Blue Jackets Strategy Of Scoring By Committee Falling On Hard Times In Four-Game Skid

By Dan Dukart on November 5, 2019 at 8:49 am
 Nick Foligno fights for a puck
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season started, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, head coach John Tortorella, and captain Nick Foligno said that the team would score by committee in an effort to replace the offense that departed in the offseason.

Here's Kekalainen to ESPN:

"We're going to have to do it by committee. And there's going to be a lot of players hungry for that ice time that he's going to leave open. A lot of guys hungry for that power-play time that he leaves open. We have some young guys that are ready to take that next step -- [Oliver] Bjorkstrand, who scored at a 40-goal pace that last 40 games of the year. And Dubois, who is only 20 years old. Josh Anderson is just scratching the surface. Cam Atkinson will be motivated to show that he scored before Panarin and can score after Panarin."

He's not wrong; there should be a lot of guys hungry for the power-play time that Artemi Panarin vacated. And he was right that plenty of young players should be ready to take the next step in their development. And there was room for optimism: Cam Atkinson was a 35-goal scorer the year before Panarin. Emil Bemstrom scored at a nearly unprecedented clip in the SHL. Alexandre Texier looked like a future star in his late-season debut. 

But it hasn't gone as planned. The club's recent four-game skid (0-3-1) has exacerbated any concerns about the offense. Pierre-Luc Dubois may be the only forward exempt from this, as he hasn't gone more than two games without a point this whole season (excluding the first two games of the year). 

Per NaturalStatTrick, the Blue Jackets have generated just 74 scoring chances (5v5) in their past four games, for an average of 18.5 per game. Broken down, that means the Blue Jackets are getting a quality chance every three minutes. Put another way, the Montreal Canadiens (who have the most scoring chances generated of any NHL team in their last four games) have created 106 chances. Columbus has scored six 5v5 goals in the past four games; the Canadiens have doubled them with 12.

The list of players who have been unable to produce is long:

Cam Atkinson has 1-4-5 in his past 11 games and just three goals on the year. He has zero goals at 5v5. Foligno has 0-0-5 in his past five games. and has just one goal on the year. Bjorkstrand had 1-1-2 against St. Louis on Friday night, but those represent his only points in his past nine games. Josh Anderson had 1-1-2 against Philadelphia but similarly has 0-0-0 in his other seven games this season. Texier, who is now out with an injury, has just 2-1-3 in 11 games. Alexander Wennberg has 0-1-1 in his past five games. Gus Nyquist, who is coming off a career year with 60 points, has just two goals on the year. 

Simply put, the idea that this team would score was only sturdy on paper. Their 34 goals ranks 27th in the NHL, ahead of offensively-challenged teams like Detroit and Ottawa. The season is far from over, but scoring at a meager clip of 2.43 goals/game will make for a long season.