ObservationsNovember 11, 2008
1. With the NHL now taking notice of the Blue Jacket rookies, Derick Brassard and Steve Mason (don’t forget Jake Voracek), will the team get some National TV time? Neither of them is in Sidney Crosby’s class, but they have made a grand entrance into the league and have to be taken seriously. And they are fun to watch.
2. Jason Chimera has changed his game a bit. Teams can no longer count on him putting his head down and skating hard to the net for a three-foot shot. He is taking advantage of his speed and strength and firing the puck from the top of the circles more and he has scored some nice goals. A simple adjustment, but more goals.
3. Fedor Tyutin has gotten better and shown his upside. He will still make the giveaway or extra pass, but he has already made me forget Rusty Klesla.
4. Kristian Huselius has produced as expected and is playing even better with Brassard and Voracek. He is a scorer and even though he played well with Rick Nash, he can now be more independent playing on this other line. I think being Rick Nash’s line mate means always being in a set-up mode for the captain. Adjusting your game to feed a non goal-scoring (at this time) Nash had to be tough.
5. I think the team will keep all three goalies for the time being. Mason has the job until he loses it, Leclaire is ready to regain the limelight, and Norrena is their insurance, too expensive to play in Syracuse. One of them will leave the team by Christmas, probably Freddy No. If he isn’t traded or loaned, look for him to land in Europe, still under contract with the team.
6. All in all, there are a lot of positives to see on the Jackets. The team is winning without Rick Nash scoring, the back-up goaltender is now the #1 and then some, the defense is getting better and more confident, the power play can’t get any worse, and the NHL has stopped using Columbus games to instruct referees on the various calls they can make.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours? This weekend will not be easy for the team, so a win tomorrow over Phoenix would be a nice cushion. The rest of the month is going to be tough, even Atlanta. For those of you still with employment, get your butts down to Nationwide on Wednesday to see the game. You get to watch the Jackets and see Wayne Gretzky on the visitor’s bench, well worth the price of admission.