Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Overly Invested

Matt Calvert Got it Started With Sheer Hustle
Sorry about the delay.  That one stung a bit, and I just wasn't quite ready to write about it yesterday.  I really wanted the Blue Jackets to win that game.  I should know better.  I've watched them play out the string, sometimes with decent success, and I know it is not a forecast for next season.  But I wanted that one bad.  It happens.  It's hockey.  But still....

Props to the Rangers.  One thing that really annoys me is when a team comes in with an air of superiority, like they don't really have to try to beat you...cough, Penguins, cough.  The Rangers brought their 'A' game yesterday, and won a hard fought battle.  That part of the whole thing doesn't bother me.  But I really wanted that one, and two bang-bang plays and it's gone.  So I had to let it simmer a bit.

I think the Blue Jackets management thought they would create some competition for the fourth line this year when they didn't bring some people back from the 2013-14 play off team.  I've got news for everyone, the competition for that fourth line role in 2015-16 just went through the ceiling in the last few games.  The line of Letestu, Calvert and Morin has been playing with speed and verve, and was winning its match-up last night.  And that's one thing about Todd Richards, if he's got a line that's winning its match-up, he's going to dump them on the ice.  I don't know if that fourth line wins any fights for you, but the fighters are going to have to chase it, which is a match-up problem for the fighters.

Calvert and Letestu are both unrestricted free agents this year(Errata: Calvert is an RFA).  Gosh there is pressure from the young guys below, but you have to have guys that can play at the NHL level to start the year next year, not have an ongoing competition.  I could see that Calvert and Letestu might want to test the waters of free agency, but for us to do some real damage next year we need a fourth line that can really come out and buzz.  These are really tough contract choices, but in spite of the fact that I really like our young guys, I really like the notion that they have to jump over people like Calvert and Letestu if they want to play for this team, and that is no low bar.  Injuries happen.  The young guys will get their chances.

Nick Foligno said that the team was trying to make a statement that they deserve to stay together.  I think they've made their case.  This team needs to come out of the gate next year like a rocket off a launch pad.  That starts with a fourth line of proven NHL players that can pull down big minutes in a game of speed and possession.  This is not the time to be trying out 'tweeners on our fourth line.  Sign Letestu and Calvert.  It's going to cost you some dinero, but that's an investment in a playoff run.  With Letestu, Calvert, Morin and Borque fighting for playing time on the fourth line, we are really going to have something.

Richie LOVES to roll four lines.  It's time to give him those lines Jarmo.  Maybe the contract negotiations don't work.  But at least give it a whirl.  Set this team up with a lineup with a proven track record for 2015-16, and make the playoffs early.  Then worry about how much damage you can do when you get there.


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