I wasn’t able to do a full Month in Review for the month of February, so instead here’s an abbreviated review featuring the best and worst players for February and the first week of March:
Third Star: Boone Jenner
In Saturday’s preview, elpalito laid out the case for this being one of the best seasons of Jenner’s career. He had five goals and nine points in this 16 game span, and won 56.9% of the faceoffs he took. It’s popular to complain about the minutes being given to the older part of the core like Jenner and Foligno, but they’ve been earning those minutes lately.
Second Star: Seth Jones
One of the storylines for January was how bad the defensive corps looked to start the season. This included the usually reliable top pair of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Jones bounced back in a surprisingly quiet fashion, with 12 points in his last 16 games. His CF%, FF% and xGF% numbers are not as good as his partner, Werenski, but are trending in the right direction. Now it’s just a matter of the rest of the blue line carrying their weight. More on that later.
First Star: Cam Atkinson
January had many of us wondering if Cam’s career was toast. He silenced the critics with his play over the last month. He has been near a point per game pace, with nine goals and 15 points in the last 16 games. Playing with Jack Roslovic and Patrik Laine have certainly helped, but he has produced three shorthanded goals in that span as well.
Three Black Holes
Lots of players have been a problem, but here are three in particular with a month to forget:
I was willing to dismiss his slow start as being a matter of adjusting to his new team with less training camp and practice time than usual. Now it’s becoming more than just a slow start or a slump. He has not played center like he was meant to do when acquired, and his minutes have dwindled. He’s scoreless in his last eight games, has only nine shots on goal in this games, and his average time on ice has dropped below 14 minutes a game.
Tex was the breakout star of January, but has plummeted back to earth since then. He hasn’t recorded a point since February 8. Like Domi, the coaches can’t figure out whether to stick with the experiment of him at center or not. Both would benefit from settling into one position and a permanent set of linemates. In the meantime, they need to do something in the limited ice time they’re getting.
Michael Del Zotto
This free agent surprised everyone by making the team out of camp, then actually playing well at the start of the season. Unfortunately he has returned to playing like the unwanted journeyman we thought he was in the offseason. His offense dried up, with no points outside of a goal and assist on February 11 in Chicago. His defensive numbers are among the worst of the five regular defensemen.
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The week that was
Rachel wrote about the identity crisis facing the team.
MrSwift broke down the important games between now and the trade deadline, which will determine whether this team can return to the playoffs or not.
Despite Jarmo Kekalainen giving John Tortorella a vote of confidence on Tuesday, the latest SBN Reacts results showed that a majority of Jackets fans had lost confidence in the coach.
On The Cannon Cast, Will and MrSwift discussed that vote of confidence. In case you missed it, in the previous episode Will and I interviewed Blue Jackets radio announcer Bob McElligott.
Tuesday and Thursday vs. Florida
Saturday and Sunday vs. Dallas
The Jackets return to the friendly confines of Nationwide Arena for four straight games in front of a 25% capacity of the Blue Jackets faithful.
Around the League, Dirtbag edition
Goons doing goon things
Of course Marchand’s hit came just 48 hours after he ripped into Wilson for his hit. Wilson was suspended by the league for seven games. We’ll see if anything happens to Marchand, but I highly doubt it.
One minor rant about commentary by some members of the media over these hits: Because each player has gone over a year without fine or suspension, it has been said they’ve gone for a long stretch “without incident.” That of course is a complete mischaracterization, since each has had numerous encounters which fit their pattern of bad behavior but which avoided penalty in the game or supplemental punishment from the league.
Play me out
My latest binge has been The Muppet Show, which arrived in its entirety (well, almost) on Disney+ last month. I’m too young to have seen the original run, but I remember watching the reruns on cable as a kid and loving them. They’re just as enjoyable now. It’s nice to have something funny and playful to watch in these times.