The overall feel of this post will inevitably be about ten times more optimistic today than it would have been yesterday. Two major rocks broke off the current mountain the Jackets are climbing, including a massive 1-0 win against Detroit in overtime, and a trade that will bring Jurcina and Clark to Columbus.
I should probably start with the negative. Columbus is still knee deep in a slump. With only one win in their last ten games, the Jackets will have to dig deep in an unforgiving, and road trip laden January if they want to bring the team back into the playoff hunt. While the idea of making the playoffs is now wishful thinking, if they can play to their potential, the Jackets could easily go on a couple five game winning streaks. Steve Mason proved last night that he is the defacto number one goalie, and it was only a matter of time for him to return to last years form.
Now, the good. The Jackets welcome two much needed pieces to the puzzle. A hardened vet with heavy leadership experience in Clark, and a right winged, stay at home puck moving defensemen in Jurcina. While neither of these players will be top four or top six players, their talent will benefit the Jackets where they have struggled all year long, in the depth player level. This does make me wonder who gets ousted from the defensive ranks. Obviously with Chimera gone, Clark will fill in a hole in the offense, but where in the lineup he will land is likely going to be based on some line juggling by Hitch.
Looking at the defense, Stralman will likely welcome the idea of having a second right handed shot on the blueline. With Klesla and Methot both out with injury, the Jackets are suddenly well balanced and deep on the back end. Tack that on with the solid play of Roy over the last couple games, and suddenly, the Jackets are going to struggle to decide who sits each game. It seems that either they are hoping to send a message to the current roster, or they are planning something bigger in terms of a trade.
Optimism is what will get our boys through this mess. That, and the appropriate adjustments in team management. I would love to hear what you guys and gals are doing to get through the tough time as a fan. Feel free to comment!
Carry the Flag!