Through 11 games, the 2022-’23 Columbus Blue Jackets are 3-8 and tied for the fewest points (six) in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and currently sit in dead last place in the Metro Division. The Blue Jackets have given up five or more goals in six of the 11 games the team has played. The team has been plagued by a barrage of issues that have caused it to regress from the nearly .500 mark they played at most of last season.
Questions the Blue Jackets must ask themselves and answer are, is the goalie of the future on the current roster? Elvis Merzlikins has been downright putrid. So far on the season, Merzlikins has given up 34 goals, 13.71- Expected goals against, -5.98 (yes, that is a negative) Goals Saved Above Expected, Merzlikins has given up two goals off of faceoffs.
As bad as the Blue Jackets’ starting goalie has been, the defense has not been much better. Zach Werenski and Vladislav Gavrikov are the only two defensive players who have figured out the man-to-man defense the organization has switched to. I say that and the team called up prospect David Jiricek last week, and he was able to impact the games he played as he was excellent on defense.
Is Patrik Laine more than a novelty? Laine looks like a player for whom the sky is the limit. Yet, he always leaves you wanting more because he never seems to get past certain numbers. The lack of a true 1C has hurt not only Laine but Johnny Gaudreau as well.
Who is a defensive player the organization can build around? As stated, Werenski and Gavrikov have picked up the man-to-man, and rookie David Jiricek has played the scheme for much of his playing days. That leaves Jake Bean, Adam Boqvist, Nick Blankenburg, Andrew Peeke (who has looked somewhat better as of late,) and Erik Gudbranson, who have and continue to struggle mightily with the scheme.
Yesterday, the Blue Jackets scored their first power-play goal of the season; it only took 11 games to achieve the goal. This leads to perhaps the biggest question facing the Blue Jackets, is Brad Larsen the long-term answer at head coach? In last Sunday’s 7-1 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils, Larsen said that the loss was on him for not having the team adequately prepared.
From a fan’s point of view, after giving up five or more goals in six of 11 games, and it looks like it has been more than one game, Larsen has not had the team prepared to play. The worst thing that can happen to a coach, player, or players and organization is to regress. Yet that is exactly what has been and is taking place in Columbus.
The team has regressed and must look themselves in the mirror and figure out the next steps.
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