FMJ welcomes Ari Fleeman as a new contributor to the site. Ari hails from the North Coast where he has been blogging and covering Cleveland sports. He's a goalie in a Chiller league and he is a big Blue Jackets fan. We'll get a full bio of Ari up soon. Here's Ari's first post for FMJ.
BY ARI FLEEMAN
It took just over 2 games for Cam Atkinson to score his first NHL goal. How can you not be excited about this kid and what he brings to the Blue Jackets? Atkinson is young grinder in every sense of the word. He just loves to be near the net and is going to do everything he can to get that puck there. Here’s hoping his youthful enthusiasm is contagious and that he is able to light a fire under an offense that needs to get hot. And now.
|Cam Atkinson gets fist bumps after his first NHL goal.|
Sure, there are going to be a lot of long faces in Jacketsland today. The first 0-3 start in team history will do that. But as was stated on this blog yesterday, this is a young team. (Heck, we’ll say it again.) There are four rookies on this roster, as well as two other players with less than a year of NHL experience. When you combine the kids with five or six veteran newcomers to the squad, there’s a lot of chemistry that needs to be built. Good thing there’s still 79 games left.
Two other players that I'll be watching closely over the next several games: Steve Mason and R.J. Umberger.
Mason has been a double edged sword ever since he came off his rookie season and just has not been able to get consistent. First it was his conditioning, and last season it was him getting away from the net. It may not look like it yet (as he has given up 10 goals in the first 3 games), but Mason has been playing much better. He has been more consistent in his positioning and has done a much better job trusting his defense and staying closer to the net. His work with new goalie coach Ian Clark may not be apparent to the casual eye, but just give this some time. As a goalie the hardest thing to do is trust your defense and trust that your positioning is correct. Give Mason some more games to get his rhythm and the feel of his defense and the improvements should be more noticeable (on the scoreboard where it matters).
Another highlight of this young season has got to be RJ Umberger. He may not have any points and is currently sitting at -1, but one had to get the sense during last night’s game that he is about to explode (in a good way). R.J. is one of those players that may not get the recognition he deserves. He can swing the momentum at any minute and be a game changer.
It looks like this young team still has some growing and learning to do (fast). Along the way these three players are going to keep us in many games and more times than not be the difference in walking away with one or two points instead of zero. (Yeah, it would be a lot easier to say that if we had ANY points right now.)
Which players do you think are going to help the Blue Jackets dig out of this dismal start? Leave your comments below.