What's going on with the Blue Jackets lately? Dan P. was kind enough to answer our three burning questions.
You can also read his questions about the Kings and my answers over at The Cannon.
1. How is Jack Johnson doing as the #1 guy, especially now since Columbus has lost so many other d-men to injury?
Well, Johnson has adapted well to the city and the dressing room. He says all the right things. His leadership is clearly on display. That said, he hasn't had to be the true #1 defenseman here (though he will tonight because four of our normal top six are out as you noted...); Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin are the top pair. JMFJ has, however, stepped into the breach as guys have gone down. He has set the franchise record multiple times for TOI since coming over in the trade. including a 34:59 Saturday night in a big win against Detroit. He's meshed well with James Wisniewski to help bolster the Power Play, though together they can create some serious white-knuckle panic on defense.
2. How do you like Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov so far? In the past, they've been quality young players who could handle tough minutes.
So far, Anisimov has been the Jackets' best overall player. He's showing some serious skill around the net with four goals, three of which were highlight-reel quality. He's also doing well in the faceoff circle while playing in all facets of the game responsibly. Dubinsky is a different player. He's been a stud defensively, including being a huge reason the PK has jumped from 30th last season to 7th so far this season. Watching him play on the PK has been a treat. He's starting to rack up some assists, but we're all collectively waiting to see if he can get some goal-scoring going.
Overall, we're seeing glimpses of why so many were so high on Anisimov are part of the trade, and Dubinsky is essentially what we expected: a responsible two-way guy who contributes more on the defensive side.
3. Will Sergei Bobrovsky have a breakout season? What do you think will happen with your goaltending?
The goaltending is as much a question mark as it ever was. I was a big proponent of trying to make a move for Jonathan Bernier this past off-season, and for me Bobrovsky was a consolation prize. He's looked sharp at times, and has struggled at times. He has the work ethic, and he seems to have helped elevate Steve Mason's play by providing a viable alternative. I can't see Bob's numbers being better than his rookie year in Philly, but they should be better than last year's lost season. As to whether he takes another step forward toward being a legit #1 starter? I think it's too early to tell. We've seen the flashes of talent and promise, but he's still also raw and needs to show some consistency.
The Jackets' situation in net is far from settled. Both Bob and Mason are RFAs at season's end. The Jackets have some decent prospects, though they are all at least two years away. We fans are all just hoping that Bob's floor is at least "bridge to the young guys," and if he takes a big leap forward it becomes a bonus.
Thanks again to Dan and The Cannon!