Sunday, November 30, 2014

Life as a Bottom Feeder

Adjusting to Life as A Bottom Feeder
Last night's game in Nashville was eerily familiar to the 2009-10 games played during the great December swoon.  A good effort against a good team at the top of its game and a goal tender who is trending Vezina, lost in the end on a crazy jam play at the net.  What lessons can we draw from that familiar feeling?

The first lesson is that the start of the season doesn't count for that much.  The 2009-10 team had a franchise record for success by Thanksgiving, faltered hard in December, and within two months, Hitch was gone.  The second lesson we could learn from that 2009-10 team was loving our young talent too much.  In this, Jarmo fell into the same trap that Scott Howson did.  We let MacKenzie and Comeau walk so we had room for our young players.  We didn't force our young players to kick the door down with their play, we gave them spots.  History repeats itself.  Dang.  I'm not saying MacKenzie and Comeau would have saved our season, they would probably be out with an injury the way this season has gone.  My point is that it is a mistake to 'leave room' for young players.  We should 'force unproven NHL players to beat proven NHL players' before they move up from the AHL.  In the playoffs against Pittsburgh, our comparative strength was in the bottom 6.  Put this year's team in the same match-up, and I don't think you can say the same thing.  And MacKenzie and Comeau had a lot to do with that.

The third lesson from the 2009-10 team is the, at the time, acknowledged weaknesses of the team, which were at center and in defense.  We were 'set' in goal with Mason.  We had scoring punch with Nash.  We didn't want to pay Manny Malhotra what he thought he was worth at center, and he walked, leaving us weak up the middle.  How does this help us now?  Look who is still on injured reserve.  Two of our best centers, two of our best defensemen.

The return of Dubinsky and Letestu will have a real impact on the team.  Unfortunately, it may not be felt for several weeks after their return as they get back to playing shape.  I think the loss of Fedor Tyutin is greater than we think, and Murray was one of the best defensemen on the team last year.  BTW Jarmo, Murray should definitely start out with a rehab stint in the A before he comes up to the big club.  We all know he can play at this level, but he is still very young, and some time down in the A wouldn't hurt his development at all.

What is the take away lesson from all of this?  Sometimes you just have to take the punishment like a non-gender specific humanoid with the male characteristics of gritting your teeth and "not sayin' nuthin" no matter how much it hurts.  The problems of the 2009-10 team were inherent in it's structure.  The problems of the 2014-15 team are due to injury, not the team structure (for the most part).  This year's team is going to play some good hockey before it's over.  Unfortunately, a lottery pick seems a certainty at this point.  Keep rubbing that rabbits foot Jarmo.  We finally need a little luck at the draft lottery.

These are tough times in CBJ land, but there is a lot of entertaining hockey left to be seen yet this year.  How it looks on paper now is not necessarily how it is going to play out.  That's why you play the games.  The problems with this team right now are not in its structure, it is in the circumstances of the situation.  Right now they are learning some bitter lessons on how hard it is to win in the NHL.  Those should pay dividends down the road.

GO JACKETS!

2 comments:

  1. You are spot on in your analysis. DMac and Comeau were must haves. I would also like to see a backup goalie who could really push Bob. Finally, a gritty player who can score dirty goals from in front of the net is needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Yeah, a little more net front traffic would go a long way. Thanks for reading!

      Delete