Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand is off to the best start to a season of his career. While this statement does not come as a surprise to Columbus fans, it may to others around the league. This is a curious case as to whether it is sustainable or not, so let’s take a look.
The Sustainability of Oliver Bjorkstrand’s Scoring Streak
Bjorkstrand, 26, is off to a fantastic start to the season. This start sees him topping the Jackets scoring with 13 points. This comes in the form of five goals and eight assists, both good for second on the team respectively.
It is because of this that Bjorkstrand is currently seeing a career-high 18:22 of ice time and is consistently on the first line. The best way to see if these baseline statistics are telling the correct story is to break it down further.
Blue Jackets when Oliver Bjorkstrand is on the Ice
One of the easiest ways to tell if this scoring streak is sustainable is whether or not Columbus is better with Bjorkstrand on the ice or not. There are a few analytics that can tell the story quite quickly, and they all bode well for the Danish sniper.
One of the first ones to look at would be that of Corsi-for Percentage, in other words, the number of shots the team has in comparison to the opposition when he is on the ice. Bjorkstrand is currently sporting a 57% in this category, which is best on the Columbus roster. The only other forwards that come close who are consistently getting ice time around what he is, are Jakub Voracek (52%) and Jack Roslovic (54%).
Another baseline analytic to point to the positive production from Oliver Bjorkstrand would be Fenwick-for Percentage or the number of unblocked shot attempts. Yet again, Bjorkstrand leads the way in this category with a solid 57%, with the only forwards near him being Voracek and Roslovic, again with 52% and 54% respectively.
Best Players to Pair Oliver Bjorkstrand With
The next thing to look at to maximize what appears to be a sustainable scoring streak is who Bjorkstrand’s linemates should be. It goes without saying that the Blue Jackets like to shake things up a bit, and Bjorkstrand seems to be a one size fits all kind of linemate. That being said, there are certainly optimal lines to maximize his production.
One player that Bjorkstrand has seen plenty of ice time with is that of Cole Sillinger. This pairing has been nothing short of fruitful for the tandem. While they are on the ice together, the Jackets have a shot share of 54.05% and a Corsi-for Percentage of 54.17%. This is even further bolstered by the fact that they have an expected goals-for of 1.79, well above the 1.03 expected for the opposition.
Another player that Bjorkstrand has been paired with often is Boone Jenner, and much like the case with Sillinger, it has been working fantastically. The tandem has a CF% of 51.19 and has 27 scoring chances as opposed to 23 by opponents.
Verdict on Sustainability
With all things considered, this seems about as easy a verdict as any. The undeniable answer is that the performance thus far from Bjorkstrand could indeed be sustainable. Whether or not the production will take a dip will be based entirely on linemates and their respective production, and head coach Brad Larsen continuing to favor the Danish sniper.