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Tag:Columbus Blue JAckets
Posted on: January 18, 2012 4:11 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 4:43 pm
 

Rookies facing the toughest assignments

CouturierBy: Adam Gretz

Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at which top rookies are playing some of the toughest (and easiest) assignments in the NHL.

Most NHL teams are going to put their rookies into favorable situations on the ice.

They are usually not going to be asked to play the toughest minutes on their team, against the best opponents and in defensive situations, and instead are going to be put into low pressure situations where they have the best opportunity to succeed. There are, of course, always exceptions, and some youngsters are asked to take on larger (and more important) roles, whether it be out of necessity, or because the player has shown that he's capable of taking on such an assignment at a young age. 

This year's rookie class has had some pretty impressive performances so far, including that of top overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (currently the NHL's leading rookie scorer) in Edmonton, Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson with the Devils and, of course, Philadelphia's young forwards Sean Couturier (pictured) and Matt Read, who have not only flashed some offensive ability, but have also proven themselves to be more than capabale penalty killers.

But which of the NHL's top rookies are being asked to play the toughest minutes this season?

Well, that's what the scatterplot picture below helps us figure out. We're using Relative Corsi Quality of Competition (the level of competition the player is playing against -- the higher the number, the tougher the opponent, and vice versa) and Offensive Zone starts (both via Behind The Net) during 5-on-5 play to determine which rookies are being asked to play in the toughest situations by their respective teams.

The closer a player is to the top left of the chart, the harder the assignments he's being given (playing against better players and starting fewer shifts in the offensive zone), while the closer a player is to the bottom right, the easier the assignment (playing against weaker competition and starting more shifts in the offensive zone).

The players included: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Oilers), Adam Henrique (Devils), Nick Johnson (Wild), Luke Adam (Sabres), Cody Hodgson (Canucks), Jared Cowen (Senators), Adam Larsson (Devils), Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche), Sean Couturier (Flyers), Matt Read (Flyers), Ryan Johansen (Blue Jackets), Raphael Diaz (Canadiens), Craig Smith (Predators), Colin Greening (Senators) and Kaspars Daugavins (Senators).

Rookie Assignments

A few thoughts:

1) When it comes to the NHL's rookie of the year debate the two most common names are, naturally, Nugent-Hopkins and Henrique. They are, after all, the top two scoring rookies in the league, and before Nugent-Hopkins went out with his injury they were neck-and-neck in that scoring race. Now that Henrique is running unopposed for the foreseeable future, he's going to take over that scoring lead (barring an injury of his own, of course) and will probably become the front-runner for the award by seasons end.

Both players have arguments working in their favor.

When we did our mid-season award picks I went with Henrique based on the fact he and Nugent-Hopkins were nearly identical offensively, while Henrique was being asked to play in tougher situations (as the chart above illustrates). Along with that, he is also one of the top penalty killing forwards on the best penalty killing team in the league, and has proven himself to be a threat offensively even when his team is down shorthanded, currently tied for the league in shorthanded points. Conversely, Nugent-Hopkins is getting some of the easiest minutes in the league among the top rookies, and has played just a total of one minute and 16 seconds of shorthanded ice time this season.

That said, it can't be ignored that Henrique is already 21 years old while Nugent-Hopkins is one of the youngest players in the league at the age of 18. Actually, he's the second-youngest player to have skated in an NHL game this season, having been born just six days after Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad, who appeared in nine games for the Senators.

He may not be asked to play in tough situations, but his performance is still darn impressive given his age.

2) Don't overlook the rookie duo in Philadelphia. The Flyers completely re-tooled their roster over the summer, and halfway through the 2011-12 season they haven't missed a beat as far as being a contender in the Eastern Conference is concerned.

 Losing Mike Richards and Jeff Carter looked like it was going to be a major blow to their forward depth, and while they are definitely a different team from a year ago, they're still boasting an impressive group of forwards, including their two prized rookies Couturier (selected with the draft pick that came from Columbus in exchange for Carter) and Read. Both are among the Flyers' top penalty killing forwards, and among Flyers forwards that have played at least 20 games this season Read is currently facing the fourth-toughest competition on the team.

3) Mike Yeo, head coach of the Minnesota Wild, appears to have a lot of faith in Nick Johnson, a player the team picked up on waivers before the season. Not only is he playing, by far, the toughest minutes of any of the top rookies in the NHL (he's currently 11th among rookie scorers) his Qual Comp is the highest of any forward on the Wild roster. Perhaps that faith shouldn't be much of a surprise given the connections both have to the Pittsburgh organization (Johnson was drafted by the Penguins, while Yeo was a former assistant).

Of course, age once again needs to be taken into account. While Johnson is playing tougher minutes than all of these other rookies, he's also by far the oldest player on the chart having already turned 26 back in December. A 26-year-old rookie and an 18-year-old rookie aren't exactly the same thing.

Taking into account performance, assignments and age I'd still choose Henrique as the top rookie in the NHL this season (so far), with Nugent-Hopkins, Read and Craig Smith coming in just behind.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 8:34 pm
 

Video: Taylor Hall cut by skate in warmups

By: Adam Gretz

A scary situation unfolded in Columbus on Tuesday night before the Blue Jackets-Oilers game as young Edmonton standout Taylor Hall was cut by a skate during warmups.

The incident occurred after Hall, who was not wearing a helmet at the time, fell to the ice directly in the path of his teammate, defenseman Corey Potter.

As Potter attempted to jump over Hall in an effort to avoid him, his skate came down on Hall's face resulting in a cut above his eye.

This is what it looked like:



The Oilers have yet to announce the severity of the injury, but Hall did not play in the game.

The Oilers are already without two of their other young Stars, forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, due to injury.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 16, 2012 8:01 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 8:17 pm
 

Blue Jackets' Byers suspended three games

By Brian Stubits

Brendan Shanahan enjoyed a few quiet days in the past week, it must have felt like the Christmas break again, minus the delicious ham or turkey dinner, of course.

But he was back at it on Monday, handing down a three-game suspension to Columbus Blue Jackets forward Dane Byers. To the video ...

The hit occurred in the Sharks zone with San Jose trying to advance the puck out. Byers came across the ice and put a hit on Desjardins. But as Shanahan notes, the principal point of contact was the head of Desjardins, an obvious no no as the NHL has made clear multiple times this season.

What Shanahan notes in giving Byers a three-game suspension is how he had the chance to deliver a body check but instead rose up and delivered a hit to the head using his shoulder and continued to drive upward through the hit.

Adding into the mix, Desjardins was injured as a result of the hit, leaving him a little groggy and leading to concussion tests.

Plus Byers, despite being a recent callup from the AHL, has a suspension on his NHL resume for starting a fight in the final five minutes of a game. So the three strikes in this case add up to three games.

More NHL Discipline news

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 7:04 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 7:08 pm
 

Umberger out indefinitely with concussion



By: Adam Gretz


Anaheim's Jean-Francois Jacques received a three-game suspension earlier this week for a hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger. During Brendan Shanahan's video breakdown of the play and his explanation for the suspension, he noted that Umberger's lack of an injury as a result of the hit went into his decision.

Even though it appeared at the time that Umberger was uninjured, we now know, less than a week later, that he is going to be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion that is believed to have come as a result of that play during Sunday's 7-4 loss to the Ducks.

Umberger was able to play on Tuesday night, Columbus' first game after that incident, and even scored a goal in a 5-2 loss to Chicago. As of Thursday, it's not yet known when he will suit up next for the Jackets.

“It’s a big blow,” general manager Scott Howson told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. “Obviously, R.J. is a big part of this team, and he’s a guy who has always played through a lot of injuries to keep himself in the lineup. But I’m glad he’s taken this step. We’re going to take it slow and handle it the right way, show every bit of patience that is required of an injury like this.”

In 42 games this season Umberger has scored seven goals and recorded 11 assists. He's not only the latest NHL player to go out with a concussion, he's also the latest in a long line of Blue Jackets players to be out of the lineup for any injury, joining a list that already includes Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski and Kristian Huselius.

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Jean-Francois Jacques Suspended
More Columbus Blue Jackets News

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 9:52 pm
 

Ducks' Jacques gets three games; Beauchemin none

By Brian Stubits

Jean-Francois Jacques hasn't spent a lot of time with the Anaheim Ducks this season. WHen he has, he's caught the eye of Brendan Shanahan. Twice.

The Ducks forward was suspended for three games on Monday by Shanahan for his hit to the head of the Columbus Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger after the latter released a shot from the slot.

As usual, here's Shanahan's video explaining it.

This video has a lot of the same verbage we've heard from Shanny this season. Going into the slot, Umberger can expect a good check, but should not expect one to the head and in this case that was the principal point of contact.

"J.F. hit a player that was vulnerable after shooting the puck, and he needs to be more aware in those situations," Ducks GM Bob Murray said. "We accept the league's ruling and will move forward."

Leading to part of the three-game punishment is the fact that Jacques was handed a suspension in the preseason too.

That was just the first of two hearings on the day for Ducks players. The one a bit more concerning to Ducks fans was a hearing for defenseman Francois Beauchemin for his hit that left Jeff Carter with a separated shoulder.

Shanahan elected to come down with no additional punishment for Beauchemin, be it a suspension or a fine. That's the good news in it all for Anaheim.

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 5:25 pm
 

Patrick Sharp to miss 3-4 weeks

By: Adam Gretz

The Chicago Blackhawks have become the latest team to be hit with a significant injury.

The team announced on Monday afternoon that forward Patrick Sharp is going to be sidelined for the next three-to-four weeks with what has been described as an "upper body injury" (It's reported to be a broken wrist, coming when he was slashed just before scoring a goal on Sunday night). It comes at a bad time for Chicago as the team is currently riding a four-game losing streak and has also lost six of its past nine games

He was injured on Sunday night when the Blackhawks lost to their divisional rivals from Detroit, 3-2 in overtime, and played just a little over five-and-a-half minutes. He left the game after the first period and did not return.

It's a big blow for the Blackhawks for the near future as Sharp is one of their best, most reliable and most consistent skaters. Through his first 42 games of the season he's second on the team in goals (20), fourth in assists (20) third in total points (40), first in power play points (12) and leading the team with 158 shots on goal.

Assuming it's just a three-to-four week injury he should be back in the lineup sometime in early February. Looking ahead at Chicago's schedule they get the struggling Blue Jackets and Wild this week, before things get significantly tougher with games against the likes of Detroit, San Jose, Vancouver and a home-and-home set with Nashville over the remainder of the month.

More NHL Injuries

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 9:52 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 7:00 pm
 

Scott Arniel fired by Blue Jackets

Arniel1By: Adam Gretz

On Monday morning the Columbus Blue Jackets pulled the trigger on a move that had been anticipated for some time now.

The team fired head coach Scott Arniel following a 7-4 loss in Anaheim on Sunday that dropped the Blue Jackets to a league-worst 11-25-5. Arniel will be replaced on an interim basis by former Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards.

It seems like this is a move that probably should have taken place some time ago given how bad the Blue Jackets were from the start of the season, roaring out of the gate by losing their first eight games and 10 of their first 11. It was a massive hole that was (and still is) too deep to overcome, and it's getting deeper by the day. Right now there are only seven teams in the NHL that are more than five points out of a potential playoff spot. The Blue Jackets are 20 points back.

A couple weeks ago general manager Scott Howson refused to place the blame on the coaching staff, and talked about how the team was going to look to be active in the trade market.

Obviously, there were some problems in Columbus. Young, skilled players like Derrik Brassard and Ryan Johansen were relegated to fourth-line duty, or even the press box on some nights, with Brassard's agent, Allan Walsh, putting the crosshairs on Arniel for, in Walsh's words, "a history of burying players and using them as scapegoats to mask his own lack of success on the ice."

Whether or not Arniel was a good or bad coach, or if a change needed to be made (it's pretty obvious something needed to happen), the situation in Columbus has been ugly in every possible way. Injuries have piled up, including the most recent one for summer acquisition Jeff Carter on Sunday, while the goaltending, particularly from former Calder Trophy winner Steve Mason, has been among the worst in the league. The Blue Jackets currently have the second-worst team save percentage in the NHL at .893, narrowly ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning. On an individual level the only goalie with a worse mark than Mason's .883 is Dwayne Roloson.

Arniel ended up lasting just a season-and-a-half in Columbus as the team put together a 45-60-18 record during his time with the team. The Blue Jackets have won just eight games in regulation since November 24 ... of 2010.

His replacement for the time being, Richards, was the head coach in Minnesota during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and put together a 77-71-16 record. He was replaced this offseason by Mike Yeo.

Here is Howson talking to the media about the decision.



More on the NHL's coaching carousel

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 11:46 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 11:48 pm
 

Jeff Carter separates shoulder in loss to Ducks

By Brian Stubits

It's just not the Columbus Blue Jackets' year.

They met the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday night in a midseason battle for the No. 1 pick. It was all that you would expect from two teams that seem snake-bitten. The goalies were toasted for 11 goals (all four played, by the way) and the Blue Jackets saw another key player go down with an injury. It's been that kind of year.

Coach Scott Arniel, who is somehow still hanging onto his job, confirmed after the 7-4 loss that Jeff Carter is going to miss time after separating his shoulder. This is the second time this season that Carter has had a bad injury that will cost him time. Earlier this season he had a hairline fracture in his foot from blocking a shot.

This offseason, Carter was the big acquisition by the Blue Jackets, the move that finally gave Rick Nash a fellow big-time scorer to play with. It hasn't gone exactly as planned. Nothing for Columbus has, really.

He has played in 29 games and has 10 goals with 8 assists. He hasn't scored fewer than 30 goals since 2007-08 with the Flyers when he had 29.

The Blue Jackets will update his situation further after some tests, but he is well on his way to a season to forget, both from a personal stats/injury standpoint and the lack of team success.

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com