Columbus doesn’t have a lot of big names, they’re more of an offense by committee who relies on their special teams and goaltending to win games. They do however have some guys who are worth taking note of.
Pens must stop: Ryan Johansen. He was basically their offense this season with 33 goals on 237 shots. The Jackets only had two other players surpass the 20-goal mark, so shutting down Johansen should be the Pens top defensive priority. Johnansen has all the skills necessarily to eventually be a star in this league, if this whole rivalry thing actually gains traction, it would be easy to see Johansen at the heart of it.
Honorable Mention: James Wisniewski. The power play goes through this guy. His 28 points on the man advantage were among the best in the league. He also is the centerpiece of their defense, and one of the few Columbus defenders who has the constant physicality and defensive ability to potentially frustrate Penguin forwards.
Hero in Waiting: Cam Atkinson. He was inconsistent this season, but there is no denying his talent.
If he gets behind the Pens defense, look out.
Honorable Mention: Mark Letestu. If Letestu has any hand in eliminating the Penguins from the first round of the playoffs the internet will probably burn itself to the ground.
You’re guaranteed to hate: Brandon Dubinsky –if you don’t already. Here is a summation of Dubinsky’s career in three gifs:
Honorable Mention: Jared Boll. A real dick in his own right except he sucks so who cares. Also, Boone Jenner, because what the hell is a Boone Jenner.
You’ll be tired of hearing about: Jack Johnson. Truthfully, you’re probably already tired of hearing about him. Forever one of the most overrated players in the league by anyone who pays attention, it wasn’t until his omission from the USA Olympic roster this year did it feel like the rest of the world had finally realized how bad this guy is.
Yes, the Kings made a terrible decision when they gave Johnson a 7-year, 30 million dollar contract, but the Blue Jackets went to Spring Break without a condom when they traded for him two seasons ago. They had no idea what they were getting into, and weren’t prepared to deal with the long-term consequences.
Johnson had five goals this season, but four came on the power play. He had 28 assists, except only nine were primary assists. He easily led Columbus in ice time per game, but conversely was one of their worst possession players. Nearly every CBJ player has better 5-on-5 possession stats when they’re not on the ice with Johnson. If you’re arguing he’s had a more defensive approach this season, you might want to consider the .919 team save percentage at 5-on-5 with Johnson on the ice —one of the worst on his team.
Over the years there have been an unlimited amount of trade rumors linking Johnson to the Penguins, and thankfully, none have ever come to fruition. We can’t imagine what watching his awful decision making on a nightly basis would do to the blood pressure of this fan base, but we do know that one stroke this year was bad enough.
Honorable Mention: Boone Jenner.
Most Important Player: Sergei Bobrovsky. This one is obvious. He didn’t post quite the same numbers he did when he won the Vezina a year ago, but he is still their backbone and the one guy who can hoist the Jackets on his shoulders. Goaltending is the one area where Columbus may have an advantage, if Bobrovsky lives up to that assumption he could easily steal a game or two for them. If that happens early in the series all bets are off.
No need for an honorable mention here, there’s no question the Jackets will ride or die with Bobrovsky.