Apr 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (left) and center Artem Anisimov (42) celebrate a goal by left wing Matt Calvert (11) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Playoffs and the Captain Question

As the Columbus Blue Jackets  continue to battle in the Playoffs tonight, where does the team stand on the captain question? Do we need one? If so, who? These are questions the team management will have to be answering soon. It seems that the Jackets have had two of their best years in franchise history these past two seasons, and they did so without a captain. They earned their first-ever Playoff win without a captain. Do they need to name someone? Would a captain bring leadership and focus to the team, or take away from the group effort we’ve been seeing in the first two Playoff games?

Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While the argument for not having a captain is an interesting one, let’s focus on some names that could be thrown around if the team does name a captain this off-season. The Stanley Cup Playoffs often bring about a level of play that some players have never had, and it no doubt gives rise to heroes and stars. It’s often said the Playoffs are where stars are born. Will the play of individual players in the Playoffs affect how likely they are to become captain one day? It’s likely. Here are some players who have stood out this season and in the last few games:

Jack Johnson: Last season, there were many who wanted Johnson to be named captain. He is 27, which makes him old enough to have experience and be a leader, but young enough to be around for a good amount of years. This season, however, he only registered a disappointing 5 goals, and was -7 in the regular season. Disappointing stats from the veteran defenseman. Although his regular season stats have been low, Johnson has contributed in the post-season. He has two goals and one assist in the two games so far, making him the team’s leader in points. Is it enough to overcome his regular season play though?

Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Johansen: The Jackets’ leading point-scorer has certainly stepped into the spotlight this season. He had a career-high 33 goals and a total of 63 points in the regular season, 12 better than his closest competitor on the Jackets’ roster. He has one goal and one assist in two Playoff games this season, which isn’t bad for his first post-season appearance. The biggest problem with making RyJo captain is his age. He’s only 21, which makes it hard for him to be a leader. As mentioned, this is Johansen’s first time in the Playoffs. Contrast that with Jack Johnson and Nathan Horton, both of whom have had more Playoff experience than Johansen. But which is more important, seniority and experience or point production?

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Calvert: I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention Calvert when discussing the Jackets’ next captain, but he earned the right to have his name mentioned in the game in Pittsburgh on Saturday. He scored two goals, one of them being the highlight-reel game-winner in the second overtime. With that performance, Calvert showed he can keep calm and score clutch goals in huge games. Not to mention he single-handedly secured the franchise’s first-ever Playoff win. He only had 24 points in 56 regular season games, but his performance in the Playoffs, especially Saturday, has been outstanding. If he keeps playing like he has been, I think he will gain more respect and recognition as the captain question develops.

Obviously, the Jackets have many more players whose names have been associated with possible captains, but they have been quiet in the Playoffs so far. Nathan Horton is injured again and won’t be joining the Playoff battle; Brandon Dubinsky, while having two assists, has yet to register a post-season goal; James Wisniewski has no points and is -1 in two games so far. We’ll have to wait and see if any other stars emerge on the Jackets lineup, and just how far Playoff performance will go in determining the next Blue Jacket captain.

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