The Columbus Blue Jackets have not had an ideal start to their season, dropping each of their first two games this weekend. Should we be worried?
Panic: We’ve lost both games and neither was close.
Don’t Panic: We lost the first two games of the 2016-17 season, then went on to set the franchise record for wins and points.
Panic: That season featured a six day break where the team could run a de facto second training camp. Now we have to turn around and play a third game in four days, plus another back-to-back next weekend.
Don’t Panic: The first two games were against Toronto and Pittsburgh, two of the stronger teams in the conference. Even the most optimistic of us didn’t expect Columbus to be as good as them. Let’s see how the team does against more manageable competition.
Panic: Our next opponent, Buffalo, is off to a surprisingly strong start, beating the same Pittsburgh team that dropped seven goals on us, and scored seven themselves on New Jersey last night.
Don’t Panic: There are many new faces (Gus Nyquist, Emil Bemstrom, Jakob Lilja, Elvis Merzlikins, Alexandre Texier, Vladislav Gavrikov) and they need time to adjust to the team, and the existing players need time to adjust to them.
Panic: It’s hard to build chemistry if you keep shuffling the lineup. Torts already changed the forward lines, putting Texier with Alex Wennberg and BJORKSTRAND (all three players have a positive CF%, so perhaps that’s working) and moving Nyquist to the Dubois/Atkinson line. And he swapped out the third defensive pair in its entirety, icing Scott Harrington and Markus Nutivaara in the first game and Dean Kukan and Gavrikov in the second game.
Don’t Panic: Ok, even I can’t defend playing Harrington, and I don’t understand scratching Nutivaara. That simply should not ever happen. He’s a top four defenseman on most teams in this league. As for the forwards, I’d prefer stability but at least the minutes have been distributed mostly fairly. The top six forwards in ice time are who you’d want to see: Cam, Wenns (who has shown a willingness to shoot the puck!), Andy, PLD, BJORKSTRAND, Tex. Need to get Nyquist some more time, however. His goal last night was nifty.
Panic: The power play still sucks. Penalty kill has struggled, too. The team has the fifth most penalties in the league so far.
Don’t Panic: The penalties will come down, because this has been a disciplined team throughout the Tortorella era. The PK is generally pretty good too in the long run. The PP continued to look disorganized in game one, but got five shots in the one power play in game two.
Panic: Goaltending is as bad as we feared. 11 goals surrendered in two games?
Don’t Panic: It will continue being a learning experience for Elvis, and he’ll get better. Korpi didn’t look too bad. Against worst offenses against Toronto, he’ll be fine. The defensive structure needs to be better to help both goalies, however.
Panic: At 5v5, we’re getting outscored 2-7.
Don’t Panic: The expected goals is 3.24-3.43. That actually bodes well for 5v5 play going forward. The gap between GF% and xGF% is the second worst in the league (ahead of only Arizona). The PDO is worst in the league, with a third-worst 4.26 shooting percentage and fourth-worst save percentage (86.54%).
The week that was
The Cannon Cast previewed the Atlantic Division.
Jackets Insider Jeff Svoboda wrote about the relationship between goaltending coach Manny Legace and his two young netminders.
Aaron Portzline of The Athletic took a trip to Finland this summer to learn more about GM Jarmo Kekalainen. It’s a fantastic profile.
The Jackets had a camera in Torts’ office as Emil Bemstrom learned that he had made the roster. What a cool moment.
Monday: vs. Buffalo (2-0-0)
Friday: vs. Anaheim (2-0-0)
Saturday: at Carolina (2-0-0)
Prior to that series, Elaine picked five storylines to watch this season. She will be posting a State of the Monsters article every Monday at noon all season. If you have any questions about how our prospects are doing in Cleveland, leave them in the comments of that article or the game recaps and Elaine will be happy to answer.
Elaine also participated in an AHL North Division preview with other AHL writers from around the SBN community.
Play me out
I knew it wouldn’t take long before I dropped my favorite band in here. Tedeschi Trucks Band is a 12-piece blues/jazz/soul collective led by the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. His virtuoso slide guitar playing and her soulful vocals are backed up by a jazzy horn section, booming three-piece choir of backup singers, and not one but two drummers driving the rhythm section (like the Allman Brothers, which included Derek’s uncle Butch Trucks). They recently released an EP but I’d like to instead highlight a track from their fourth studio album, which came out earlier this year. If you like it, try to catch them live (or listen to a live album) because that’s where their music and musicianship really shine.
Are you worried yet about the Blue Jackets?
This poll is closed
Oh no, we suck again!
We’ll be fine
Things can improve, but I have some concerns