The Blue Jackets' Overtime Struggles Were Magnified With Their Loss to The Blackhawks On Saturday Night

By Jacob Nitzberg on February 14, 2021 at 11:56 am
Feb 13, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Carl Soderberg (34) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Patrik Laine (29) chase the puck during the third period at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2 in overtime.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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Artemi Panarin was a special player for the Blue Jackets.

There aren't too many players in the National Hockey League that are capable of producing jaw-dropping, sensational moves like Panarin is. 

During his time in Columbus, the Blue Jackets went 17-6 in 3-on-3. Of those 17 wins, Panarin had five game-winning goals and five assists on game-winning goals. That means that the Russian winger had a hand in 58.8% of the Blue Jackets' overtime triumphs. 

Sadly, Panarin left for New York, and since then, the Blue Jackets have sputtered in overtime. They are 8-14 in the extra period since Panarin left, and 0-3 this season.

Last night against the Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets' overtime woes continued. 

A trio of Nick Foligno, Patrik Laine, and Seth Jones headed out to begin the period. Foligno lost the draw, and the Blackhawks took possession. At 4:31, Foligno made a good play to strip the puck from Patrick Kane, but gave it away two seconds later to Alex DeBrincat (never a good idea). DeBrincat found Kane, who returned the puck to DeBrincat, who then in turn beat Korpisalo to give the Blackhawks the extra point. 

John Tortorella was not pleased with Foligno's giveaway. 

"Nicky needed to have better's just a 2-on-2. It's an easy play," said Tortorella, whose deployment in overtime was questionable. Laine and Jones make sense, but when you have Jack Roslovic, Cam Atkinson, Max Domi, and Oliver Bjorkstrand, it doesn't make sense to put a player out there whose individual skillset doesn't bode well for 3-on-3 overtime. 

In five seasons (plus the beginning of this one), Foligno has tallied 1-3-4 in 3-on-3 overtime. Atkinson has 6-7-13 in the same time period. 

The Athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn wrote a fantastic piece about strategies for 3-on-3. He determined, via extensive data analysis, that in order to succeed, teams should do the following: 

  • Possess the puck 
  • Regroup and reset
  • Choose their shots carefully
  • Manage risk and reward 
  • Be vigilant with the puck 
  • Counterattack with speed

Tortorella's strategy is often to put out someone to attempt to win the opening faceoff and then swap them out with someone more offensively capable, but that strategy can backfire quite often, as it did last night. It is a much better idea to put your best players out there. Even if they lose the opening draw, it's more likely that they'll be able to start a counterattack of their own. 

Going forward, Tortorella should give his best players ice time in overtime. It's that simple.

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