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The Big Question: Are the Blue Jackets beyond fixing?

Nov 7, 2011, 7:06 PM EDT

Steve Mason AP

The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: Are the Blue Jackets beyond fixing?

Based on the following measures, the answer is a big yes:

—- 2.2 goals per game (26th)

—- 9.2% power play (29th)

—- 3.7 goals against per game (30th)

—- 73.5% penalty kill (28th)

But can we really judge an offense that’s been without Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski for large stretches and hasn’t had Kristian Huselius in the line-up at all?

And with apologies to Steve Mason, can we really blame the Jackets for struggling to keep the puck out of their net with the worst goaltending in the NHL? Mason has faced 337 shots and allowed 44 goals against, giving him a .869 save percentage. If that percentage were .900 (which is hardly spectacular), the goal total would go from 44 to 34. Not to mention the effect solid goaltending can have on a team’s psyche.

You can’t fault general manager Scott Howson for the suspension to Wisniewski or the injuries to Carter and Huselius, but his decision to go with Mason in goal was inexcusable. A fireable offense, frankly.

On the bright side, goaltending is the one area that can be improved with a single trade. And there are decent goalies out there that could be had for a reasonable price.

Florida’s Scott Clemmensen is one guy the Jackets could inquire about, as the Panthers are already deep in goal with Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom.

Why not give the Islanders a call about Al Montoya or Evgeni Nabokov? Rick DiPietro isn’t going anywhere.

The Jackets might not be able to find a long-term solution in goal during the regular season, but an average journeyman is better than what they’ve got in Mason, Allen York and an injured Curtis Sanford. Tampa Bay was in a similar situation last year with Dan Ellis and Mike Smith, so Lightning GM Steve Yzerman went out and got Dwayne Roloson. Look how well that turned out.

So what do you think? Should the Jackets just blow it up and start again? Or is there still a future for this group?

  1. sknut - Nov 7, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Is it really worth going from being the worst by a lot to the worse by a little less. It seems those goalies are incremental upgrades unless they felt that one of them would be there long term. And do they really want to give up what few assets they have?

    • danphipps01 - Nov 7, 2011 at 9:25 PM

      Well, middle-of-the-road goalies go cheap. They wouldn’t have to give up Huselius or Umberger just to get some better goaltending. They’d have to give up a 3rd, or at worst a 2nd-round pick. Most teams have better backups than CBJ. Some have better third-strings. Improving their goaltending is honestly as easy as getting a goalie. Any one will do. Mason’s just that bad.

      More generally, though, they need to hit the big red button on this roster. Nash isn’t exactly the best captain out there, nor the best go-to goal-scorer. Hard to be a great leader or clutch player when your performance is as hot and cold and his is in an average season. Admittedly, it’s hard to excel when he has jack shit to work with – in Calgary, they call it “Iginla Syndrome” – but Nash can be a pretty lazy, uninspiring guy as often as he decides to step up and win games for his team. More generally, though, laziness is a problem elsewhere too – Huselius is lax too, and Jeff Carter… well, he’s not so much lazy as selfish. He’s a guy who only really works when he’s being fed the puck, and doesn’t really work so well the other way around. Problems elsewhere – they have nothing on the blueline worthy of mention. When the Wiz is your biggest-name defender, you’re eight kinds of fucked. Defensive depth is absolutely horrific. In all honesty, Umberger’s probably the best thing about this club. Consistency, hard work and talent enough to matter. He’s everything the Jackets as a whole AREN’T.

      So, yeah, I say blow up the roster. Fire Howson and try desperately to get better scouts and a GM who’ll listen to them, because part of this rebuild is going to be relying on the lottery pick they’ve already more or less guaranteed themselves and for God’s sake, they need to make this one good. Another Filatov would be crippling. Sell guys like Nash and Huselius, try to keep Umberger and Carter if possible, but be prepared to give them up too. This roster is just not able to produce anything. Their crowning achievement was a first-round sweep. There’s just no hope for this lineup or anything close to it.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 7, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Yup, time to tear it down and send Nash to the Leafs

  3. icelovinbrotha215 - Nov 7, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Nail Yakupov is looking pretty, pretty, pretty good.

  4. murkinmills - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    They need to pick up Jason Labarbera from PHX, he’s played fantastic in the games he’s started in and he’s low cost.

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