Given the opportunity is one thing, but running with that opportunity and doing something with it is another. Mathieu Garon is an opportunist and is giving the CBJ's a chance to win and he has earned the chance to prove his worth. How about 18-4 in shootout contests to date. Two shootout wins over Anaheim and Edmonton at NWA were key performances to help the CBJ get to 11-6-2 overall.
Mathieu had not started a game since the embarrassing loss in Edmonton on October 22. Up 4-1 during period two, the Jackets went on to lose 6-4, with an empty net goal. Since that moment, the starts were not there. He worked and toiled and was there to be supportive of the Calder Winner Steve Mason. He knows his role. He has been a true professional in every facet of the game. When kudos are thrown his way, he deflects the conversation back to the team. Non-assuming to say the least, but that is the makeup of a guy who earned himself a Stanley Cup ring with the Penguins last year.
Again he knew his role as a backup goaltender. He was an integral part of a team that bled success... good for him and good for the management staff in obtaining his rights this summer... a commodity that has had lasting effects on a team which needs to have two players of quality.
News breaking this morning about the future of Nikita Filatov is catching fire in the international hockey community. The 19-year-old has seven goals in 21 career NHL games. He possesses the skill, the hands and the hockey sense of a FUTURE star. Does he fit into the plans of the team in FUTURE years?... Absolutely... does it make sense for him to practice and not play for this team... NO... Unless he can play up and beyond eight minutes a night, Nikita needs to play somewhere and fast. It is a strain on any young man.
The physical toll is not a problem as he sits and goes through team practices, but the mental growth needs some stimulation. He needs to play, he wants to play, and he is a dynamic young man that just wants an environment to hone his skills. He is still a kid and could be a typical freshman in college hockey.
Filatov is still eligible to play in the World Junior tournament for his home country of Russia. I am confident the proper decision will be made this week. No matter what, he will remain part of the CBJ family. He can be given a chance to grow and should be given a chance to be happy. All in all, he is a quality person who is only human.
The team is now off to the longest and most grueling trip of the year. Dallas, Nashville, New York, Montreal and Ottawa are on the fight card. It will be a battle to continue the success (5-4-0) on the road this year. It will take the whole cast to have the games fall in favor of the CBJ.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.