It’s Time To Play the Kids

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

The Blue Jackets had mixed results over the weekend. On Saturday, they got thumped by the Detroit Red Wings by a 6-1 margin, in a game that probably wasn’t even that close. On Sunday, despite being heavily outshot and outplayed by the Florida Panthers, the team found a way to get it done – earning a 5-3 win. One thing that is completely evident: it’s time to play the kids.

All signs point in the direction of this team missing the playoffs. Mark Scheig over at The Hockey Writers points out that the team needs to go on a ridiculous tear to make the playoffs this season, and this seems nearly impossible for any team. Let alone one that’s suffering so heavily with injuries.

As mentioned above, the Blue Jackets have 64 games left to play this season. For them to get to 100 points now would mean securing 87 points in those 64 games. That would mean finishing the season going 40-17-7 or equivalent in those 64 games.

In Columbus right now, you have all of the formulas for a lost season. They came into the year with a young, inexperienced roster, with question marks on defense and in goal. With 8 players currently sitting on IR; they’re even younger, less experienced, and have greater question marks not only on defense and in goal; but also with their forwards.

Elvis Merzlikins joined the long list of players on IR this week. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

They started out slowly even when they were healthy, so one could argue that these injuries are a blessing in disguise. It’s forcing them to keep Kent Johnson on the NHL roster. It’s forcing them to give Trey Fix-Wolansky an early season look. But as the team continues to get shelled on a nightly basis, the coaching staff seems dead set on trying to grind out the game with depth and AHL players, which does not make sense.

Let’s face it, they got worked by the Florida Panthers last night. Without Daniil Tarasov’s heroics, this is easily another 6-1 or 7-1 score … the shots (50-23) are the only indication you need to see to know that the Panthers dictated play. They were all over the Jackets, hemming them into the defensive zone for minutes at a time.

Nov 20, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Daniil Tarasov (40) makes a helmet save in the second period against the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports

Give the young Jackets credit for hanging on. They actually did a nice job of taking away the middle of the ice and keeping a lot of those shots to the outside. But, they could not generate much of anything the other way, until a middle of the third period shift by a pieced together “kids line” of Yegor Chinakhov, Cole Sillinger, and Kent Johnson.

They were the first line to get a shift in the Panthers end in the entire period. They turned the momentum for the team, and Johnny Gaudreau scored the game winning goal off of a turnover on the very next shift.

Kent even tried the famed lacrosse move a little later on, but his shot didn’t go in. What did it do? It pissed off the Panthers, most notably Matthew Tkachuk, who gave KJ a cross-check after the whistle. While he doesn’t get a goal here, one could argue that taking Tkachuk off his game alone was well worth the effort. He’s their leading scorer; having him sitting for 2 minutes certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse