Call it his second chance to make a first impression.
When Blake Comeau was acquired from the Calgary Flames for a fifth-round pick on the NHL trade deadline day April 3, he didnt make an immediate splash. Actually, he didnt make an immediate anything, as he had to sit in Canada until his immigration paperwork was processed and missed the Blue Jackets game in Nashville the night following the trade.
After he finally did join the team in St. Louis April 5, Comeau played eight-plus minutes in back-to-back losses to the Blues and then at home to the Minnesota Wild. In his third game with the team, the winger from Saskatchewan played just under 11 and a half minutes in the 4-0 win over the Sharks, but that made it three straight games without a point for him in a Blue Jackets jersey. In the next two contests, the win at home against St. Louis and the road victory in Minnesota, Comeau was a scratch.
But Artem Anisimov was hurt by a hit to the head from the Wilds Charlie Coyle in the Blue Jackets first game of the current six-game road trip, and he hasnt returned to the lineup since. Enter Comeau, with another opportunity to make a strong impression. Mission accomplished. In the teams next three games, wins at Colorado and Anaheim and a tough, one-goal loss in L.A., Comeau chipped in with two goals and an assist, at first playing with Derek MacKenzie and Jared Boll and then filling in for the injured Matt Calvert on a line with Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. He claims hes just trying to add to the balance he feels makes the Blue Jackets a tough team to defend.
I think so, for sure, said Comeau. If one line isnt able to put the puck in the net, there are two or three other lines that have been scoring lately. I think thats definitely one of the big reasons why weve had so much success is the depth that we do have, not only up front but on defense, and obviously everyone knows how well Bob (Sergei Bobrovsky) has been playing. So, its just a recipe for success, and we have to continue doing what were doing.
Comeau, a 2nd-round pick by the New York Islanders in 2004, says this road trip has helped accelerate the acclimation to his new team. Theres nothing like spending a week and a half with the same group of guys to increase the bonding process.
Yeah, its nice to get on the road, he explained. You really get to know the guys a lot more when youre around them all the time. Its a great group of guys, and its such a nice atmosphere to be a part of, and this playoff push has been awesome. It feels like every game is the most important game of the year, so the motivation and excitement level is definitely through the roof.
But, really, the best way to bond with new teammates is to produce, as Comeau has since getting back into the Blue Jackets lineup. It goes a little further than small talk and dinners, right?
It does, Comeau agreed. It was nice to score the goals in winning efforts, as well. This time of the year youre trying to do whatever you can to contribute, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple of goals in some big games. I feel like thats why weve been successful this last stretch. We have great goaltending obviously, and then weve got some timely goals by different guys, and every lines been contributing. Thats what were going to need the last couple of games.
With one game left on this potential season defining trip (followed by the regular-season finale at home Saturday), Comeau says he and his teammates have done some fine work so far, but theyre well aware the objective hasnt yet been reached.
We knew it was going to be a tough road trip for sure, but I think weve set ourselves up nicely so far, he noted. We know that its not over yet; its far from over. We have to win these next two games. You know, we dont want to drop a single point. We dont want to leave a what if kind of thing. The last two games we want to take care of business. Win these next two games, and whatever happens after that happens.