After completing a blockbuster trade at lunchtime, the Columbus Blue Jackets had to suit up tonight against the Ottawa Senators. Matt Duchene woke up and commuted to Canadian Tire Centre as a Senator, and left tonight having competed 19 minutes in a CBJ sweater in a 3-0 win.
Let’s get right to the point and answer the burning questions:
How did Duchene look in his CBJ debut?
It wasn’t a perfect debut for Duchene, but that’s not surprising. He was playing with new teammates despite not getting to practice with them beforehand. Considering that, he looked pretty good. His skill is very apparent. He and Artemi Panarin can play the game at the same speed, but it took some time for them to get in sync.
Duchene didn’t make the scoresheet but he played 19:11, including 4:45 on the first power play unit, won 53% of faceoffs, and had 2 takeaways and 3 shots on goal.
It was a good enough effort to earn the kepi from his new teammates.
Who was scratched to make room for Duchene?
In a surprise move, Alexander Wennberg was scratched for the first time this season. Pierre-Luc Dubois took his place between Anthony Duclair and Oliver BJORKSTRAND, while Duchene took PLD’s spot between Panarin and Atkinson.
I understand that Torts does not want to break up the Foligno/Jenner/Anderson line. In his defense, that line has been a strong one all season. That being said, Jenner is better at wing and our center depth is better with Wennberg in the lineup as the third center.
The other possibility is that Wennberg could be traded by Monday. I would not like that because it would negate the improved center depth we obtained through today’s trade.
Which Bob did we get tonight?
We got Good Bob. He stopped all 22 shots he faced for his second shutout in the last five games. He wasn’t tested much early, but made some key saves in the second period.
Bob makes it look easy, stoning the Senators on a 3-on-1: pic.twitter.com/BXeJ9W8yOX— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) February 23, 2019
Per Evolving Hockey, the expected score was 3.98-2.31, so that’s a great effort by Bob to prevent any score.
Credit is due to Craig Anderson as well. The Ottawa netminder was under attack all night, facing 40 shots and standing on his head at times to save 37.
Which power play did we get tonight?
The bad one. They struggled to maintain sustained possession in the offensive zone in the first couple of power plays. They recorded 10 shot attempts in 8 minutes of 5 on 4 play, but only 3 high danger shot attempts.
Yes, EIGHT MINUTES. There were only 10 minutes of even strength play in the first period.
Duchene was put on the first power play unit, manning the right wall. Jones took the point and Cam took the middle position, with Bread on the left and Foligno in front of the net.
I think Foligno should no longer be on the first unit. He doesn’t play the game fast enough to keep up with the rest of them. I would rather see Anderson or Dubois in that net-front role.
Enough whingeing, get to the goals already.
That’s not a question, but OK.
The second power play unit didn’t score a PPG, but they did get the first goal of the game in an extended shift after the man advantage expired. Huge credit goes to Duclair and Dubois for battling for the puck in the right corner. Eventually the puck found Anderson and Anderson found the net.
In the third period, the Blue Jackets found themselves on the kill again after a delay of game penalty. Brandon Dubinsky made a good play to get the puck away from three Senators, and chipped it out of the zone to Atkinson. As usually happens in that situation, the Atkinson breakaway could not be stopped.
Then we got an insurance goal in the final three minutes after Duclair raced to the puck along the boards and passed to Werenski, who raced down the ice with BJORKSTRAND and fed the Great Dane on the doorstep of the goal.
BJORKSTRAND makes it 3-0 good guys by finishing this Zach Werenski feed: pic.twitter.com/lt0jsyR6B4— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) February 23, 2019
That was two assist for Duclair, the only Jacket with multiple points tonight.
The win jumps Columbus over Pittsburgh and Carolina to retake third place in the Metro Division.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen is likely getting right back to work trying to make more trades before Monday’s deadline. Another defenseman would be good so Scott Harrington and Dean Kukan aren’t playing together for much longer. Panarin could still be dealt, but I’d rather he and Duchene be given a month (or more) to play together.
The Blue Jackets are back in action tomorrow afternoon at Nationwide as they host the Sharks. Duchene’s immigration issues were cleared up already so he will be able to travel with the team and play tomorrow. Let’s give him a warm welcome, Columbus!