After a couple of inconsistent months, the Columbus Blue Jackets are finding their stride at the perfect time. It doesn't matter what they are doing on the ice; it is just working.
Despite a couple of goals against, the Blue Jackets dominated thoroughly making this game against the Nashville Predators all the more surprising.
Artemi Panarin: An Absolute Unit
The Blue Jackets have not been in possession of many players like Artemi Panarin. They had Rick Nash and then a gap in between. Panarin is otherworldly, and it looks like he is peaking at the right time.
Tonight against the Predators, Panarin put up four assists, and every single one was stunning. He put the puck in places almost no other player could. He not only changes the game, but he also stops the game in its tracks. You have to game plan, and when the puck is on his stick, everyone is watching. A dozen players in the entire league are like him.
“That's what [Panarin] brings and it's fun to watch, and especially fun to play with when he's making those sorts of plays.”– Cam Atkinson
It just shows how lucky everyone is to get to see him play in Central Ohio. No matter how this year ends, we'll always have the Panarin years, and we are all the better for it.
Killer Cam Atkinson
No one has benefitted more from Panarin's play than Atkinson. This isn't to say that the Russian has been the primary cause for Atkinson's play, but he would not be playing on this same level. Atkinson is getting time and space, because of it, he is able to pick spots he normally doesn't see.
Atkinson is with the Blue Jackets for a while, and the more he puts the puck in the back of the net, the more he cements his legacy. He is about to pass Rick Nash for the single-season goal scoring record with one more goal. Even just tying the record as he has is a mammoth accomplishment.
The Boston College product is playing out of his mind. It is great to see him blossom into this dominating presence.
Is this the lineup the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to use the rest of the year? It feels like the team finally found a combination that works. If they can continue to grow from here, it makes for a team with four lines that can play against anyone.
Having Nick Foligno on your fourth line is absolutely a luxury. Pierre-Luc Dubois on the second line is lethal. A third line that includes Oliver Bjorkstrand will win you games.
“They were the better team. They kept coming back at us.”– Predators defenseman Roman Josi
Head coach John Tortorella may continue to tinker, but this is the lineup offensively that will get you wins. It doesn't even look like they've hit their peak.
Just how good can it get?
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