1. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets continue their run of resiliency by fighting back from three deficits (1-0, 2-1, and 3-2) to win in regulation. Their narrow victory against the Jets pushes the Blue Jackets to six wins in a row. With that, they tie the Panthers for the hottest streak entering the All-Star break.
Dubois ended up as Wednesday’s only three-point player, collecting them all on assists. That outburst leaves Dubois with 38 points in 51 games this season.
While those aren’t astronomical numbers, his strong all-around play confirms to me that PLD isn’t just a product of Artemi Panarin.
Now, does Panarin boost the numbers of about everyone he plays with, though? Sure, but Dubois is proving that he can stand on his own.
2. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus Blue Jackets
Bjorkstrand merits an argument as the top star of the day. If nothing else, the winger is hotter than PLD — and plenty of others — if you zoom out.
Bjorkstrand scored two goals for Columbus for the third game in a row. In all three cases, Bjorkstrand collected the game-winning goal. Hmm … maybe Bjorkstrand really deserves that top star nod?
Watch out for a possible strong finish to 2019-20. Last season, Bjorkstrand scored more goals (16) and points (22) in 34 games after the 2019 All-Star break than he did in 43 games before it (seven goals, 14 points). While I’d chalk quite a bit of that up to linemates — wait for it, Bjorkstrand enjoyed some nice Panarin reps, and some Matt Duchene ones too — Bjorkstrand is also one of those snipers who can get on a hot streak. If he repeats history, it could be a big difference-maker for a Blue Jackets team forced to scratch and claw.
3. Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
Flip Zadina might deserve the nod more than Staal. Zadina, like Bjorkstrand, generated his two points by way of goals. The rookie also affected the game in other ways, firing seven shots on goal and drawing a late penalty that gave Detroit a slight chance for a comeback.
The Wild won, however, and that strikes me as a tiebreaker. That said, even choosing the best Wild skater is tough. I’m giving Staal the edge because both of his points (1G, 1A) were of the primary variety. (Mats Zuccarello‘s 1G, 1A includes a secondary helper). Mathew Dumba makes a strong argument with his two assists and +3 rating, so really, it’s a matter of taste.
Either way, it’s surreal that Staal recently reached 1,000 points. It might even make some of us feel old.
1️⃣, 0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ points calls for a celebration for Eric Staal. 👏 pic.twitter.com/e5rBOQ9iGT
— NHL (@NHL) January 23, 2020
/makes old man noise just from shifting in seat
Wednesday provided us with a scant two games, so why not just enjoy clips from both? If you want a standout moment, I’d argue Seth Jones‘ goal was the pick:
Here are the highlights for Minnesota dominating the second period to beat Detroit:
- Again, the Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to six by coming back. It’s apparently their 15th comeback win of 2019-20, second only to the Capitals’ 16 for the most in the league, according to NHL PR.
- Bjorkstrand became the first Blue Jackets player to score multiple goals in three games or more, via NHL PR. I’m a little surprised Rick Nash never managed that when he was their go-to guy and a premiere power forward.
- Wednesday marked the first multi-goal game of Zadina’s career. The 20-year-old joins select Red Wings company.
- Kyle Connor collected his 15th goal since Dec. 1. Auston Matthews is the only player with more (18) during that span, according to NHL PR. Connor has 25 goals overall in 2019-20.
- Sportsnet stats notes the Jets are 1-6-0 in their last seven, and other numbers are disturbing.
CBJ 4 – WIN 3
MIN 4 – DET 2
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.