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With a new superstar addition to the team this year, the Columbus Blue Jackets are navigating injuries with the leadership from some veteran standouts.
Defensemen Zach Werenski will likely be out the rest of the regular season with a separated shoulder and torn labrum suffered on Nov. 10. Werenski had eight points before the injury, playing about 17 minutes per game.
Goalie Elvis Merzlikins sustained a hip injury on Nov. 15 and is expected to be out one to two weeks. The mononymous goalie known simply as “Elvis” posted 1,742 saves in the 2021-2022 season, standing out as a fan-favorite.
Left wing Patrik Laine is expected to miss three to four weeks after a collision with teammate Cole Sillinger caused an ankle injury on Nov. 16. Laine has a history of injuries, being out over 20 games last season.
Other notable injuries include Alexandre Texier for personal reasons and right wing Justin Danforth with a torn labrum.
Superstar to the rescue(?)
After spending the past nine years with the Calgary Flames, and scoring 210 goals while there, left wing Johnny Gaudreau made the blockbuster move to Columbus.
In the first 18 games, Gaudreau has given the Blue Jackets 18 points, with 12 points in the first 14 games, according to the team’s official statistics page. While Gaudreau is still getting used to the vibes in Columbus and throughout the league, the winger shows potential to lead the team, even as a newcomer.
Injuries and losing streaks have made the Columbus team fall to eighth place in the Metropolitan Division. Although Gaudreau has broken through to be a team-leading scorer, the outlook for the rest of the season is unknown and even shaky; the team has fallen to the bottom of the barrel on both offense and defense.
Despite the numbers, the aura in Columbus seems to point onward and upwards.
Aye aye, captain
After a rocky start to the season, captain Boone Jenner, leader of the first line and member of the top power-play unit, might just be the backbone that will help provide stability and durability throughout the season, if the injury curse does not hit the 6-foot-2 center.
As the second-leading point scorer and highest goal scorer for the team, Jenner’s history has shown that the captain can lead the Blue Jackets through murky waters, including during the 4-0 series win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 Eastern Conference first round.
With upcoming games against the Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blue Jackets will need to press forward, capitalizing on scoring opportunities and utilizing man-advantages.
Without Laine, Werenski and Texier, the rest of the season might lay in the hands of a newcomer and a veteran.