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Zach Werenski is emerging from his slow start into the defenseman we all recognize

Werenski started slowly to open the season. Now he is the team’s leading goal scorer in November.

NHL: NOV 12 Blue Jackets at Canadiens

Zach Werenski started poorly to open the season, as did much of the defense. He managed just four points in his first ten games of the year (2-2-4), had one point on the power play, and was struggling is his own zone. Fans were exasperated by his play - after struggling last season, Werenski was supposed to be fully healthy this year and reclaim the form that saw him finish third in the Calder Trophy voting his rookie season. Instead, he struggled as the Blue Jackets floundered out of the gate.

After a tough start, however, Zach Werenski is recovering his form, both offensively as well as defensively.

Offensively, Werenski is surging. Let’s start with his overtime game winner on Friday night. It’s beautiful and deserves another look.

Werenski utilizing his one timer on the power play is not something fans have seen much of since his shoulder injury, but he was able to fire it past Jake Allen. All told, in his last eight games, Werenski has six points (including five in his last four games). Werenski has goals in three straight games dating to the contest with the Colorado Avalanche. Werenski has four even strength goals this season, tied with Boone Jenner for second on the team (trailing only Pierre-Luc Dubois).

Werenski is averaging .72 goals per 60 minutes he is on the ice and 1.26 points per every 60 minutes he is on the ice. Werenski is generating rebound chances, finding the back of the net at a consistent rate, and helping carry the anemic Columbus offense.

Werenski is also beginning to emerge defensively. He will never be a shutdown player on the level of Seth Jones or Ryan Murray (when healthy), but he can hold his own in the defensive zone.

If Werenski can continue making these types of plays and limit his turnovers, he will continue to play at an acceptable level defensively while still shouldering the load for an offense that is struggling right now.

With Werenski emerging from his shell into the player we recognize, the Jackets may finally be able to dig out of the hole the forwards have put the team in.