Three Thoughts: Pierre-Luc Dubois Is On the Verge, Joonas Korpisalo Looked Good Again, and Now It's Decision Time for the Blue Jackets

By Rob Mixer on September 26, 2017 at 9:51 pm
Sonny Milano
Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports
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This was the last call for many players hoping to be part of the Blue Jackets' opening night lineup. As it stood entering the game, the list was longer than it was anything, especially with the club hurting up front and lacking depth in the bottom six.

Without overstating things too much, there were encouraging signs from many of those bubble players in what was probably their last chance to impress the guys sitting in the box upstairs.

The Blue Jackets won 5-2 and they're 2-3-1 in the preseason with two games remaining. Now, it gets tough.

Joonas Korpisalo played the full game, and we'll talk more about his performance later. Oliver Bjorkstrand had two assists and six shots on goal, Pierre-Luc Dubois put forth another noticeable effort, and Sonny Milano was involved as well. Guys like Tyler Motte and Markus Hannikainen, who are trying like hell to keep their names in the mix, did their part with another wave of cuts on the immediate horizon.


  • Don't Go Anywhere: The Blue Jackets were cautiously optimistic that Pierre-Luc Dubois would give them no choice but to include him on the opening night roster. Barring a complete collapse, he's done enough. He scored another goal tonight, his team-leading third of the preseason, and hovered around 60.0 CF% for most of the game. Since his move to the wing a couple of games ago, Dubois has looked more assertive and confident on the ice; he's making plays, going to the net and seems more involved. At center, Dubois didn't look all that comfortable and was probably guilty of some overthinking. He played nearly 21 minutes in this game (20:44 to be exact) and scored his third goal of the preseason to lead the Blue Jackets in that regard.
  • Thanks, Korpi: Joonas Korpisalo didn't exactly have an inspiring start to last year's training camp (and he eventually lost the No. 2 spot to Curtis McElhinney to begin the season), so you can excuse the Blue Jackets if they had concerns after his suspect preseason debut last week against the Blackhawks. Korpisalo redeemed himself with a 52-save gem last weekend at United Center, and followed it up tonight with another tidy 19-save outing in the victory. Whereas last year's camp was about trying to unseat McElhinney, this camp is about building to opening weekend, when it's possible Korpisalo could see game action as soon as Oct. 7 in Chicago.
  • Maybe Motte: Perhaps it wasn't without reason, but we didn't hear much about Tyler Motte until later in camp. Acquired in the Brandon Saad/Artemi Panarin trade and also a former college teammate of Zach Werenski, Motte seemed like an ideal candidate to take one of the vacant spots in the bottom six, particularly because of his speed and versatility. He hadn't really separated himself in the first four exhibition games, but came through with a timely effort in this one; Motte scored the opening goal on a 2-on-1 (set up by Korpisalo) and played nearly 13 minutes. Side note: PTO signee John Mitchell got another long look tonight, playing 15:31 with ample time killing penalties. It'll be interesting to see what happens there.

The Blue Jackets return to preseason action Thursday night against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. They'll conclude the exhibition slate on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 3 p.m. start that is scheduled to air on the NHL Network.

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