I know I know, this should probably start with a rant saying “fire Scott Howson, blow the team up, relocate them” but, I’m not going to do that. This is just an honest look of what I see on the ice for the Columbus Blue Jackets thus far. And so far, this is what im seeing:
On the offensive side, we look ok, and just ok, not what we were expecting, but not everyone can come firing out of the gate. But when Rick Nash is tied in points with Derek Dorsett and Derek Mackenzie, you know there is a problem. Our first two lines have been to say in the least, invisible outside of say, one game.
The first line of Nash, Huselius, and Vermette has just not clicked as usual, and for a line that worked together last season, you think the chemistry would be there and firing, but so far, nothing. The main issue on this line (in my opinion) is Kristian Huselius, he is seeming to have trouble 5 on 5, he is having trouble passing, and maintaining puck control. Rick Nash, while scoring 3, is having his fair share of troubles as well. He still tries to do too much on the puck by himself and usually ends up losing the puck altogether. Vermette outside of the faceoff dot, has just been bad, especially when it comes to knowing where his teammates on the ice are.
The second line of Filatov, Brassard, and Voracek has been nothing short of a disappointment. This line seemed like one that could be deadly and just come out of the gate firing on all cylinders, but it just hasn’t panned out thus far. Derick Brassard has been in a funk since his injury last season, and he still isn’t breaking out of it, it is like he is still afraid to make a mistake, and with Hitchcock long gone, there is really no reason for it. BUT, I will say, he has made small strides as time is going on, taking better shots and passing a little bit better, it will just take him some time. JakubVoracek, just seems slow, it is like his bulk from this off season was a little too much, he might just need a few games, like Brassard, to find his touch. Nikita Filatov was the only guy on this line who seemed to know what he was doing, however, he just gets taken off the puck too easy, he tries a fancy deke and the defender is usually ready for it, he needs to work on puck battles, if he can do that, he will find success.
The third line of Moreau, Pahlsson , and Umberger has been nothing but money, and by that I mean, the only guys on the ice earning theirs (well.. aside from the goalies). But the easy surprise has been Ethan Moreau, he has been flying on the ice, and finding all kinds of scoring chances, of course, what else would you expect from 15 year NHL vet? He’s just doing his job. Unfortunately, a broken hand will keep him out of action for a while. Sami Pahlsson is still solid in the faceoff dot, and a solid shutdown guy, moreso than some defenders (including some of our own) And RJ Umberger, what else can be said about him that hasn’t already? He is just the definition of heart and determination to this team. He works his tail off nightly, and he has been repaid with 4 points and the best +/- on the team at +4.
The 4th line of Dorsett, Mackenzie, and Clark has done what has been asked of them, and then some. The surprise I think to anyone, is Mackenzie himself, he is seeming to thrive under Arneil’s system, he knows when to be physical (threw 13 hits so far), and apparently, he knows how to score as well. Derek Dorsett, you want to say right place right time, those are the words to describe him. He always seems to be in the right place, be it offensive or defensive, he seems to know where to be at all times. Chris Clark, now this is a guy I have honestly ragged on before, and said “well… what does he bring to this team?” Well, I can honestly answer myself now, he does all the little things right, he can block shots, pass, shoot, hit. And when you do all of those things, they help you win hockey games.
Now we go onto the darkside of Blue Jackets hockey, Defense. I think Arneil’s system has completely thrown our D for a loop, and they cannot figure out what to do it seems. So, here is what im (unfortuantely) seeing:
Our first Defensive line consists of Jan Hejda and Anton Stralman. Jan Hejda, is just one of those guys who goes hard game in and out, he knows what he is doing, and nobody really questions his ability. He is the one Defenseman who doesn’t seem lost out on the ice under Arneil’s system, he knows when to go into the zone, and come back out. Anton Stralman on the other hand, should probably be a forward, he forgets the defensive part of his game. He constantly loses the guy he is supposed to be covering, and goes far into the zone, leaving his D partner susceptible to constant 2 on 1 rushes.
Our second Defensive line consists of Fedor Tyutin, and Marc Methot. Fedor Tyutin is just frustrating to watch as a fan, he constantly loses the puck at the blue line, ruining some ample scoring chances and Blue jackets offensive pressure. Not to mention he has a habit of letting forwards skate by him with the greatest of ease. Marc Methot, he isn’t entirely noticeable on the ice, but he hasn’t done anything wrong on the ice, he’s like Clark, he does all the little things right, and you cannot ask more out of him.
Our final defensive line features the original Blue Jacket Rostislav Klesla and Kris Russell. Rostislav Klesla has been a solid Dman, but has reminded us more and more as the game changes, players need to as well. Klesla isn’t fully grasping the concept that Arneil is throwing out there, but he has managed a couple assists, and like everyone else, it might just take some time for him to click. Kris Russell, despite a current injury, is still showing us what he did last year, speed speed and yes, more speed. He seems to be more suited as a forward than as a defenseman, but alas, he uses his speed to his advantage as a Defensemen, getting back and pushing forward when needed.
Goaltending, probably one of the most important pieces of a hockey team, especially for the Columbus Blue Jackets. And after last season, there were many questioning who would be the starter heading into this season. Well, here’s what I see:
Steve Mason so far is undoubtedly the Blue Jackets starter, he is showing signs of his rookie campaign, he has had a few bad goals against him, but they haven’t really rattled him much, if at all. The one area of concern is some of the soft goals against him, there are some, he HAS to make the save on, and if he can do that, then that will make the big saves, that much more important to this team. Mathieu Garon, is still solid in the backup role. In his few games, he has had one bad goal against, but other than that, has looked like the Garon from last season, and if Mase ever goes into a funk this season, you know he is there to bail him out.
So, as we press on through this season, there are still unanswered questions, so do not jump to conclusions on this team, there is alot to prove in that locker room and all the guys in there know it. We need to keep readjusting until we find that one right combination to bring out the full potential of Arneil’s game. And the first 6, have given alot of insight as to what is working, and what isn’t. And also, if the first 6 are any indication, we are in for a wild ride this season, hang on, we’ll see what happens as it unfolds.
LETS GO JACKETS!!!!