Consistency Will Be Important For Young Blue Jackets Team After Strong Start

By Jacob Nitzberg on October 28, 2021 at 8:09 pm
Oct 25, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexandre Texier (42) celebrates a goal during the third period against the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Not many people expected the Blue Jackets to get off to a 4-2 start.

They've been the beneficiary of great goaltending from Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo, and Patrik Laine has scored two beautiful game-winning goals in overtime. Although it's been a great start, the NHL season is a marathon, not a sprint.

"You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself," said Brad Larsen Wednesday on 97.1 The Fan's weekly Hockey & Hounds. "I've liked our effort in most of our games. We obviously had a rough one in Detroit. Even the Carolina game, I know everyone points that out as a stinker, I thought we tried a lot of that game. They're a very good hockey team that put on a lot of pressure. It felt different than Detroit, even though the result wasn't very good."

Larsen's spot on. The Hurricanes should be a cup favorite, and they've only given up eight goals in five games. After a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Carolina at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets showed their ability to bounce back with a 4-1 win against the Stars two days later. After their 3-1 loss in Detroit, the Blue Jackets rebounded with a 3-2 win in overtime against the New York Islanders.

"As far as effort-wise, I've been happy with how the guys have been competing and pushing," said Larsen. "Couple big wins there at home against the Islanders who are a veteran, older team and then our last game against Dallas. But again, we're six games in, and the number one thing to win in this league is consistency. You want to make sure that we're consistent in our effort every night and give ourselves the best chance to win. We've had great goaltending and some stuff has gone our way. We got a long way to go. I'm happy with the effort most nights."

Individually, Larsen's been impressed with Gregory Hofmann's play.  In the Blue Jackets' win over the Stars, Larsen gave the Swiss winger an opportunity to play with Jack Roslovic and Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Hofmann notched his first career NHL goal. 

"Some of the guys that have come in, Hofmann's a good example. I didn't know anything about him (when he came to camp)...I think one of the things that have impressed me with (Hofmann) is that he's a work-based player. Everything that he does is through effort. He loves to practice, he loves to compete. He loves to work at his game and it carries right into the game. I loved to see him get rewarded with a goal the other night. He's been a pleasant surprise."

As Hofmann continues to get acclimated to the NHL, the 28-year-old rookie has begun to make a name for himself within the organization. In 2011, Hofmann was drafted in the third round of the NHL Draft by the Hurricanes, but never signed with the club. The Blue Jackets acquired Hofmann's NHL rights earlier this year and were able to convince him to begin his North American career.

"It's a good feeling for (Hofmann)...we want to reward players and I think that's always been the standard here for the last several years," said Larsen. "You earn what you get. He's earned it through his work. He's earned it through his details and his competitiveness in practice. He's a guy who was a scorer in Europe for a lot of years and a really good one at that, and he was put in a different role. He never said a word about it. All he did was go out and work his tail off."