In the absence of All-Star center Ryan Johansen, new bench boss John Tortorella said there is no one go-to guy to fill the gap.
Johansen, who missed Saturday's game in Denver and is not traveling with the team to New Jersey, remains out with illness and listed as day-to-day.
The coach said he is still evaluating all of his players, but so far, he likes what he sees collectively in the group.
“I don’t know how the ice was divvied up prior, when Joey was in the lineup,” Totorella said. “I just had Joey for one game, but as I’m beginning to understand (the players) better, you can see some of the skill, like Karlsson, but I don’t want to just pinpoint one or two guys, because it’s not fair.
“I think that team has progressed as a group and we’re going to continue evaluating.”
In eight (of nine) games played during the 2015-16 campaign, Johansen notched one goal and added five assists for a total of six points. He currently leads the team, with Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner all tied with five points.
When Johansen didn’t dress for Saturday night’s game in Colorado, he broke a 202-game iron man streak that was the fourth-longest in team history.
The 23-year-old played in all 82 regular-season games the previous two years. During the 2014-15 campaign, he notched 26 goals and added 45 assists.
“Joey just doesn’t feel well,” Tortorella said. “He lacks energy, and so we’ll list him as day-to-day, and he’s just getting some medical testing done and we’re gonna leave him alone and see if we can get that straightened out.”
“We don’t think it’s long-term,” the coach added. “He just doesn’t feel well.”
It was an all-around team effort that allowed the Jackets to secure their first win of the season on Saturday night against the Avalanche. While Tortorella said securing a win always helps, he recognized that it is still a step-by-step process.
“We’re just trying to get better as a hockey club each and every day,” Tortorella said. “They feel good, but now we need to get ready for another game coming up in Jersey.”
The Blue Jackets saw several players step up in Johansen's absence on Saturday, and while that was encouraging for Tortorella, he knows that the team needs its No. 1 center healthy and in the lineup for sustained success.
“I’ve watched Ryan play from afar,” Tortorella said. “He’s a hell of a player and we need everybody to play. We’re 1-8, and we’re going to need something special to happen as we go along this long year to try to crawl out of this hole, and certainly Ryan Johansen is a huge part of this club.”
As of now, Tortorella said he’s not sure what the lineup will be for Tuesday’s game in New Jersey against the Devils, but one thing’s for sure -- everyone will need to contribute.
“I think if we play the way we want to play, we need everybody contributing and I’m trying to do that,” Tortorella said.