Blue Jackets Need to Score by Committee to Have Success Against Maple Leafs

By Jacob Nitzberg on June 19, 2020 at 8:05 am
Mar 8, 2020; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Emil Bemstrom (52) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) (not pictured) with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexander Wennberg (10) during the second period at Rogers Arena.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets didn't have a single 50-point scorer in the regular season.

The only other team in the 24-club NHL playoffs to join them in that distinction is the Arizona Coyotes.

While that initially sounds like bad news, it highlights some key points about the Blue Jackets' season and scorers. 

For one, it's likely that Oliver Bjorkstrand would have smashed the 50-point mark if he had been able to stay healthy. Despite playing in just 49 of 70 regular season games, Bjorkstrand led the club in goals with 21. There's no question that Bjorkstrand is an elite winger who is able to change the dynamic of a game. 

The Blue Jackets' second-leading scorer this season led all NHL defensemen in goals with 20. Zach Werenski had a stellar year, and he's blossomed into one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL.

When you get past Bjorkstrand and Werenski, the Blue Jackets have a considerable amount of forwards who are good, but not elite, at finding the back of the net. Pierre-Luc Dubois (18), Gustav Nyquist (15), Cam Atkinson (12), Boone Jenner (11), Nick Foligno (10), and Emil Bemstrom (10) are all capable of burying big goals — and the key to the series against the Maple Leafs will rest on their shoulders. 

As the Blue Jackets have done all year, they'll need to score by committee to have success in the postseason. They can't rely on Bjorkstrand and Werenski to carry them, as they did many times throughout the regular season.

The trademark of the 2019-20 Blue Jackets has been defense, defense, and more defense. There's no reason why that can't work in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If they're able to block shots, limit passing and shooting lanes, and pursue the puck aggressively in their defensive zone, it'll be the potential foundation for playoff success. 

However, defense isn't any good when you can't find the back of the net, which will likely be the biggest issue for the Blue Jackets. The Maple Leafs are a high-flying, dynamic and talented team, but if the Blue Jackets are able to limit their chances and bury a big goal here and there, they'll move on to the second round.