The Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the St Louis Blues last night, in their third game of the NHL preseason. The young Jacket squad played a solid game against a veteran-laden St Louis lineup; but ultimately came up short despite two goals from Emil Bemstrom.
The St Louis lineup was loaded with talent; including captain Brayden Schenn, starting goaltender Jordan Binnington, and a smattering of other quality NHL players. The Blues struck first on a Jakub Vrana goal at the 8:17 mark of the first. Vrana flipped the puck into the net on the backhand, off of a broken faceoff play, beating Aaron Dell and taking a 1-0 lead.
The Jackets, on the other hand, sent a mostly young lineup; evidenced by their top line of Alexandre Texier, Cole Sillinger, and Emil Bemstrom. By the time the season starts, this may be part of their third line. Bemstrom would knot the game at 1 apiece, scoring off of the rush at 13:29 of the first. He made a nice read and broke free up the ice, earning a one-on-one in the offensive zone; where he fired a snapshot past Binnington.
The tie game would be short lived, as the Blues struck again off of an Isaac Ratcliffe goal (15:18), and then a third time just over a minute later with a goal from Oskar Sundqvist (16:31). The quick succession in goals came from a failed Blue Jacket challenge to the first goal, which had Brandon Saad falling on top of Aaron Dell as the puck went into the net. After review, it was determined that Blue Jacket defenseman Nicolas Meloche had pushed Saad into Dell – which meant that the Blues were granted a power-play for the failed challenge. In my opinion, they got the call right.
The score remained 3-1 for much of the game, until Bemstrom scored his second of the night at the 15:25 mark of the third period, to make it a 3-2 game. That’s where this one finished up; with the Jackets coming up short of the Blues in spite of a 32-13 advantage in shots on goal.
Who stood out…
Obviously, the first name that pops up here is Emil Bemstrom. He scored two goals, but aside from that I thought he looked engaged on both sides of the puck. He was very noticeable in a good way, and at this point I don’t think he’ll be as easy to cut as we assumed early on; he might finally be putting it all together.
Alexandre Texier was really good as well, picking up assists on both goals. He’ll be on the team for sure. Denton Mateychuk continued his strong play with and without the puck, and even though he’s still CHL eligible for one more year, I think he has an outside chance of playing some games with the Jackets this season. Carson Meyer and James Malatesta continued to hit everything that moved; their energy makes them both really interesting as we move ahead also.
In fact, I think the Jackets will have a lot of tough cuts to make this fall. There is plenty of competition for nearly every NHL job. In particular, if you’re a bottom-six forward for this club, you should be quite concerned about keeping your job at this point. The Jackets play again on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo. You can catch their preseason games at bluejackets.com, or listen in via 97.1 the Fan.