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It’s In The Books : October

October is in the books.  It seems like yesterday all CBJ fans were counting down the days until the season would start.  And now, just like that, we’re a month into the season, with a record of 5-6.

Many Jacket fans were ready to pull the plug, or jump off of a bridge after the first game.  Not Me!  And then after a 4 game losing streak, fans were calling for Bobrovskys benching, begging for Curtis McElhinney to be the starter.  Not Me!  And after Brandon Dubinsky was heavily criticized for going after Anton Volchenkov, fans were calling for his head and asking “How could this man be our Captain?”  Not Me!  And finally, as the team rattled off 3 straight wins, everyone jumped for joy, thinking this team was headed to the promised land.  Not Me! 

What I actually mean here, is that so far, after 11 games, I am very indifferent as to what has played out so far.  It’s not that I don’t care about the team, because I most certainly do.  Its just that after 11 games, we know the team is good.  We know that Sergei Bobrovsky is still the real deal.  And we know our defense needs to work on a few things.  So what I want to do here, is take a look at how October has played out, and maybe after the November schedule is finished, then I’ll criticize the team if need be.

The Blue Jackets have been very deceiving this season.  With all of the scoring woes that took place early in the season, the stats are surprising.  In terms of Goal scoring, yeah they’ve not been lighting it up, but it could be worse i.e. NYR or Philly.  The CBJ are Ranked 7th in the East in Goals scored, and 17th overall.  In the goals against category, it always helps having Bob in net.  The Jackets are T-4th in the East and T-8th overall.  On the PP, they’re 14th Overall at 20%.  The PK, usually the bright spot of the special teams is ranked 22nd.  Not what we’re used to seeing.

I will start the position players with the obvious,  Goal Tending.  Sergei Bobrovsky has played well so far.  He has given up some goals that were a little soft for my taste, but he’s doing everything he can to keep this team in the hunt.  The defense hasn’t exactly given him much help.  So far this season Bobrovsky has played in 10 games, posting a 4-6 record.  His Goals against Average is sitting at 2.60, while his Save % is at .916.  Now I know this isn’t the .932 Save % and 2.00 GAA from last year, but given the fact that he’s facing an average of 31 shots a game, I’d say it’s pretty good.  He’s 18th in GAA and 14th is Save %.  Now before you look at those rankings and blast Bob, take this in, 37 goalies have played in enough games to be ranked per NHL.com, and of those 37, only 11 have played 10 or games.  And Bob ranks 6th among those 11 goalies in GAA, and 4th among those same goalies in Save % – Not too bad.  And Only 6 of those 11 have winning records.  Bobrovsky is still the man around here, if he could wear the “C”, I’d give it to him.  Curtis McElhinney has played 1 game for the CBJ, recording a win, stopping 37 of 38 shots.  He played very well in his start.  I would imagine he gets 10 or so starts on the year, barring injuries.

Ahh The Defense.  The subject of so much discussion.  Many people have said they want Wiz traded, Johnson traded, Tyutin traded, and Nikitin? Don’t even get me started on him.  But through all that constant babble about how the defense is playing like garbage, I actually have faith in 5 of the 6 regulars.

Wisniewski is 2nd among all scorers with 9 points.  8 of those points being assists, 4 of those on the power play.  He’s also leading the way in power play points with those 4 assists.  My expectations of Wiz and Jack Johnson are this-I want them to shoot the puck whenever they can.  It seems that whenever those two shoot the puck, something glorious happens, usually a goal.  Jack Johnson has 2 goals and 3 points.  Obviously he needs to do his part, and be a consistent point getter on the blue line.  So far this season, he has been a non-factor when it comes to points.  He contributes in other ways, but I want him to shoot! Aside from those two guys, the defense has failed to show me that they will step up, and defend Bobrovsky.  David Savard is leading the team with a +5, and he I think he is here to stay.  He’s young and has a lot to learn, but I think he has the potential to be really good.  Nikitin, uh, well, yeah!  I still think Tim Erixon has great potential and should be on this team, just not sure where to fit him in.  I say put him in Nikitins spot, but I’m not the GM!

As expected, Marion Gaborik is leading the team in Goals and Points.  With 5 goals, 5 assists and a plus 4, I would say I’m pleasantly surprised, but I’m not.  I think most of us came into this season thinking (knowing) that Gabby was going to be the scoring leader for the CBJ.

Not too far behind Gaborik in scoring is the Capitain, I mean the peoples Capitain, Brandon Dubinsky. Sorry I got a head of myself there for a sec.  Dubinsky has been nothing short of spectacular in my eyes.  He has 3 goals and 8 points to go along with a plus 4 rating.  He’s also leading the team in PIM, which is a surprise considering we have Boll.  Oh, and the hit, yes THAT hit! Nothing more to say there!

Ryan Johansen has been a welcome addition to the line up this year.  RyJo is playing his tail off.  3 goals, 7 points.  He and Dubinsky are both around 55% in the face-off circle.  But Ryan has taken the most face-offs by a long shot.  He is coming into his own, and both players and fans love this kid.  I cannot wait to see what he blossoms into.

The two guys that I still think will score 25-30 goals this season are Cam Atkinson and Artem Anisimov.  I love watching these guys play.  Cam, being all of 5’8”, is fast, gritty and is not afraid to skate in the middle of a few opposing D-men and crash the net.  He has shown this year he is capable of scoring pretty much anyway he wants too.  Now he just needs to score more.  Yeah I know, easier said than done.  Anisimov is one of those guys, you just know, has the talent, speed, and finesse to make some high-light reels.  Of the 4 goals he has this year, I think they were all scored in different ways.  Whether it’s scoring a short handed goal, taking a shot from 10-15 feet out, or letting one rip, I think he has all the tools to be a 40-50 goal scorer, I just do!  So far he’s yet to score more than 18 goals in a season, but he’s on a team now that could rely heavily on him to score, I think he can make it happen, especially if for some reason JD & Jarmo decide to not bring Gaborik back or trade him.

I live a positive lifestyle.  I try to see the positive in all situations.  That’s why I’m not being Debbie Downer about this team.  I just watch, cheer and root my team on.  I firmly believe in JD and Jarmo.  I believe that they will do what it takes to get the team and the fans to where we want to be, the playoffs!  It starts there.  We have 16 games in November, most of which are against historically rough, hard nosed hockey teams.  I think if the boys play the way they know how, and don’t let themselves think they can’t compete with the rest of the NHL, they should be fine.  Here’s to a GREAT November.

 

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