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2010/11 Columbus Blue Jackets Predictions – Odds – Season Preview

2010-11 NHL Predictions/Previews: Columbus Blue Jackets

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COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Stanley Cup odds: 100/1

Columbus fans better hope a coaching change is enough to reverse a team’s fortune. After a brutal year in which the Blue Jackets finished fourth-worst in the NHL, they sat on their hands and practically left the entire house intact, save for ousting Ken Hitchcock and putting Scott Arniel behind the bench.

Arniel inherits a team with some young talent that completely failed last year. For starters, Columbus struggled to put the puck in the net, ranking 20th in the NHL. Rick Nash is a bona fide superstar; he’s scored at least 30 goals in five of his last six seasons.

The playmaking winger can’t do it alone, though, which was painfully apparent last season.

Columbus does have some forwards that just about any NHL team would love to have—just not on the top line. Antoine Vermette and Kristian Huselius each topped 60 points, but they’d be much more valuable as second or third liners; certainly, their numbers are inflated because of Nash’s presence.

The Blue Jackets actually had pretty balanced scoring, with five different players cracking the 50-point mark, but there’s just nobody on this unit that can make a major impact besides Nash.

The coaching staff is hoping that will change with a new, up-tempo offense. The forwards should have more freedom to get moving and be creative. If everything goes according to plan, Columbus could light the lamp a little more often this year—but that’s a tremendous if.

The Blue Jackets basically made one more in the offseason, the signing of former Oiler Ethan Moreau. The veteran has never scored more than 32 points in a season, so he’s not expected to help bolster the offense. He’s a pure checking winger.

A wild card in the mix is Nikita Filatov. The former sixth-overall pick has returned from Russia, and there’s no contesting he has plenty of talent. Whether or not he keeps his attitude in check and delivers, however, is another story entirely.

At the other end of the ice, Columbus is crossing its fingers the good Steve Mason shows up. Mason dazzled in his rookie year, posting a 2.29 GAA and notching 10 shutouts. He fell apart in 2009-10, though, with his GAA climbing north of three goals per game.

Mason did improve his play down the stretch, but if he doesn’t deliver results like his debut season promised, the Blue Jackets are hopeless.

Columbus wanted to upgrade the blue line in the offseason but nothing materialized. The Blue Jackets could use a puck-moving defenseman, so don’t be surprised if their name surfaces in trade talks this season.

Ultimately, Columbus fell way below expectations last year. Now they have a shot to fly under the radar. Make no mistake—the Blue Jackets aren’t destined for a miracle Cup run—but there is some interesting young talent.

If the coaching staff can get the most out of it, Columbus will be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

2011 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Tue., Sept. 21 at Atlanta Philips Arena 7 p.m. ET
Wed., Sept. 22 Washington Nationwide Arena 7 p.m. ET
Fri., Sept. 24 Pittsburgh Nationwide Arena 7 p.m. ET
Sat. Sept. 25 at Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center 7 p.m. ET
Tue., Sept 28 Minnesota Nationwide Arena 7 p.m. ET
Thu., Sept. 30 at Minnesota Xcel Energy Center 8 p.m. ET
Fri., Oct. 1 at Washington Verizon Center 7 p.m. ET
Sat., Oct. 2 Atlanta Nationwide Arena 6 p.m. ET
Tue., Oct. 5 Malmo/Rogle BK Malmo Arena (Sweden) 1 p.m. ET

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