It's a little under
seven six weeks until the 2007-08 NHL season opens in London, England on September 29th (blimey!) and it's time to start previewing the season. I'm starting these season previews really, really early but that's only because there's no way I can write 30 solid previews in only a couple of weeks. If I'm going to preview every single NHL team, and I'm going to try my hardest to do so, it will take all seven weeks and then some... And as you might have guessed, these aren't going to be your standard season previews.
- If you thought that John MacLean being the Devils all-time leading scorer was odd, then you haven't seen anything yet. The Blue Jackets' all-time leading scorer is David fucking Vyborny.
- Fredrik Norrena was the first netminder in team history to finish with a winning record. He was 24-23-3 last season.
- The BJs play at Nationwide Arena. Little known fact; it actually does stretch across the entire nation.
- Molly, from the Pepsi Power Patrol, enjoys going on walks and meeting new people. Good to know.
- What does Molly like best about Blue Jackets games, you ask? "Winning," she says. Of course, that's what we all love about the Blue Jackets. The unbelieveable amounts of winning that goes on.
Odds for the folks at gambler's anonymous
20 to 1: The BJs actually do make the playoffs this year.
7 to 1: Mike Peca wishes he took more time to decide on an employer.
150,000 to 1: Congress replaces the American flag with the new BJs jersey.
Obligatory serious analysis
Well, the good thing is that you can't say that the Blue Jackets for not trying. After all, they have played a full 82 games in each year of their existence. What they do at those games, is a different story. The team has never made the playoffs, but to their credit, they are making improvements.
Last season the Blue Jackets finished in 11th place in the Western Conference as it was their season best season in history, in terms of points. They earned 73 points, one shy of the franchise record of 74 set two years ago. Bringing in Ken Hitchcock to coach last season is no doubt a plus for the franchise, as is getting rid of Doug MacLean. The on ice product leaves much to be desired. Today, the BJs added Mike Peca, which is a good move but not one that will solidify that illusive playoff berth. What Peca will do though, is add veteran leadership and, if things go well for Peca and not the team, he could provide some trade value at the deadline. The team has also added Kris Beech, Jiri Novotny and Sheldon Brookbank. That's not exactly going to get it done, as none of those names scare opposing teams. The up side is that Anders Ericksson and Brian Boucher are the biggest names that the team has lost this off season.
Two of the most important players to the success of the team this season will undoubtedly be forward Rick Nash and goaltender Fredrik Norrena. Nash played only 54 games two years ago, but managed to net 54 points. He was not able to keep up the torrid pace last season (74 games, 57 points), and it's obvious that as Nash goes, so goes the Blue Jackets. They'll be looking for him to step up even more in his 5th full NHL season. Norrena won the role as starter last season from Pascal Leclaire, but managed only a .908 save percentage and a 2.78 GAA. There's no doubt about it that he isn't getting any help from his defenders, but if he can improve, his play alone could help offset an inexperienced and below average defensive corps.
Prediction: The BJs will have their best season in team history... and still miss the playoffs. I'm seeding them in the 10th spot out West.
Sorry, no ice girls today. Please accept this image in their absence.
Previous Editions of Preseason Foreplay