Three games deep in an 82-game marathon, the Blue Jackets aren't quite sure what they're doing with their lineup.
While not a cause for immediate panic, it can give a window into what John Tortorella and his coaching staff are thinking when it comes to player usage. They've tried Alexander Wennberg and Nick Foligno at center on the No. 1 line with Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson (marginal results), they've moved Sonny Milano all over the place, and they believe the fourth line is in good hands with Lukas Sedlak and Markus Hannikainen.
One combination that Tortorella hasn't split up — and hopefully has no plans to — is Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Calvert. The veteran duo, which had a new right winger in Josh Anderson for Tuesday's game in Raleigh, have driven the bus at 5-on-5 for a Blue Jackets team that's been inconsistent offensively.
"I think that's going to be a hard line to play against," Tortorella told Anthony Rothman and Bobby Carpenter on 97.1 The Fan.
"It'll drive us and bring some people into the battle as far as how you have to play the game. I'm trying to stay away from changing lines a lot, but I still have to look at different things to see what we really are."
Tortorella started the season with Pierre-Luc Dubois on left wing with Dubinsky and Calvert, and they were play-driving madmen in the first two games. On opening night, Calvert and Dubois were 60%+ in 5-on-5 Corsi, and though Anderson didn't have his best outing on Tuesday, he figures to benefit from two line mates who have made a habit of possessing the puck.
Dubinsky and Calvert, to this point, have played the bulk of their 5-on-5 minutes together. As Tortorella has sought a line combination that can stir things up and win battles in the offensive zone, getting Anderson on their line seems like a good idea.
Anderson makes them faster, he adds to their aggressive style and can also chip in offensively. Of all the lines put forth by the Blue Jackets in their first three games, this is one that appears to have some traction.
If what Tortorella said Wednesday holds true, they will go into Friday's game against the New York Rangers as follows:
Panarin - Wennberg - Atkinson
Milano - Foligno - Bjorkstrand
Calvert - Dubinsky - Anderson
Dubois - Sedlak - Hannikainen