The Columbus Blue Jackets have been looking for answers this season. In their search, the lines have been shuffled constantly.
However, the search for a line may be over for head coach John Tortorella and Columbus. They found a consistent line against the Dallas Stars, as the impact of the Max Domi, Jack Roslovic, and Cam Atkinson combination was felt on the ice.
This piece will look at what they did as a line against the Stars and how their play will be key for the team the rest of this season if they want to catch the Chicago Blackhawks for the final playoff spot in the Central Division.
Domi, Rosolovic, and Atkinson Fuel the Offense
The success of Domi, Roslovic, and Atkinson started early on in the series against the Stars. Domi scored a goal at the 9:07 mark of the first period on Saturday. The Blue Jackets began to struggle until about midway through the second period when Tortorella gathered the team and rallied them. That’s when this line really began to find its footing.
Domi Is Becoming the Player the Blue Jackets Traded For
After a tough start to the season, Domi is starting to find his game. He scored a goal at about the halfway point of the first period on Saturday when Roslovic found him in the slot. After Dallas blocked Domi’s first attempt, he found his own rebound and put it past Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger. Emil Bemstrom and Roslovic drew the assists.
Domi’s contributions didn’t end with the goal. He later found Atkinson on a centering pass in the slot, and Atkinson beat Oettinger, tying the game at two.
Domi’s improved play is also catching the eye of Tortorella, who said he starting to find his offensive game.
“He’s more involved in the offense,” Tortorella postgame Saturday said. “It just seems the puck is getting to him. He’s more involved.”
Domi is an important piece of the puzzle offensively for Blue Jackets, and if they hope to catch Chicago for the last Central playoff spot, he will have to continue to play this way.
Roslovic Is Back on Track
After scoring 10 points in his first 10 in Columbus, Roslovic struggled through his next 10, recording just four points.
Before last Thursday’s matchup with the Florida Panthers, Roslovic had an honest assessment of his play as of late.
“It hasn’t been my best these past couple (games), and that’s just garbage (his play),” a frustrated Roslovic said. “I know I need to do better.”
Roslovic did play better. He recorded four assists on five Blue Jacket goals over the weekend. He assisted on Zach Werenski’s game-winning goal in overtime on Saturday and on Werenski’s tying goal to send the game to OT on Sunday.
Roslovic has improved in the faceoff circle as well — his faceoff percentage was 55.6 percent on nine taken over the weekend series. He’s getting back on track after a quiet 10 games. His offensive creativity and skill are essential if the Blue Jackets hope to put together a last-minute run for the postseason.
Atkinson Is Still Atkinson
Throughout his career, Atkinson has shown that if you get him the puck in high danger areas and on breakaways, he will score. He continued just that on Saturday.
After a slow start for the Blue Jackets in the second period, they fell behind 2-1. That changed when Domi found Atkinson on a great pass to the slot, and Atkinson buried it, tying the game at two.
This fueled better play for the Blue Jackets, as they took a 3-2 lead over the Stars just one minute later. They eventually won the game 4-3 in overtime, securing an important two points.
Atkinson needs to continue his high level of play if the Blue Jackets hope to make a run and build momentum down the stretch.
Consistency Is Key for the Blue Jackets
The biggest problem for the Blue Jackets this season has been consistency. The team playing a complete game for a full 60 minutes has been rare.
The consistent performance of the Domi-Roslovic-Atkinson line this weekend lent Columbus some much-needed rhythm. And their play will encourage other lines to elevate their game.
Not only do they bring consistency to the lineup, they are making their teammates better by distributing the puck.
If the Blue Jackets want any hope for the postseason, they must find more consistent lines, and the Domi-Roslovic-Atkinson line may be one piece of the puzzle.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.