The Chicago Blackhawks travel to Columbus for a Friday night clash with the Blue Jackets. Columbus has started out 0-2-0 as the troubles continue for John Tortorella. Remember Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey? USA failed to win a game in the tournament and there was plenty of blame to go around, mainly pointed at the head coach, John Tortorella. Now back to his normal duties as head coach of the Blue Jackets, he is still searching for his first win. It took the Blue Jackets over two weeks to find their first win of the season last year, which was what resulted in Tortorella getting the call to come coach the Jackets. His presence was immediately felt, as the Blue Jackets became a respectable team and started winning some games. The idea was to have them fighting for a playoff spot in 2016-17. I don’t know if that’s a realistic way of looking at things. Rather finishing around .500 would be a nice improvement for them.
The Jackets acquired defenceman Seth Jones from the Nashville Predators last season in an effort to boost their ranks on the blue line. The Blue Jackets were getting torn to pieces on the defensive end, resulting in 3.02 goals allowed per game, 29th in the NHL. Adding a young talented defenceman was a priority of the Jackets, but it came at a price. The Blue Jackets shipped center Ryan Johansen to the Predators in exchange for Jones. It came as a surprise, after Johansen potted 26 and 33 goals for the Jackets in each of the two prior seasons. But the writing was on the wall, they really needed to address the blue line. Johansen was not the reason for their struggles a year ago. We turn to Ohio Friday night, where we will look to move to 7-1 with our NHL picks in October.
Have the Blue Jackets fixed their anemic blue line in the offseason? In short, no, but this is a young unit who are going need time to mature and blossom. We say this about a lot of teams in sports, they’re a young team who needs time. Sometimes it works out, and in other situations it doesn’t. Thus far, it’s eveident they are a work in progress, and should suffer defensively once again. The Blue Jackets have allowed 4.50 goals per game, which already puts them in 29th in the league, back where they were through the 2015-16 regular season. They are also scoring only 2.50 goals a game.
It would truly be a huge setback for the Blue Jackets if they fail to improve on last season. They were playing .500 hockey for a few months after Tortorella started to steer the ship. Is his aggressive coaching style going to resonate with this young club this season, though? Players can grow tired of it, which is what we in New York with the Rangers at the end of his career with them. The Blackhawks can score the puck and have been playing great in that regard so far. They’ve scored 12 goals in their last two games, including 7 on the Flyers. I don’t see why the Hawks won’t put together an offensive showing against the Blue Jackets tonight. If they come to play, 4 or 5 goals isn’t out of the question. I like the Blackhawks to get the job done tonight, as Tortorella will have to search for his first win elsewhere.
PICK: BLACKHAWKS -120