CBJ stole 2 points last night

The Blue Jackets won 2-1 in overtime over the Canadiens last night, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Therefore I’m going to deviate from my usual recap format to go over some key points that highlight the good and bad of this team at this point in the season.

Anderson’s Goal

This is the kind of goal that the Jackets thrived at last year, but have had too little at so far this season. Josh Anderson is exactly where a player of his type needs to be, right in front of the crease. Markus Nutivaara made a great effort to keep the puck in the zone, then does the right thing by directing a shot into traffic. Andy and Nuti have been stand-out players this season, and deserve more ice time.

That brings me to a negative: the Dubois/Anderson/Motte line was very good tonight, but only third in usage. Anderson had 15 minutes, Dubois 14, and Motte 12.

Montreal’s Goal

The line that should play less? The Dubinsky line. They were bad tonight, yet each saw over 17 minutes. Cam Atkinson was visibly frustrated at times, and Torts described him as “fighting the puck.” It was one of those moments that led to the Habs’ tying goal in the third:

Cam and Dubi were pressured behind the Montreal net and lost possession of the puck. That started a rush that found every Blue Jacket out of position. Alex Galchenyuk passed across the ice to Shea Weber, who had beat Jack Johnson and had a direct shot at goal. After Bob deflected it, Paul Byron had position on David Savard to send home the rebound.

While I like the idea of defensemen playing forward on offense, the risk is that they can get caught behind in a situation like this. As jillaroo and Ville A pointed out in the game thread, the center is supposed to cover the defensemen. Center is a position where the Jackets find themselves thin at the moment.

Will a trade for a center solve the problem? I’m not sure. On this play, Dubinsky was center and he’s the most experienced one we have. He simply got caught behind the net. Our best defensive centers are Alexander Wennberg and Lukas Sedlak, but they’re both hurt. What if all the team needs is a healthy Wennberg and Sedlak? Meanwhile, Pierre-Luc Dubois continues to look comfortable in the NHL and played well at center tonight.

One last thought on this play: Johnson and Savard have not been the shutdown pair they were last season. I would like to see their minutes drop in favor of more time for Ryan Murray and Nutivaara.

Power Play

What more is there to say that hasn’t been said already? The power play still stinks. It is infuriating to see such talented players be so aimless and unproductive with a man advantage. Per usual, the first power play unit struggled to even keep the puck in the offensive zone, let alone produce any quality shots. The second power play unit, which includes the likes of Milano, Dubois, and BJORKSTRAND, fared slightly better and I think they should get more reps than the first unit for the time being. They’ve done more to earn it.

Overtime

While Atkinson had a bad game, he redeemed himself with a great play here. Love the way he loops around then spots a wide open Zach Werenski and makes the perfect pass. Remember how Werenski has missed some open shots lately? Didn’t miss this time.

The Blue Jackets now have 4 overtime wins on the season, and no losses (they’re 2-1 in the shootout). While some would say that is unsustainable, I do think that the 3 on 3 overtime format favors the Columbus roster. It helps to have defensemen with the speed and skill of Werenski and Seth Jones.

Bob

As he has done so often, Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Jackets in the game. This was the standout save, but there were several other tough ones, especially in the third.

Can Bob keep carrying the team like this? Certainly he is due for a bad game at some point, but he has proven in the past he is a goalie that can carry this team. The advantage of having a goalie like Bob is that he allows a team to win a game like this when the offense can’t produce. Would you rather have a goalie that allows you to win games where the offense scores just 1 or 2, or would you rather have to rely on the offense scoring 4 or more goals in order to win?

That being said, I have to imagine it’s frustrating for Bob to have to carry the team so often. He deserves more support.

Find a Way to Win

Since the third period collapse in New York on November 6, the Blue Jackets have only scored 5 goals in 4 games. And yet, they are 2-2 in those games. The play is frustrating, but the results are positive. The win keeps us 1 point behind the surprising Devils and tied with the Penguins. This game was won without key forwards Wennberg, Sedlak, and Calvert.

The schedule has been difficult (10 games against the top half of the league) but should get easier. The roster can get healthy. While it’s a negative that the top players (like Foligno, Atkinson, Dubinsky, Jenner, Panarin) aren’t scoring enough goals, those players are shooting well below their career percentages and can be expected to recover at some point.

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