Not counting Saturday's loss to Minnesota (which I refuse to blog about), it's been a quiet few days for the Blue Jackets.
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The deafening silence may soon be lifted, however. The acquisition of defenseman Richard Tarnstrom from the Oilers signaled a ray of hope from GM Scott Howson, parting with an expendable asset in order to get something the Blue Jackets need- transition offense. He's got a good rep on the power play, too. One only knows how badly the Jackets could use a PP quarterback right about now.
Defenseman Duvie Westcott was put on re-entry waivers by the team on Monday, meaning that any team looking to pick him up is responsible for one half of his current salary, equaling about $550,000. It's a weird situation for the Blue Jackets, who may be looking to buy out Westcott should he go unclaimed. He could also be waived right back to Syracuse.
When Tarnstrom arrives, the Blue Jackets could choose to trade Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who is rumored to be of interested to several teams, including the Pittsburgh Penguins. In turn, they could send Kris Russell or Marc Methot to Syracuse, and go with a 3rd pairing of Russell/Methot-Tarnstrom. Doesn't look all that bad.
If you haven't seen Erik Christensen play, make note of it. He's a real cool customer with the puck on his stick, and he's a slippery guy in tight corners. A power play wizard, he owns a ton of moves, a nasty shot and is lethal in the shootout. Also, he's not too bad in the faceoff circle, either. Match made in heaven for the Blue Jackets. Get on it, Scott.
This week's marquee attraction is tomorrow night when the Washington Capitals visit Nationwide Arena. It marks superstar Alex Ovechkin's first trip to Columbus, and Blue Jackets fans are in for a treat. That is, if you're not down for cheering on the home squad.
It will be interesting to see what line Ken Hitchcock throws out against AO's line. My guess would be Chimera-Peca-Zherdev, and something about seeing Z and AO going head to head makes me excited. Big time. It wouldn't shock me at all if Mr. Zherdev gave the guy a run for his money. We saw him get nasty on Saturday night, and no doubt tensions will be high on Tuesday, as both teams are fighting for their playoff lives.
Pascal Leclaire returns to the net against the Caps, after Fredrik Norrena had a rough night against Minnesota. A common trend this season, the Jackets left Norrena out to dry on three of the four goals against, and really, the goaltender had zero chance on those three.
Brent Johnson in goal for Washington, and the one thing the Jackets will have to be on the lookout for is the Caps' PP. The emergence of rookie center Niklas Backstrom has made AO even more deadly on the man-advantage, giving him a bonafide set-up man. Viktor Kozlov, usually camped in the slot, can really shoot the puck. These pesky Caps love the cross-ice feed on the power play, reminiscent of the Nashville Predators. Jackets fans are familiar with that.
The next week is a huge stretch for the Blue Jackets. Four games, two home and two away, to crawl back into the Western Conference playoff picture. They are three points out right now, and their next two home games are against teams they need to beat. Los Angeles has struggled, and while the Caps and Blue Jackets aren't familiar with eachother, the Jackets will have to rely on hard work and physical play to muscle Washington out of Nationwide.
Should be an interesting week, keep your eyes peeled.
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