Unsung Heroes: As Injuries Continue To Mount, Blue Jackets Refuse To Die, Grabbing Seven Points Over Last Four Games

By Will Chase on November 18, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner celebrates a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The black and blue line.

Injuries keep racking up, seemingly by the day, but the positive has been the Columbus Blue Jackets being able to find ways to cope, play on, and grab points.

With seven points in the last six games, the Jackets are 3-0-1 after two wins over the Philadelphia Flyers, an overtime loss to the New York Islanders, and a win over the Montreal Canadiens.

A team simply isn't better for losing the likes of All-Star talent like Zack Werenski, Patrik Laine, and Jake Voracek. Losing critical pieces on defense like Nick Blankenburg and Jake Bean. Adam Boqvist has only appeared in four games this season. Justin Danforth provided a lot of depth and secondary scoring. Elvis Merzlikins' tough season continued when he left Tuesday's win over the Flyers with an injury. Then on Wednesday, it was announced Emil Bemstrom was hampered with an ailment. Fortunately for the Blue Jackets, he was able to play Thursday.

Through it all, the games continue and the team charges on.

The power play is last in the league at 10.3% but it's accelerating to the tune of a 28.6% clip in November. After starting the season 0-for-26, the man advantage is now 4-for-14 since the month started, stringing together goals in four of six games in November.

That might not seem too impressive and the sample size is small, but perhaps things are starting to click for now and for later. The Blue Jackets are also 32nd in the league in penalties drawn per 60 (2.98) and are 32nd in power play time on ice per game (4:07).

Marcus Bjork scored a goal in his NHL Debut against the Islanders on Nov. 12, and in his second game on the 15th against the Flyers, was the Blue Jackets' most impactful player.

He seems to have found chemistry playing alongside Jenner and Gaudreau and should be given more ice-time opportunities with that group, but as a whole in general. Currently, he's averaging 12:31 per game.

Then there's Joonas Korpisalo who has provided a steady presence in goal while Elvis Merzlikins has struggled, and is currently out 1-to-2 weeks with an ailment. According to MoneyPuck, Korpisalo's goals saved above expected is 2.9 in all situations (1.0, 5v5). 

Thinking back to where this team was just a few weeks ago after losing the first two games against the Colorado Avalanche in Finland, Larsen referenced soul searching in regards to breaking up the Gaudreau and Laine line. That term could have been applied to the team across the board as everything felt discombobulated.

Injuries can break a team apart or force the group together. So far, the two storylines have overlapped as Laine and many others have been forced out of the lineup with injuries, and the team overall has banded together as a tighter-knit group and found some life.

As a result, opportunities and storylines are playing out that otherwise might not have unfolded before our very eyes right now.

The Blue Jackets hope to continue the good play on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings as the six-game homestand carries on.