OK, we got Antoine Vermette, either by giving up too much or stealing him from Ottawa, depending upon who is on XM Centre Ice when you have it on. I am siding with the latter group. I like Pascal Leclaire and I believe he can be a solid #1 NHL goalie, but it wasn’t goingto happen in Columbus. Best of luck to him.
I haven’t ordered my Playoff tickets just yet. My hope is that the Jackets can climb to fifth place and draw Chicago in the first round. I don’t want to play Detroit, Calgary, or San Jose in the first round because of their depth and experience. Chicago may have more depth than Columbus, but they don’t have more experience. And we could beat them if they are as nervous as we are. Just like Steve Mason is ahead of schedule with his development, so is the whole Chicago team with theirs. They were supposed to be in fifth or sixth place this year. So things just might work out.
By the way, the knock on Chicago is that they are weak at center. Really.
I agree with the experts who say that Calgary improved the most in the West, but did they improve enough to beat Detroit and San Jose? Both of the front runners are stumbling these days, but I would not want to bet against them. If Columbus could pass Vancouver in the standings, that would set up a Calgary series against either Vancouver or maybe Edmonton. You can bet that the Flames don’t want to see Edmonton in the playoffs, but what if the Canucks played up to their expectations? Upset, perhaps?
Anyway, I continue to feel good about the Blue Jackets, but keep in mind that the rest of the schedule is tough. The lightest game is at home against Tampa Bay on March 24. The Jackets face Boston, Florida, and Pittsburgh from the East, not an easy set. But they have to face the music against Division foes and it won’t be pretty.
It’s going to be a tough ride for the team and fans. Hang on.