Your Columbus Blue Jackets are back in active practice! The first game for the team will take place on August 2nd in Toronto, at the Toronto Maple Leafs’, just one day past the four-month marker for NHL calling all play and practice till further notice, club practice was allowed to resume July 13th. All of this due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which still rages on, the NHL and players association coming to terms just a week ago about final protocols. Testing will be rigorous and started Saturday for the Columbus Blue Jackets, with enough time for results to come back before practice began Monday. The players will be constantly checked from this point on until their competition results in a loss or a Stanley Cup. Of course, we hope for the latter, as Columbus has yet to bring one home!
As of now our only player remaining out, who started the season, is Josh Anderson. Although this is a loss to the team, the fact we had this difficult break has helped the Blue Jacket’s substantially. Many injured players have returned, most notably, Seth Jones, a playmaker of any defense strategy for this team. Further, our two top goalies, Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo have returned healthy as well. As you remember Merzlikins suffered a concussion the same night as Korpisalo returned from extensive knee surgery due to torn tendons. With all of this veteran blood returning, it will be interesting to watch what happens come game day. Merzlikins is the backup for starter goaltender Korpisalo, both doing well at their respective times during the season, so the question now, who will get the start? This is to be said for several positions.
One thing is sure, it is best to have starter ready and equal backups waiting in the wings, then just starters and backups who have not yet seen ice! At times we have seen backups win games, even advance teams and win Stanley Cups. Being in a position where coaches on all fronts have several men to pick from as start, is a great position to be in, especially going to Toronto to play Toronto. There is something to be said about home-ice advantage, even if fans are not allowed, it is home ice and this can still give the Blue Jacket’s opposing team an edge.
The next days can’t pass soon enough, as the team will take a flight to Canada in just a little over a week on July 26th for testing before elimination rounds begin. Still, if we have learned anything from the sports already taking place, it is important to take things one day at a time, one test at a time. Plans were outlined in the NHL and player agreement for how to handle a spike in cases, should such an unfortunate situation unfold later down the road. The goal set forth first and foremost has been player safety, something we have seen no shortage of and I doubt we will.
Check-in with Skullking Sports daily for continuous updates, as we head back to the ice, the players, and the game we all love! The Stanley Cup Playoffs, as you’ve never seen before, starting August 1st!