Sunday, November 27, 2011

The past week: DBJ's take

It's taken a few games, but Jeff Carter appears
to be getting in the groove with his linemates
and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I've now had a chance to watch condensed versions of three of the four games played by the Columbus Blue Jackets - I'd have watched the Buffalo game, but GameCenter Live hadn't made replays available yet as I finished writing this.  And I watched most of the St. Louis game.  Thus, I believe that I've seen enough to build some impressions.

First, it looks like the team chemistry is indeed improving.  This is especially important in the top line, where Jeff Carter pretty clearly needed to find his groove (but let's be clear - this still is a work in progress that has been set back by Carter's broken foot).

Next, coach Scott Arniel's bizarre offensive scheme has been dialed back and players actually appear to be playing defense.  The irony of this adjustment is that the Blue Jackets have been scoring more as a result.  Well, when not playing against a Ken Hitchcock team - but that's more of a statement about Hitch Hockey than about anything Arniel did or didn't do.

Also, Curtis Sanford has looked very good if not great.  I can't point to any highlight reel saves, but Sanford seems to know where to be in order to stop the puck.  His rebound control has been OK but not spectacular.  That said, Alison's post regarding the CBJ goaltending situation appears to be spot-on.  He's a terrific band-aid to a terrible goaltending situation, but I don't see Curtis Sanford as The Answer.

Lastly, watching these games in rapid-fire sequence led me to look down the standings rabbit hole to try to unlock some truths.  Check out what I found...


Opponent
Prior 10
Score
Record since
Current Record
Nashville
7-1-2
CBJ 4-3 (OT)
0-3-0
10-8-4
New Jersey
6-4-0
NJD 2-1 (SO)
1-1-0
12-9-1
Calgary
5-5-0
CBJ 4-1
1-2-0
9-12-1
Buffalo
6-3-1
CBJ 5-1
1-0-0
13-9-1
St. Louis
6-2-2
STL 2-1
0-0-0
13-8-2

My read: The only real surprise in the mix was the Buffalo win.  Past that, the Jackets beat a mediocre-to bad team (Calgary) and a fairly good team that appears to have been primed for a slump (Nashville). And they played another fairly good team (New Jersey) to a draw. And then there was the loss to St. Louis, a team that appears to be good at best, enjoying their new coach honeymoon at worst.  But yes, Buffalo was big win against what appears to be a pretty good team.  

(Caveat: Any win in Nashville, under any circumstances, is a surprise.  Just wanted to make that clear.)

As I've said before, you gotta beat the good teams if you want to be playing springtime hockey in the NHL. I'd feel better if one of the Nashville or New Jersey games were CBJ wins in regulation, as those both appear to be the types of teams that you need to beat to make the playoffs in the NHL.  (I'd be almost giddy if both were regulation wins...and probably wouldn't be the only one!)  And, of course, a win against St. Louis would have beaten a good team - and a good coach.

Still, it was an undeniably good week for the Blue Jackets, one filled with pleasant surprises that should make this season interesting for the serious observer.  

2 comments:

  1. Turnovers create opportunity, and the CBJ finally realized a little defense will force turnovers, and opportunities to score.

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  2. Great point, Anon, one that works both ways in the CBJ's case. Good to force turnovers - and to not give 'em up.

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