The Columbus Blue Jackets (4-1-0) backed up a solid first week of the season with three wins in Week 2 against two 2017 playoff teams.
Columbus won a thrilling overtime game, 2-1 Tuesday at Carolina and fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to defeat the New York Rangers 3-1 Friday night. Saturday, the Jackets came from behind again to defeat the Wild in a 5-4 barnburner in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Here are some headlines from the second week of the Blue Jackets’ season.
Offense staying aggressive
Through five games, the Blue Jackets offense looks like they can handle themselves against stiff competition. Columbus registered 43 shots against New York and 35 shots against Minnesota — two teams who made the playoffs in 2016-17.
Tuesday’s game against Carolina was sloppy on both ends, but the offense still created quality chances by attacking the net with its speed. Matt Calvert was perhaps the most aggressive player this week with two shorthanded opportunities — one each against Carolina and New York — and constant play close to the net when the Jackets were in the offensive zone.
Calvert had a goal disallowed in the first minute of Friday’s contest because he interfered with Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist after deflecting a shot from defenseman David Savard into the back of the net. Calvert tied a team-high six shots against the Rangers and continues to be an integral part to the third line with center Brandon Dubinsky and right wing Josh Anderson.
Left wing Artemi Panarin has also continued to make a difference, especially with his speed. He scored the go-ahead goal Friday after racing from his own blue line, past three skaters, then firing a shot above Lundqvist’s right shoulder. Panarin had three assists against the Wild Saturday with his final one coming in overtime, when he drew two defenders as he approached the net and Wennberg cleaned up Panarin’s shot for the game-winning goal.
Defense making mistakes
When Sergei Bobrovsky is the man in net, that team will always have a chance to win. He allowed a season-high four goals Saturday in Minnesota, but his defense had some costly mistakes.
On the first goal allowed, a pass went between defenseman Ryan Murray’s legs and found a Eric Staal streaking to the net. Defenseman David Savard turned the puck over in the neutral zone, creating an odd-man rush for Minnesota, which turned into a goal. Early in the first period, a puck jumped over defenseman Scott Harrington’s stick and Bobrovsky had to make a one-on-one save.
The defensive miscues weren’t isolated to just that one game. Tuesday, Carolina tied the game with 1:25 remaining after defenseman Gabriel Carlsson failed to clear the zone and Jeff Skinner faced Bobrovsky from the low slot. Then Friday, the Rangers first goal came from a Seth Jones turnover just beyond the Jackets’ blue line.
The penalty kill struggled against Minnesota, but has mostly been consistent. However, the Jackets continue to struggle with open-ice turnovers, which can be a death sentence on nights against the premier teams in the league.
The Blue Jackets power-play goal in the second period on opening night against the Islanders remains the lone power-play goal the team has scored this year.
Columbus was 0-for-9 on the powerplay this past week.
With the addition of Panarin, the power play was viewed as one of the units likely to see an immediate change from last season. So far, that has not been the case. The Blue Jackets are seeing quality shot attempts on the power play, putting possibly passing up too many good looks. They currently rank 27th in the league with 7.7 percent power-play conversion rate.
Teams fluctuate with success on the power play, so there’s no need for fans to panic. But, more success from the line is absolutely needed to compete in the Metropolitan division.
The Blue Jackets face another week of quality opponents. Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles are each above .500 and rank in the top half of the league in goals for per game.
Columbus recalled defenseman Markus Nutivaara from Cleveland and placed Carlsson on injured reserve with an upper-body injury body injury. The Blue Jackets sent Nutivaara to Cleveland at the beginning of the season due to an offseason hip surgery, which put him behind the ball in his fitness to play. The Jackets are looking for some help on the defensive end and after showing promise at times in his 66-game rookie season in 2016-17, Nutivaara has an opportunity to step into the lineup and make an impact.
Artemi Panarin – one goal (1), three assists (6), four points (team-lead 7), +5
Alexander Wennberg – one goal (1), two assists (4), three points (5), +6
Zach Werenski – one goal (2), two assists (2), three points (4), +5
Seth Jones – one goal (1), two assists (3), three points (4), +2
Sonny Milano – two goals (team lead 4), two points (4)
Sergei Bobrovsky – three wins (4-0), 91 saves, six goals allowed, .938 save percentage (.952)
In the circle (faceoff record, faceoff percentage, EV record, PP record, SH record)
Brandon Dubinsky – 30-32, 48.4, 22-26, 3-1, 5-5
Alexander Wennberg – 22-32, 40.7, 19-26, 3-4, 0-2
Nick Foligno – 19-30, 38.8, 18-24, 0-4, 1-2
Lukas Sedlak – 10-14, 41.7, 8-12, 0-2, 2-0
Overall: 143-175 (45.0 percent), ranked 30th
Special teams units:
Powerplay – 0-for-3 at Carolina; 0-for-3 vs. NYR; 0-for-3 at Minnesota
Overall: 1-for-13 (7.7 percent), ranked 27th
Penalty kill – 4-for-4 at Carolina; 3-for-3 vs. NYR; 1-for-3 at Minnesota
Overall: 10-for-13 (76.9 percent), ranked 23rd
10/17 – at Winnipeg (3-2-0)
10/19 – vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1-0)
10/14 – vs. Los Angeles (3-0-1)