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Jones earning big minutes on Jackets' top pair

22-year-old is developing into a well-rounded force on the back end

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer /

Jones wins it in overtime

DAL@CBJ: Jones' game-winning wrister in OT

Seth Jones unleashes a great wrist shot from the point that beats Antti Niemi, tallying the game-winning goal for the Blue Jackets in overtime

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John Tortorella challenged Seth Jones at the end of last season.

He was concerned that Jones wasn't ready to play in the Blue Jackets' regular season finale against the Chicago Blackhawks, so he benched him. In a game that Columbus roared back from 3-0 down to win in overtime, Jones had to sit and watch.

And it was for one sole purpose.

"I didn't do it to embarrass him," Tortorella said. "It was a good opportunity for me to let him know you have to be ready all the time."

The 2016-17 season is only eight games old, but the Blue Jackets are playing well (4-3-1) and Jones has been an integral part of their early success. On many of those nights, he has been one of their best players.

Jones, still only 22 years old, scored the overtime game-winning goal in Tuesday's dramatic win over the Dallas Stars and played a strong game at even strength. In eight games, Jones has two goals and four points - encouraging to see on the scoresheet, but according to Tortorella, his play without the puck has been equally solid.

Video: Seth Jones on his overtime winner vs. Dallas.

"He's been good all year long," Tortorella said. "He has been ready and he's brought people along with him. As we've talked about: our back end is going to be our engine as we move forward here, and he's a big part of it."

No Blue Jackets player has spent more time on the ice than Jones (149:57), and assistant coach Brad Shaw (who runs the defense in-game) has shown no hesitation in using him in all situations.

To put it simply: Jones has been an absolute horse for the Blue Jackets, and along with 19-year-old defense partner Zach Werenski, has formed a top pairing that can get the puck out of danger and go to work offensively. 

"I think I've been playing pretty consistent," Jones said. "The main thing for is to be solid defensively first and I think I've done a pretty good job with that, with Zach, so I think we're playing very well together and having a lot of success right now."

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