Early on in the year the Jackets have started out strong with a 4-1-0 record and currently sit 1st in the Eastern Conference. While this is an excellent start to the year it is still very early and things could go south very quickly as there are a lot of super talented teams in the east. We will quickly look at the strong and weak aspects of Columbus thus far.
While Jackets 1st line is not the best in the league it has been extremely effective thus far. Lindholm and Kucherov are the dynamic duo and generate a ton of offence together. On the left wing is veteran shutdown forward Alexander Steen, while he may seem out of place and forwards like Gourde and Rakell who have better abilites in the attacking end seem like better choices. Even with Steens less then ideal scoring and passing stats he has been getting in the right places at the right times as he has 2 goals and an assist thus far. While this is likely due to the fact Lindholm and Kucherov are both lethal in the attacking zone there is mor to Steen then just his points as he is pretty good in his own end. With his strong shutdown capabilites he gives Lindholm and Kucherov a guy who can be good in his own end rather than a player who may be able to generate more offence but be unreliable in his own end.
While the whole Blue Jackets defence has looked good thus far Petry really sticks out as the true leader of the blueline. Thus far he's had 2 goals and 2 assists which is a good amount of offence coming from the backend but he has also been very reliable in his own end as shown by his league leading +8. While +/- can be a misleading stat the next best +/- stat for a Blue Jackets d-man is Adam Larsson with a +4. The big gap shows that Petry has been far better at both ends of the ice than anhy other Jackets d-man
Team Commitment To Defence
The Jackets are not some powerhouse offensive team, it'd be nice if they were but they aren't so playing a run and gun type of game would be a terrible idea for this squad. But the overall commitment by both the forwards and the d-men have resulted in wins for the Jackets. Every line has been pretty good in their own end to start the year so if the Jackets can keep this up they could be one of the more infuriating teams to play against in the league. They might not be the best but they will make their opponents work for their goals.
5v5 Goal Production
The top line of the Jackets is exempt from this, they have altogether put up 7 goals at even strength to start the year which might not be elite but it's solid. Forward lines 2,3 and 4 however have only got 3 even strength goals to start, with line 3 not getting any so far. Andrew Shaw has been the best forward not on the Jackets top line, with 1 goal and 3 assists to start the year and being a physical presence with 14 hits so far. After that the Jackets have been less then stellar. If this Jackets team can't generate a lot of offence besides from the top line they are going to be in trouble once teams figure out how to shut them down. The worst part of this is the Jackets have been winning so do they break up the lines or just keep them together and wait for the lines to generate chemistry?
0 for 12 to start the year is awful. A powerplay unit with weapons such as Kucherov, Lindholm and Petry should not be this bad. Only 5 games in so no panic but if this continues the Jackets may have to shake things up a lot.
Lack of Additional Star Power
While Petry, Lindholm, Teravainen, Rakell and Niskanen are a decent supporting cast to star player Nikita Kucherov none of them are really stars. Lindholm and Petry are the closest things and while they are pretty good I wouldn't label them as stars. While you don't need a lineup full of star players to win it doesn't hurt to have another high caliber player or 2 to help out. The Jackets hope their supporting cast for Kucherov can help him out enough till they can figure out a trade to bringing in more help.