Straight Jackets: CBJ has a scoring problem

Jim Fischer
Injured defenseman Zach Werenski is the third-highest scoring Blue Jacket player so far this season.

Zach Werenski is a defenseman. He's pretty universally considered an "offensive" defenseman, but still, he's manning the blueline and not a forward position.

Prior to Tuesday's CBJ game with the Arizona Coyotes at Nationwide Arena, Zach Werenski was the third-highest scoring Blue Jacket player on the season, with six goals and 10 assists for 16 points.

There are 12 forwards and six defensemen in the lineup for every game. A total of 13 forwards have tallied at least one point for the Jackets this season; eight defensemen have scored.

Whether or not Zach Werenski being the third-highest scorer among CBJ players is a good thing or a bad things depends, I suppose, on your perspective. By way of conveying my opinion on the matter, let me list the names of a few of the players below Werenski on the team scoring list (prior to Tuesday's game): Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand.

Those guys should be outscoring Werenski, even with Anderson having missed some time due to injury.

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I'll give guys like Nick Foligno, Alexander Wennberg and Boone Jenner — as well as ostensibly scoring but still-young players like Emil Bemstrom, Sonny Milano and Alexandre Texier — a break. The case can be made, especially for Milano and Bemstrom, that we're getting just about what we should expect. Vets Foligno, Jenner and Wennberg are probably the same. (Although the only reason we expect so little from Wennberg is because he's produced so little in the past.)

The Blue Jackets have a scoring problem. It can't all be attributed to the loss of the dynamic Artemi Panarin (who is tearing up the score sheet on the otherwise middling New York Rangers). Gustav Nyquist, the lone free agent forward added to the roster, is second on the team in scoring behind Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Did I mention that Zach Werenski was injured in the Jackets' 0-2 loss to the New York Islanders last weekend?

Atkinson and Anderson, in particular (and Wennberg, again), are vastly underperforming. Perhaps it was too much to expect Anderson to repeat last year's 27 goals, but he's currently on pace to score 3. He scored 19 and 17 in the previous two years, so he's way off even a reversion to the mean. Atkinson is on pace for 12 goals. Even before Panarin arrived, Atkinson was scoring in the upper 20s and 30s a season.

So again, it's a matter of perspective. As fans, we sure as hell hope this isn't the beginning of a career slide for Atkinson, now 30. Anderson is only 25, and it's widely assumed he's battling an injury of some kind, trying to play through it.

The young players are going to keep getting better, right? The underperforming guys have to get things turned around, right? The team has found its number one goalie in Joonas Korpisalo, right?

Depends on your perspective.