For those of you that have been reading for awhile, you know I like to throw these hodge podge posts up every now and then. It’s been an interesting and exciting start to the season, with the Jackets sitting at 2-2 after uplifting wins over Chicago and Dallas. The team is currently in California for the next three games, which will serve as a hell of a test of the team’s discipline and structure.
A couple of CBJ-related items have crossed my mind recently:
Seth Jones and Zach Werenski should remain defense partners all season. The duo have been terrific together, generating not just offense, but fun offense:
Defense pair shot rates (>50 mins)— Sean Tierney (@SeanTierneyTss) October 24, 2016
Manson/Fowler have been great. Ceci/Phaneuf have been awful.
Larsson/Klefbom make an appearance in good. pic.twitter.com/OFzy7kWBoR
In terms of the eye test, it seems like the team plays with a swagger that I’ve never seen from this team when Jones and Werenski are on the ice. The game slows down for them, and there’s no nervous moments as a fan when they carry the puck. They are anything but “controlled chaos”.
I want to see more from Pierre-Luc Dubois. Since being sent to Cape Breton, he’s put up a single assist in four games. I was watching him play on TV the other night during the intermission and commercial breaks of the Jackets game, and the first shift I saw was promising: he carried the puck up-ice, shook off a defender and made a nice pass to a streaking linemate. Nothing came of the play, but it was a sequence where PLD showcased the talent that made him the third overall pick.
The remaining shifts that I watched troubled me. He looked disinterested and unfocused. I don’t want to think that he’s the type to pout because he didn’t make the Jackets, but I’m sure the NHL club never promised him anything, and were completely honest with him throughout camp. At any rate, he needs to understand that his career has only just begun, and nothing will be handed to him. He needs to work on the things the Jackets have asked him to improve on, and he needs to do what he can to help the Screaming Eagles. There’s a good chance he’ll be dealt from Cape Breton this season, perhaps during the Christmas trade period to a team like the Saint John Sea Dogs or Quebec Remparts, which will allow him to play for a legitimate contender, but no matter the sweater he’s wearing he needs to work his butt off and stay focused. His time will come.
I’ll be watching him live this Saturday when the Eagles are here in Halifax to play the Mooseheads. I want to be impressed.
At this point last season, Nick Foligno looked shell-shocked. This year, not so much. He just looks so much more relaxed, he’s already potted that first goal and the wins over Chicago and Dallas gave us what we crave as fans - the post game HUG.
Last year he had the weight of his new contract, the new captaincy and the team’s horrid start on his shoulders. That’s a lot to deal with for any player. This season, there have been no surprises and he’s been able to prepare himself for the role of buffer between the coaches and players, and the expectations to score at the rate of his career year have backed off.
It’s early, but I feel like we’ll fall in love with Nicky all over again this season.
Remember our little buddy Vitali Abramov? Abe’s been the opposite of PLD with Gatineau of the QMJHL. In 11 games with the Olympiques, he’s put up eight goals, five helpers for thirteen points. Gatineau is currently in last place in the Q, and though Euros can sometimes be difficult to trade in junior, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him dealt to a contending team that wants to upgrade their Euro situation. In terms of prospect bromances, for me he’s the next BJORKSTRAND.
Lukas Sedlak is an NHLer. He’s looked so comfortable out there. I can’t wait for him to pot his first goal. The problem is, if he’s going to lock down the 4C position, who gets bumped? It may be Sam Gagner.
I love the Jackets’ pace so far this season. Except when Brandon Dubinsky is on the ice. It seems like it’s the tale of two teams - in one instance you have the speedy, pesky kids who wreak havoc, and then the vets go out there and it’s like watching a game from the ‘90s at times. Dubi is a hell of a player, a real gamer who’s best in the big moments, but it’s almost like he needs to catch up with the guys around him. Oh - and stop with the retaliatory penalties. It doesn’t help, Dubi!
I’m sure he’ll turn it around and adapt his game to suit where the squad is going. He’s a pro, man, and he’s a leader of the team. I just hope it happens soon.
Aaron Portzline suggested a new nickname for William Karlsson the other day - KILL BILL. I love it. I can’t love it any more. I love it because it sounds cool, it rolls off the tongue, and it’s incredibly appropriate. The dude was programmed to be a stud PKer. He’ll make a career out of it. He and Matt Calvert may be the best PK duo in the league.
* Note: I don’t know of any other PK duos in the league, off hand, so until somebody hits me with #facts I’m saying these dudes are the best in the league. Maybe ever.
Prediction: the Jackets will lose Jack Johnson to the Las Vegas Desert Knights (it has to be Desert Knights, right?) but this is after the Jackets trade a pick or a prospect to Vegas to prevent them from drafting one of Korpisalo or Forsberg. At this point I see the team using the 7F-3D-1G option, rather than than the 8Skater-1G option.
Protected: Saad, Dubinsky (NMC), Foligno (NMC), Hartnell (NMC), Atkinson, Wennberg, Jenner.
Exposed: Calvert, Karlsson, Anderson, Sedlak
Exempt: Milano, Clarkson (LTI)
Protected: Jones, Murray, Savard
Exposed: Johnson, Prout, Harrington
Exempt: Werenski, Nutivaara
Protected: Bobrovsky (NMC)
Exposed: Forsberg, Korpisalo
Thanks for reading. Good luck to the boys in California this week!