Blue Jackets Go For The Rare Three-Game Winning Streak On Thursday Against Islanders After Missing Their Captain In Last Two

By Will Chase on April 3, 2024 at 10:15 am
Columbus Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets are attempting to do something they haven't done in just over two years.

As the Blue Jackets take on the New York Islanders on Thursday, they'll come in on a two-game winning streak, something they've done only four times this season.

If they beat the Islanders, a team desperate for two points as they make their bid for the playoffs, it will be Columbus' first three-game winning streak in over two years, when they last accomplished the feat on Mar. 11-16, 2022.

Columbus came back from down 3-1 to knock out the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night.

Then they played arguably their best game of the season in Monday's 4-1 win over the Stanley Cup-contending Colorado Avalanche.

The win was fueled by Daniil Tarasov's 45 saves and three-goal second period highlighted by Kirill Marchenko and two goals by Alex Nylander. Cole Sillinger scored the empty-net goal.

Coincidently, the Blue Jackets pulled off the victories without their captain and arguably their best player, Boone Jenner.

Jenner leads the Blue Jackets in goals (22), is fourth in points (35) and points per game (0.60), is first in even-strength goals (16), is tied for second among power play goals (five), is fourth in power-play points (eight), is third in shots (155), and is the team's best faceoff man (54.3%). 

Among Blue Jackets forwards, Jenner leads the way in average ice time per night (20:06) and ranks tied for 23rd among all NHL forwards in that category.

Jenner has played in 58 games this season after missing the last two games with illness and missed 15 games earlier this season after sustaining a broken jaw.

Without one of their most important pieces in the lineup, Columbus is 7-6-4. Not great, but more than adequate without everything Jenner provides.

It's not a secret why head coach Pascal Vincent deploys Jenner the way he does, as much as he does. As the statistics above bear out, he can do it all for the club.

But it also begs the question of whether Jenner should play over 20 minutes a night for a team that's been out of the playoff picture since November, had his season shortened by back injuries in 2021-22, and missed the final three games of last season due to his back.

The Blue Jackets are 18-32-8 when Jenner is in the lineup.

It's not to say Jenner's presence is the problem. It's more about how much he's being relied upon per night. He's good in the situation he's forced to play for the Blue Jackets and would be an ideal third-line center for a Cup contender.

Even if he's healthy, this season has been another opportunity to test the depths and determine what you have and who can do what. I understand playing your best player and doing so as much as you can when he's your security blanket. After all, coaches want to win every game.

However, with Jenner's recent absence, Vincent was forced to give other guys a chance.

Over the previous two games, the Jackets' first line consisted of Johnny Gaudreau - Dmitri Voronkov - Alex Nylander, in which the trio combined for two goals and three assists.

We'll see if Jenner is good to go on Thursday and whether the Blue Jackets can make it three in a row. Even if he is, maybe Vincent will keep providing opportunities for others.

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