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Blue Jackets' Defense Needs Help As Trade Rumors Continue

ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 07:  Goaltender Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes a save as Lubomir Visnovsky #17 of the Anaheim Ducks pursues the puck in the first period at the Honda Center on January 7, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Patrick DrottarCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2011

Last night, as the Blue Jackets were embarrassed by the Anaheim Ducks 6-0, I noticed two things. One, Steve Mason's up and down struggles are not all his fault and two, the trade rumors looming around the Blue Jackets locker are, in fact, a distraction.

Steve Mason stopped 20 of 24 shots in Anaheim last night and was pulled with 13 minutes left in the third period. Mason has continued to struggle on the Jackets road trip, but he should not be given all of the blame.

The Blue Jackets defense looked horrendous last night and could not help Mason at all. Mason faced constant pressure from the Ducks throughout the entire game and Anaheim was able to pass the puck around with ease. It looked as if the Ducks were on the ice by themselves because the Jackets defense put zero pressure on them.

As to the controversy with Mike Commodore, head coach Scott Arniel has stated that Commodore is not in his top six for defensemen. Last night's game showed me that Commodore's skill is not the issue because the top six on the ice looked awful.

I know that Commodore has struggled and his plus/minus rating is nothing to rave about, but he did not look as bad as the six defensemen that played last night. They looked lazy and struggled throughout the game and when they got down, they took stupid penalties.

Columbus' defense continued to struggle on the penalty kill as it allowed the Ducks to score three power play goals. Last night's game marked the fourth time this season that the Blue Jackets have allowed three power play goals in a game.

The defense cannot receive all of the blame for the 6-0 blow-out as the entire team looked lazy and seemed to not care about the final score. That brings me to the second point that the trade rumors swirling around are clearly a distraction.

The issues with Mike Commodore and the fact that no one is safe before the trade deadline have no doubt caused the team to become nervous and not focus on staying alive in the Western Conference.

Before the game last night, several Blue Jackets players had stated that the trade rumors that arise on a daily basis were not a distraction. However, how they played in Anaheim clearly showed that it is in the back of everyone's mind. Columbus needs help and they need it quickly.

Last night showed that the Blue Jackets need a lot of help on the blue line. They need to bring in an aggressive defenseman who can help make the Columbus forecheck and power play relevant again. Players like Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa or Toronto's Francois Beauchemin would greatly help a struggling Blue Jackets offense that excels when it scores first, winning 14 of 17 games.

The placing of Mike Commodore on waivers was said to be because Howson was looking to make a "blockbuster deal." However, nothing has happened yet, and something needs to quickly or else the Blue Jackets will continue to plummet. 

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