Ramblings: Thoughts on Atkinson, Drouin, Vatanen and Bruins Reinforcements (Dec 23)

steve laidlaw

2016-12-23

Sell high on Atkinson? Drouin stepping up. Bruins get reinforcements and more.

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Holy mackerel did the Blue Jackets ever take it to the Penguins last night. They won 7-1 chasing Matt Murray early in the third period. No one goes for the throat the way the Blue Jackets do, which is perhaps the most impressive quality about them. You have to respect what the Penguins helped to do for the game by winning the Cup with a team that rolled four lines with speed. You can see that influence in lineups across the league. How great would it be if a team like Columbus, that has put teams away by staying aggressive with the lead, won the Cup?

This is all just a pipe dream I am concocting to create scenarios that might see scoring increase on its own. We all know that it won’t happen until they make the nets bigger.

Still, it’s a good time to be a Blue Jacket fan, tied for first in points, with four games in hand and the league’s best goal differential. And sure, we all see them slowing down at some point but they appear dialed into a playoff spot despite playing in the impossibly difficult Metro division.

What was great about their win last night was how most of the offense came from down the depth chart. They got just one power-play goal while scoring six at even strength, including a hat-trick by Scott Hartnell.

Other unusual customers to light the lamp: Boone Jenner and William Karlsson.

We know that these guys have talent. Both Hartnell and Jenner have 30-goal seasons under their belts but on this team they are depth players. Hartnell skates on the fourth line and second PP unit, while Jenner is on the second line and second PP unit. It’s hard to be more than a 40-point guy with that kind of deployment. We’ve seen some players hit other levels with mere secondary PP time but it takes otherworldly talent. Hartnell and Jenner are always going to be reliant on the talents of others to help get pucks to them in dirty areas and that is easier with #1 PP duties.

Of course, Hartnell displayed some decent wheels and great hands in scoring his first of the night:

That’s Derrick Pouliot that Hartnell burns. Is it too early to stick the bust label on Pouliot? I’d say so. You only need to look at the example of Justin Schultz as a reason not to give up on a defenseman prospect. Pouliot turns 23 next month and has 82 NHL games under his belt across three pro seasons. We are nearin