Sunday, April 12, 2015

CBJ Cannon the Ultimate Anti-Tank Gun

Last night the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied, rallied, again, and rallied again to defeat the New York Islanders 5-4 in a shoot out.  Finishing the season 12-0-1, the Blue Jackets will end up picking 8th in a loaded draft unless someone behind them wins the lottery and pushes them to 9th.  This fits the organizational need well, as we will get good players to feed into the player development system that ensures the long term health of the organization.

Kudos to the 2014-15 Columbus Blue Jackets, who were unwilling to leave the franchise record books alone, and established the longest point streak in franchise history, as well as a goal scoring record, along with the record for most man games lost to injury (508; 6/game).  Unfortunately, they also flirted with the longest losing streak in franchise history early in the year, and had multiple long losing streaks, the weight of which collapsed our playoff hopes.  Nonetheless, the players were determined to finish the season in style, and refused to collapse when the Islanders put late goals on them.  That the team has shown growth this year is evidenced by the fact that they lost these games to the Islanders earlier in the season, collapsing when the explosive Islanders hung a few goals on them.  Not so last night.

The stretch run with this team was extremely entertaining.  As I have mentioned many times, I've watched lots of these strings get played out, and you can tell when people are going through the motions.  They show up, they try to play hard, but if the other team wins, well, meh.  This team just kept battling last night, extending their season by 5 minutes and a shoot out, before coming out with the last regular season win in the venerable Nassau Coliseum.  

New players like veteran Scott Hartnell, as well as new comers Alex Wennberg, Marko Dano, and Jeremy Morin have been assimilated into the work habits and 'never say die' attitude that served the club so well last year, and that they were unable to re-create for long stretches of the season this year.  Next year David Clarkson will need to be assimilated, but to me, the Blue Jackets style is a good fit to his game, and with more realistic expectations, he should be a good fit to the group.

As a literary tool, foreshadowing can be effective device for creating good writing.  So here is some foreshadowing of a subject that we will repeatedly visit over the off season.  The need for stability.  Let's get Letestu and Calvert into the fold, and the line up for next year is essentially set.  The players have made a convincing argument that the room should be preserved, and management should back them up on this.

By the time the dust had settled after the CBJ failed to make the playoffs the year after our first playoff appearance, we had done a complete roster turnover.  That seems unnecessary this year, and rather as an antidote to the early season struggles, we might want to attempt stability at least once in franchise history, just to say that we have tried it.  If you sign Letestu, Calvert, and McElhinney, you have your team going in.  There is not a darn thing wrong with establishing a veteran team that forces the young talent to kick the door in.  Injuries will happen, the young guys will get their chances.

If this whole Lake Erie Monsters thing comes through, we will want a good team there as well.  Karlsson, Rychal, Bjorkstrand, Anderson, Forsberg et al need to establish a winning culture in the AHL, and prepare to kick the door down in 2016-17.  If they want to jump to the big club, they need to jump over people.

Even though it may not feel like it, this team made progress this year.  It is to be hoped that we reap the benefit of that progress next year.  I am disappointed by the fact that we didn't make the playoffs.   But the players did the next best thing down the stretch, and as a fan, I appreciate that.  Way to fight to the last.  Well done gentlemen, well done indeed.


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