There's a place in the United States called Columbus, Ohio, where the cattle and corn are abundant and the earth is flatter than a Vietnamese prostitute.
You have the Indians, the Browns, the Bengals, the Reds, the Cavaliers and the Blue Jackets.
So far this article sounds like the beginning of a eulogy. Combined, those sports teams have had about as much success as Charlie Sheen getting out of a church's confession booth with a short list of penances. But those Middle-American franchises strive to become competitive, and the Blue Jackets are no different.
Oddly enough, this is not about Rick Nash. You see a headline containing the Jackets, you calculate all the rumors surrounding their superstar forward and you figure what you're about to read is speculation spread further on where Nash will end up at the start of next season.
Columbus' goaltending situation is a nightmare. The word "carousel" doesn't begin to describe it. Steve Mason is not the answer they're looking for, and the 5'11" Curtis Sanford isn't either. This Club has seen one post-season series which lasted a colossal four games before the Red Wings and their brooms hiked onward to the Stanley Cup Final.
Before and since then........nothing. Just a whole lot of 82-game regular seasons followed by no Spring, Playoff hockey. Change must happen in Columbus, and one thing I think they'll address this summer is the vacant sign hanging from their crossbar.
Philadelphia will need to focus a lot of attention on their defense. Paul Holmgren's made an announcement about Chris Pronger's health, but it wasn't much of an update at all. More of the same, really --
"I saw him this morning. He continues to have some good days and then some bad days. So I don't know if that's any update. He struggles.
"We're still holding out hope that he can, that he starts to get better [and] turns a corner in that regard, and I would say right now there haven't been any signs that show us that that's in the near future. But, we'll see how it goes the rest of the summer."
Not very promising.
Moving forward, let's just assume Chris Pronger is not going to be an active skater on the Flyers' 2012-13 roster. At least right away.
Is Matt Carle going to re-sign here? Chances are that he will.
What's that leave us? Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Niklas Grossmann, Andrej Meszaros.
Those are the five big names. You can factor in Erik Gustafsson, Andreas Lilja or Brandon Manning, but in reality those three are more stopgap blue liners as their roles stand today. I could have mentioned Marc-Andre Bourdon, but there's no guarantee he's getting re-signed by our organization this off-season either.
Two days ago I wrote how it would behoove the Flyers to move Sergei Bobrovsky in a packaged deal via trade while he still has some value under his belt. It's no secret Bob's value took a dip behind Bryzgalov, and when Sergei did get his starts....he wasn't exactly putting in brilliant outings.
But, again, there's still value. Especially if he's packaged with some future Draft picks and offered to a team in need of goaltending.
Enter the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Bobrovsky would absolutely get the starts he needs with the Jackets. And being a 23yr old player, Bob has a lot of room and time to progress his game between the pipes. That much I don't have to tell any of you.
Columbus employs defenseman Marc Methot, a 6'3", 223-pound stay-at-home blue liner (left handed) who has two years left on his 4yr/$12-Million contract. Methot is not much offensively, but that's not where I praise the 26yr old (soon to be 27) skater.
Since the beginning of the 2009-10 NHL season when blocked-shots and hits became an official player statistic, Marc has blocked a total of 221-shots and has thrown a thundering 432-hits in 180-games played. His Talent Analysis goes as follows --
"Methot is a stay-at-home defender who makes the safe play; when in doubt he puts the puck off of the glass or will ice it. Methot has made great strides with his offensive game although this did not show up statistically this season. He is carrying the puck with more confidence, he will use his partner as an outlet and his breakout passes have greatly improved. He has better awareness on the ice and has started to lug the puck out of his own end when there is some open ice. He has deceptive speed for a big man and has started to pick his spots to join the rush as a trailer and has created some scoring chances by doing so. Methot plays a physical game and uses his strength along the boards to knock opponents off of the puck. He rarely gets beat to the outside."
Methot's coming off a 2011-12 season where he spent the last half on IR due to taking a blazing slap shot off his jaw. It broke in two different places and he wound up having it wired shut for virtually two months which were spent drinking his meals.
“The last thing I saw was the puck coming right at my face, and it was just a natural reaction to protect myself, I guess. I had just enough time to react and turn my head to the side.”
Methot has also been sidelined by a number of other minor upper and lower-body injuries. So staying healthy through the grueling season hasn't been this kid's strong suit. Not everyone is perfect.
But this kid is in his prime. Marc is big, he is quick, and he's hellaciously physical and strong along the boards --
Philadelphia lost a great deal of puck battles along the boards in our own end. It has a lot to do with what cost us the Series versus the forechecking New Jersey Devils. Methot could not only improve in this area, but once the deed is done.....he can stretch the puck out of the defensive zone with surgical precision.
Matt Carle is one of our defensemen who's able to perform well at the outlet pass. Methot possesses the same ability, only he's got the physicality of Nik Grossmann. Quite the duo of attributes for a strong, zone d-man.
But it's not just the boards where Marc inflicts his authority --
Methot is capable of reading the play, and positions himself to equalize it on open ice / in the slot. His awareness is gifted and definitely one of the stronger traits in his game.
I am not trade savvy. There are a lot of other people able to make a better guess on what Columbus is willing to take in return for Marc Methot. I won't pretend to know if offering Sergei Bobrovsky and a Draft pick(s) is worth it to the Jackets. But when you're talking about a team on the brink of trading away their best player and Captain, then perhaps shaking things up in net sparks their interest as well.
It's time to put the hopes of getting Ryan Suter and Shea Weber to bed. This Flyers team is not one enormous added contract away from lifting the Stanley Cup. It's all about staying healthy, remaining physical, getting on a hot streak when it counts and playing smart hockey in your own zone.
The best offense develops from shutdown defense.
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