Oliver Bjorkstrand Is Off To A Hot Start, Picking Up Right Where He Left Off In 2018-19

By Dan Dukart on October 16, 2019 at 10:46 am
Oliver Bjorkstrand skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

To say Oliver Bjorkstrand needed to start the season off on the right foot would be an understatement.

Aside from the offseason departures that give Bjorkstrand a legitimate opportunity to be a go-to scoring option for the Blue Jackets, his notoriously slow starts would put a team that is already scoring "by committee" further behind the 8-ball.

So far, though, Bjorkstrand looks like he's finally gotten off to the start he's hoped for.

A season ago, he was still sitting at two goals on Dec. 8. In 2017-18, he didn't score until his eighth game of the season. In 2016-17, he didn't light the lamp until his sixth game. To be clear, starting a season with 2-0-2 in five games isn't exactly lighting the league on fire, but for a player who scored 16 goals in the final 33 regular-season games just months ago, it's encouraging. 

On his first goal, Bjorkstrand battled down low while the puck cycled from low-to-high, point to point, before banking the puck from a tough angle against Linus Ullmark. Not exactly a vintage Bjorkstrand snipe, but they don't draw pictures on the scoresheet.

His second goal wasn't a bomb of a shot coming down the right-wing, but nonetheless will make John Tortorella smile. Bjorkstrand out-muscled and, frankly, outworked Carolina Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho, shielding the puck by sticking out his left leg as he came from behind the net all the way into the slot before beating James Reimer high to the glove side (well, at least that part was vintage Bjorkstrand). 

Playing recently alongside a rejuvenated Alexander Wennberg and captain Nick Foligno (also Alexandre Texier earlier on), Bjorkstrand has been a positive possession player, on the ice for 61.9% of high-danger chances-for at 5v5, per natural stat trick. While averaging more than 30 seconds more per game over his 2018-19 averages, and continuing to see power-play time, Bjorkstrand is primed to finally break the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career. And for a team that needs scoring help, that's a major win.

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