Blue Jackets Need to Find Their Offensive Game

The Columbus Blue Jackets are averaging just over two goals per game so far this season. It’s been a big factor in the team’s 3-3-2 start, leaving the feeling that points have been left on the table.

Finding the answers on offense became a question mark ever since free agency began in July. Now, fans of the Blue Jackets are rightfully concerned about the offensive landscape for the remainder of the season.

My prediction for the team was that they will be fighting for one of the last playoff spots, and I won’t back down yet. They’ve had their share of positive moments so far and are capable of putting it all together.

For those thinking they need answers and goals right away, just know that it may not come immediately. With this in mind, some of the answers are a matter of time and some are yet to be discovered.

Goaltending has been solid to start, aside from the Pittsburgh game, and has kept the team afloat despite the lack of goals. Joonas Korpisalo has a 3-2-1 record to start, which isn’t bad at all. The offense just needs to find a way to score more, and ways to become more consistently dangerous.

It always seems to come back to the power play when discussing the Blue Jackets, and for good reason. Other than a couple of stretches in the past few seasons, it’s been hard to watch.

Should Brad Larsen Remain as Power Play Coach?

The short answer to whether the Blue Jackets need to change their power play coach is yes, absolutely. This has been an issue, for the most part, since the back end of the 2016-17 season.

Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Larsen has been running the power play for a few years now. His job security is that of which most Americans dream of having. It feels like no matter what the team does, his job is safe.

My biggest problem at the moment is how the players are being used in each spot. The top unit with Pierre-Luc Dubois on the left and Cam Atkinson on the right is confusing.

Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Why not switch them and have them angled towards the net? To me, it’s slowing them down and their passes aren’t as crisp as they could be. Additionally, Dubois has a strong net-front presence, but he hasn’t spent much time there either.

The power play needs a fresh look, and a new face at the helm could be a big help. Sometimes, just the fact that the players know they contributed to a coach getting fired is enough for production to increase.

John Tortorella wouldn’t even be the Blue Jackets head coach if it weren’t for a seven-game stretch in 2015. After failing to win any of their first seven games that season, Todd Richards was let go and Tortorella was brought in. Apparently, three and a half seasons of a bad power play isn’t enough for a change, but seven games are for a head coach.

High-Danger Chances Need to Be Emphasized

I know what you’re thinking, this is an obvious statement. The Blue Jackets are getting chances, but how many of them are a real scoring threat? How many of these chances actually cause an NHL goalie to fret?

It’s common in hockey to talk about throwing shots on net from any angle, but I think the Blue Jackets aren’t considering a few things with that mindset. A shot from the blue line while the rest of your team is making a change isn’t a good shot. Chipping pucks in deep, cycling for a few seconds and then throwing a shot from the boards doesn’t normally work either.

Jeff Svoboda noted on Twitter recently that the New York Islanders blocked 33 shots against the Blue Jackets. They aren’t setting themselves up to be in a proper angle to shoot at the net.

New York Islanders' Thomas Greiss
New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss makes a save against the Columbus Blue Jackets as players look for the rebound. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The Blue Jackets need more creativity and chaos in front of the goalie. Some of this, I do believe, is a matter of time. The roster is still young and developing.

This isn’t a reason not to try, though. There are good NHL players on the Blue Jackets, but they need to operate a little differently in order to improve. The coaches need to work more with the players on creating meaningful chances.

Alexandre Texier Needs a Promotion

A few changes could spice things up and help the Blue Jackets sustain more high danger opportunities. Nick Foligno is a great captain and good player, but his time as a top-six option is in the past. The team needs more dynamic play from the second-line left winger.

Alexandre Texier needs to be there if you ask me. He’s only scored two points so far this season, but he’s going to get better and has a higher ceiling than most forwards on the roster.

What Texier does well is enter the zone cleanly and distribute the puck low to high, and across the ice. This is more efficient with players on the second line, like Alexander Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Also, it’ll help the top defenders stay engaged since they would be getting the puck more.

Columbus Blue Jackets Alexandre Texier
Columbus Blue Jackets centre Alexandre Texier celebrates a goal with the bench (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Texier is currently playing with Boone Jenner as his center. While Jenner is a hard-nosed player, he’s not helping young players like Texier develop into an offensive scoring threat like he is capable of becoming.

Another change that needs to be considered is swapping out Atkinson on the top line. Not that he isn’t a top player, but the top line needs more production. I think it’d be a good idea for Tortorella to consider breaking that line up.

Just because they’ve had success in the past doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for the present. The bottom line is that more goals need to be scored for the Blue Jackets. A couple of adjustments could go a long way in getting the team on a new level.