The Columbus Blue Jackets have played better recently. However they are not seeing the results where it matters most. That’s in their win column.
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After winning three of their four games upon returning from Finland, the Blue Jackets have lost four of their last five. This includes a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
The Blue Jackets earned a hard fought point but were unable to gain the second point in a seven-round shootout. The fact they were able to be in position to win against a good team does suggest some things are working for them. To start off News & Rumors this week, we will discuss one of their hottest players of late.
Boone Jenner Continues to Deliver
While the Blue Jackets continue to face the daily question of their center depth, Boone Jenner is doing everything he can to show everyone they have some of thar depth already. He scored again on Monday, his ninth goal of the season. It tied the game with just under eight minutes left.
Jenner’s line with Johnny Gaudreau and Gus Nyquist were dominant against the Golden Knights. They were each over 80% xGF% at 5-on-5 according to Nat Stat Trick. They were on the ice for both goals for as Gaudreau scored their first goal. What was even more impressive was they did this against the Golden Knights’ top line of Chandler Stephenson, Jack Eichel and Mark Stone.
Jenner continues to be the Blue Jackets’ most important forward given everything he does. Entering Tuesday night’s games, Jenner’s 56.4% faceoff-win percentage was 11th in the NHL. He plays on the power play. He sparingly plays the penalty kill. At the end of the game or in overtime, he’s involved there too. His no nonsense style has been a fit in the early going with Gaudreau.
Jenner has 15 points in 21 games this season. This includes eight goals in his last 10 games. He has done everything asked of him and then some. The only concern now is his health.
Recall that Jenner missed the end of last season due to a back injury. The Blue Jackets were going to monitor him and his ice time. So far in 2022-23, there has been a slight dip in usage but not much.
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Jenner averaged over 20 minutes a game last season. So far in 2022-23, he’s at 19:57 per game which leads all Blue Jackets’ forwards. He has answered the call as captain and continues to deliver even with all the injuries they have suffered.
Ideally, the team would like to utilize Jenner in a role which provides depth to the other lines while watching his ice time. But as well as he’s playing, he continues to prove he belongs there for now. The Blue Jackets have needed everything he’s provided so far.
Does Tarasov Deserve More Playing Time?
Don’t look now, but goaltender Daniil Tarasov has put together a couple of strong performances in his recent starts. Although he took the shootout loss Monday, he stopped 34 of 36 Golden Knights’ shots.
Before that, Tarasov stopped 47 of 50 to help the Blue Jackets to a win over the Florida Panthers. He also stopped 30 of 31 at Madison Square Garden on Oct 23.
Tarasov’s one bad start was against the Arizona Coyotes when he allowed four goals on 12 shots and was pulled from the game. But in all since Oct 23, here are Tarasov’s numbers:
- 2-1-1 in four starts.
- .920 save percentage (115 of 125 saved)
- 2.50 goals-against average.
These numbers are by far the best stretch of goaltending the Blue Jackets have seen this season. However Tarasov’s time might be coming to an end soon. Elvis Merzlikins is skating again and could be ready to rejoin the team shortly.
This begs a question. Does Tarasov deserve some more playing time given his recent performances? Contract and roster situations likely won’t dictate that. However his play makes this something the team should at least think about.
Tarasov is getting more comfortable with each passing game in the NHL. He’s showing he could be ready quicker than anticipated. But he’s still third on the depth chart. Unless there’s another injury or the team shifts course, he will be back to the AHL when Merzlikins is ready to return.
Tarasov’s performance bodes well for the Blue Jackets. They have someone in waiting should the need arise. Plus they might have their answer for a backup role next season. He’s done well enough now to earn more starts. The next chance is Friday in Winnipeg. Brad Larsen will have a decision to make. Allow Korpisalo to start or give Tarasov another chance as the hot hand.
The Blue Jackets have played just one true road game in the month of November. That was on Nov 12 against the Islanders. Outside of the Global Series, they’ve played all their games at Nationwide Arena. Their game this past Saturday in Nashville was canceled.
The Blue Jackets have gone 4-3-1 in their last eight home games. This was a stretch they needed to take advantage of if they wanted to make any run at the wildcard. However they will pay up for all these early home games with 10 of 13 games on the road in March.
Latest News & Highlights
The other months are fairly balanced. And then there’s this. Starting Feb 28 in Buffalo, the Blue Jackets play every Tuesday on the road for the rest of the season. The miles will add up quickly. Who knows? It might ultimately decide who gets the best odds at the Draft Lottery.
- Cole Sillinger played in his 100th NHL game on Monday. Already?
- The Blue Jackets were supposed to have their annual day of service on Wednesday but due to illness on the team, the event was postponed. This could make for an interesting time this week to see who is well enough to play.
- The Blue Jackets exceeded 100 man-games lost to injury and it’s not even December yet. The impact of these losses cannot be understated. Good news could be coming soon though. Patrik Laine has started skating again. Assuming no setbacks, he could be back in a week or so.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.