Archive for Columbus Blue Jackets
Last year: 42-35-5, fifth in the Metro Division. Missed the playoffs by nine points.
Key additions: Brandon Saad, Gregory Campbell, Zach Werenski, Gabriel Carlsson, Mike Paliotta, Paul Bittner
Key subtractions: Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu, Jeremy Morin, Jack Skille
Offense: A team already loaded with young talent pulled off the shocker of the offseason by landing the 22-year-old Saad from Chicago. In the process, Columbus identified its three pillars up front to build around, with Saad joining superstar in the making Ryan Johansen and new captain Nick Foligno. Former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky was a critical cog as recently as 12 months ago, but he’ll be in more of a depth role going forward and will be expected to provide a tremendous example for the younger players. David Clarkson’s contract sticks out like a sore thumb and Scott Hartnell might join him before long, but it hardly matters. The aforementioned trio along with Boone Jenner, Alex Wennberg, Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson and Matt Calvert represent the present and future for Columbus, with top prospects Sonny Milano, William Karlsson, Kerby Rychel and Oliver Bjorkstrand following close behind. The Jackets have an embarrassment of riches and just need to take some time to determine who else is part of the core alongside Johansen, Foligno and Saad.
Last year: 43-32-7, fourth in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Penguins in the first round.
Key additions: Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbons
Key subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Jack Skille, Derek MacKenzie, Blake Comeau, Nikita Nikitin
Franchise direction: The Jackets are happy as clams with the way things are going after they made a surprise postseason appearance and gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in the first round of the playoffs. Columbus had to let go of a few spare parts to provide flexibility and allow the team to lock up key long-term pillars like Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky, but the team has quality reinforcements. Read More→
On Monday, Dave pointed out that though things have seemed a little hairy lately, the team’s playoff chances were still at 94.4% according to SportsClubStats. Those odds improved to 97.9% after New York beat Phoenix in overtime and Philadelphia lost in regulation to Los Angeles on Monday night, and St. Louis beat Toronto, the Capitals lost to the Kings in a shootout and the Blue Jackets beat the Red Wings on Tuesday.
In other words, barring a monumental collapse, the Rangers will be in the postseason. Of course, we’re still inclined to worry about the supposed 2.1% chance that does happen, so I figured we ought to check in on the teams that could ruin New York’s spring.
If you thought the Rangers had a bad start to the year, then what would you say about the Flyers, who fired their coach after just three games? But the Flyers have really been among the league’s better teams for several months. Claude Giroux leads the way for Philly, averaging over a point per game, but the Flyers also have six other players with 15+ goals on the year. As always, Philly has a high-powered offense, but – and this won’t surprise you – the Flyers’ Achilles heel is their goaltending and team defense. Steve Mason and Ray Emery have combined to give up an average over 2.8 goals per game. Philadelphia will visit the Blueshirts tonight in a game with huge implications, and the Flyers still have tough games left against Boston (twice), St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
Points: 83 Games remaining: 11 Home/road split: 5/6