COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
THERE ARE REASONS TO SMILE
The next team on my tour is the Columbus Blue Jackets. People use to think of this team as the ones bringing up the rear, but you cannot necessarily say that any more. They have a strong base of players on which to grow. Every team has to have a strong core to build on, and the Jackets has that.
I like the direction this team is going. I see them improving for many years to come. I would like to name some of the players who give Blue Jackets fans reason to smile. The core that they can build their team around.
Great, young, solid offensive defenseman, who is pretty solid in his own end. This season, he seems to have leaned how to play in the defensive zone better. He has a terrific shot on the power play, and has good vision. The thing I like about Ron is that he has vastly improved his game each season. Judging by his play this year, he may very well have a career year, with 3 goals and 9 assists, with a plus 6 so far. I think Ron will be a good dman for many years; a good reason to smile.
With a goal against average of 1.92 and six shutouts -- is there any need for me to explain myself here? Pascal is very fast goalie, with a quick glove hand. Pascal has a save percentage of .930. He could actually be the team's Most Valuable Player so far this season. He is a great young goalie who controls his rebounds well and is on top of his game right now. Pascal is another reason to make me smile.
Rick is big and strong and is probably Columbus' best power forward. If I was to picture what a power forward should look like, Rick Nash would be very close. He is very dangerous in the offensive zone. Why? Because he is so strong. He is very hard to push off the puck, which means he will get a lot of rebound goals, or what I like to call garbage goals. Surprisingly, has quick and strong hands, and is a fast skater for big man. Rick Nash makes Blues Jackets fans smile with his skill and strength.
While Nash may well be the best power forward, Nikolai is the most gifted forward for the Blue Jackets. Zherdev is a smooth, fast skater, who is very smart with the puck. He has great moves, and is a terrific passer. Once a diamond in the rough, now he is becoming more in shape; he has raw ability, and is quickly becoming a star in his own right. He is a flashy forward who is smart and has become a great support for Rick Nash.
The Blue Jackets may be one of the most improved teams and one of the best hockey minds in the League with Hitch as the coach. They could be a force for many years, with young players and a core in place. This team will challenge for a playoff position. Whether they make it will depend upon how they respond to Hitch's coaching. But even if they don’t, I hope the fans be patient with the team, because the Blue Jackets are going in the right direction.