Written by: Matthew Ruskan (@MRuskun)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report
I take one week off of writing this column for finals, ONE WEEK, and the Jackets become the biggest movers and shakers in the NHL, making some serious moves and ripping off an 8-0-1 month of December. So, lets get cracking on the past two weeks.
The first move happened waaaay back and I missed it. Apologies to all my faithful readers who trust me to spread this kind of information. On November 18, the Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Kevin Connaughton from the Dallas Stars. Now, as Curt Ashcraft asked me, why was he on waivers in the first place? Basically, can we trust him? So far, it seems, the answer is yes.
Connaughton is an offensive defenseman. The Jackets want him to, selectively, take his opportunities to carry the puck up the ice and be beneath the opponent’s goal line. As to why Connaughton was on the waiver wire in the first place, the Dallas Stars already have two offensive defensemen. Having any more than that in the lineup compromises the defensive integrity of the team. Connaughton was not getting the playing time that a 24 year old defenseman needs to develop.
His production has also proven that this was a good move for the Jackets. Although he is a -3 in the plus/minus, in 12 games he has three goals and an assist. I personally would like to see the assist total climb, but the goal production has been huge for the Jackets.
Connaughton’s acquisition enabled the Jackets to send defenseman Tim Erixon to Chicago in exchange for winger Jeremy Morin. Morin is 23 and has bounced around between the NHL and AHL, but he has a lot of offensive potential and has dominated the AHL the past several seasons. If he develops into the player the Jackets think he can be, he can have a huge impact on the organization.
The Jackets also made an AHL move, trading winger Jerry D’Amigo to Buffalo for center Luke Adam. Both guys are consistent AHL forwards who have not been able to make the jump to the NHL, so it will be interesting to see if they are able to in the next few years.
Looking forward, the Jackets play the Nashville Predators tonight at home and the Boston Bruins Saturday, also at home. The Predators are playing incredible hockey behind, in my eyes, the best goalie in the NHL this season in Pekka Rinne. It should be a tough contest for the Jackets. The big and bad Bruins always are a tough team, so this week should be a measuring stick against some of the league’s best.
Now, let us rewind a bit and talk about this 8-0-1 record in December and why it is happening. Well, the answer really is two words: Sergei Bobrovsky. Many of those games went to overtime where Goalie Bob persevered, including a 1-0 shootout victory over the Red Wings. Without the Russian between the pipes, the Jackets would not be where they are right now.
Finally, we turn our attention to the injury list. Fedor Tyutin has returned to the lineup for the Jackets, a huge bonus for the blue line. But returning to injured reserve, however, is winger Boone Jenner. His loss really hurts the Jackets as he has been lights out since his return. Jenner is expected to miss 1-2 months with a stress fracture in his back. We wish Boone all the best in his recovery.