The Blue Jackets' Power Play is Awakening Thanks to Their Young Talent

By Jacob Nitzberg on August 15, 2020 at 9:05 am
Aug 13, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with teammates during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets' power play went 0-13 against the Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

If you expand it to the last three games of the regular season, the Blue Jackets were 0-19 on their last 19 power-play opportunities as they geared up to take on the Lightning in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That's not exactly a sign for optimism. 

However, in the first two games against the Lightning, the Blue Jackets have scored two huge power-play goals courtesy of Pierre-Luc Dubois (Game 1) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (Game 2). They're operating at a 25% conversion rate (2-8), while in the regular season they were at a measly 16.4%. Sure, it's a small sample size, but there's reason to believe the unit can continue to improve.

While Dubois and Bjorkstrand have always been staples on the power play, two young guns have bolstered the unit: Alexandre Texier and Liam Foudy, who are both 20 (!!) years old. (Oh, and Dubois is only 22.)

Texier, who missed a good chunk of the season with a lumbar stress fracture suffered on New Year's Eve, has been excellent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs thus far. He's joined forces with Dubois and Bjorkstrand on the Blue Jackets' top line, which has produced significant results. 

On the power play, Texier has been dynamic. We saw that on display in Game 1 vs. the Lightning, when he found a shooting lane and fired the puck on net through a Dubois screen (and tip) to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead. While it was Dubois' goal, it was eerily similar to Texier's goal in Game 4 vs. the Lightning last postseason.

Foudy, who spent almost all of the NHL season playing in the OHL, has earned his way into a top-six role with the Blue Jackets. He's shifty with the puck, very quick, and plays like a veteran. John Tortorella trusts him, and Foudy has paid off that trust so far. While Foudy has yet to register points on the power play, he's created many opportunities and has been excellent at puck movement and retention. He's looked great 5-on-5, so the goals and assists will come 5-on-4.

The Blue Jackets have done an excellent job playing their style through the first two games. They've limited high-danger chances, gotten great goaltending, and capitalized on their opportunities. With the series tied 1-1, Game 3 tonight is pivotal. 

If the Blue Jackets are able to convert on the power play while continuing to limit the Lightning offensively, they'll be in good shape.