The Bolts brought in a couple new faces this off season. After going from game seven of the Eastern Conference finals to finishing two spots and eight points out of the playoffs, it was needed. One of those additions has the potential for big impact, the rest are essentially maintaining the status quo.

Good News

  • Anders Lindback looks to be a damned impressive goaltender.
  • A healthy BJ Crombeen almost certainly moves their penalty kill up two or three spots minimum.
  • Just about all the additions to the roster have something to prove and that will make them hungry.

Bad News

  • The defense is still mediocre at the top of its performance curve.
  • Anders Lindback for all his skill and size is going to be in his first year in a new place, in a very different system, and he’s got less than 40 NHL games to his name.
  • They are still not a top three team in their own division.

Forecast

High:  Bubble team, if there are disasters in other cities they get to about where they were last year, maybe as high as the eight spot.

Low: Afterthought. Lindback needs to be Vezina quality in order to drive this team to the playoffs, if he can’t  do that while playing 55+ games the off season will be long.

X-Factor

A simple look at the roster says the team has players that it can move around. If the brain trust decides to load up and increase the quality of the defense, or the offense goes from good to world beating the team suddenly takes on a completely different quality.

The Boston Bruins extended cup hangover is hardly undocumented, and we saw exactly what was done to remedy it. The Phoenix Coyotes have been involved in about the only trade worth talking about this season and they’re in a comfortable position in their conference. The Montreal Canadiens sparked a mini spurt in points collection, and a great Twitter meme by firing  Pearn, but soon returned to the level their injuries and on ice talent dictate.

The most speculated shakeup of the early season is far and away “What to do with Columbus” but I think that’s hardly fair. They had a lot of turnover since the end of last season and the two most significant pieces have not yet played together. James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter have each had a lot of time off the blueliner got hammered by Shanahan for a boneheaded hit in the preseason, and Carter blocked a shot off his foot that has his return up in the air. Add to that the injuries to Jared Boll, Kristian Huselius, Radek Martinek and two different goalies and you’re starting to get the idea why Columbus has been chaos central this season.

Taken all together the injuries represent a far higher percent of the rosters talent, and nearly as much salary as the chronic injuries to centers of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Which makes Ken Hitchcock’s being released by the Blue Jackets to take the St Louis Blues head coaching duties something of a vote of confidence for Scott Arniel. With that much turnover, and that many key injuries it makes no sense to place enough of the blame to fire them on the coach. A look at the rest of the roster featuring a lot of players either in their first pro season, players shuttling back and forth between the AHL and NHL and career role players and the Blue Jackets are about where you could expect barring multiple breakout seasons.

The Saint Louis Blues making the first head coaching move of the season just seams odd. No, they aren’t performing at a world beating pace, but a look at the roster even without injuries to Andy McDonald, BJ Crombeen, and Kent Huskins you’ve hardly got a Cup worthy roster. Add in Jaroslov Halak’s meltdown in goal and you’re looking at about the standings location they are in, or worse.

If I’d been forced to guess who the first team to change coaches this season would be, I’d have to guess either the Carolina Hurricanes in the east or more justifiably, the Anaheim Ducks in the west. Both teams have floundering stars but the Ducks at least have some depth at forward. Both sport a 5-6-3 record through 14 games for 13 points, and both have given up a double digit number more goals than they have scored.

Teemu Selanne at 41 leads the team in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes. Any of these would be acceptable if the rest of the roster were showing signs of life or Selanne were on pace for career year. Lubomir Visnovksy is entirely unrecognizable as the player that led all defensemen in scoring last season. Bobby Ryan has points in just four games this season. Jonas Hiller who hasn’t been spectacular, still should have a better win total, in four games this year where he allowed 3 goals or less he has taken the loss.  The team is sitting in the the division basement having given up more goals and scored less than any team in the Pacific.

Aside from good health there aren’t too many bright spots for the Ducks so far this season. While their penalty kills is 11th best in the NHL, their powerplay probably has a helmet strapped to its head before being loaded on the school bus. They are dead last in goals for with 1.86 goals per game and dead last in faceoff percentage. League wide only the Columbus Blue Jackets have a worse goal differential. Taken all together it’s a wonder the Ducks have as many wins as they do.

The question then becomes who to move either in or out. Coaching changes can be useful, and are sometimes even needed but who is out there? Getting Olczk or Melrose off the air and behind a bench might endear the team to the detractors of the two tv personalities, but is either one the right coach? Craig Ramsay who was ousted when True North absconded with the Atlanta team might be a boon for Mason. If you’re moving a body out who? Saku Koivu is hardly to blame and would bring back a minimal return at this point. Bobby Ryan has three years after this on his contract, and that’s a big gamble to take if this slump looks to extend itself. Getzlaf is nearly as substantial a risk. Perry while below the pace of last seasons Hart Trophy winning scoring bonanza is checking in on the score sheet at about an average pace, despite a team around him that looks like it belongs on life support.