, who didn't show up in the box score in his 12:20 of ice time but showed skating ability and situational awareness that leaves little doubt as to why the club felt he was ready to turn pro. 

Jet Taking Flight

Jet Greaves stopped 38 of Carolina's 41 shots and made numerous big saves throughout the game, including six on one power play opportunity from the Hurricanes in the first period. Greaves season concludes with a .908 save percentage and 3.49 goals against average in his nine appearances (including eight starts).

The Blue Jackets goaltending situation has been a point of concern for the last few seasons now and one that the team will certainly try to address this summer. Greaves does not seem ready to be a full-time NHL starter yet, but has shown that he has a chance to develop into one — and that he is capable of being Columbus' top backup as soon as next season, depending on where things shake out with Elvis Merzlikins.

Next Up

For the Columbus Blue Jackets, it's one of the most pivotal off-season's in franchise history. That's been said before — but unlike in past years, the team has several front office decisions to make. Add to that a loaded pool of young talent and multiple contracts that the new regime will likely look to move, and all the ingredients are in place for a crucial spring and summer.

One other thing to add as — and that's what's next for our own Coby Maeir.  A move to Denver, Colorado and a job with the Colorado Avalanche. Coby is joining Kroenke Sports & Entertainment as a writer and Digital Content Specialist for the Avs. In his two years with 1st Ohio Battery, Coby (or Young Coby, as 1OB's Slack often endearingly referred to him as) developed his writing and interviewing skills and quickly advanced from a good addition to the group to a pivotal part of the coverage this site has brought you since 2022. The job with the Avalanche is well-deserved, and on behalf of the entire 1OB team — congrats, Coby. We'll miss ya, friend. 

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