It’s been identified as the second line all year, but there is little doubt that right now it is the Blue Jackets’ top line.
Even though the Jackets have been riding a bumpy road as of late, the line of Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson has been electric, contributing 18 goals and 33 points in the last 19 games.
This has been the line that Tortorella entrusts the most late in games or in other high-pressure moments. It’s the shutdown line, the defensive line that provides some scoring touch here and there. But the vast majority of the scoring had come from Cam Atkinson, who leads the team in goals (27) and points (49).
But now that Dubinsky and Jenner have caught fire, the whole line has made the offensive zone the danger zone for their opponents.
Before the Hot Streak
For a long while, Atkinson had been the goal-scoring complement the line needed. Dubinsky and Jenner are Nos. 1 and 2 on the team in hits, respectively – no surprise there. What was surprising though was their lack of scoring up to the mid-way point of the season.
Yeah, they’re not really your typical goal scorers. Their game involves getting dirty – getting pucks deep, throwing the body around and grinding along the boards to create offense. But Jenner was a 30-goal scorer last year. The fact he only had six through December raised a lot of eyebrows.
Dubinsky’s highest regular season goal output with the Blue Jackets is a modest 17, which he set last year. But even for Dubinsky – who makes his money more so by sacrificing his body than by putting the puck in the net – the point production left more to be desired.
Too Hot to Handle
Dubinsky and Jenner hadn’t been creating much all season long – even through the 16-game winning streak – until now. Both have been lighting the lamp as of late, combining for nine goals in the last 19 games. That goal total is equivalent to the nine scored between the two through the team’s first 37 games.
Dubinsky and Jenner’s recent contributions have created a trio of game-changers. With Atkinson no longer the only offensive threat on the line, opponents will have trouble containing all three players. They weren’t easy to play against to begin with because of Atkinson’s speed mixed with the grinding, get-under-your-skin duo in Dubinsky and Jenner.
Now that all three players are pretty consistently burying the biscuit, it’s a nightmare to defend. And it’s not just the offense that has made this line the most noticeable on an almost game-to-game basis since the All-Star break.
Dubinsky and Jenner lead the way in the hits department with 72 and 55, respectively, in the last 19 games. The line is a combined plus-10 with 26 blocked shots and are all three inside the top four on Columbus in takeaways during that same time frame. Their 33 takeaways since Jan. 7 speak loudly of their aggressive forecheck and desire to create offense from good defense. This line has shown its ability to dictate the pace of the game and the outcome of the game with big-time hits, exceptional defensive play and timely scoring.
In case you didn’t know, the Blue Jackets have their rival Penguins coming into town Friday night. Best believe Dubinsky and Jenner, especially, will both be ready for that contest. They always are. These two seem to consistently elevate their game against the best of the best. In the matchup two weeks ago at Pittsburgh, Dubinsky’s line was all over the ice and triple-handedly (this is now a word) brought Columbus back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to force overtime and gain a hard-earned point.
Be prepared to see, hear, maybe even feel, a lot of Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson on Friday night and beyond. They are really feeling it right now.
(All stats courtesy of NHL.com)