Chemistry Far From Broken As Blue Jacket Players Begin to Return from Injury

By Chris Pennington on January 20, 2020 at 10:40 am
Cam Atkinson scored three goals in his first two games returning from injury with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Don't fret. Better talent is almost always better to have in your lineup, folks.

We all know about the somewhat comical amount of injuries the Columbus Blue Jackets sustained over the past month. We all also know how improbable their run of 15-2-4 has been in the last 21 games.

When the team started to - somehow - find success in this time frame, though, there were murmurs across the fan base about how the chemistry of the club would be impacted after the return of those who had been out of the lineup for so long.

To be fair, the worry was decently understandable. The Blue Jackets were a near-league-worst 11-14-4 on Dec. 7, and a rebuild seemed in order. This was when the roster was almost completely healthy with the team.

Then, the injuries happened. Then, the team took off. Logically, the common denominator was the injured players, right?

It seemed that way for a bit, as the likes of Kevin Stenlund, Nathan Gerbe, Sonny Milano, and other "what's that guy's name?" players took to the ice and began to put on a show. 

In 17 games, Stenlund put up six points, including four goals. Milano tallied five points in the seven-game stretch in January that he was brought up. Gerbe, a new fan-favorite, has registered eight points in 14 games, laid a few thunderous hits, and gotten into a brawl.

The next-man-up Blue Jackets took the fan base by storm. It was seemingly a team of destiny. Take off Kevin Stenlund and Sonny Milano to bring back Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand to mess up the chemistry? No way!

Yes, way.

Atkinson and Bjorkstrand, two of the top forwards on the club the past few seasons came back into the lineup, and immediately showed why they were missed so much. Atkinson put up five points in his first two games back from injury, and Bjorkstrand scored two goals in his first game back, the only two the team scored in a win against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

If not for these two's performances the past three games, the Blue Jackets could've easily lost two of the contests (The New Jersey Devils game on Saturday seemed under control).

Here's the bottom line, friends. The Blue Jackets can be a solid regular season team with their battered AHL-lineup in the game. They might even squeak into the playoffs. But the postseason is where the stars shine, and where game-breakers are needed - not twelve grinders. 

Stenlund and Milano may see the roster again this year, and maybe so will Jakob Lilja (who will likely get pumped once Josh Anderson returns), and they have certainly proven their worth as NHL-caliber players somewhere.

For now, though - the best players need to play. Atkinson and Bjorkstrand proved this the past week, and hope to do so even more come April.

Follow 1st Ohio BatteryFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

View 9 Comments