It has been a tough year for the Columbus Blue Jackets. It all started with negative energy after the Mike Babcock situation led to Pascal Vincent taking over as the head coach.
Since then, the team has been mostly bad. They are currently 10-16-5 which is good for the fifth-worst record in the NHL.
They did, however, win a big game on Thursday night. It was a historic win for them as they did something that no team had ever done before them.
The Blue Jackets led 5-0 going into the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs. What felt like a sure win turned into a disaster as the Maple Leafs tied it in the final minutes of regulation.
No team in NHL history had ever blown a five-goal lead in the third period and won the game. That was until Kent Johnson scored in overtime to give the Jackets a 6-5 win at Scotiabank Arena.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are dealing with a lot of issues right now
Kent Johnson was the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He has a ton of skill and deserves to be in the NHL. He proved that in the big win over the Maple Leafs.
He scored the overtime winner and that was his second goal (third point) of the game. He can make an impact and should be getting more ice as the year goes along.
Playing a guy like Johnson more than some of the less talented veterans is a good move for the Blue Jackets. He is supposed to be a part of the future and should be very involved. There will be growing pains but they have to deal with them. His development is a top priority for this organization.
Johnny Gaudreau - Adam Fantilli
The Blue Jackets have a lot invested in Johnny Gaudreau and Adam Fantilli. Gaudreau was given a monster contract and Fantilli was the third overall pick out of Michigan.
Both of them need to be big parts of this team's success. They were together in Toronto and it was great. Fantilli didn't have a point but Gaudreau scored a goal. There seemed to be instant chemistry between the two and points are going to come in bunches if they stay together.
These two can both make plays and score goals. Fantilli is a rookie but he has a ton of finish to his game so playing with a stud like Gaudreau is good for him.
The third guy on the line, Justin Danforth, scored a goal (and had an assist) in Toronto as well. He is the perfect guy to play with Gaudreau and Fantilli as he can win battles down low and get to the dirty scoring areas.
If he could be good in front of the net with deflections and rebound goals, a lot of goals should be available for him as the season goes along.
Patrik Laine Injury update
Patrik Laine looked good in this game with Johnson. He scored the first goal of the Toronto game at 6:19. After being healthy scratched a few weeks ago, he was just starting to get going again.
Unfortunately, we learned on Friday that he is going to be out for a while. He is expected to miss 6 weeks after he suffered a clavicle fracture later in that game against the Leafs.
This is a big loss for the Jackets. Laine with Cole Sillinger and Kent Johnson is a good idea but we're going to have to wait to see it back together. It seems as if nothing can go right for this team in 2023-24.
The next game for the Jackets will come on Saturday night when they host the New Jersey Devils. New Jersey lost to Columbus earlier in the year but this is a very different Devils team coming in. They are healthy and hot right now.
Without Laine in the long-term, things are going to be even tougher for them but everyone else needs to step up. New Jersey is going to be fast, skilled, and tenacious.
They can take this win over the Leafs and learn from it though. If they can beat them, especially with that type of adversity, they should think they can top anybody.