Columbus Blue Jackets: Standout Defensive Duo Will Carry Team This Season
Nobody will sleep on the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. After a winning streak for the ages and a playoff berth, the time for them to take the next step is now. And with the addition of Artemi Panarin, there are quite a few around the league that feel this Blue Jackets team is a Stanley Cup contender.
One thing the Jackets have going for them is an established and young defensive unit. Led by Seth Jones, Columbus isn’t a pushover when it comes to the blue line. In fact, it’s one of the best units in all of hockey, especially with Zach Werenski and Jones on the teams first unit.
Last season, the duo of Jones and Werenski shared the ice for 26.94 percent of the game. That’s tied for the second most amount of time a defensive duo spent together on the team. (Jones and Jack Johnson spent 28.76 percent on the ice per game). The other defensive pairings for the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t come close to these percentages.
It’s expected that year two of the Werenski/Jones pairing will feature a lot more chemistry between the two, as they both have grown accustomed to each other and the NHL. Both put up over 40 points last season. Jones amassed 46 points with 14 goals and 32 assists, while Werenski put up 47 with 12 goals and 36 assists over the course of the regular season and playoffs.
With over 40 points scored each, the Blue Jackets duo was part of some elite company, as they were one of only three teams to have two 40 point defenceman for the regular season. Considering it was their first year together, and Werenski’s first season as a pro, that’s pretty impressive.
This season, the Jackets are one of the favorites for the Metropolitan Division. Jones spoke to NHL.COM about the task the team has going into the season,
“We’re not catching any teams off guard this year and we all know that,” Jones said.
“We came a long way from the year before. But it wasn’t good enough. We have to be that much better to be at the top of the league, where we want to be.”
Perhaps the Columbus Blue Jackets will be a Stanley Cup contender this year. Whatever the case may be, expect Jones and Werenski to lead the charge on defense. If they can repeat last year’s success, it’s going to be a banner year for Columbus.