Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche take on the Columbus Blue Jackets looking to extend their winning streak to four games. We all know that Sergei Bobrovsky is really, really good - but what else do we need to know about the Blue Jackets. We spoke with Alison Lukan of The Athletic Cleveland to get a little more insight into tonight’s opponent.
1. The Blue Jackets have the lowest goals for of any Eastern Conference team currently in a playoff spot, has it been a disappointing season offensively?
It’s been disappointing from traditionally consistent high performers like Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno, and you can probably put Alexander Wennberg on that list too. What’s perhaps been overshadowed is how good Josh Anderson is proving to be offensively along with seeing Pierre-Luc Dubois look quite comfortable at the NHL level. And Artemi Panarin is proving to be as good as advertised. He’s right on pace with his Chicago numbers.
2. What has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) for those around the team that year?
Biggest surprise? Hmm. It may be, in part Atkinson as I mentioned already. He’s been so consistent throughout his career this season is an anomaly. I think the other big surprise (although there were signs as last year wrapped up) is the struggles of the power play. It’s starting to get on track (goals in five of the last eight) but it’s been woeful at best most of the year…the Jackets may be the only team where fans want their team to decline penalties.
3. Who is someone that might night be on the radar that Avs fans should watch for?
Two names here, although one spoiled the surprise a bit in Dallas. First, that’s Oliver Bjorkstrand. He’s a big part of making this offense go, has an incredible shot and release and is quietly second on the team in points. The second is defenseman Markus Nutivaara. He played most of last season with an injured hip, and after a rough start to this year, has quietly elevated himself into a top-four role according to Tortorella. Jones/Werenski may get all the press, but Nutivaara is an important cog in the CBJ “Engine” as their coach calls the blue line corps.
Columbus Blue Jackets Season Stats