This is a fascinating time for the Blue Jackets.
The great Aaron Portzline, beat writer legend in this town, made an excellent point in his Wednesday piece for The Athletic: could you envision a point in this franchise’s history where a 2-1-0 start would come equipped with such…discomfort?
Sergei Bobrovsky looks terrific. He’s the least of their concerns. The six defensemen have played well so far, and it’s going to be tough for Scott Harrington to make his way into this mix. The third pairing of Ryan Murray and Gabriel Carlsson has proven capable of eating 15-18 minutes per game, and that’s music to John Tortorella’s ears.
But beyond that, the Blue Jackets just don’t look dangerous. I don’t know what it is.
They played a quality Carolina Hurricanes team on Tuesday night and the game was, to be kind, hideous. The ice was terrible. The neutral zone looked like a game of freeze tag and scoring chances were like Halley’s Comet. Somewhere along the way, the Blue Jackets — thanks to pleasant surprise Sonny Milano — were able to scratch out two goals and survive a late-stages disaster. I know, two points are two points, but there was something missing.
Is it simply the absence of Boone Jenner? Hard to say. Josh Anderson jumped in and looked fine, but Tortorella said he “ran out of gas” before too long. Last year’s Blue Jackets picked teams apart and converted turnovers into chances, but three games deep into 2017-18, and it’s been laborious just to create chances on their own.
They could probably use a few gift-wrapped looks to get them going.
Now, they have plenty of time to figure this out. Anderson will get up to speed and bring more to the table. They’ll get their act together on the power play and start shooting the puck, and it would shock me if Alexander Wennberg doesn’t eventually get in-sync with Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin.
It may be up-and-down here for the next couple of weeks, but the Blue Jackets (at the least) know they’ve got their goaltender on A-plus form to open the season. There’s plenty of comfort in that.
CENTER(S) OF ATTENTION
Should they look to add? I think they’ve been in the market for a forward for a while.
Depending on which NHL insider you hear from, the Blue Jackets may have been close to landing Matt Duchene from Colorado back in July. But the Avalanche are playing a long waiting game with Duchene and are in no hurry to make a move, and they’ve set a high price that — to this point — no NHL team has been willing to meet. Unless they budge, it may stay that way for a while.
But Duchene, with his combination of speed and offense, would be a tremendous add to this club.
Hell, anyone with offense would be a welcomed addition.
The Blue Jackets are in a division that is unforgiving when it comes to sloppiness; you can’t back your way into a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. You won’t win many 2-1 games against the Washington Capitals. You have to score goals to beat the league’s top teams and the Blue Jackets did that last season; they were right up there with the elite teams in terms of offensive output, and though it’s a three-game sample size this season, it doesn’t feel like they’ll be able to show up and drop four or five goals out of nowhere.
That is, unless, they’re facing Thomas Greiss.
[I had to]
Kyle Morrison wrote a fine piece yesterday on the developing trade options for the Blue Jackets. If they can hang in the race until the first of the year and leading up to the trading season, they could have their hands in a few different conversations. Duchene won’t be the only player available, and the names are already starting to percolate. Just this week, Kyle Turris’ name surfaced as he’s facing a potential contract extension with the Ottawa Senators.
Turris’ agent, Kurt Overhardt, is a familiar name for Blue Jackets fans. He also represents Ryan Johansen.
John Tavares is the pie-in-the-sky scenario for the Blue Jackets. Don’t bank on it, though they’ll be among a mile-long line of teams with interest. For now, the Blue Jackets’ best bet is to hang tight, let their top guys play through this mini-funk, and see what happens once they have a larger body of work.
NOT FINN-ISHED YET
The lead character that’s gotten lost in the Star Wars euphoria is Finn.
What’s the deal with his First Order infiltration in The Last Jedi? How does he come face-to-face, again, with Captain Phasma in what looks like a badass battle with electric staffs? I’m currently reading the book Phasma and it’s a fascinating look at her life’s story and how she comes to join the First Order, while also giving us necessary context about the First Order. We don’t know a lot about the enemy (they kind of appear in The Force Awakens and we’re told they’re evil), but the new canon books dive deep into their ruthless style.
A brief ranking of new canon books:
2. Aftermath: Empire’s End
3. Aftermath: Life Debt
4. TFA novelization
YOU SHOULD BE READING...
- A red-hot start for Bobrovsky is music to the Jackets' ears.
- "Holy, Milano." Literally, the kid's been god-like.
- The team's new intro video is cool, and unique.
- Jeff Svoboda tracked 35 former Blue Jackets. Read this.