Game Preview: Blue Jackets Look For Best Start In Franchise History In Battle Against Red Wings

By Ed Francis on October 19, 2021 at 7:05 am
Yegor Chinakhov will make his NHL debut Tuesday, replacing Max Domi in the lineup as the Blue Jackets seek their first 3-0-0 start in club history.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
1-0-1 (3 points)



The injury bug is wasting no time in forcing the Columbus Blue Jackets to change their plans.

First, forward Emil Bemstrom was placed on injured reserve hours before last week's season opener. Monday brought word that forward Max Domi, who returned weeks early from an offseason shoulder surgery in time for the end of the preseason, would miss two to four weeks with a fractured rib sustained in Saturday's 2-1 overtime victory over the Seattle Kraken.

Domi's hole in the lineup is expected to be filled with rookie Yegor Chinakhov, last season's KHL Rookie of the Year and the 20-year-old who lit up September's NHL Prospect's Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. Chinakhov practiced in Domi's right-wing slot Monday at Nationwide Arena, alongside Alexandre Texier and Cole Sillinger on the third line.

Tuesday's game — and Chinakhov's likely debut — will be the first road affair for the Blue Jackets this season. Their opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, are a team that Columbus was all-too-familiar with last season, playing them eight times in 56 games and going 4-3-1 in those games, with four of those games being decided by one goal.

The Red Wings, like the Blue Jackets, came into this season with low expectations and not expected to contend for a playoff spot. But, also like Columbus, Detroit has gotten off to a better-than-anticipated start. They nearly beat the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the season opener but squandered a three-goal lead with just over six minutes to go in regulation en route to a 7-6 overtime loss. 

Detroit would rebound from Thursday's tough opening night loss with a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Saturday. Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped 40 of 41 shots and is expected in net again Tuesday against Columbus. 

Opposing Greiss will be Joonas Korpisalo, who gets his first start of the regular season. 

Here's a look at the lines for the Blue Jackets (updated at 7:06pm):

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines*

29 Patrik Laine 38 Boone Jenner 93 Jakub Voracek
28 Oliver Bjorkstrand 96 Jack Roslovic 59 Yegor Chinakhov
42 Alexandre Texier 34 Cole Sillinger 14 Gus Nyquist
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
70 Joonas Korpisalo 90 Elvis Merzlikins
 *subject to change


  • ONE...TWO...: Three? In their first 20 seasons, Columbus has had a 3-0-0 start exactly zero times. The rebuilding version of the franchise has an opportunity to do something that six postseason versions of the Blue Jackets couldn't get done: six points in the first three games. A win Tuesday would give them just that, and strength of schedule be damned, that was not expected from this team. 
  • BOONE AT THE TOP: With Domi out, expect some line-shuffling Tuesday. Alexandre Texier played most of the first two games on the top line, centering Patrik Laine and Jakub Voracek. But Monday's practice saw Texier dropped to the third line and in a spot previously manned by new captain Boone Jenner. With Jack Roslovic gelling well on the second line with Gus Nyquist and Oliver Bjorkstrand, that likely means it will be Jenner getting the bump to play center between the creative duo of Laine & Voracek. Jenner is off to a fantastic start at the faceoff dot, winning 24 of 36 draws in the first two games. 
  • THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Cole Sillinger does not look like an 18-year-old out there so far. Nor have new Blue Jackets blueliners Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist looked 23 and 21, respectively. But will Chinakhov look like a 20-year-old in his debut? There was no specific reason given that he didn't crack the opening night lineup after making the team out of camp, but head coach Brad Larsen said he made the team for a reason and that he wouldn't sit long. Chinakhov played in Cleveland with the Monsters over the weekend, and of course, scored in his first game. Chinakhov buried goals in his first Prospects Tournament game, first preseason game, and first AHL game. Will he score in his NHL debut?

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