Columbus Preview

Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 11:07 AM
By Tom Callahan - Nashville Predators / Tom Callahan's 2011-12 Season Blog
Our Central Division season preview series concludes with a look at tomorrow night's Season Opener opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are perhaps the most-changed team in the Central Division this season as far impact players now in uniform. Probably the biggest acquisition of the summer was bringing in Jeff Carter from Philadelphia. Carter is a 40-goal scorer and may or may not play alongside Rick Nash this season, but his mere presence will certainly take the load off Columbus’ long-suffering offensive icon. If they are on a line together, it will be all the more dangerous. If the two are split, then chances are good for one or the other to find a favorable matchup at times during the game. Vinny Prospal is a good candidate to play with this line on the right side as a veteran presence who can dish the puck.

The second unit will be fine for the Blue Jackets as well (Umberger, Vermette, Brassard) but beyond that there are question marks. As is the case in Nashville, Columbus has several young players who have the ability to make an impact, but consistency could be an issue because of the relative lack of experience. Cam Atkinson is a rookie who has made the opening night roster and could prove to be an impact player.

Defensively bringing in James Wisniewski after a career-high 10 goals and 51 points will help, but he’ll miss the first eight games of the regular season due to a suspension. While part of the deal with him was his “edge”, with new sheriff Brendan Shanahan in town those players (especially with prior suspensions) have been put on notice.

Radek Martinek is another blueliner who will likely end up paired with Marc Methot in what head coach Scott Arniel envisions as his “shutdown pair”. At 35 it will be interesting to see how Martinek handles the 82-game schedule given his injury history but he will definitely be counted on in big situations for the Blue Jackets.

In net, the Blue Jackets have a former Calder winner in Steve Mason who has never quite returned to form after his spectacular rookie season. But Mason will have a new goaltending coach this season, and perhaps a new approach will help his game. To be frank, if Mason doesn’t shoulder the load well this season the Blue Jackets don’t have much behind him. Former Pred Mark Dekanich has played all of 50 NHL minutes and veteran journeyman Curtis Sanford has been pressed into duty as the backup since Dekanich is out with a high ankle sprain until November. If Mason struggles, it will be a very long year for Columbus.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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