Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gainer's Goal Crease: CBJ February Round Up

Umby tying the game late last night to send it to OT
2-1, 5-3, 3-2, 3-2, 2-1, 1-0, and 5-4.  Those are the final scores of the last seven games played by the Columbus Blue Jackets to finish out the month of February.  Guess how many they won?  If you guessed one, you would be correct!  They managed just three points during that stretch and currently sit at 5-12-3 which is good for 13 points.  That's last in the West and last in the NHL.

James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and Derick Brassard.  What do these five have in common?  These are five of the highest paid players on the team who are all currently injured.  Their top offensive pairing in the #controlledchaos that is Wiz and JJ and basically the whole team's center position.  Yikes.

Tired of hearing of the dreadfulness?  Me too.

I'll try to provide the silver lining.  Unfortunately I won't have Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar winning performance to help me through this.  Even though I may trip and stumble...giggle.  Did you notice the one goal loss pattern above?  The CBJ have lost NINE one goal games this year.  That's a potential nine extra points if you just get to overtime!  Nonetheless, John Davidson has shown the fan base one thing so far.  He meant it when he said this team won't be outworked.  This team battles until the game is over.

With the shortened season, the Blue Jackets will already be halfway by next week.  March is a crucial month.  If the team stays on the same course, they will be way out of the playoff picture by the April 3rd trading deadline.  They could be big sellers. They may not be.  Who knows?!  With a new front office, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Next year the salary cap will be just over $64 million.  With the current roster, the team will have over $25 million in cap space.  That is what we like to call A LOT of money to work with.


  • The goalie play actually has been rather stellar.  Both Bobrovsky and Mason have been good and keeping the team in games.  The low scoring one goal contests are proof of that.
  • Fedor Tyutin - he leads the team in points with 11 as a defender
  • Vinny Prospal - the dude just keeps going at his age and leads the team with 6 goals
  • Mark Letestu - has found his niche playing a solid two way game with 5 goals and 5 assists to go along with a team leading +2.
  • The penalty kill!  Somehow the team is still ranked 9th in the league!  Impressive


  • Injuries.  Ugh
  • The power play.  It stinks. 28th overall in the NHL
  • The offense.  It stinks.  Just over 2 goals a game.  28th (again) in the NHL
  • Nearly every player on the roster is a negative because they spend most of the time in their own zone.  
  • Adrian Aucoin - Free agent pick up has been a dud on defense

With so many young guns playing up right now.  The front office and coaching staff is getting a great look at what the young players can do.  Unfortunately there just isn't a lot of offensive fire power on the ice.  The power play was already abysmal and when your two best power play players are injured it doesn't help.  It also doesn't help that your two best power play players are two defensemen named Wisniewski and Johnson.

The team will likely just make some minor moves, if any, by the trade deadline.  They may just shed some contracts and start fresh with the draft.  Right now they would currently (if the lotto balls bounce their way) pick First, Ninth (Rangers), and 15th (Kings).  Think of this season as an extended training camp.  Going into next season, the team will only have 8 forwards signed.  They'll get their defensive corp back and also lose Steve Mason.  Bobrovsky will be a Restricted Free Agent so this season will go a long way in determining if they keep him or not too.  I imagine they will and bring in someone else to compete next year as a veteran back up.

Youngsters like Calvert, Atkinson, Drazenovic, Goloubef, and Savard will all be on the final year of the entry level contracts.  This summer they'll also be able to negotiate new contracts with Johansen, Boll, MacKenzie, Brassard, Nikitin, Erixon, and Moore who all enter the final year of their contracts.  That my friends is a TON of decisions to be making this calendar year.  I got a feeling this franchise may be looking slightly different at the start of the 2013-2014 season.

To put it lightly, the team just need guys who can put the puck in the net.  Your second pairing defenseman can't be your leading scorer unless your name is Erik Karlsson and you're top ten in the league and the defending Norris Trophy winner.  When third and fourth line guys are leading the way offensively, it pretty much paints the picture.  But like I mentioned earlier, they are a tough team to play against.  They will grind you down and beat you up.  But at the NHL level, great effort will only get you so far.  Unfortunately for the Jackets, that effort is still the worst in the league.

Up Next:

There are 16 games in March.  Eight of the next ten are at home.  If they hope to make any push at all.  Now is the freakin time!  But for the time being, just get healthy.

League Notes:

I could go through a lot of things but only one thing matters.  The Blackhawks are 16-0-3!!!!  With the Blues tonight, they could score points in their first 20 games which is unreal.  They are already EIGHT points ahead of everyone (and a crazy 22 points ahead of CBJ) including the Ducks who themselves are off to a scorching start at 13-3-1.  I personally want to see the Blackhawks win tonight because they will get CBJ on Friday night.  I would love the worst team to beat the best team and ruin the streak.  Hopefully by the end of March, the playoff picture will start coming into focus.  By then, teams will be at or around 35 games with just a handful left.