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CBJ Today: Korpisalo, Bobrovsky finally face off

Tuesday night was the first head-to-head meeting for the longtime teammates

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Each weekday this season, BlueJackets.com will post CBJ Today, a look at news, notes, analysis and fun stuff from around the Blue Jackets world. It's everything you need to know if you're a fan going into the day.  

The Daily Buzz 

Well, that wasn't a whole lot of fun, was it? The Blue Jackets had a chance to escape Nationwide Arena with two points on Tuesday night despite not playing their best game, but Florida's goal with 2.5 seconds to go forced overtime and the Panthers got the extra point in the shootout. There's no time to dwell on it, though, as the Blue Jackets are back at it with practice today ahead of back-to-back games Thursday at home vs. Florida and Friday night in Chicago. 

A Meeting in Net 

Perhaps it was fitting that Tuesday's game came down to a shootout matching goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Sergei Bobrovsky. 

The two shared the back wall of the Blue Jackets locker room as the team's goalies for four seasons from 2016-19, the first two years on a more sporadic basis before Bobrovsky and Korpisalo were the team's two goalies during the 2018 and '19 season. Largely because of Korpisalo's knee injury last year, all three meetings between Columbus and Florida a year ago meant Bobrovsky faced Elvis Merzlikins, so last night was the first time ever Nos. 70 and 72 met in an NHL game. 

They surely spent a lot of time together when they were both Blue Jackets, though each had defined roles. If he was healthy, Bobrosky was the starter, as he started 63 games in 2016-17, a career-high 65 games a year later and then 61 more games in 2018-19. Korpisalo, then, was the backup, someone who was tasked with learning from Bobrovsky and getting the net when the opportunity arose, which it did for just 51 starts in that three-season span. 

So the two know each other plenty well, and for Korpisalo, Tuesday night's game didn't take on too much of an extra significance, but... 

"I just approached it as any other game, but it was pretty cool to play against him," Korpisalo said. "Obviously watching him a lot of years in practice and learning from him, stuff like that, it was cool to play against him." 

There wasn't much doubt who the better goalie was for much of this night, as Korpisalo made 28 saves overall, including incredible athletic denials of Aleksander Barkov in the second period and Carter Verhaeghe in overtime. Bobrovsky, meanwhile, gave up three odd goals and stopped just 14 of 17 shots in regulation, but he was on when he had to be. The Florida goalie made five saves in overtime, including some dandies with the CBJ on the power play, and let in just one goal on five shootout chances. 

It was another good showing for Korpisalo, who now boasts a .928 save percentage this year in four starts.  

"I feel pretty good," he said afterward despite falling to 1-1-2 on the year, with the record more a commentary on the inconsistent CBJ play in front of him than Korpisalo's efforts. 

A Team of Firsts 

This might interest just me and only me, but it's something I thought about a little bit over the past few days. 

This Blue Jackets team sure has a lot of first-round picks on it. Not only that, the team has dealt quite a few first-rounders of late as well. 

Of the 18 skaters on the ice for the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, a full nine of them -- Nick Foligno, Max Domi, Riley Nash, Liam Foudy, Mikhail Grigorenko, Mikko Koivu, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Michael Del Zotto -- were first-round picks. And that list doesn't include new acquisitions Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, healthy scratch Gabriel Carlsson or taxi squad member Stefan Matteau. 

It will be interesting what happens to the lineup when Laine and Roslovic enter, but it's quite possible Columbus will field a lineup at some point soon that includes 12 first-round picks if Carlsson eventually joins the fray. 

This year's transactions were also heavy on the first-rounders. Koivu, Domi and Del Zotto were acquired this offseason, while Foudy joined the team for the full season from London of the OHL after being taken No. 18 overall in 2018. Meanwhile, Laine and Roslovic were just acquired in a deal that cost Columbus 2016 first-round pick Pierre-Luc Dubois -- and that's even before we mention Alexander Wennberg, Ryan Murray, Marko Dano and Sonny Milano, all first-round picks who have left the organization in the past year. 

In some ways, it's not a huge surprise; this is how it works in the NHL, as first-round picks have significantly more value than others and tend to last longest in the league. It's still just kind of interesting to think about. 

Hockey at Home 

The 20th anniversary celebration continues this year with a special Wednesday edition of Hockey at Home, as the team's first-ever draft pick, Rostislav "Rusty" Klesla will join CBJ broadcaster Bob McElligott this afternoon for a chat. Register to take part at BlueJackets.com/HockeyAtHome and you could win a personalized CBJ sweater.

And Finally 

Happy birthday, Dad! I won't go into what year this is for my father -- let's just say neither of us have the hair we once did -- but today is in fact his birthday. I hope it's a good one! 

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