The Lorenzi Line
by Nicholas Lorenzi on 10/07/11 at 12:53 AM ET
Much has happened since the year 2000 but we failed to see any signs of Columbus housing the Stanley Cup…until now. After ten seasons the Blue Jackets have reshuffled their deck in the best possible way. What do we have to look forward to this season? We’ll have Antoine Vermette shooting to top his career high of 65 points two seasons ago. A look at MVP and First-Team All-Star of the NCAA’s Hockey East, rookie Cam Atkinson blasting from the blue-line toward the net in a Blue Jackets sweater. Not to mention if Matt Calvert takes his career and steers it toward being a top 6 scorer. Mark Dekanich, a backup goal tender who has only seen 1 actual NHL game. A hard working 26 year old defenseman, Grant Clitsome, who could be playing possibly his first complete season in the NHL after proving himself last season when needed with 19 points in 31 games.
The major thing to keep your attention on is our young giant goaltender Steve Mason. When a fan walks up to me in the street and talks Blue Jackets they always ask how we look this year. The only thing to say to that is one word, Mason. Will he re-discover the talent that gave a 33 win/10 shutout rookie season and won him the Calder trophy? He looked tall in the preseason winning all four of his starting games, but how will he stack against the weight of veterans this season?
The shut gates of doubt are made of a lack of confidence and a lack of a defense; scoring couldn’t hurt either. Over the summer the Jackets made some trades to solve this dilemma.
Columbus traded Jakub Voracek for a center named Jeff Carter to play alongside Rick Nash on the first line. This will fulfill Rick’s request to Scott Howson for another star player on the ice. Carter ended last season with a career high of 66 points and ranked seventh in goals with 36. Rick Nash came in 17th with 32. R.J. Umberger is also excited to be re-united on the ice with his former teammate from 2005-2008 by stating “Lost great teammate in Voracek, But excited to be teammates w/ my 1st ever NHL center #Jeff Carter #CBJ Fans be excited. #Crazy” on twitter.
With Kristian Huselius sidelined with a pectoral muscle injury after training during the summer Columbus had to replace one of their key players and found it in New York. Left winger Vinny Prospal, who will bring the veteran presence needed and a good shot. He only played 29 games last season and could be injury prone but averaged 42 points and 68 games played in the last ten years.
A Michigan defenseman named James Wisniewski who will contribute to the power play. It is devastating and disappointing that he has been barred from 8 games after he hit a player that approached him after the end of a preseason game. He’ll give us much to look forward to after the first weeks of the season. His 51 point run last season will make fans eager to have him on the first line of defense. This isn’t the first time he was been suspended. He has a reputation to ruin player’s nights with his hits. Way uncool James…
Luckily the Jackets have one more defenseman to play with the acquisition of Radek Martinek; which was made before the Wisniewski suspension. What isn’t rad is that Radek is notorious for being injured as well as Prospal. We can expect nearly 18 points out of him if he stays healthy.
To top it all off they signed goaltending coach Ian Clark in June to help Steve Mason fulltime. This is a Godsend being that they had a part time goaltending coach in the past. Ian Clark has worked with the likes of Robero Luongo, Cam Ward, Marc-Andrew Fleury as well as Blue Jacket’s head coach Scott Arniel with the Manitoba Moose.
They also extended the contracts of Fedor Tyutin to six years, R.J. Umberger to five years and Marc Methot to four years. The new addition Jeff Carter was signed for nine years and James Wisniewski to six years. All of these players, along with Rick Nash, are between the ages 26-29, what is considered the prime years for a hockey player in the NHL. This span of time is designed to get us to the playoffs till at least 2017.
Where the lines stand give hope.
1 Jeff Carter
2 Antoine Vermette
3 Samuel Pahlsson
4 Ryan Johansen
5 Derek MacKenzie (Injured)
1 Vaclav Prospal
2 R.J. Umberger
3 Matt Calvert (Injured)
4 Derick Brassard
5 Derek Dorsett
6 Kristian Huselius (Injured)
1 Rick Nash
2 Cam Atkinson
3 Tomas Kubalik
4 Jared Boll (Injured)
5 Maksim Mayorov
1 James Wisniewski (Suspended)
2 Fedor Tyutin
3 Kris Russell
4 Grant Clitsome
5 Radek Martinek
6 Marc Methot
7 Aaron Johnson
1 Steve Mason
2 Mark Dekanich (Injured)
3 Curtis Sanford
With Giroux already been sent to the minors Derek MacKenzie, who has a knee injury, will most likely play tomorrow. There’s a good chance that Matt Calvert will be playing tomorrow with a mild groin injury he received during practice.
The original statement was that Kristian Huselius would not return for four-to-six months but starts flexibility and motion exercises soon. Jared Boll is going under the knife for a broken right thumb, likely from fighting, and will be back mid November. James Wisniewski’s suspension will be lifted just in time to play the first time Columbus hosts the Detroit Red Wings October 25th. The first injury of the Jacket’s goaltending came during the first period of the first game in the preseason at home. Backup goaltender Mark Dekanich was injured in a collision and will be missing the first few weeks of the regular season; this will elevate Curtis Sanford to the rank of backup goaltender to Steve Mason for the start of the season.
So Columbus has some time to heal before we can make an assessment on what the team can do and until then we’ll have to pray no one slide tackles Mason and Clint Malarcuk’s him. The woes of having to rely on Sanford and Dekanich between the pipes all season would be that they have only seen a combined 38 games in the NHL.
In the preseason Dekanich had 8 saves and a 1.000% save percentage in his only game but Sanford let 9 goals in after two games in the preseason. Granted he was against starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth in the game against the Capitals, it’s still trepidacious to think of how he will weather the regular season.
Speaking of the preseason how did the skaters do?
It’s a relief that Alexandre Giroux and Cam Atkinson lived up to their reputations of MVPs and exciting to see Fedor Tyutin put up such large numbers for a defenseman. I expect Tyutin to explode to a near 40 points this season with Wisniewski on the same line. That’s a bold prediction but he shows promise with an average of 31 points in the past three seasons.
What can we expect tomorrow against Columbus’ rival the Nashville Predators? (It actually is Nashville, if you think its Detroit you need to get your head out of your ass)
You will see Batman’s the Penguin, Barry Trotz, coaching his 13th consecutive season with the Predators. This is will also be right winger Martin Erat’s tenth year at a Predator. He notched 50 points last season and doesn’t look to slow down as he continues his streak of 49 points or higher for the past seven years. Same goes for center David Legwand who has been with Barry Trotz and the Predators for 12 consecutive seasons and averaged 38 points for the past five seasons.
I expect these players to give Columbus a physical game and Mason something to shake the dust off for. One player to watch in the crease will be young Predator Sergei Kostitsyn. At 24 he scored 23 goals and ended the last season with 50 points.
There isn’t anything better than this match up to start the season. The games against Nashville are always fast and full of drunken slurs of excitement and anger. Come early for the game tomorrow and enjoy the live band outside the arena and the blue beer that will be sold. I’ll be leaving the arena with blue moustache over a huge grin, look for me.
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