After the Jackets win at Dallas, we face a small quandary. The Blue Jackets had a strong performance Against Calgary, even though they lost. So the question is, “Is it turning?” Is the season from hell starting to turn, are the Jackets going to play like the team they look like on paper or is the year to date experience going to reassert it’s self and we go back into our hold waiting for winter to be over and go for the first choice in the draft? I’m telling you folks, I’m feeling it, it is turning.
It has been reported that The Wiz has a fractured ankle and will be out for some time. Maybe I should wait until this is confirmed by experts, [remember the rubber man Derrick Dorsett] but it sure didn’t look good last nite when he left the ice. So with The Wiz out for some time and Radek Martinek
is out indefinitely with a concussion, on a defense line that has struggled all year, why be optimistic. Here is how it looks to me, and yes the glass is half full.
First lets talk about the loss of the Wiz. – James Wisniewski is a big name, but his performance to date this year is not stellar. His 19 points is ranked 197th in the NHL and his +/- of -18 ranks 786th in the NHL. Now, don’t get me wrong he is a BIG threat and is respected by opposing teams. He has had bad years in his +/- before and good years. He is a risk taker and as a result has a lot of turnovers. He is experienced, and will be missed however long he is out of action. But John Moore is improving at almost a game by game basis. According to the TV announcers, at least part of that is because he is working extra hard and is actually getting lessons in shot making. He got his first 2 NHL assists against Dallas last night. The last few games it seems like he has gotten more aggressive and he certainly has taken more authoritative shots. Can he step into the Wisniewski shoes, no but we are not left barefoot either.
On the squad is another D man, Aaron Johnson. To hear other bloggers talk, he is a lifetime AHL er. But he actually has over 200 games in the NHL including 38 for the Blackhawks and 30 for the Islanders. Yes he is not a NHL star and probably never will be, but he is not quite the bottom of the barrel you may be led to believe.
David Savard is playing well for Springfield and he looked OK is preseason. At the preseason start, he was actually expected to be ahead of John Moore in the possibility of making the club. He could be a call up. There probably would be a learning experience, but maybe not the scraping the bottom of the barrel you would expect. So, all is not lost, even with no trade.
Second- Let’s talk about the lines. I don’t think Arniel is through mixing and matching, but the Line of Johansen and Nash is looking good. Carter has not had an extreme presence in this line mix, but it looks like Johansen is taking to the top line like a duck to water. I’m thinking that Carter should anchor the 2nd line and either Mark Letestu or Antoine Vermette would work well on the 1st line. All in all the lines have some balance and there is a functionality in the lines that makes some sense. Remember they have played 2 pretty solid games “as is”. I know there has been a lot of talk about Derrick Brassard’s playing time. But I hope he is not traded, he is extremely versatile and would probably be more dangerous and see more ice time if he had a stronger line. [ If you notice, Jarrad Boll is contributing very little. [except a very inopportune penalty late in the 3rd period last nite] I doubt Scott Howson could find a team interested in trading for him, but a little more skill and a little less fighting would be a big help.
Third- Two individuals are stepping up. I nominate Derrick Dorsett and Derrick MacKinsey as standard bearers. In the Dallas game on the PK in the 3rd period, D MacKinsey stole the puck in the Dallas zone and held it against 2 then 3 then 4 then finally 5 of the Dallas Stars, before giving it up. Talk about a 1 man PK. We saw it there!! Dorsett also has been big on the PK with his high energy play, but he also is stepping up on the offense. it is not unusual to see him heading for the net at full speed puck on his stick.
Fourth- The special teams are looking better. Todd Richards came here with a reputation of building good power play units. To date we have not seen a lot of improvement over last years weak editions, but the special teams are looking a little better. I still think slipping Nash or Carter onto the ice at some time during the PK gives a change up to the PK look and gives the other team something to think about.
So, I’m feeling it. I think the one thing that is a MUST, is staying focused on Defense
Lets go Jackets!!