When the Blue Jackets traded for Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, Tuesday night's big win at Nationwide Arena is probably what they had in mind.
The Blue Jackets have spent much of the year leaning on their dominant top line, featuring Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Cam Atkinson. Two high-profile trade deadline acquisitions were supposed to fortify an already-strong roster, but the team - newcomers and old-timers alike - have generally struggled to play to their changing roles on the new-look Blue Jackets.
But if 17:13 of 5v5 play is any indicator, a new trio has emerged that could, and should, help the Blue Jackets in a dramatic way. Duchene, Dzingel, and Josh Anderson have been dominant, in an admittedly small sample size, to form the 'DAD Line'™.
Recall that, before and during Monday night's loss to the Islanders, Duchene and Dzingel had played most frequently with Oliver Bjorkstrand. It was an effective line at times, but it missed a certain spark. Nothing against Bjorkstrand, who is one of the more gifted shooters on the team, but Anderson seems to fit the bill in a way that Bjorkstrand simply did not. The new line combination paid immediate dividends, as they tallied 3-5-8 and generated 10 shots on goal in the Blue Jackets 7-4 win over the Bruins.
The line has a bit of everything. It's versatile, and quite possibly the fastest line in the NHL. On the forecheck, Anderson is a menace and has been for much of this season. His 23-17-40 stat-line is under-appreciated, especially outside of Columbus. Dzingel had this to say of his new linemate:
“He’s north-south, always skating... Makes it easy for us. When you see him on the forecheck, nobody wants to go back and get pucks.”
His speed is impacting games in a serious way. The below video shows his goal to even the score at one apiece against the Bruins on Tuesday night.
At the end of the first period, he used his speed, again, and Boone Jenner capitalized on a rebound to notch his first of three goals on Tuesday evening.
John Tortorella agreed that Anderson, who had his first career four-point game (1-3-4) is a perfect fit on this line:
“Josh just fits there, it seems, right now. I’m not going to give Josh all the credit … all three of them just play well together right now. How long it lasts? I hope it’s forever. I just don’t know what’s going to go on. You could see when we changed it last night and put Josh there, it was immediate, an immediate impact on that line.
Duchene and Dzingel aren't exactly playing second (or third) fiddle to Anderson, though. In the second period on Tuesday, Duchene scored on a beautiful feed from Dzingel, and has looked much more comfortable with his role in Columbus as of late. His speed is noticeable, and he's hard to knock off the puck on the cycle.
Dzingel had three points on the night for his first career three-point game. After starting his Blue Jackets career with 0-2-2 in his first six games, he's responded with 1-3-4 in his past three matches, and looks to be more confident with the puck. His first goal as a member of the Blue Jackets wasn't the prettiest goal of all time, but it counts all the same.
Obviously, it's easy to be excited about the results of one game. This line will have to show consistency. But in their limited time together, the numbers are impressive. The trio has recorded a 57.14% CF%, meaning they've taken 57% of all shot attempts (5v5). Similarly, they've tallied 56.25% SCF% (scoring chances for %) and 57.14% HDCF% (high danger chances for %). Then there's the metric that 'really' counts: the line is 100% GF% with three goals for and none against at 5v5.
Against the Bruins, this line was able to score three goals in a relatively limited capacity. Anderson led the bunch with 16:08 TOI, which included more than five minutes of special teams. Duchene played just 13:44, and was buoyed by 2:05 on the power play. Dzingel, who is playing much less than he's used to, played just 12:26, but notched 2:38 on the power play (Note: he's played just 3:33 on the power play since he arrived to Columbus).
This line has plenty to give. All three players are brilliant skaters that can push the pace of play. Each brings a different dynamic to the table, and the chemistry appeared, like Tortorella said, immediately.
As the Blue Jackets make a push towards the playoffs, it's important that the team is able to lean on more than just one line. If the Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson line sputters as it did on Tuesday (0-1-1 combined despite the team scoring seven times), it's nice to know that the DAD line should be there to help carry the load. On Tuesday, they did that, and then some. With 12 games left in the regular season, the pressure is on for this line to replicate their impactful play with some regularity.
Follow 1st Ohio Battery