The Columbus Blue Jackets recent struggle may not come as surprise to some fans. It has been no secret that the Blue Jackets have relied heavily on a small number of players. For the most part, Artemi Panarin, Josh Anderson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Sergei Bobrovsky has carried the Blue Jackets as of recent. They have also had key players struggling. Can the Columbus Blue Jackets keep pace in NHL if this continues?
Can The Columbus Blue Jackets Keep Pace?
Sergei Bobrovsky and Joonas Korpisalo
Sergei Bobrovsky is currently in a bit of a slump giving up three or more goals in six of his last ten games. Bobrovsky has played in eight straight games for the Blue Jackets and to the point he might be getting overused. Playing in 28 of the CBJ 35 games may be starting to get to Bobrovsky since his GAA over his last ten games is 3.30. Even with this slump and horrible GAA Bobrovsky has a GAA of 2.44 on the season which is eighth best in the league.
Last season showed that the Blue Jackets can’t rely on Bobrovsky all season. When he gets to the latter part of the season and into the postseason the mileage starts to catch up with him. The Blue Jackets need to play Joonas Korpisalo more to take some games away from Bobrovsky. Korpisalo has only started seven games this season going 4-3-0 with a 2.98 GAA. If Jarmo Kekalainen and John Tortorella do not have faith in Korpisalo then they need to find a confident backup who can do the job.
Offensive Struggles from Key Players
The last ten games the Blue Jackets have slipped from the earlier season form going 5-5. Key players like Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, and Cam Atkinson have been silent on the offensive end and it’s been noticeable. Foligno, Jenner, and Atkinson have three goals between them in the last ten games all were scored by Foligno.
Foligno, Jenner, and Atkinson are just in a funk right now. They are getting the ice time the three are averaging 17:43 minutes on the ice a game. They are also getting the chances Boone Jenner is averaging 12.79 scoring chances per 60 minutes of ice time. Nick Foligno is averaging 9.29 scoring chances per 60 minutes and Cam Atkinson is averaging 18.3 chances. So the opportunities are there they just have to find the back of the net.
These players will find a way to get out of this funk it’s just a matter of time. If the Blue Jackets continue to tread water until the trade deadline comes around GM Jarmo Kekalainen might make a change. There is a possibility these players will find themselves shipped off to another team as the Blue Jackets tries to keep pace the rest of the season.
The Pleasant Surprises
The Blue Jackets have many pleasant surprises that can help them keep pace the rest of the season. Panarin, Anderson, and Dubois have been a line that has carried the Blue Jackets for most of the season. This was not a line that was expected to be together when the season began. Dubois was not expected to make the opening day roster, Anderson was in a contract dispute for most of the offseason. Panarin was expected to do a lot but no one was sure how his play would be without Patrick Kane. That line has a combined 20 goals, 26 assists for a total of 46 points.
Oliver Bjorkstrand may not be considered a surprise to some fans, but after his concussion last season he wasn’t the same player. This year Bjorkstrand has been excellent for Columbus having 6 goals and 16 assists on the season. Bjorkstrand also has 4 power-play points on the season, which is a lot considering the Blue Jackets dismal power-play.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have the ability to keep pace in the NHL throughout the season. The struggles with the key offensive players going quiet and recent struggles of goalies will fix themselves. The Blue Jackets have many surprises that will help them carry the way through the struggles.