Zach Werenski Is Overcoming A Slow Defensive Start To The Season With Solid Play As Of Late

By Chris Pennington on January 2, 2019 at 8:00 am
Zach Werenski has recorded 22 points through 39 games this season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Getting away with just being an only-offensive defensemen only works on, well, it won't work on any team in the NHL.

Zach Werenski has been known as the Columbus Blue Jackets' (at least) second best defenseman for the past two and a half seasons, but his defensive play to start this year had many worried.

In fact, his offensive play was struggling as well. 34 games into the season, Werenski had recorded just five goals, only half of what he had through 34 games last season. He also held a -9, compared to +3 at that point last year.

Criticism was flying in, as there was no excuse of an injury for Werenski's depleting play. But the past few weeks, the young all-star has been getting back on track, and his all-star defensive partner has taken notice.

"He's at his best when he's jumping into the play, making things happen, anticipating plays," said Seth Jones after a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday where Werenski scored two goals. "We saw the full combination and full arsenal of what makes him such a special player."

Jones is right - over the past five games, Werenski has recorded six points off of four goals two assists. He also boasts a +3 while racking in a whopping 22:38 minutes of ice time per game.

He has even pushed his CF% up to 49.06, after recording over 53% for the past two seasons.

As Jones states, Werenski is absolutely at his best when he is being aggressive offensively. It may be safe to infer the Werenski's hesitancy on the offensive end also contributed to timidity on the defensive end. So for Zach, it starts with the offense, and his defensive game will come from that.

It's a new year, and we may have seen a sneak peak at a new (or rejuvenated) Zach Werenski.

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