For the second straight game the parade to the penalty box was a factor in the Blue Jackets 4-3 loss tonight to the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago scored three power plays goals including two with a two man advantage. The Blue Jackets surrendered a 2-0 first intermission lead when the Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals to seal the victory. Rick Nash scored with a little more than two minutes left to pull within one but it wasn't enough as the Blue Jackets now have lost their first two preseason games.
Despite the loss it was my first chance to see many of the young players the Jackets have drafted in recent years. Derick Brassard had 2 assists and Kris Russell scored a goal on the power play. Jakub Voracek didn't factor in the scoring but displayed some of the skill that warranted his high draft position. Steve Mason played the third period and allowed one goal in his CBJ debut.
Of all of the difficult personnel decisions Ken Hitchcock is going to have to make, Kris Russell is certainly going to be one of his most difficult. His silky smooth, non panic game is something the CBJ can use from the back end.
Brassard showed well tonight but the CBJ are top heavy at the forward position which I believe will allow them to give Brassard a little more time to develop his game, most likely at the AHL level. I wouldn't write him off just yet though as there is enough time for him to prove he belongs in the NHL now.
Voracek should be sent back to juniors where he will continue to develop his skills and most likely continue to dominate his competition. Jakub was interviewed in the post game show and I was really impressed by his maturity. He knows that he is a young player with many things to learn and get better at. He is a well grounded young man, speaks very good English and looks like he is going to be a super player for us in the future.
Mason will definately be going back to juniors to continue his development.
Despite another loss, seeing these young players combined with many of our other young players, has me excited about the future of the Blue Jackets.