|Written by Jim Gunther|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 05:58|
Last season was typical of many previous seasons for two different teams. The Columbus Blue Jackets had another sub par year in which expectations were not met. Their record was 33 wins 49 losses. The Devils on the other hand had another spectacular season in which they reached the playoffs. Their overall record was the opposite - 49 wins 33 losses. While it is still early on in the 2007-08 season it seems the two teams have done a role reversal.
This season Coach Hitchcock has the Blue Jackets turned around.
While he did score 27 goals last season it was a major disappointment for fantasy owners. Many were expecting Nash to put up huge numbers (40-plus goals). This season when it came time for fantasy drafts, Nash’s value dropped. As you may know, good left wingers tend to be a hard commodity to find. When a player like Nash has a disappointing season, it only makes things more difficult. This season’s turnaround has to get fantasy owners excited. If Nash keeps it up he could easily lead the NHL in goals scored.
Besides new coaching yet again this season, the Devils face new challenges. One of their biggest problems has been the inability to get their star players, Patrick Elias and Brian Gionta, to produce. Elias is already minus-5. Their penalty kill is the worst in the NHL (67.6%).
Historically, the Devils played a defense-minded style of hockey similar to Ken Hitchcock’s approach in which their great defense generated their scoring opportunities. The departure of their star defensemen (Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski ) over the past few seasons has been irreplaceable. At the same time, Elias’s overall numbers have declined. If the Devils do not start playing defense first, expect Elias and Gionta to continue to struggle.
It's difficult to imagine the two trends continuing, but for the time being it looks as if the two cities have swapped teams.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2007 13:27|