Patrik Laine started very well for the Blue Jackets in game 1, scoring his first goal just 11 seconds into the second period. He was all over the ice before that; his line with Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau dictating play when they had the puck. But unfortunately for Patrik, he suffered an elbow injury before the mid-way point of the game, and will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks.
Injuries are never a good thing for any team, and there is never a convenient time to have them. For the Blue Jackets, this one stings because it seemed like his chemistry with Gaudreau was growing, and at times they were outplaying the Hurricanes. That’s no easy task. But injuries are part of the sport and the best teams find ways to deal with them. So, how do the Blue Jackets deal with this one?
It’s hard to say what the top line will look like as it will probably take a few games to dial in who fits best. But, the immediate result here: we will get to see Kent Johnson playing NHL hockey. This was bound to happen pretty quickly anyway, but now there is an opening for him to step in and show what he can do. While it doesn’t appear that he will slot into the top-six (at least not right away), he’s a guy that should bring some offense to the table and can slot into one of the power play units.
The Blue Jackets lose one of the top shooters in all of hockey – their only point scorer so far this season – but gain one of the top offensive prospects in hockey in the process. Kent isn’t the same kind of shooter, and certainly won’t score at a rate we expect Laine to; but this will be valuable experience gained for him, and a chance for the team to evaluate his development.
Right off the bat, it looks like Justin Danforth is slated to get the first crack at playing with Gaudreau and Jenner, but there are plenty of options here should this line struggle to produce. Yegor Chinakhov is the best shooter on the team with Laine out, and he got a look at the end of the Carolina game, but the team was well out of it at that point and there wasn’t much offense to be produced.
Other options to fill in would include Jakub Voracek and Gustav Nyquist – but they’re both pass-first players who would be a poor match alongside a playmaker like Gaudreau. It will be interesting to see how the lines work out, and where the offense comes from for this team for the next month. It’s amazing how quickly a team’s outlook can change with just one injury.
Want your voice heard? Join the Union And Blue team!