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Blue Jackets must prove themselves straight out of the gate in 2010-2011 campaign

By Peter D. McAlister

The Columbus Blue Jackets begin their 10th National Hockey League regular season in Stockholm this Friday and Saturday against the San Jose Sharks in what could be the start of a very successful franchise makeover or just another miserable seven month effort of lost opportunity and haplessness.

To say that the Jackets have underperformed for almost a decade in Ohio’s capital city is a monumental understatement. This is an organization that has had a top eight pick in the NHL draft for all but one year of its’ existence while free agents have been shipped in and shipped out to no avail. Granted there is a clean slate for the front office and coaching staff at the onset of the season but if this team doesn’t send a strong message to the rest of the league that they will compete night in and night out, there will be thousands of empty seats for home games in Nationwide Arena on a regular basis. Another poor start would lead to a very unstable financial situation that could mean life support for professional hockey in the Arena District and there is not one true fan in Columbus that wants to contemplate that very real scenario.

Head coach Scott Arniel appears to have a handle on what needs to be done to turn things around for the CBJ but the question must be asked: Can he and his staff do it with the current roster or should more changes in personnel be made by GM Scott Howson to make the club more competitive? Conventional wisdom says the latter unless a number of things happen to fall in place, then and only then would a stellar season and a Stanley Cup playoff birth be realistic.

Goaltenders Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon must carry the team on their shoulders early in the schedule until a comfort zone is found by the Jackets as it relates to Arniel’s new system and his style of speedy, aggressive play. It will not happen overnight but if they can stem the tide during what will obviously be an initial feeling out process, the club should excel in the long run. On offense, the second line simply must provide more firepower and goals this campaign and a much upgraded third line has to shut down opponent’s skill players while showing that they can light the lamp as well. The defensive pairings have to be responsible in their own zone but not hesitate to jump up offensively when the opportunity arises. Stay at home defensemen will not bring anything to the ice that Jackets Nation hasn’t witnessed before. Finally, tough and gritty hockey that will make opponents despise playing the Blue Jackets in Columbus, at their place, or even this weekend in Sweden, all the while incorporating a vastly improved power play and penalty kill.

This may be a lot to ask of the current CBJ lineup but rewards can be nearly endless in professional sports when a mere opportunity presents itself. It is high time for the Jackets to step up and meet this challenge. Two opening games across the pond against the San Jose Sharks may not seem important now but it could turn out to be a strong foundation for a promising 2010-2011, season. Currently, none of the 30 NHL franchises have a win or loss on their record. Today there can only be much hope and optimism all around.

21 comments:

  1. now your talking and the fact that the exhibition game is over today I figured you would be hitting the ground running again

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  2. Peter,

    Though I must give it to you for a renewed effort you are telling jackets fans what we already know and that is nothing has really changed. Same old same old with a roster that will not win 30 games this year.

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  3. Back in the fold with delusional thoughts. Did the brass buy you off over the summer and you suddenly became a fan. First sign of trouble and you will be trashing the CBJ again!

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  4. Peter, for once I have to agree will anon. Unless Scott pulls a serious trade before the holidays or the youngsters including Mase play lights out this will be another lost season with declining interest in c-bus and in the league.

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  5. Good to hear from you again Peter. Things may be looking up there but they sure the hell aren't in western Canada unless you are a Jerome or Vancouver follower. Our weather sucks too. Good luck to your boys!

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  6. another year and you and your ilk continue to try to shove hockey down our throats when nobody cares except you - this town is BUCKEYES and BUCKEYES only so move on and follow something that more than a handfull of losers care about!

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  7. Hey BUCKS JERK, do you just read this and other sports sites so you can show off your ass? Get a life. What's it to you if others like something other than the miss guided religion that is OSU football? Go back to your cave and shut it!

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  8. you going to visit the new park that they will build after they tear down nationwide ranger rick?

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  9. Peter,
    Couldn't have said it better myself. The problem is without a number one center and a top defenseman this team is bound to miss the playoffs again.

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  10. Hey Mcalister - the local rag of a paper said that Russell hurt his knee yesterday and Rusty is playing scared and your piece called for trading to upgrade the defense. Stop it already, you are jinxing the team before the season even begins. Next thing you know Vermette will go down because you called for trading to get a center.

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  11. Scottie has to be ready to pull the trigger on a major trade at some point in the season. He didn't do it last year but will have no choice as the schedule deepens and the CBJ are faced with adversity.

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  12. Hey buddy your back but still don't know what you are talking about. Have you every even been to a hockey game in your life. Oh I forgot you won tickets once in a shot contest at your local bar. Why aren't you in Europe with the team. I forgot that to - you are blogger boy. Go Jackets.

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  13. what the heck JR you have to have something better to do at work today than trash my boy Peter we are all hockey fans here

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  14. good to get the win in Sweden yesterday but can the guys please stay out of the box

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  15. Peter, you have to admit that the Jackets looked good this weekend. If it wasn't for Commodore's crap penalty Friday - which wasn't a penalty - they could be 2-0. Even in the Carolina game the TV boys were critical of the refs. There was one non call that was a joke. Hopefully this isn't what the players and fans have to put up with all year.

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  16. We play your boys in Columbus tonight Peter. We suck again this season so the Jackets should be alright. If not I will get back to you and rub it in.

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  17. Peter,

    That piece of shit Adam "Traitor" Foote is in town tonight. Lets hope the Jackets rock the Rockies!

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  18. Peter, the west coast swing was a resounding success and no word from you, what's up?

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  19. Hey Peter, where the hell have you been? The Jackets may be on a bit of a slide but they look a heck of a lot better than last year. Up north we still suck and there isn't any clear skies in the future anytime soon.

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