Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slow Start, Late Charge

Pretend this is a really super photo of Scott Hartnell
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets prevailed in a shoot out against the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3.  The CBJ started slow again, but came back to tie the game, and push it to overtime.  Ryan Johansen scored a really nice goal on the shootout to take the game.  This pushes the CBJ into the 6th overall draft pick, barring a miracle, with a two point lead on Carolina and Toronto in the tournament of the damned as the teams jostle for final draft position.  So it goes.

Where would this team be without Scott Hartnell this year?  Picking first would be a valid answer, but that is not how you build a winning culture.  Hartnell has been a stalwart this year, suffering the obligatory broken finger, but mostly being in the lineup all year.  With two goals tonight, he helped lead the way to the victory.  Good greasy goals, put backs on rebounds off the goal tender for goals number two and three.  Well done Hartsy.  Sorry about the pic, I'll work on that.

I think I started out a couple of posts ago a little negative on Rene Bourque.  This is a guy who has had a really up and down career.  He has one more year on his contract with which to do something.  Part of my negativity has to do with my uncertainty about the Wisniewski trade.  Bourque had some pretty big years earlier in his career, but has fallen off the last few years.  At best the expectation for him is going to be about a 20 point guy, single digit goals, maybe low double digit assists.  This is a guy who needs to take a hard look around the CBJ landscape.  It would not be that hard to be an established fourth liner on this team, and with Letestu as your center, your 8-9 goals and 10-12 assists in a fourth line role are very doable.  The question is can you play sufficiently physical (which does not mean dropping the gloves necessarily) to help control the puck on the boards.  I don't know if that's his game, I'll be watching that to see.  This is not the time for visions of grandeur for this player, its about embracing a gritty role that is hugely important to this team going into the next year.  We need a more dominant fourth line next year.  Will Bourque play that role?

Detroit is up next.  The hell with the chess match for draft position, let's beat those guys!  Unfortunately, that's much easier said than done.  Once again Babcock has done a great coaching job in Detroit, and has a totally revamped team in position to keep the playoff streak alive.  This is a new hand of cards for Babcock, and he's played them well.  He has my vote for the Jack Adams this year (editor's note: I don't get to vote, but there it is).  However, this is another great reason to not be in the Central Division of the Western Conference; our games against the Redwings are a rarity rather than an insurmountable obstacle.  I prefer the former.  

Murray may return to the line up soon.  Connauton returned tonight.  Maybe some day we'll get to have something that is not a shell of our real team.  Hope springs eternal!

GO JACKETS!!

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