What a day to be alive. Today of course, is the day Oilers fans have been waiting for for months. CONNOR MCDAVID IS BACK! Despite that, I wanted to get a good look into the Blue Jackets organization. They have been one that has made lots of noise this year, but not necessarily for the right reason.
Copper and Blue: Do you think the decision to fire Todd Richards was a good one? Is John Tortorella all that bad?
The Cannon: At the time of Richards' firing, I thought it was a bit hasty, that the team would inevitably win that first game and start to turn it around. In listening to Torts' comments since he was hired, it seems as though things were a lot more dysfunctional than any of us thought under Richards, and that the crazy run last year was more of a mirage than anything.
Torts has been brutally honest since taking over as coach, and I find it refreshing. He's shown no fear in benching veterans for poor play or for taking stupid penalties. In a short time, he's instilled a culture of accountability. We've yet to see Torts have one of his famous blow-ups, and given how many opportunities he's had to to do it in the last couple of months, I'm thinking/hoping he's grown out of that act and realizes his past public outbursts did nothing but harm.
I've been pleased thus far.
C&B: Right after the Johansen/Jones deal, the Jackets continued their struggle. How has Jones settled in, and how is he playing?
TC: As each game goes by, Jones looks more and more comfortable playing alongside Ryan Murray on the top pairing. You can tell this kid is an excellent athlete, he does an excellent job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone, sometimes acrobatically. He isn't afraid to join or lead the rush, and though he's yet to score as a Jacket, he's getting shots through and is getting lots of powerplay time. I have a feeling once he gets that first one, the monkey will be off his back and the additional offense will come. He doesn't make many mistakes defensively.
Jones alone isn't enough to fix what's going on in Columbus, but he certainly provides hope for the future. The Jackets' defense - the biggest question mark prior to the season - has been awful, but since the trade Ryan Murray's game has elevated, while Jack Johnson can ease back into a second pairing role. With Zach Werenski coming and continued improvement by David Savard, the defense shouldn't be as bad in coming seasons.
C&B: Sergei Bobrovsky is obviously a huge part of the team, but has been plagued by injuries the last few years. What do you think is the best course of action to get him back to 100%?
TC: Part of me thinks the team should sit Bob for the rest of the season, but at the same time if he can prove that he's healthy he has to be playing. That said, he's claimed to be 100% before the last two groin injuries this season, so you just don't know when the next one's going to pop.
Like most Russians, he values the World Championships very highly, and will want to play for his home country in that tournament. He'll no doubt want to get some games in down the stretch to get himself up to game speed.
While he (and backup Curtis McElhinney) have been injured, the third and fourth goalies in the system- Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo - have put up very different results during their NHL stints. Forsberg has been so-so, while Korpisalo has been very good. It may be beneficial to Korpisalo's development to continue to get playing time, perhaps splitting with McElhinney when the latter returns to action soon.
At the end of the day, Bobrovsky is the Jackets' MVP. If he's healthy, he should be in the cage.