Playoff Aspirations: These Blue Jacket Forwards Can't Afford to Start Slow out of the Gate in 2019

By Ben Jandrain on August 29, 2019 at 8:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois attempts to fend off Shea Weber, defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens during a regular-season matchup at Nationwide Arena during January of 2019.
Russell LaBounty- USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets might have to rely on offense early and often while Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins will compete for the role of starting goaltender.

This season, the Jackets won't have Artemi Panarin to bail them out out while the team looks to find their footing. Through 24 games in the 2018-19 season the Jackets were 14-8-2. Panarin maintained a point-per-game pace with seven goals (three of the game-winning variety) and 20 assists during that stretch.

Here are three forwards for Columbus whose respective performances out of the gate could be the difference between contending for a spot in the postseason and staring directly up in the standings:

Oliver Bjorkstrand

No player personified a cold start and a hot finish for the Blue Jackets more than Bjorksrand last season, who scored two goals in his first 24 games played before finding the back of the net 13 times in his final 24 appearances.

The 24-year-old forward is expected to score at a more consistent rate as well as get more ice time after averaging less than 13 minutes per game a year ago. 

Opportunity is knocking for Bjorkstrand to keep playoff expectations alive in a year full of doubts. 

Pierre-Luc Dubois

A lot of the early-season success or lack of it in 2019 will be attributed to Dubois, who will look to not only improve during his third year in the National Hockey League, but do so without the likes of Panarin on the top line with him.

Despite cooling off a bit later on, Dubois got off to a scorching start in the previous campaign–with 13 goals and 12 assists through 26 games.  

Another hot start for Dubois would go a long way to silencing the offseason doubters and provide some swagger for the squad. 

Josh Anderson

Anderson got off to a blazing start this past October, with 11 goals in his first 24 games. Anything close to that figure through 24 games this season would be a major boost.

Anderson's impact goes far beyond the score sheet with his ability to kill penalties and provide a physical presence, but he'll be relied on to provide an ample offense presence immediately as the roster comes into form.

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