Before we even heard about Brandon Dubinsky’s brush with the Department of Player Safety on Wednesday, a story trickled from the Columbus Blue Jackets that quickly became lost in the shuffle: Ryan Johansen was given notice to head back to the AHL’s Springfield Falcons.
Johansen had a good start for the Blue Jackets but only tallied two assists in 10 games. Hey, two assists are nothing to sneeze at, and there are other players on the team who don’t have a goal yet: Dubinsky, RJ Umberger, Nikita Nikitin and Jared Boll don’t have one to their name. And Johansen had the team’s best faceoff percentage at 50.8 percent, winning eight of nine draws in the Blue Jackets’ 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
The official explanation came from general manager Scott Howson. “He started strong, but we think his play has tailed off. He looks like he’s struggling offensively,” Howson said. “This isn’t all about getting points, it’s about getting chances and making an impact offensively. I just think he’s struggling confidence-wise offensively. We decided to send him down to find his game.”
That quote makes me laugh, because Howson’s decision making is becoming a joke. Keep in mind that this is from the same man who unnecessarily dragged out the Rick Nash trade. Of course, Howson’s not alone about Johansen because there’s agreement from coach Todd Richards, but I’d rather take Richards’ opinion over Howson’s.
Now that Johansen is gone, Richards will have to rely on guys with not-so-stellar faceoff numbers. The next in line are Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, whose faceoff percentages are 49.6 percent and 47.5 percent respectively in at least 50 attempts. That’s not going to be enough when you’re playing against teams with strong faceoff guys like Jonathan Toews and Pavel Datsyuk.
If the Blue Jackets weren’t struggling before, they’ll start doing that without that much needed factor in place.