With all of the Columbus Blue Jackets injuries, it’s almost possible to make a starting line-up. Ryan Murray; Zach Werenski; Brandon Dubinsky; Alexander Wennberg, and Cam Atkinson are all out varying amounts of time.
With Wennberg and Atkinson out for upwards of six weeks, the Blue Jackets are going need to get something going to compete in the ever-tough Metropolitan Division.
Despite All the Columbus Blue Jackets Injuries They Can Still Compete
The Blue Jackets need their struggling players to step up, and sadly there are more than a few of them.
One of the few disappointments of the season so far has been the lackluster performance of Oliver Bjorkstrand. After scoring four goals and four assists in 12 games during the 2015-16 season, fans were excited about the future of Bjorkstrand. Then, he went on to win the Calder Cup with the Cleveland (then Lake Erie) Monsters and win MVP of the playoffs.
He then started the 2016-17 season in Columbus before getting sent down after just three games. Bjorkstrand then got the call-up for two games in December. Then, he stayed in Columbus for good in February.
Although it does not seem like Bjorkstrand has been making an impact, he still has 24 points in 38 games. This includes nine points in the past ten games, but there are four games in those ten were he scored no points.
Bjorkstrand, as mentioned, can be a little streaky, his best way to make an impact would be more consistent.
Despite Bjorkstrand already playing top-six minutes, with Atkinson out this is his best chance to succeed this season.
The past few seasons have been an enigma of sorts for Sonny Milano. Despite succeeding at the AHL level, Milano never seemed to get the call-up with injuries in Columbus. The past two season Milano played less than ten games. In the AHL, Milano developed his defensive game, working on the backcheck and even getting some penalty-kill time.
Milano found himself as part of some of the rumored packages for Matt Duchene during the offseason.
Then, to start the season, Milano scored four goals in the first three games. It suddenly looked like all the work in the AHL was finally paying off for Milano. Until he started bouncing up and down from Columbus to Cleveland and then back again. Then, Aaron Portzline said that Columbus may not recall Milano – despite massive injuries.
The Blue Jackets ended up recalling Milano. He scored his first goal since October 21st against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 27th. That was also his first point since November 28th.
Now, Sonny Milano will get a real shot at top-six time, his best chance to succeed in Columbus so far. He has the offensive talents – his overtime game-winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes comes to mind. He just needs to take this opportunity and run with it.
With all the Columbus Blue Jackets injuries, it’s time for the veterans to step up and lead by example. As mentioned in a previous article, Nick Foligno is still struggling offensively. As captain, he needs to be leading in an offensive fashion as well. On December 27th against the Penguins, Foligno had his first point since December 14th. 14 points in 38 games are not good enough, plain and simple. With the injuries, Foligno has to step up. Last season cannot be just a fluke.
On the defense, Jack Johnson – who now has an ‘A’ – needs to also be playing better. Last season, he and David Savard were of the Blue Jackets most consistent pairings. Now, the pair has split up due to injuries. Before, they were one of the pairings that struggled the most. His relative Corsi-for is an awful -6.42. He does not need to be a Norris candidate, but the team could use a dependable shutdown defenseman.
Boone Jenner, the other player who has an ‘A’, also needs to step up to help lead the team. Two seasons ago, he scored 30 goals, currently, he’s scored four. The other alternate captain is also going to need to contribute in order to keep the team competitive.
Even though the Columbus Blue Jackets injuries list is definitely having an impact, the team is still more than capable of finish second or third in the Metro division. They do, however, need some of their struggling players to step up.
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