As the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to battle inconsistency, I wanted to briefly highlight one bright spot of the past week. Swedish rookie winger Emil Bemstrom finally scored his first NHL goal, 16 games into his career. He followed that up with another goal two days later. Better yet, each goal came on the power play. We knew that the 20 year old would need time to develop into a top line NHL player, but that his power play skills alone would be enough to earn him a spot on the roster.
Ironically, neither goal featured his trademark slapshot one-timer; each was a rebound deflection.
Still, all goals count the same on the scoreboard and getting that monkey off his back should grow his confidence and also earn him the trust of the coaches. He has nine shots on goal in his last three games, and has seen his time on ice increase each time, to a season-high 13:24 on Saturday.
The week that was
Zach Werenski’s goal on Saturday was the 42nd of his career, setting a new franchise record for goals from a defenseman (previously held by Rostislav Klesla).
Lots of roster moves this week, with Markus Nutivaara suffering an upper body injury on Tuesday against Vegas. Coming back as a spare defenseman for the road trip was Adam Clendening. Elvis Merzlikins was sent to Cleveland for a start, with Matiss Kivlenieks keeping the seat on the end of the bench warm for two games. Elvis has been recalled for the Montreal game, along with Eric Robinson. Aaron Portzline sat down with Elvis and collected some candid remarks about being sent down.
Robinson’s call-up will be to serve as a spare forward during the looming suspension to Nick Foligno. The Jackets captain will have a phone hearing today with the Department of Player Safety for this hit on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. I don’t think it was a malicious hit, but he launched and his elbow hit the opponent’s head. That kind of hit can’t happen in hockey anymore and a suspension is appropriate. Given his lack of history and the fact that he received a game misconduct, I don’t expect it to be more than two games.
Alison Lukan of The Athletic took a look at each phase of the Jackets’ season so far from an analytics perspective, identifying areas of concern and areas of hope.
I hate to ever recommend anyone to read Ryan Lambert at Yahoo! Sports. I generally avoid him. His takes on the Jackets have generally been mean spirited and underinformed. That being said, this piece about the Jackets is pretty fair. It’s hard to find much to disagree with.
Two of our staffers joined the CBJ Artillery podcast yesterday. Take a listen!
Then listen to this week’s Cannon Cast if you haven’t already.
The biggest news of the week: the Jackets are going to Finland! I’m strongly considering making the trip.
Rachel shared some of the best photos she has taken so far this season.
MrSwift makes a strong case for Torts giving more shifts to the younger players.
Tuesday: at Montreal
Friday: vs. St. Louis
Light week this week. Plenty of time to practice!
Check out Elaine’s profile of Markus Hannikainen. Also come back this afternoon for her State of the Monsters Address, highlighting the standout individual performances of the last three weeks.
Around the League
I hate fighting in hockey, but I loved this article from On the Forecheck. Writer Ann K. gets insight from a mixed martial arts instructor about the mechanics of fighting and the differences between hockey fights and trained combat sports.
Dallas unveiled their Winter Classic jerseys and they’re gorgeous.
Silver Seven wrote an article called “Don Cherry has to go.” And this was days before Cherry made an even bigger ass of himself! Co-host Ron MacLean got a lot of heat as well for not interrupting or disagreeing, and he himself apologized. Both Sportsnet and the NHL issued statements condemning the statement, but falling well short of actually putting Cherry’s job in jeopardy.
Ohio Sports Update
The Cavs have won two in a row, and are currently sitting in a playoff position. An impressive turnaround under new coach John Bielien, incorporating budding young stars like Darius Garland and Collin Sexton with talented veterans like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
The Browns ended an embarrassing four game losing streak with a still pretty embarrassing win over Buffalo. The Bengals are still searching for their first win. If they get the #1 pick, should they take Joe Burrow or Chase Young?
Play me out
The Jackets are traveling to Montreal this week. It’s a gorgeous city that everyone should visit at some point. (It should be noted that I traveled there in mid-summer, not during the chill of hockey season) I most enjoyed the Old Port down on the St. Lawrence River and the views from Mount Royal, but for the theme of this section, you cannot miss the jazz clubs downtown, where you can catch live music every night.