John Tortorella has done a fantastic job with what he's been given this season.
The Blue Jackets have had as many as 11 everyday players out with injury, and the Blue Jackets have lost in regulation just twice in their last 16 games.
While this is obviously a success in the short term, it will provide Tortorella with quite the dilemma: when those everyday skaters get healthy, will there be a spot for them in the lineup?
Here's my take on best lineup when (if) everyone is healthy. Please let me know your takes, and why I'm incredibly wrong (or right).
Line 1: Nyquist - Dubois - Bjorkstrand
This line has everything. The strength from Dubois, puck handling from Nyquist and elite shooting from Bjorkstrand make this line a matchup nightmare. They're dynamic and potent as a trio.
Line 2: Milano - Jenner - Anderson
It's clear where Sonny Milano's strengths lie: on the offensive side of the puck. That's why he's on a line with Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson, two forwards who can create offensively but are also solid on the defensive side of the game. Milano has shown an ability to create space and find the open man on the ice, which Jenner and Anderson can benefit from.
Line 3: Foligno - Wennberg - Atkinson
This is an interesting line, but it works. They've played 49 minutes as a trio, creating 57.5% of expected goals for when they're on the ice. Foligno's puck possession abilities will open up scoring opportunities for Atkinson.
Line 4: Robinson - Nash - Gerbe
Eric Robinson has elite speed, and Riley Nash is good at finding him. Nathan Gerbe has made a huge difference since being called up, and he's not going anywhere. He makes the lineup due to his hustle and ability to score big goals.
Not Making the Cut: Lilja, Texier, Bemstrom, Stenlund
First Pair: Werenski - Jones
This is a no-brainer.
Second Pair: Murray - Savard
Ryan Murray and David Savard's styles compliment each other fully. They've played 251 minutes in 24 games together, and it's unlikely Tortorella will shake that up.
Third Pair: Gavrikov - Peeke
Two of the Blue Jackets' best-kept secrets are their best option for the third pair. Vladislav Gavrikov is excellent defensively and will occasionally jump up on the rush, and Andrew Peeke consistently makes the right play and is great positionally.
Not Making the Cut: Nutivaara, Kukan, Harrington
Starter: Joonas Korpisalo
Korpisalo proved his status as the Blue Jackets' number one goaltender with an outstanding December. It's his job to lose.
Backup: Elvis Merzlikins
Merzlikins has played well as the starter, once Korpisalo got hurt. He's still solidly the backup, which is a testament to Korpisalo's strong play rather than a slight on Merzlikins.
Not Making the Cut: Matiss Kivlenieks
Am I hitting the mark, or missing it completely? Let's hear your takes.
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