We’re just 10 days away from the 2013 season opener against the Calgary Flames. For Blue Jackets fans, there is a lot to be excited about. As we get closer to October 4th, here are some team notes to keep you in the know in my first edition of the Blue Jackets Notebook. The Jackets have 2 preseason games remaining: Wednesday night in Buffalo against the Sabres and finally Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in Nationwide Arena.
- Matt Calvert (groin) and Dalton Prout (abdominal surgery) each played on Monday against the Wild. Calvert looked good registering over 15 minutes of ice time and Prout had 20 minutes of ice time playing with Tim Erixon.
- Jared Boll isn’t a lock to be back for the opener on the 4th. Boll has an upper body injury and is a longshot to play on opening night, but shouldn’t be out too much longer.
- Derek MacKenzie is day-to-day with an upper body injury suffered in the game against Minnesota on Monday night
Cody Bass, who had a real chance to make the team with Boll and MacKenzie out due to injuries, suffered a broken thumb on Monday night as well. He will be out 4-6 weeks. Jack Skille has a chance to make the team with this additional hole, as does centerman Michael Chaput, who put in solid minutes last night.
- When asked about Nathan Horton’s recovery last night at a private event, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said that Horton is on schedule for his recovery. There won’t be any rush to get him back, but he is expected to be back in the late November to early December time frame.
Who’s in and who’s out?
The roster has been trimmed down to 33. Here’s what we think we know:
- Ryan Murray continues to play on the blue line with James Wisneiwski. I no longer think he’s going to be just a top 6 defenseman since writing that article on September 15th. Murray – the #2 overall pick in 2012 – was not only being deployed as the top defensive pairing on the power play, but he was also being deployed against Evgeni Malkin on Saturday in Pittsburgh and against Minnesota’s top line on Monday.
- Boone Jenner (Calder Memorial Trophy candidate?) is looking spectacular. He is constantly flying around the ice, and is gaining confidence all along the way. He racked up 4 more shots and 4 more hits and a 5 minute fighting major on Monday against the Wild. With the injury bug hitting a few key forwards, I would be shocked if Jenner doesn’t make the team. With a slow start, he may be sent to Springfield, but I would expect at least 60 games in Columbus for Jenner.
- On Thursday, the following players were assigned to Springfield.
Forwards: Alex Aleardi, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Sean Collins, Jake Hansen, Andrew Joudrey, Jeremy Langlois, Broc Little, Spencer Machacek, Lukas Sedlak, Dalton Smith and Trent Vogelhuber
Defensemen: Thomas Larkin, Joe Lavin, Austin Madaisky, Patrick McNeill, Blake Parlett and Frederic St. Denis.
Recalled: Audy-Marchessault, Collins and Smith were recalled for Wednesday’s game vs. Buffalo to fill injury slots.
- Kirby Rychel was assigned to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, likely following a simliar path of Boone Jenner followed since being drafted in 2012.
- 18 Forwards, 11 Defensemen and 4 Goalies remain on the roster. All NHL teams must trim down to 23 players for their “Opening Day Playing Roster,” so expect more cuts after Thursday’s final preseason game.
Sergei Bobrovski played the entire game on Monday night against Minnesota, and looked solid stopping 26 of 27 shots. He did allow the lone shootout goal against Jason Zucker, but through 3 games, he looks pretty solid. A 2.18 goals against average and .928 save percentage suggests that he is already getting close to his mid-season, Vezina Trophy-winning form. He will get a rest on Wednesday as the team travels to Buffalo, but will play on Thursday night against Carolina in Columbus’s last preseason game in Nationwide Arena.
One troubling sign: Bob has faced the most shots in the NHL during the preseason at 77. This is a tough stat to keep track of, as Bob hasn’t played a full 60 minutes in a game until last night, but if the defense doesn’t tighten up and block a few of these shots, it will be a tough season for any and all Columbus goaltenders.
Just for Fun
The Columbus Blue Jackets phone and tablet app is going to become a reality. There are several teams that have had successful apps out there for a while, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Buffalo Sabres, among others. I’m hopeful that the Jackets put as much effort into their application. You can sign up to be notified when the app is released by entering your basic information on the Blue Jackets Website.
And finally, check this out from ESPN: The Magazine: The Ultimate Standings 2013. Even though these are mythical rankings, it’s still nice to see the Jackets move up 70 spots. It was the largest jump of any team, and it paints a picture of rising success for the team – never a bad thing to hear about.
Doulas Cutler is a Lead Writer for The Hockey Writers covering the Chicago Blackhawks. Follow him on Twitter at @DougCutlerTHW. In addition, he also writes on The Blog of Brotherhood, dedicated to Miami RedHawks Hockey (www.blogofbrotherhood.com and @MiamiHockeyBlog). LET’S GO HAWKS!