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HFNHL Blue Jackets Season Preview - 2013/14

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08-31-2013, 12:17 PM
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Ohio Jones
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HFNHL Blue Jackets Season Preview - 2013/14

The Blue Jackets enter the 2013-14 HFNHL Season in a new division and conference, as part of the newly formed Metropolitan Division.

The regular season was a tremendous success, including a league-record undefeated string and a second overall finish behind the nemesis Detroit Red Wings. The post season was financially beneficial with 8 home games, but ended up a disappointment when eventual Western Conference Champion Edmonton edged out the Jackets in seven games in the second round.

Most of the core of that team returns to try and repeat their regular season success and improve on their post-season outcome.

Here's a look at the team's projected line-up for opening day:

FORWARDS
First Line:
Johan Franzen - Eric Staal - Nikolai Kulemin
Staal and Franzen return as a high-scoring duo, while Kulemin joins the line to provide a physical and defensive presence.

Second Line:
David Clarkson - Brandon Dubinsky - Teddy Purcell
Hard working line should forecheck with abandon, scrum the puck down low and drive the net with authority.

Third Line:
Marcus Foligno - Travis Zajac - Alexandre Burrows
Another second line, really. Burrows lines up here (rather than Kulemin) to produce three balanced scoring lines at even strength.

Fourth Line:
Rob Klinkhammer - Gregory Campbell - Drew Miller
Old-school shutdown unit won't score much, but will be miserable to play against.

Extras:
Brandon Yip, Chris Thorburn,
Gabriel Dumont

DEFENCE
1st Pairing:
Kimmo Timonen - Mark Giordano
Offensive paring that brings superb defensive zone presence as well.

2nd Pairing:
Ladislav Smid - Carl Gunnarsson
Superb defensive pairing should be able to make clean outlet passes.

3rd Pairing:
Barret Jackman - (Nikita Nikitin or Justin Schultz)
Jackman/Nikitin is essentially a clone of the Smid/Gunnar pairing, and would be a decent fit in most teams' top 4. But Schultz is going to make it very hard not to dress him. Someone will have to give up minutes... which may be a forward in order to dress 7 D.

Extras:
Torey Krug

GOAL:
Devan Dubnyk - Ben Scrivens
A question mark for the season, as it's unclear how much of Dubnyk's strong individual performance will be reflected in his ratings, as opposed to the woeful team performance in front of him. With Scrivens himself a recently-established HFNHLer, the lack of proven big-game experience in net will be a concern heading into the season.

OUTLOOK:
With strong depth and balance throughout, the Jackets should be a tough challenger in the East. How they overcome uncertain top-end scoring and question marks in net will tell the story of their season, but I feel they should be firmly in contention for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.


Last edited by Ohio Jones: 08-31-2013 at 12:59 PM.
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