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Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/BlueJacketsNHL

Columbus Blue Jackets showing that they’re coming ready to Return to Play

Tonight we have a post-game report from a game that doesn’t feature the Leafs, or any Toronto team at all! This must be a first.

The Blue Jackets began their Return to Play after the COVID-19 break in this 2019-20 NHL season, playing against the Boston Bruins. Since our beloved Leafs will begin a playoff series against those Blue Jackets, it seemed to be worth covering what went on in that game.

The Leafs themselves made it clear that they would be watching for their own interests, which of course makes a ton of sense.

This game was the first competitive action for Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seth Jones, after they’re both returning from knee injuries. Both look strong and healthy as expected. Josh Anderson, one of the better young names in this Jackets organization, was not playing due to recovering from shoulder surgery. It’s unlikely that he will return during the series with Toronto.

Anyway, the game was pretty boring, which fits well with how Columbus wants to play. They held Boston to just 21 shots on goal in the game in all situations, while getting only 29 themselves.

There were a few players I noticed in this game that I hadn’t seen much of before, so here’s what I learned.

Vladislav Gavrikov

He opened the game with a great breakout pass and a subsequent one-timer point shot, which really helped the Jackets put the Bruins on their heels  His ability on the puck really reminded me of Morgan Rielly. Not at that high level of offensive ability, but more so in the way that he moves so smoothly and quickly, both himself and the puck; rare skills from the defensive side of the ice.

Liam Foudy

Foudy opened the scoring for Columbus, after he whiffed on an open chance that missed, but he immediately followed that up with a gorgeous centering pass to Jenner for the goal. The 2018 first round pick found his way onto the team after a run of injuries made room for him, and he’s impressed John Tortorella enough to earn himself a permanent place. After this pass, I can see why.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Dubois has been an impressive leader for Columbus for a while now, so it’s not surprising that he was impressive in this game as well. What surprised me, though, was his speed. I had figured that, given his size, his success was due to hockey IQ, good playmaking, and using his size well on the forecheck. It turns out he has wheels too. He showed it off in an early breakaway attempt that didn’t get to the back of the net, but was still created due to Dubois outrunning Torey Krug down the ice.

Dubois also had this great takeaway on Brad Marchand that he couldn’t finish either, but this also shows his stick work is a skill that can’t be ignored.

 

Final Thoughts

Columbus got a  win that was never in question tonight. The Bruins looked messy and uninspiring, so let’s not take too much fear out of this exhibition win for the Blue Jackets. However, knowing that the Leafs were watching tonight hopefully means they won’t be taking Columbus lightly, as no team should ever do. As we know, anything can happen in the playoffs.

For a bigger and better preview of the Blue Jackets, check out this great post by our own Scott Maxwell.

Also, the tweet of the night has to go to this gif from the NHL showing Zdeno Chara, the biggest player in the NHL, beside Nathan Gerbe, the smallest.