Pleasant Surprises: These Blue Jackets Are Outperforming Their Expectations

By Jacob Nitzberg on February 3, 2020 at 1:53 pm
Feb 2, 2020; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist (14) scores a goal and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber (6) defends during the third period at the Bell Centre.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Two regulation losses in their last 24 games.

12-0-4 in their last 16 games against Eastern Conference opposition.

Who would've thought? 

Not me. 

The Blue Jackets are red-hot right now, and it's thanks to contributions from players that flew under the radar at the beginning of the season as well as players establishing themselves as stars like Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand.

Let's examine some of the "under-the-radar" skaters who are making the wheels turn for the Blue Jackets.

Nathan Gerbe 

Not even on the NHL roster at the beginning of the season, Gerbe has locked down a spot thanks to his hustle, tenacity, and speed. In 17 games with the Blue Jackets, he's notched 3-5-8.

John Tortorella likes hard workers, so it's no surprise that Gerbe has found a home with Columbus. 

Yesterday, Gerbe was rewarded with a two-year, two-way contract that will have him in Columbus/Cleveland through the 2021-22 NHL season.

Vladislav Gavrikov 

Gavrikov certainly took a while to make it overseas to Columbus, but since he arrived he's been a mainstay in the Blue Jackets' defensive corps.

He's consistent. The Russian defenseman has only missed one game this year, collecting 5-7-12 in 52 games for the Blue Jackets. 

His game is very complete. He can pass, shoot the puck, and play physical, tough defense. It's clear why the Blue Jackets were so eager to have him join the club.

Elvis Merzlikins

I'm stating the obvious here, but Merzlikins has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Blue Jackets. Despite starting the season 0-4-4, he stepped up when the Blue Jackets needed him most. 

Since Joonas Korpisalo went down with a torn meniscus, Merzlikins has come in and posted a 10-2-0 record with a 1.75 GAA and a .947 save percentage. Those are video game numbers.

He's one of the biggest reasons the Blue Jackets find themselves in a playoff spot with 29 games to go.

Gustav Nyquist

Nyquist finds himself second on the Blue Jackets in scoring with 12-22-34. While he's not having the best season of his career, he's made the players around him better, and he's been a crucial asset on the Blue Jackets' power play.

On a consistently injured Blue Jackets club, Nyquist hasn't missed a game this year. John Tortorella routinely plays him with Dubois and Bjorkstrand, forming a formidable, talented first line.

Nyquist is signed through the 2022-23 season, which is nothing but good news if you're a Blue Jackets fan.

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