Zach Werenski Is Red-Hot For The Blue Jackets, Riding a Six-Game Point Steak Entering Friday's Game

By Will Chase on November 26, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Zach Werenski celebrates his goal as the Columbus Blue Jackets shutout the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Werenski is turning it on.

Riding a six-game points streak, Werenski has eight points (three goals, five assists) over that span, including the big power play goal that helped propel the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 on Wednesday night.

"We were up by one, middle of the period, and we didn't really have much going on that power play so I figured I'd shoot (the puck)," Werenski said. "I was pretty low in the zone and I just closed my eyes and shot it."

Werenski talked about the impact provided by Adam Boqvist and Jake Voracek on the new-look power play, resulting in the critical third period goal that gave Columbus a 2-0 lead.

"You can't replace (Patrik Laine) with how he shoots the puck, so no one can go in there and be Laine," Werenski said. "For us to have focus there and (Voracek), we talked about having a lot of switching and movement up top. The first power play, I was on the half-wall, that power play I was on my one-timer half wall."

It's only one game, but perhaps the Blue Jackets power play has a new wrinkle for opposing teams to have to defend, as Werenski alluded to.

"We were kinda all over the place, and I think as a penalty kill, it's hard to defend that way," Werenski said. "There's a lot of movement up top and a lot of movement within your power play, so that was the main reason we decided to kind of go that route.

"It's our first game with it so still some work to do on it, but I thought for the most part we generated some chances and have some good power plays."

Head coach Brad Larsen echoed the sentiment of how huge Werenski's power play goal was at 6:49 of the third period. 

"The (power play) goal was huge, yeah, to give yourself a little breathing room," Larsen said. "The timing of it, to get a two-goal lead is much different than one shot and they're tied. They came through huge at the right time."

Werenski, who came into 2021-22 after signing a fresh six-year, $57.5 million contract extension that will officially kick in next season, is scoring at a clip of 0.82 points-per-game, which is among the upper echelon of defensemen in the NHL.

Where he has the capability to be especially effective, as referenced above, is the power play, where he has five points (including three goals) this season. Werenski has four points with the man-advantage in two games against the Arizona Coyotes alone (two goals, two assists), so his first power play goal and point against the Jets was a welcome sight. 

It's been a boost for the Blue Jackets with Werenski quarterbacking the power play unit, which enters Friday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks at 20% and tied for 13th in the NHL alongside the Tampa Bay Lightning.