The Columbus Blue Jackets began the second half of the 2015-16 season by pulling the trigger on a trade to acquire defenseman Seth Jones, in exchange for center Ryan Johansen, from the Nashville Predators.
Jones brings a lot of upside, and looks eager to prove himself in an expanded role with the Blue Jackets. He made his debut in a solid performance on the Jackets' top defensive pairing during the team's home-and-home series against the Carolina Hurricanes this past weekend.
The Jackets are now preparing for a two-game road trip, beginning Tuesday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders. Following that game, Columbus will travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs the next night. The Jackets then return to host Colorado at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.
The Islanders have lost two straight-- versus Washington and Philadelphia -- and open up a three-game home stand this week against the Jackets. The Islanders hold a 2-0 edge in the five-game season series thus far.
The Maple Leafs are returning home rested, but battered after a 1-2 road trip in California. This is the second meeting of three against the Leafs, who won 6-3 on Oct. 16.
The Colorado Avalanche visit Columbus on Saturday, looking to avenge their 4-3 loss in the Pepsi Center back on Oct. 24. The Avalanche have games against Tampa Bay and New Jersey at home this week, before visiting on Saturday.
The theme of the week for the Blue Jackets is going to be leaning on young guys to get the job done in the absence of veterans.
With Captain Nick Foligno out and the recent shuffling of lines, the Jackets are getting a better look at Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson on the top line.
The Jackets saw some really good play out of both the other night at home against Carolina, including Anderson's first career NHL goal. Meanwhile, the goaltending tandem from the Lake Erie Monsters, Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg are taking care of business in net, with the injuries to Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney.
While this is giving Blue Jackets fans a good glimpse of a promising future of the organization, the pressure on these players to deliver in the present is very real. With 39 games to go, the Jackets are currently looking up at the rest of the Eastern Conference in the standings. It's a tough situation, and the margin for error is razor thin for this season.
See you at Nationwide on Saturday.