CBJ stays near top of division amid drama
I've been racking my brain to think if anything interesting has happened since we last met here at Straight Jackets.
Nope, can't think of a thing.
In truth, of course, the Jackets have had all sorts of stuff go down the past couple of weeks. While the team is playing well, yet still barely holding onto its position in the top three of the Metropolitan Division (the Jackets are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but the two teams right behind them in the standings, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders, are both 8-2), it has seen more than its share of drama.
Last Thursday, two days after falling in Tampa 0-4, the team announced that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would “not be with the team” for its game against Nashville that night. The word suspended wasn't used, but it was made clear the decision was the result of “an incident [that] occurred in which Sergei failed to meet [team] expectations and values,” according to a statement from General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen. This came in the midst of a down-ish season for Bob, one that finds the goalie in the last year of his contract and facing an uncertain future.
A few days of speculation ended when it was revealed that Bobrovsky, after having been pulled from that Tampa game after giving up the fourth goal, rather than remain on the bench and in gear (should the unlikely happen and backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo get injured in the final eight minutes or so), Bob went to the dressing room, removed his gear, showered and dressed. Teammates Seth Jones, Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson confronted the goalie on the tarmac before boarding the team flight home.
Fan and media response has run the gamut, from “Bob is being a petulant child” to “Jarmo made a big deal out of nothing.” Meantime, Korpisalo has started three of the four games since the incident. Is there a new starter in net for the CBJ?
The Jackets have kept pace in the division partly as the result of a 2-1 overtime win against the Washington Capitals last Saturday at Nationwide. There was a minor fuss made out of some Jackets players mocking the arm-flapping goal celebration of Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov after Artemi Panarin scored the OT winner. Kuznetsov replied by suggesting he and his team are in the CBJ's collective head. This will be interesting to watch between these division rivals moving forward.
And, on a happy and sad note, former Jackets star Rick Nash recently announced his retirement, prompted in no small part by the effects of multiple concussions over the past few years. The team's top draft pick in 2002 was the club's identity for the first decade of its existence in some respects, until he requested a trade and was dealt to the New York Rangers in 2012. Time heals all wounds, perhaps. He was welcomed warmly for a ceremonial puck drop before a game at Nationwide against the Rangers on Sunday, Jan. 13.
Best wishes to Nash and his family, who maintain a home in Columbus.