Blue Jackets send C Cole Sillinger to AHL Cleveland
Patrik Laine scored points in four or more consecutive games for the Columbus Blue Jackets on at least four separate occasions last season. This includes his eleven-game point streak in which he scored thirteen goals and eight assists, averaging just shy of two points per game. That was the third-longest-point streak in franchise history.
This was when the fifth line started to really get a glimpse of what the Fin could do. The hope was that he would continue to develop this season and get back to scoring 40-plus goals in a campaign as he once did for the Winnipeg Jets. This objective was thought to be made even more likely by the off-season addition of one of the best facilitators in the game, Johnny Gaudreau.
Laine got off to a fast start as he scored his first goal just seven-and-a-half minutes into his season. However, he was pulled from the game minutes later when he went down with an upper-body injury. This injury forced him to miss the next six games, though he was able to return to the lineup sooner than expected. He has now been back for the past three games, and he is still trying to recapture his mojo as he doesn't have a single point in any of the three contests.
It does seem like Laine may be a bit more physical this season as he has posted .75 blocks and 1.75 hits per game thus far. This is significantly up from the .23 and .61 blocks and hits he put up last season. Though this is encouraging, his greatest asset is the offensive prowess that we have yet to see much of this year. He also needs to develop more chemistry with Gaudreau, which should help him on the stat sheet.
Laine may be struggling, but it is still very early in the season and he has plenty of time to kick it up a notch. Plus, the right winger's past play has earned him the benefit of the doubt.
The Blue Jacket's back-to-backs with the Colorado Avalanche in Laine's hometown of Tampere Finland should be the perfect place for him to showcase his offensive skills and get his season back on track.