The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.
Today’s question: Are the Blue Jackets beyond fixing?
Based on the following measures, the answer is a big yes:
—- 2.2 goals per game (26th)
—- 9.2% power play (29th)
—- 3.7 goals against per game (30th)
—- 73.5% penalty kill (28th)
But can we really judge an offense that’s been without Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski for large stretches and hasn’t had Kristian Huselius in the line-up at all?
And with apologies to Steve Mason, can we really blame the Jackets for struggling to keep the puck out of their net with the worst goaltending in the NHL? Mason has faced 337 shots and allowed 44 goals against, giving him a .869 save percentage. If that percentage were .900 (which is hardly spectacular), the goal total would go from 44 to 34. Not to mention the effect solid goaltending can have on a team’s psyche.
You can’t fault general manager Scott Howson for the suspension to Wisniewski or the injuries to Carter and Huselius, but his decision to go with Mason in goal was inexcusable. A fireable offense, frankly.
On the bright side, goaltending is the one area that can be improved with a single trade. And there are decent goalies out there that could be had for a reasonable price.
Florida’s Scott Clemmensen is one guy the Jackets could inquire about, as the Panthers are already deep in goal with Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom.
Why not give the Islanders a call about Al Montoya or Evgeni Nabokov? Rick DiPietro isn’t going anywhere.
The Jackets might not be able to find a long-term solution in goal during the regular season, but an average journeyman is better than what they’ve got in Mason, Allen York and an injured Curtis Sanford. Tampa Bay was in a similar situation last year with Dan Ellis and Mike Smith, so Lightning GM Steve Yzerman went out and got Dwayne Roloson. Look how well that turned out.
So what do you think? Should the Jackets just blow it up and start again? Or is there still a future for this group?