Gift from grandma: Homemade defense…
This one may fix itself in time, but for the immediate future: defense is a huge need for this team. The thing about the defense is, many of the pieces that are here, are the guys who have to handle the workload. Zach Werenski is out for the year, as is Jake Bean. But it’s time to see guys like Adam Boqvist, Nick Blankenburg, Andrew Peeke, and Erik Gudbranson making improvements to this team’s back end.
Most importantly, what is going on with Vladislav Gavrikov? If we aren’t keeping him around, there had better be immediate help acquired to fill his role – a role in which he’s been eye opening in all the right ways for the last few games. Trading him now guts this team even more, and while there are prospects on the way, there isn’t much in the way of immediate help – especially on the left side.
The biggest wish for this team, fingers crossed, is the continuing development of some of the prospects in the system. David Jiricek is definitely playing like a future top pairing guy in Cleveland (AHL). Corson Ceulemans looks like a steady two-way guy that can help out in the near future. Denton Mateychuk and Stanislav Svozil are probably years away, but they also look like potential top-four guys.
Buying time for these guys is key, which is why it’s so important for the guys who are here now to start making their marks.
The sneaky gift we aren’t expecting: Goaltending surprise…
This isn’t a knock on Elvis and I apologize in advance if it comes off that way. But, this hasn’t been his season at all. His confidence clearly isn’t there, and his play has held this team back in most of his starts this year. Hopefully he can rediscover his game soon and we won’t have these discussions any more.
Unfortunately, Joonas Korpisalo has been only marginally better, and with neither of the NHL guys able to stay healthy, Daniil Tarasov has been thrust into a role that he’s probably not yet ready to hold down.
That said, Daniil has been really good. His save percentage (.913) is the best of the three, and the team does seem to play more confidently in front of him. Is it possible that the goaltender of the future, is actually the goaltender of the now for the Blue Jackets? Time will tell. Either way, it would be nice if the ‘tenders would steal a game for this team here and there.
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More likely, improvements to the defense and center depth of this organization, is the biggest need for the team’s goaltending issues. Tarasov will likely get sent down as soon as Joonas and Elvis are ready to play again. So, don’t expect dad to show up with this surprise on Christmas day, unless mom wrapped up some of the earlier gifts on our wish list.
Most of all, health…
The Jackets lost their fifth in a row last night, with 11 regulars out of the lineup. In a nutshell, that’s their problem at this point in time. They’re actually playing pretty well, but the talent just isn’t there and some of the guys who started out really strong, are now starting to show that they’re really just AHL players after all.
Getting back to health is what this team really needs. Even though they won’t get everyone back, icing something closer to an NHL roster will make the games more competitive again. Or at least, the coaching staff and management can evaluate the roster and weed out who they want to keep through the entire rebuild.