Status Check: 7 Days To Deadline
With two games last week, the Jackets ended up taking 3 of 4 possible points, and kept themselves in the thick of the hunt for a playoff spot.
Even better, the team is now only four points back with at least one game in hand on every club currently in playoff position. The last three games before the deadline this week are huge. Fortunately, the team seems to be in the mood to step up to the challenge, despite the loss of Derick Brassard to an injured hand.
As mentioned in last week's status check, we predicted the team to go 6-4-2 in February. The team is now 6-2-1.
Here's a look at the top performers from last week.
Rick Nash: With a goal and 3 assists last week, Nash is stepping up his game at the right time. (Total for Feb: 4G, 6A, 4 PIM, +4)
Derek MacKenzie: Alternatively filling in for the injured Brassard, playing on the checking line, or flipping up to the second line to fill in, D-Mac just keeps finding ways to get it done with a goal and a pair of assists. (2G, 4A, 2 PIM, +5)
Matt Calvert: If Calvert's end to end effort on Friday wasn't enough to make the team decide to keep him up in Columbus for the rest of the reason, I don't know what will be. (3G, 2A, 2 PIM, +1)
Grant Clitsome: He had a bit of an off night defensively against Chicago, but he's continued to contribute to the power play with a pair of assists. (1G, 4A, 4 PIM, +1)
R.J. Umberger: He's Umby, Dammit, and he's continuing the be an impact player down the stretch. (2G, 9A, 6 PIM, +6)
Anton Stralman: I'm surprised as you...but I am concerned at how his game seemed to slip when Moore was sent back down. Perhaps it was just a bad game against LA, but I would keep an eye on how he responds Tuesday. (1G, 3A, 2 PIM, +2)
Kris Russell: Russ finally found the back of the net again last week with his clutch goal against the Kings. (1G, 3A, 4 PIM, +4)
Kristian Huselius: While I am skeptical of reports that Juice has requested a trade, he certainly seems to be in Arniel's doghouse this week - and played less than 11 minutes in Chicago. (3G, 3A, 2 PIM, -2)
Antoine Vermette: Shifting from the second line to the top line as needed, this is a big week for Vermy to step up. (3G, 2A, 4PIM, +2)
Jakub Voracek: Jake had a two point night against LA, but didn't really make an impact Friday. Cause for concern? (2G, 4A, 8 PIM, +4)
The rest of the team was held off the score sheet, but the following players change +/- ratings:
+1: Marc Methot, John Moore
-1: Fedor Tyutin
-2 - Andrew Murray, Samuel Pahlsson, Jan Hejda, Chris Clark.
Steve Mason: Mase had a .925 save percentage and a GAA of 3.0 this week, raising his GAA for the month to 2.36, and his SV % is now a .933
Mathieu Garon: After a weak effort against LA, Garon goes to a 2.0 GAA and a .878 save. While his GAA is better than Mason this month, that save percentage is very concerning. He needs to tighten up - if the team wants him to back up Mason and take some heat off during the stretch, they need to know he can steal a game or two.
Nash is clearly the MVP of the week, and seems to be taking the team onto his shoulders. The last two home games for the month against Nashville and Phoenix are critical - that last game of the month in Nashville is likely going to be ugly.
All signs point to Scott Howson looking to add to this team, though I wouldn't be shocked if a few familiar faces also find themselves in new places come March 1st. The team has held up their end so far this month. Now they just need to finish strong.