The Columbus Blue Jackets are coming off the back of a historic November in which they recorded the third most, technically tied for it, points in a single month. There are many easier ‘winners’ to pick out of the group, but the losers had just as poor of a month as the winners had good.
Columbus Blue Jackets Winners and Losers of November
Cam Atkinson has proven himself to be nothing short of a poster boy for a pearly white smile, and silky mitts on the ice. The not-so-large forward has proven yet again this season that size isn’t everything, it’s the way you use the stick you’re given. It’s safe to say that head coach John Tortorella is getting the best out of the end-to-end speedster, with hopefully more to come.
Atkinson, coming off the back of his hot month, is now tied for the team lead in goals with captain Nick Foligno and new-name Sam Gagner at eight a piece. Along with his solid scoring touch this season, he’s also second on the team in assists with nine. He’s second only to Alexander Wennberg, who has 15 and is tied for fifth in the league.
Atkinson is a silky skater that seems to be taking a liking to the end-to-end style of hockey that Tortorella has put into place since coming to The Buckeye State. It’s a safe bet that, even though he likely won’t keep his November scoring pace up, he’ll finish with around the same level of point production that he finished with in the 2015-16 season.
Josh Anderson was viewed by many, coming into the season, as a guy that would likely sit on the fourth line all season and not contribute much offensively. Surprisingly enough for everyone, and likely even Anderson himself, this hasn’t been the case whatsoever.
Anderson currently sit eighth on the team in total points, tallying seven goals and 10 points so far this season. It was more than an easy selection to make when thinking of winners to include Anderson in this list. The big, physically enforcing forward has been a sight for sore eyes for a Blue Jackets team that seriously lacked point production from their bottom six forwards. Something to take notice of is that Anderson is one goal shy of tying the team lead with Nick Foligno, Sam Gagner, and Cam Atkinson sitting on eight a piece.
This one can be kept clear and concise, as Zach Werenski has been nothing short of a revelation this season, and November was no exception to that statement. Werenski had points in eight of the 14 games during November, and he has brought his season tallies to five goals and 16 total points, good for fifth on the Blue Jackets roster.
Due to his stellar play throughout the season, and November as well, he was named Rookie of the Month for the NHL. An even more impressive feat when you take into consideration that he beat out Patrik Laine, Mitch Marner, and many other promising young players around the league.
#8 is definitely great.@ZachWerenski is the @NHL's Rookie of the Month for November → https://t.co/uIWQs1BRE7 pic.twitter.com/ynryKtUAyH
— ColumbusBlueJackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 1, 2016
The Fifth Liners
For the Fifth Line faithfuls, this has been a fantastic month of hockey to watch at Nationwide Arena. The month of November was one of the most successful months in franchise history, with the organization only getting more points in two months throughout their 16-plus years of existence.
Aside from the obvious fact that the Blue Jackets were winning games, the fans were able to see some legitimately strong hockey. The play of veteran goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was, as has been the story the season, a fantastic note for their success. Brandon Saad found his scoring touch finally and continues to look fast, hungry, and sharp in every shift he puts in. But there are still a few losers from the all around great month, and season thus far, the Jackets are having.
#CBJ franchise best points by month:
March 2013 10-2-4
March 2015 11-4-0
December 2014 10-1-1
November 2016 9-2-3
— Mark Scheig (@THWMark) November 30, 2016
This one should really come as no surprise to anyone that has been watching the Blue Jackets in November, or this entire season for that matter. Dubinsky has been, offensively, very poor throughout this season, which in years past would have been a tough hurdle for the Jackets to overcome. The positive note about Dubinsky faltering offensively is that it continues to show how deep the rest of the roster is in regards to scoring.
This season Dubinsky only has two goals in 19 games for the Blue Jackets, and his playmaking numbers aren’t anything special either, with only five assists to his name. Another statistic to make you truly realize how much Dubinsky is really struggling is that he has more penalty minutes (15) than he does points on the season (12). This isn’t the kind of production you expect, or want, from one of your teams leaders.
Boone Jenner is playing much the same tune as that of Dubinsky this season, as he only has two goals and six points on the season in 21 games. Many of the Jackets fans, and hockey experts as well, didn’t expect Jenner to be a prolific scorer of any sorts, but a 40-plus point season wasn’t out of reach in even the most cynical of hockey minds. This is looking to be a farfetched thought if Jenner doesn’t get going, and quickly.
Despite the fact that Jenner has cut back on his less than disciplined play from last season, where he took penalties with enough frequency to make even the most composed fan turn red, his point production hasn’t followed suit from last year either. Jenner, much like the aforementioned Dubinsky, has more penalty minutes (10) than he does points (six) this season. This is a worrying trend for Jenner and Dubinsky, and it needs to change for the Jackets to continue their upward trajectory towards a spot in the playoffs.
The Fans – Again
Despite the fact that the Jackets are playing some of their best ever hockey, and they currently find themselves in a playoff spot just over a quarter of the way through the season, some of the fans don’t seem to be convinced. Through 12 games at Nationwide Arena in the 2016-17 season so far the average attendance sits at 13,411. That number doesn’t look bad, until you take into account that Nationwide can fit in 18,500 people per game. That’s roughly 72.5% of maximum capacity for a team that’s currently playing great hockey.
It just goes to show the massive distinction between the Fifth Line faithful and the casual hockey fan in Ohio. It’s understandable that the good start to the season has been met with much cynicism, but casual fans need to come out and support the Jackets. It’s safe to say that if the Jackets can maintain this hot start, attendance should take an upturn and this conversation will be a thing of the past.