Don’t lie. The teenager inside of you laughed at his last name when the Jackets drafted him. Your immature self continued to laugh every time Porty or any other Jackets pundit updated you on his progress.
Who’s laughing now?
I’ll tell you who is laughing now. Grant Clitsome and Scott Arniel.
This Blue Jackets team is in the midst of a phenomenal transition, and Grant Clitsome is the best example of the movement. His offensive contributions have been a sight for our decade-sore eyes. While other teams have thrived with the contributions of Lidstroms, Gonchars, and Greens, the Nationwide natives have received their best blue-line numbers from Jaroslav Spacek.
Grant Clitsome’s limited time this year has shed new light on what a two-way defenseman can do for a team. They’ve also brought new lights into the locker room. Spotlights shining hard on some vets in the locker room. Some of whom have already cracked under the pressure.
Goodbye Mike Commodore, though we did love you so. You’re ginger curls, impressive corner battles and amiable personality made you the most loveable Jacket since Tyler Wright. Unfortunately for you, Mike, Ken Hitchcock is no longer in charge. You’re shutdown, physically intimidating brand of defense is not the way this young Jackets team wants to play anymore.
With young D-men like Kris Russell, Grant Clitsome, and the fresh face of John Moore, Scott Arniel is molding a defense much the same way he built his coaching staff… young, edgy, and free-wheeling.
The way we love John Michael’s interviews with Bob Boughner, we will love the gun slinging defense that the Jackets are moving towards.
Fear not, Jan Hejda and Rusty Klesla, you’re not going anywhere. The defensive corps still needs some solid, stay at home, dive in front of every shot hard-heads. Fedor Tyutin, you’ve been consistent, but you’re about to be free to move on. Anton Stralman, enjoy your millions even though you’ve barely earned a penny until recent weeks.
If this team is going to make the playoffs and continue to be a contender in the coming years, the back-end is going to have to help provide what the Blue Jackets have always lacked. Consistent scoring.
Just ask Mssrs. Mason and Garon if their lives would be easier not feeling as though they have to hold the opposing skaters to two goals or less. Teams have won with defense, but this new NHL is a goal scoring paradise. While a shutout is nice, there’s a reason we throw hats to the ice for three goals, and not thirty saves.
The rings on the fingers of Crosby, Malkin, and even the dreaded Patricks (Sharp and Kane) are positive proof… Scoring wins.
With Steve Mason returning to form, the defense can feel free to remove a bit of the crushing weight on its shoulders. Marc Methot is now free to do his best Forrest Gump on occasion. He can break the Hitchcock braces from his legs and wheel into the offensive zone to fire off a quick wrister.
Kris Russell can continue to surprise opponents with his quickness, agility, and superb stick-handling. Clitsome can send a breakout pass and follow straight up to his point and wait on a pass that he’ll turn into a cannon-blast through an R.J. Umberger screen. Upon his permanent promotion, John Moore can unload the force of first-round fury and ring the corner posts before twick-ing the twine.
Bottom line: If a young, fast defense can step up and provide an extra goal per game via a shot from the slot, or a supreme pass across the circles, this team will be going places. Hopefully a couple of places come April and May… not just a limited engagement in Detroit this time.