|Columbus 5 - Phoenix 2|
20-38-7, 5th in Central Division, 11 pts. out of 29th place in the NHL
1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game. His presence in the locker room, combined with his 17:03 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.
1a. NASH DIDN'T GET HURT - As best we know, Nash's trade value to the Blue Jackets was not diminished by his play last night. So the Blue Jackets once again dodged a bullet.
1b. YEAH, I KNOW HE SCORED TWO GOALS - Nash set up Brassard's goal, too. That's outstanding if you believe that these games mean anything from a competitive standpoint. Thing is, they don't. The only value of this season between the trade deadline and game 82 is preparing to be competitive in 2012-13. That means developing new leaders and figuring out team chemistry in a post-Nash CBJ world. Who's going to score those two goals next season? Who's going to dish the puck to Brassard? That's what we need to find out...and before next season is underway.
1c. ANOTHER POSSIBLE REASON TO KEEP PLAYING NASH - The Hockey Night in Canada "Hotstove" segment posted online during the game, and I suggest you pay close attention around the 2:42 mark:
Two top-six forwards, two of Hockey News top 30 prospects and a 1st round pick. Wow. Presuming that the CBJ really DO want to trade Nash, that's a haul. So perhaps the team has reconciled themselves to the fact that they have to showcase him to get that type of return...and that getting that return is more important than developing leadership and building post-Nash chemistry. If that's the case, this team really is in sad straits. Anyhoo, expect lots of Rick Nash goals and TV interviews (Speaking of, does anyone find it funny that Nash is getting interviewed so much since the trade deadline?) to support this line of thinking.
|Ryan Johansen screens Steve Mason in a November practice|
3. WHAT IS WRONG WITH RYAN JOHANSEN? - When The Johan gets scratched in favor of Aaron Johnson, who was moved over from his defenseman position to play as a fourth-line forward...well, you know there's a problem. I'm not enough of a hockey expert to be able to pinpoint the issues, but dang. Getting a message saying that you're not playing forward as well as one of the team's lousiest blue liners can...that's cold.
4. A GENTLE APPRECIATION OF COLTON GILLIES - I'm not going to make more of this than is necessary because we're not talking about a guy who's going to carry this team. Still, Colton Gillies has displayed a healthy degree of passion and drive in the last few games. Against the 'Yotes, he got in a fight and scored an empty netter with over 14 minutes of ice time (and 7 PIMs! Dorsett surely is proud.). He's been a pleasant surprise as a waiver wire pickup and has another year at $650,000 before becoming a restricted free agent. He'll make a good bottom-sixer for a while.
5. SPEAKING OF CONTRACTS - May I present Nikita Nikitin? He's wrapping up his $600,000 contract and will become a restricted free agent. He scored another goal tonight - his 4th goal and 22nd point of the season...the exact same as ($5.5 million) James Wisniewski in one fewer game played (37 for Nikki Sixx instead of Wiz's 38). As The Hockey Writers' Alex Stallings pointed out, keeps pushing his contract price up and up. No wonder Grant Clitsome was waived...the team's going to have to use Clitsome's $1.25 million contract money to re-sign Nikitin! (That is, presuming he doesn't get picked up by another smart team.)
NEXT UP: The CBJ get a little break after this two-game roadie, returning to the ice to face (again) the Coyotes on Tuesday at 7:00PM at Nationwide.