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Blue Jackets experienced NHL’s worst first week

Oct 13, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT

Steve Mason AP

Give Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson credit: he didn’t go into wallflower mode during this off-season. Howson pulled out some flashy moves, but the smart money is on the Blue Jackets remaining right where they’ve been for years: out of the playoffs.

Sure, they don’t have to worry about being the last NHL team with zero standings points, but the Blue Jackets have had the worst first week of any team in the league.

Ugly early numbers

They’re tied for the league lead in games played with four, yet they’ve managed one measly point. That puts them ahead of the Calgary Flames (two games played) and Winnipeg Jets (one GP) and ties them with the Phoenix Coyotes (two GP).

Yet when you look at squandered opportunities, it’s that much clearer that Columbus is the slowest starting team in the NHL. While the Coyotes lost both of their games on the road, three of the Blue Jackets’ four games were at home. Those weren’t exactly automatic losses, either; they played two teams that missed the playoffs last season and a groggy Canucks club. (Nashville, on the other hand, is not to be trifled with.)

If you ignore his huge paychecks, it’s easy to feel bad for Rick Nash, whose five points have been squandered.

Maybe James Wisniewski will heal some of their wounds when he comes back from a suspension, but it’s still disturbing that the Blue Jackets’ power play has been such a dud. They’ve gone 0-for-20 so far this season while their penalty kill allowed four goals on 15 chances.

The bright side

Their only solace is that they’re not getting blown out; three of their four losses came by one goal and there was a shootout loss in the mix. If Columbus can get their special teams’ act together, they might actually get somewhere.

Columbus has 78 games left – and potentially 74 with Wisniewski – so there’s obviously no reason to panic. Don’t be surprised if Howson and coach Scott Arniel start to feel a little nervous if this bad first week turns into a lousy first month, though.

***

Their shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche is a solid example of their good news/bad news scenario. (It’s also a stern reminder that no defense should give Matt Duchene a breakaway.)

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  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 13, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    That Carter trade is really paying dividends for the Jackets. This is no surprise. He isn’t the only one not producing but if anyone thought he was going to make a dramatic difference has been misguided by the ‘experts.’ Well get use to it, you have him till 2019.

  2. brucewaynewins - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Is the team really that bad or is it just so many new guys that haven’t let “clicked” together? I’m just curious which one is more likely for the slow start.

  3. icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Question: was the game televised locally? On NHL Center Ice, it seemed that feed was from the jumbotron.

  4. uncledick - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    So called experts claimed Flyers couldn’t replace the presence of Richards and Carter and that guys like Giroux and JVR benefited from them. Well it seems to actually be the contrary. They said Giroux and JVR couldn’t be the top two guys. Well experts, you were wrong. Sorry Blue Jackets but have fun with Jeff “high and wide” Carter.

  5. icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 13, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Another thought: should CBJ trade for the Bobrovsky? Mason seems to have the talent but lacking the confidence. PHI phans? CBJ fans? Would you?

    • uncledick - Oct 13, 2011 at 4:09 PM

      As a Philly fan No, Bobs will be starting goaltender of the flyers in 3 years.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 13, 2011 at 6:19 PM

        Yea that’s the argument for any Philly fan. That’s how I feel too. But since CBJ has a working relationship with the PHI, I thought I’d throw it out there.

    • uncledick - Oct 13, 2011 at 6:44 PM

      Understandable. Also, what do the CBJ have that the flyers need that would make this trade possible?

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 13, 2011 at 9:40 PM

        Ha great question. There really isn’t a glaring need for the Flyers right now. Prospect(s)? Picks(s)? That’s all I can think of. Probably too early in the season to assess.

  6. Matt - Oct 13, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Curiously, Jeff Carter and Vinny Prospal are two of the biggest producers on the new-look Jackets and are honestly a bright point that even other teams would want. They’ve gelled quite well with Rick Nash and are producing at a very high level. Any commentary that suggests Carter as an ineffective player is simply wrong – he’s leading the team in scoring chances and making the top line look spectacular.

    The trick is that the rest of the team isn’t doing much of anything. When the entire crop of second line players is at zero points (Umberger, Vermette, and Brassard), it’s not hard to see a problem. Of course, these are guys who will get 40-60 points in a season, so when statistical regression kicks in, the Jackets will look like a scoring machine.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Oct 13, 2011 at 6:22 PM

      He has 3 pts (all which are assists) and that’s third on the squad. His game is not predicated on dishing the puck. If he isn’t scoring, CBJ should be concerned.

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