Thursday, October 13, 2011

Atkinson Sent to Springfield

This news just popped up on twitter thanks to the Blue Jackets beat writers, who took a break from their usual negative stat spewing to share the decision.  The reaction was exactly as I had anticipated, with much disdain and disappointment as it would seem mini-Cam, Gizmo, and other 'not tall' expressions were shared wishing it was someone else.

While the move makes little sense in that Atkinson was one of the harder working players game in and game out, it does make sense in that his contract allows more flexibility than any of the others.  They have the ability to call him up and send him down at any time, unlike the player who I personally would have sent down, Derek MacKenzie.  He would have to clear waivers before going to Springfield, which is fairly risky business for what many consider to be a workhorse fourth liner.

This does come as a very curious decision though, as Jared Boll was scheduled to miss a substantial amount of time with his injured finger, leaving only one reserve player on the Jackets active roster to move in and out of games.  Last night, that 'one' was Maxim Mayorov, who seemed to be one of the more productive forwards in the game against Vancouver.  In any case, this now leaves the Blue Jackets with a full roster on the ice, but no one to replace an injury (or flu-ish type game decision).  Could this mean a trade is looming?

I certainly hope not.  The team has not been 'bad' per se, they have simply had rocky stretches during their games.  Certainly goal scoring has to be a concern (two goals scored in literally every game has them at 19th in the league) which still begs the question of why they would send down one of their goal scorers, who has an absolute cannon of a shot.  Couple that with the fact that they outshot Colorado 30-14 in the first two periods last night, but could only muster a single goal, and I have to wonder if it is not so much the execution of their offense, but the follow up.

Case in point: Rick Nash scored the game tying goal in the second period by following up on his own shot to bang home a rebound.  Interestingly enough, while the play may have been slightly broken, he was the first forward to reach the net after his own shot.  I think the issue here is getting into the harder areas of the ice.  Varlamov was decent last night, but he wasn't closing the door on every shot. The rebounds were there for the taking but the lack of net presence shut the door on many opportunities.

This post was designed to be a simple reaction to the Atkinson demotion, but it seems like there is so much more going on here.  Good teams win their games because they outwork the opposition.  Great teams find a way to win games they have no business winning.  For the Jackets, I think it's time to play a full sixty minutes in order to get classified as a 'good team'.  In 20 games, when they've got everything sorted out, I will start selling that 'great team' concept a bit more.

In the meantime, I hope this demotion is short lived.  Cam brought a lot of fire to a relatively listless (at times) on ice product, and he was quickly becoming a fan favourite.

Carry the Flag!

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