Plenty of bright spots in Blue Jackets’ season so far
The Blue Jackets are still mired in seventh place in the Metropolitan
Division with 27 points in 29 games. The “on-again, off-again” nature of
the club through the first two months of the season has left them with a
hill to climb.
This seems eerily reminiscent
of the way they started last year as inconsistent play and injuries have
plagued them to this point.
The team still waits
for the debut of Nathan Horton. The return of Marian Gaborik and Sergei
Bobrovsky is still weeks away. Jared Boll is still on Injured Reserve
and James Wisniewski is out for the next two games (at least) after
sustaining an upper-body injury in Friday night’s win over the Minnesota
Center Artem Anisimov has been all but
invisible, going 1-1-2 (-1) in his last five games. Right winger Cam
Atkinson has been in a bit of slump, going 1-1-2 (even +/-) in the
previous five games. Much was expected of the young Atkinson and the
team needs him to get back to into his scoring ways.
there are bright spots as they get ready to play their 30th game of the
season against the division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Curtis
McElhinney, elevated to the starting goaltender role in the wake of the
groin injury to Bobrovsky, began his tenure as the starter with a convincing shutout
against Minnesota. The team played with confidence in front of him,
knowing that he’s more than capable to carry the
Derek MacKenzie, one of head coach Todd
Richards’ “energy guys”, made his return to the lineup in the same game.
He had 11:13 of ice time and won 50% of his face-offs in the circle.
He’s 2-1-3 in 23 games played with a +/- of -5. The “old man” of the
team, at 32, continues to be one of the hardest workers on the
Forward Nick Foligno is 3-1-4, +1 in his
last five games, including two game-winning goals in that span. Center
Ryan Johansen has taken strides in his game and plays with confidence.
In the last five games, the youngster (he’s only 21) has notched 2-4-6
with a +/- of +3 and two multi-point games. Forward RJ Umberger has
gotten back into what works for him and has become a presence in front
of the net. In the last five games, he’s 1-2-3 (even
On the defensive side in the last five
games, rookie Ryan Murray hasn’t scored any points, but he’s +3 and
continues to play in all situations (even strength, PP, PK, etc), having
earned more responsibility from the coach. With the poise and skill
that he displays, it’s hard to believe that he’s just a rookie with only
29 NHL games under his belt.
continues to eat up minutes on the blue line while making smarter plays
with the puck. His defensive partner, Fedor Tyutin, brings his
consistent play each and every game, going 0-2-2 (-2) in his last five
Another positive sign is the fact that
they are starting to shoot the puck more. The age-old mantra of “shoot
the puck and good things can happen” holds true, as evidenced by the
season-high 41 shots they put on the Minnesota Wild last Friday. This
needs to continue to help them have success.
they haven’t been written out of making the playoffs, they need to get
back to that mentality of “us against the world”. They have to prove
that the impressive run in the latter half of last season wasn’t a
fluke. Hopefully they have learned that they cannot be satisfied. They
have to strive to keep improving and play consistent hockey. Only then
can they begin the climb out of the hole that they have dug for
And baby makes three. Brandon Dubinsky and his wife Brenna welcomed
their first child, Brady Charles, into the world last week. He’s
eligible for the 2032 NHL Entry Draft.
Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Calvert, both of whom took a “maintenance
day” on Saturday, will be in the lineup tonight versus the
David Savard, having been a healthy scratch for the previous four games,
will likely draw back into the lineup with the injury to James
• On the
Pittsburgh side, Evgeni Malkin remains questionable for tonight’s tilt.
After leaving the game against Boston Saturday night on a stretcher,
Brooks Orpik is out while James Neal is having a phone hearing with the
NHL (possible suspension) and is likely out.