All's A-OK for Chimera

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Jason Chimera has a newborn, a new contract extension and apparently a new-found scoring touch.

Heading into last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Columbus Blue Jackets winger had 14 points in 18 games, nearly half of the total he had last season.

"I've been playing with some young kids - Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard - which has been good for me," Chimera said. "They've been finding me in open spots. I don't know if it's a new confidence thing or what, but for some reason things seem to be going my way."

Chimera's most productive NHL season came two years ago when he scored 15 goals and added 21 assists. This year he's on pace to shatter that point total.

Only Brassard and Rick Nash have been more productive than Chimera this season.

"He's older, his legs have slowed down so his head can catch up," joked Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock.

"The way he came in, he was kind of a runaround energy guy. That was the way he got into the league, that was the way he was going to stay in the league. But now he's comfortable and he's become a really smart offensive player."

Chimera, 29, was the Oilers fifth choice, 121st overall, in 1997. The Edmonton native played two full seasons with the Oilers before being traded to the Phoenix Coyotes before moving to the Blue Jackets.

This is his fourth season in Columbus. He signed a four-year contract extension last February. Two months prior, his wife gave birth to the couple's first child.

"Things are going well for me," Chimera said. "Here in Columbus they've been giving me tons of responsibility and it's been growing every day. I've been playing more and more minutes every night, so it's been fun."

Dating back to his junior days with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Chimera has always been able to generate a number of chances with his speed.

It was always said Chimera would be a scoring machine if his hands could catch up to his feet.This year playing with super rookie Brassard, he's starting to make the most of those chances.

"It's just one of those things," Chimera said. "Sometimes you can pass to a guy 18 times and he won't score a goal and sometimes you can pass to a guy 18 times and he'll score every time. That's the way it goes."

Chimera has been so good offensively, Hitchcock has experimented with him on the power play, putting him on the point. It's a position Chimera has never played and one prompted by the fact the Blue Jackets have the worst power play in the league

"He's a guy that can make plays on the power play," Hitchcock said.

One of the biggest concerns for Chimera is on the defensive end.

"I don't know if I'll be back there making many plays," Chimera said. "I'm just going to be shooting the puck trying to get it through.

"It's definitely a different look for me back there. It's the first time I've ever done it and you don't want to be losing the puck at the blue line for sure so I won't be making any extra plays out there."

If he does turn over the puck at the blue line, Chimera has the ability to reel most players going the other way.

"That's what I said, at least I'm quick enough to get back," Chimera smiled. "So breakaways shouldn't happen because I should be quick enough to get back."


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