As alluded earlier, I haven't spent nearly as much time looking at the Columbus Blue Jackets' blue line as I have spent on the forwards. I'm guessing that my naivete will show in this part of the series and can only ask for your forgiveness in advance.
At the same time, this series has proven useful in learning more, and in more depth, about the National Hockey Team that I enjoy so much and the people who are a part of it. So, perhaps rather than laugh, you can tag along in this little voyage of discovery and continue the enjoyable back and forth that is coming out in the comments.
As for the defense itself, let's start with the basics. With 259 goals given up in the 2009-2010 campaign, the CBJ stood fifth-worst in the entire league. The only teams worse than the Blue Jackets were:
- Edmonton Oilers (284 goals allowed)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (267)
- New York Islanders (264)
- Tampa Bay Lightning (260)
It should shock no one that none of the aforementioned clubs made the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. The saying goes, "Offense puts butts in seats, but defense wins championships," and it could not be more true in today's National Hockey League.
Now here's the weird thing. In 2008-2009, the Jackets only gave up 230 goals and stood ninth-best in the league. But compare the 09-10 roster against the 08-09 team on their respective opening nights:
|We can only hope that Mike Commodore brings his|
08-09 season game with him into camp this year.
I'll allow that the play of Steve Mason had a significant impact on the season and the number of goals allowed, even a disproportionate impact in the first part of the season. At the same time, it was not the only factor. The coaching was largely the same for the two seasons as Claude Noel said that he didn't mess with Ken Hitchcock's scheme too much as interim head coach, and the other assistants remained intact for both seasons.
|Even DBJ's 09-10 CBJ MVP,|
Fedor Tyutin, had a tough year.
I could dig around deeper in team stats, but all it would do is muddy the waters further for me. So I'll buy the party line and chalk up the defensive collapse of 09-10 to injuries, perhaps as a result of conditioning shortcomings in at least some cases. If anything, it makes the challenge to the defense clear: Step up and prove that the past season was an aberration. You clearly have the talent and skill to be a top ten defensive team - you actually were in 08-09 - so go back to that and regain that form. Easy, right?
[UPDATE: Holy jeez - No wonder I find myself having a hard time making sense of defensive stats!]