Oliver Bjorkstrand's Growing Strength and Confidence Make Him a Dynamic Offensive Force

By Chris Pennington on February 12, 2020 at 1:34 pm
Oliver Bjorkstrand has 18 goals through 44 games this season - on pass to easily pass his personal Columbus Blue Jacket season-high of 23 from a year ago.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dynamic, Danish Dynamo. Say that five times fast.

It seemed only a year ago that Oliver Bjorkstrand was getting knocked off the puck or obliterated in the corners every-other-play. Today, he's bullying his way to the net and forechecking like a mad-man.

Don't worry - the who with jurisdiction to give him more ice time agrees:

"He's (Emil Bemstrom) going through the process as (Bjorkstrand) went through," said head coach John Tortorella on Tuesday. "Oliver is getting stronger, I think that's a big part of his success now."

And thus, ice time has been granted. Bjorkstrand is averaging 17:45 minutes per game, good for fifth amongst other Blue Jacket forwards, and more than three minutes higher than his career average.

Back to the strength-attribute, though - at 6'0, 177 pounds, Oliver Bjorkstrand doesn't look like the most dominating presence on the ice each night - for either team. But this off-season, either he hit the weight room or motivational speaker sessions - or both.

The 24-year-old is shaving defenders off his shoulders like it's nothing. There aren't many stats we can show as to prove this - but his 55.5 CF% 37 hits and 28 takeaways (all on pace for career-high averages) is a nice indication. 

As for his confidence - Bjorkstrand is shooting more than ever. His 144 total shots on the season are tied with Cam Atkinson for most on the team (both have played 44 games) where the next highest player is at 141 through 50 games (Zach Werenski).

And he's not just shooting to shoot - he's scoring, at a 12.2% rate, which is second on the team amongst those who have played 20+ games.

Whatever the change in aggressiveness or attitude, Bjorkstrand is playing like he knows he's one of the better players on the ice each game, and this will be hugely important for the Blue Jackets as their playoff push gets hotter and hotter. 

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