Since being a healthy scratch for the Blue Jackets' Jan. 14 win against Detroit and Jan. 16 loss against the Rangers, Cole Sillinger has played in eight games and registered 11 shots on goal. Sillinger registered eight shots on goal in the eight games before being scratched.
"I think you're seeing a better version of him," head coach Brad Larsen said after the Jacket's win over San Jose on Jan. 21. "He was getting some opportunities again."
Sure, the point total isn't there--he hasn't registered one since Jan. 7--but it will come eventually. He's also gotten extremely unlucky this season. According to moneypuck.com, he's posted 6.3 expected goals, more than three times the two actual goals he's scored.
In the eight games since returning to the lineup, he's registered zero giveaways, 10 blocked shots, and won 46.1% of his face-offs, up from the 44% he posted through his first 38 games of the season.
In the last game before he was scratched, a Jan. 12 loss against Carolina, Sillinger played 13 shifts for 8:42. In the eight games since, he's played no less than 17 shifts and 12:29, so Larsen also has seen improvement.
After scoring 16-15--31 as a rookie, is it disappointing that his point total hasn't improved? Sure. But let's not forget he's still just 19 years old and has played only 125 NHL games. Not all growth is linear, especially in sports, and regardless of the point total, he's continuing to put himself in positions to score. If he continues to do that, the points will come.
His recent play is a good sign as one of the pillars of this rebuild.
"He's looking like himself again," Larsen said.