Top Jackets duo has yet to click
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash celebrates his goal against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 1, 2011. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)
CALGARY - As dynamic duos go, Rick Nash and Jeff Carter haven’t exactly taken flight.
Heading into Thursday night’s clash with the Calgary Flames, the Columbus Blue Jackets were sitting last in the NHL and the combination of Carter at centre with Nash on the wing hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.
Nash, who tied with Flames captain Jarome Iginla for the goal-scoring title in the 2003-04 season with 41 snipes, entered the game with seven goals and 17 points in 24 outings.
Carter, who the club acquired in a massive off-season deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, had three goals and eight points in 14 outings, having missed 10 games due to a fractured foot.
It’s a work in progress, but unlike previous centres the team has tried with Nash, Carter possesses a needed trait.
“We actually play kind of a similar game,” Carter said. “We both want to get the puck and go straight ahead. We’re not really guys who will slow up and wait for things to happen. We play a north-south game.”
Unlike everything else with the Blue Jackets to start the season, things haven’t clicked.
However, it should in time.
“We’ve only played about 12 or 13 games together. You look at some of the great lines around the league and they’ve been playing together for years,” Nash said.
“He’s a guy defencemen key on. With him on my line, it opens up more room.”
OFF THE GLASS
With the Movember campaign now over, the Flames players who grew moustaches for awareness and fund-raising efforts of prostate cancer shaved them off. Well, most of them. “Some guys still have theirs. They think they look good with it,” said defenceman Cory Sarich with a sarcastic tone and wry grin ... The loss of defenceman Mark Giordano to a hamstring injury not only means a top-four blueliner out of the lineup, but takes a player away who has skated more than 22 minutes per game this season, the second highest total behind Jay Bouwmeester. Plus, Giordano is on the second powerplay unit. “I don’t think you’ll see me taking over his powerplay minutes,” said Scott Hannan ... The Flames, with three blueliners on the shelf in Giordano, Anton Babchuk (hand) and Brett Carson (back), summoned defenceman Joe Piskula from the AHL Abbotsford Heat. Piskula played five games for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006-07 season after departing from the University of Wisconsin, has spent the last four-plus seasons in the AHL. In 18 games this season for the Abbotsford Heat, the 6-foot-3, 215-lb. defenceman has one goal, four points and a plus-1 rating ... As is the case every year, the Flames refused to comment on the Forbes magazine NHL Valuation. According to the annual estimation of the 30 NHL franchises, the Flames are worth $220 million, 13th most in the league, and a $7 million increase from last season. The Toronto Maple Leafs are atop the list with a value of $521 million.
IN THE CORNERS
After being a healthy scratch in the previous four games and nine of 11 outings, Sarich drew back in. The biggest element he can add most of the team’s other blueliners don’t possess is physical play, combined with some pent-up anger. “Yeah, take out some frustration on the opponent,” he said. “That’s usually a good way to get into the game. I’m looking forward to helping and contributing and it’s hard to do that from the sidelines.” Things didn’t go well for Sarich in the first period, though. He was beat on the Columbus goal, although all 18 skaters had low-light moments in that frame ... Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford is becoming a great story in the league. After spending the past two full seasons in the minors, the 32-year-old from Owen Sound, Ont., was pegged to be No.-3 on the depth chart. However, he’s supplanted Steve Mason as the No.-1 goalie and went into the game with a 1.61 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in eight games. It’s a story akin to what Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson went through before being a No.-1 goalie. “It’s early in the season, only eight games, but I hope to keep building on it,” he said. Who knows, maybe he’ll be able to help Mason, the 2008-09 NHL rookie of the year who finished second in Vezina Trophy voting. Mason’s numbers this season are 3.63 with a .875 save percentage.
“Canada has had like three Prime Ministers since the #Flames last scored a PP goal at home.”