February 15, 2012

Blue Jackets Struggle Their Way Through Another Rough Season

The Columbus Blue Jackets had high hopes for this season with the off-season acquisitions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski.  Those hopes were quickly dashed as they got off to the worst start in franchise history (1-9-1).  They have been plagued with inconsistent play at all positions and have had a coaching change.  Scott Arniel was fired after the team sat 11-25-5 under him, since then interim Head Coach Todd Richards has shown some improvement as the team sits 6-9-1 under him. 

Why are they struggling so much?  The answer is simple; the players need to show up and preform every night and they just aren’t doing so.  One of those players is Blue Jackets starting Goaltender Steve Mason.  Mason (23) the former Canadian World Juniors gold medalist/ tournament MVP and 08-09 NHL rookie of the year has been inconsistent at best.   He blew everyone away a few years ago in his rookie season while capturing the Calder Trophy and Leading the Jackets to their first ever playoff appearance, but has yet to consistently recapture the magic.  He has been outplayed by the teams other goalie Curtis Sanford.  Mason is 7-20-2 with a 3.40 GAA and a .887 saves % while Sanford holds a record of 10-13-4 with a 2.52 GAA and a .915 saves %.  Sanford (32) who previous to this year hadn’t played in the NHL since 08-09, spent the past two seasons in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs. 

Off-season acquisition Jeff Carter has also fell short of expectations.  Carter has Just 12 goals and 21 points so far and is a -9.  Carter (27) has been banged up from time to time and only played in 36 games and has yet to consistently look like the game-changer he was in Philadelphia.  He has been a 30+ goal scorer in each of the past three seasons and was a 46 goal scorer in 08-09.  He has shown glimpses of his old self such as his first period hat-trick against Nashville back in December but the same as Mason, has yet to consistently preform at the high level expected of him. 

The Blue Jackets have a lot of uncertainties.  Will team captain Rick Nash be traded or remain with the team after the trade deadline?  Who will be their Head Coach next season? Will Steve Mason ever recapture his rookie year magic?  One thing has become certain though, this will not be the year the Blue Jackets make their second playoff appearance.

--- Andrew Grimm   twitter @andrewgrimm39

No comments:

Post a Comment