by Chris Zadorozny (@Zads07)
In the second preview of 15 Eastern Conference teams, we see a familiar foe join the Red Wings out East in the Columbus Blue Jackets. Let’s take a look at the Blue Jackets, and where they stack up in the new Eastern Conference.
Blue Jackets Preview
- 17th Overall in the League
- 9th in the Western Conference
- 4th in the Central Division
- 1997 Expansion Franchise (Began play in 2000)
- 0 Stanley Cups
- 0 Conference Championships
- 0 Division Championships
General Manager: Jarmo Kekalainen Coach: Todd Richards Captain: Vacant
2013 stats: Top 5 players
Vinny Prospal (12 goals, 18 assists, 30 points), Mark Letstu (13 goals, 14 assists, 27 points), Fedor Tyutin (4 goals, 18 assists, 22 points), Brandon Dubinsky (2 goals, 18 assists, 20 points), Nick Foligno (6 goals, 13 assists, 19 points)
2013 Team Rankings
25th in Goals/Game (2.40), 10th in Goals Against (2.40), 28th in Power Play (14.2%), 11th in Penalty Kill (82.6%)
- Sergei Bobrovsky (38 GP, 21 W, 11 L, 6 OTL, .932 SV%, 2.00 GAA)
- 2013 Vezina Trophy Winner
- Curtis McElhinney
- Last played in the NHL in 2011-2012 w/Coyotes as the backup
- Career numbers: 69 GP, 19 W, 26 L, 4 OTL, .899 SV%, 3.10 GAA
There is no doubt that the job is going to be Bobrovsky’s. He won the Vezina trophy last year as the best goaltender in the league. He will probably compete for it again with a much better lineup in front of him this year. McElhinney will backup, but will he be a formidable backup? Columbus will be sure to use Bobrovsky to his full extent this coming year, and McElhinney will probably see no more than a dozen games.
Additions: F Nathan Horton (Free Agent/Boston), G Jeremy Smith (Free Agent/Nashville), G Mike McKenna (Free Agent/St. Louis), D Patrick McNeill (Free Agent/Washington), D Frederic St. Denis (Free Agent/Montreal), F Jack Skille (Free Agent/Florida)
Losses: D Drew Olson (Trade/Tampa Bay), D Nick Holden (Free Agent/Colorado), F Nick Drazenovic (Free Agent/Pittsburgh)
Games vs. Red Wings
- Tuesday, October 15, 2013 vs. Columbus (7:30pm)
- Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ Columbus (7:00pm)
- Tuesday, March 25, 2014 @ Columbus (7:30pm)
The Blue Jackets have a great goaltender, and it’s only going to get better with Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski leading the way defensively. They picked up high-profile scoring winger Nathan Horton in free agency, and they have a young core to build around.
Skille, Marion Gaborik, Dubinsky, and Nick Foligno are sure to step up with Horton now in the mix. A pure-scoring winger is something the Blue Jackets have lacked in the past. Even without a pure winger last year, they came in 9th in the Western Conference. Goaltending led the way for the Blue Jackets last year, and don’t be surprised if the goaltending once again leads the way in the Metropolitan division. The Jackets will contend for a playoff spot this year, and it’s very possible they can make it in.
To read the original piece that appeared on Sports Radio Detroit on August 19, 2013, go to www.sportsradiodetroit.com