It’s amazing how quickly a season outlook can change. One week ago, excitement was palpable as the Blue Jackets were entering their 2022-23 campaign with what is probably the most talented roster they have ever had. But after three straight setbacks to start the season – by a combined 14-5 margin – the excitement has died down. Is it panic time in Columbus?
In short, I don’t think it’s time to panic … at least not yet. While a run of three straight losses is never a good thing, it often gets blown out of proportion when it happens right at the start of the season. Would people have the same reactions if the team lost three straight in, say, December? Probably not.
With that said, they lost each game by three goals (4-1 at Carolina, then back to back 5-2 losses to Tampa Bay and St Louis), something even this franchise has never seen happen to start a season. After their first week of the season, the Blue Jackets hold a league-worst -9 rating; worse than even the tanking Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks, whose seasons may best be remembered for being on Connor Bedard watch.
The only thing the team can hang their hats on here, is that they played probably the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, and a very good recent Cup winner from out west. Their season opening three games in four nights pitted them against three teams with Cup aspirations this year. Two of these games were against opponents hosting their season opener, so emotions were going to be high. Honestly, winning any of these games was going to be quite the task, but this team seemed ready to go.
They started off well against Carolina; the game was evenly matched and the Jackets even took a 1-0 lead early in the second period on a goal by Patrik Laine. But his injury seemed to pull the energy away from the club, and around that time the Canes started to pick up their physicality. The momentum turned quickly and once it went to Carolina, the Jackets were never able to pull it back.
The home opener against Tampa Bay was basically the same exact story. The Jackets came out swinging, but the veterans on the Lightning took the game over, and the only thing that kept this one from getting much uglier, was some solid goaltending from Daniil Tarasov.
Saturday brought a much better effort, but costly turnovers and a lack of detail defensively wound up costing the team the game, as the Blues rattled off three third period goals en-route to an easy win.