What We Learned: Blue Jackets Pick Up Bob, First Line Rolling, And Banking Points

By Kyle Morrison on October 15, 2017 at 10:25 am
Artemi Panarin awaits a pass at Nationwide Arena.

USA Today – Aaron Doster


The Jackets are hot, folks.

Wins in back-to-back games bumped their record up to 4-1-0, good for first in the conference… well, a five-way tie for first. Here's what we learned along the way. 

First Line on Fire

John Tortorella said earlier this week that he needed more from the first line, and boy did he get it.

The two games following that statement from Torts, the Panarin-Wennberg-Atkinson combo has combined for 3 goals (including both game-winners) and 5 assists, carrying the team offensively in back-to-back games.

Alexander Wennberg certainly looks like himself out there, with this absolutely ridiculous pass to set up Zach Werenski for one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.

Then there’s Artemi Panarin, who made a highlight reel goal look easy, skating around defenders, turning on a dime and firing a rocket.

He followed it up with a three-assist game last night – including one on Cam Atkinson’s goal – bringing his season line to 1-6-7 in just five games. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekelainen called him a game-breaking offensive talent, and we certainly saw that in overtime last night.

Defensive pairs might be the next to get jumbled

Given the injury to Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson’s holdout, it wasn’t unexpected to see some line-juggling at forward early in the season. Now, though, it may be the defense’s turn.

Torts told the media following last night’s win that he was disappointed with the play of David Savard and Jack Johnson as a pair. For chunks of the game, we saw Johnson move up to pay with Seth Jones (more on him later), and Zach Werenski pair up with Savard.

Given Gabriel Carlsson’s injury, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with these lines in the coming games. The club found a lot of success with the 8-3 and 7-58 pairings last year, but they’ve looked like the team’s weakest pairing at times this season.

Jones struggles, but not for long

Torts didn’t even let a reporter finish her question before giving his thoughts on Seth Jones’ performance against the Rangers on Friday.

“It was brutal,” said Tortorella. “Forget about the turnover, he struggled.”

An untimely turnover on a drop pass led to a Kevin Hayes goal and a 1-0 lead for the Rangers. As Torts said, it wasn’t just an anomaly for Jones, he struggled at times in that game. But, as great players do, he found a way to bounce back.

He found the back of the net late in the second period to tie it up and put the Jackets on the board. His shot, from the boards got deflected up high by Mika Zibanejad. He then assisted on Panarin’s first goal as a Blue Jacket, which ended up being the game winner. He also led the squad in ice time, logging 24:33, over four minutes of which was shorthanded.

There aren’t very many defensemen in this league who can put up two clutch points in a game where they visibly struggled. The Blue Jackets should be thankful to have a player who can bury the mistakes and produce in crunch time, as Jones did on Friday.

Back-to-back Bob

In his first three games, Sergei Bobrovsky looked unbeatable, saving 103 of the 105 shots he faced. But even Bob isn’t immune to the rigors of playing back-to-back games.

Last night – playing tired – Bobrovsky gave up multiple goals (four) for the first time all year, despite facing the fewest shots he has so far (just 21).

This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise – it’s well-known that goalies struggle playing a second night in a row. But this team relies heavily on the two-time Vezina winner – with good reason – and usually those less-than-stellar games lead to losses.

Bobrovsky has flat-out saved this team dozens of times throughout the years, and last night, the team returned the favor, coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third and winning it in overtime.

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