Five Thoughts: Sergei Bobrovsky, Jack Johnson Play Key Roles in Ending Blue Jackets' Slump

By Dan Dukart on November 11, 2017 at 11:59 pm
Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky

Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports

0 Comments

The Columbus Blue Jackets ended their 0-3-1 skid, prevailing in their first ever game at Little Caesars Arena, beating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1.

It took the Blue Jackets nine shootout rounds to secure the win, but heroics from Sergei Bobrovsky and a shootout goal from Jack Johnson made it worth the wait. Most importantly, the Blue Jackets ended their losing streak in a game that was largely forgettable through 60 minutes, but thrilling in sudden death overtime.

The Jackets will surely enjoy the flight back to Columbus after this one. Here are five thoughts about a big win in Detroit's new barn:


JACK JOHNSON, SHOOTOUT KING

Johnson played the role of baseball slugger, scoring himself a walk-off winner in the bottom of the ninth inning (round) to give Columbus the win.

Trivia question: which Blue Jackets player has scored the most shootout goals in his career? If you guessed Jack Johnson, you're a liar, but you're right! Johnson scored his 12th career shootout goal, improving his shootout percentage to 31% (12/39), and surpassing Cam Atkinson's 11 shootout goals.

Johnson was raised in the Ann Arbor area and played for the U.S. National Team Developmental Program (NTDP) before joining Red Berenson's team at the University of Michigan.  

Sure, Johnson hasn't had a shootout attempt since 2014-15, but he sure proved John Tortorella right – though Tortorella gave Johnson's teammates credit for lobbying on his behalf.

SIMPLY SPECTACULAR

Cue the broken record. When Bobrovsky plays, the Blue Jackets almost always have a chance to win. 

Bobrovsky was terrific all night, but his performance in overtime and the shootout was other-worldly; he stopped a 2-on-0 rush, a breakaway, and then stopped 8-of-9 in the shootout to give his team the extra point. 

It's difficult to find words befitting of Bobrovsky's play tonight, but his teammates were effusive in their praise. From Brandon Dubinsky, a personal favorite quote:

"What can you say? I mean, that's why he's the best in the world, and I guess that's why we pay him so much money...and he definitely earned it tonight." 

The Red Wings had previously won 12 straight shootout decisions. After playing well enough to win in recent games but not getting enough offensive support, it was encouraging to see Bobrovsky rewarded with a win after such a dominant performance. 

BREAD BREAKS THROUGH

We all know Artemi Panarin hasn't yet scored at the rate that's expected of him. Key word: yet. 

Panarin scored his third goal of the year early in the first period while playing on a new-look line with Alexander Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand. He seemed to find another gear tonight, as he had six shots on net, the only Blue Jackets regulation goal, and then scored again in the shootout. 

He's shooting just 5% overall even after his goal tonight, but this was arguably the best he's looked in a game since opening night. Again, that the Blue Jackets have managed a 10-7-1 record without their top guys scoring goals is a good sign going forward.

WANTED: LUKAS SEDLAK

For most teams (shut up, Tampa), going with an 11 forwards and seven defensemen lineup isn't ideal. The seventh defenseman (Gabriel Carlsson) barely plays and is unable to get into a true rhythm. The two forwards playing on the fourth line barely see the ice, because, well, there are only three centers.

Those two forwards, Markus Hannikainen and Tyler Motte, were both on the ice for the only goal scored by the Red Wings.

Lukas Sedlak isn't just a fourth-line center for the Blue Jackets; he means so much more. He's a stabilizing player that can be counted upon to play in key situations, and until he's healthy, I suspect we'll continue to see this awkward 11-7 deployment.  

FREE HOCKEY? VERY FUN

When the NHL implemented 3-on-3 overtime a few years ago, one of the biggest "flaws" was its randomness. With so much ice available, it's a crapshoot. But the shootout? Even more so.

Still, the Jackets have somehow managed to go 5-1 in games requiring extra time this year.

It helps to have a goalie like Bobrovsky back there in OT (after that 2-on-0, were you really concerned that Mantha would score on a measly 150-foot breakaway?), and the averages should bounce back over the course of a season. Have fun while the getting is good, folks.

So, how do Tortorella and his staff coach overtime?

"It's so hard to coach 3-on-3, so we don't even bother," he said. "We just let them play, and sometimes you just need to stay out of their way, and in that type of scenario, let them show off their talents and see where we go with it."

Follow 1st Ohio BatteryFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

0 Comments