Archive for March, 2009

31
Mar
09

Game 77 – NASHVILLE PREDATORS

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The Preds have been a perennial thorn in the side of the Columbus Blue Jackets but so far this season the teams are tied in the season series 2-2, each team winning the home bouts. Everybody knows the Jackets have slumped in the last 2 games and everyone knows about the Jackets struggles against the division (believe it or not Chicago has won only 4 vs. the Central).

The Preds are a similar team to the Jackets in that they don’t believe in the power play (26th 15.5%) but they have a staunch PK which typically means bad things for the inept CBJ “Power Play”. In all other ways the teams are similarly constructed (from the back-end out) and both teams will be scrounging for points.

It is EXTREMELY important to get points tonight. At this point I’ll almost be happy with just 1 after the performance on Sunday. Speaking of that, the Jackets will still be without Rusty Klesla and Jiri Novotny will be inserted into the line-up. The Preds are without not only Jason Arnott and David Legwand but now Martin Erat. Back to the points/standings talk. The Jackets still hold a 4 point lead on 9th place and must keep that wide berth to prevent any panic among the fanbase.

The maximum achievable points at this point is 98, and the Jackets would be mathematically in when they hit 93 points (this number changes daily). 91 points is more than likely the cut-off for team in or out of the this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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CARRY THE FLAG

29
Mar
09

Listless – JACKETS LOSE

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Apparently no one reminded the Jackets they had a game to play today and things ended up pretty ugly. Besides giving up an early goal the Jackets were able to tie it up and bring some life back to Nationwide Arena… then Steve Mason pulled his best impression of Marty Turco giving the Blues a 2-1 lead in which they never looked back from. Combined with poor play and a joke officiating job it was a terribly boring night at the rink.

Blues Blue Jackets Hockey

Story of Mason’s night…

I’m not trying to incite panic but with the lack of effort and seemingly complacent attitude of the team and fans, a very Blue Jackets like collapse doesn’t seem as impossible as it once did. There were moments of obvious desparation tonight as the players made uncharacteristic plays (in a bad way), as the coaches jumbled lines all over the place, even changing up defensive pairings, and Mason’s shocking turnover for what was basically the game winner (Nash’s goal was a garbage goal).

The best argument to not panic is found when you go back and look at Thursday’s game vs. the Flames. The offense was finishing chances, getting the puck deep, the defense was on complete lock down and Mason wasn’t giving anything up.

With all of that said it seems that mental toughness is where the team is the most lacking. When they play a typically weaker opponent, they overlook them and don’t put forth the effort they do against the Detroit/San Jose/Calgary’s of the NHL. It is also disconcerting that Steve Mason has been less than good against the Blue this season giving up 5-4-3-4-5 in 5 games against the Blues, only one of those resulting in a win.

The Jackets are still 7 points from 100% guaranteeing themselves a playoff spot, but that number will probably go down. There are only 6 games remaining, 3 at home, 3 on the road, the CBJ MUST WIN a bare minimum of 2 more games to reach the 90 point benchmark that has been the usual cut-off in previous seasons.

I think it goes without being said that Tuesday’s game vs. the Predators will be huge as the Preds look to take over 6th place from the slumping Jackets. Thankfully the CBJ are still 4 points clear of 9th place Anaheim, but let’s not look any farther than Tuesday vs. Nashville and reaching 88 points NOW.

29
Mar
09

Game 76 – ST. LOUIS BLUES

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Alrighty, the Jackets need to bring the fire tonight to not be forced to dig themselves out of a hole like last night. It would be really helpful if the Powerplay would get going. The Blues were held without a PP goal last night and the Jackets PK looks to remain perfect in their 3rd straight game.

5 o’clock starts are pretty dumb, especially on a Sunday… let’s hope this Sunday’s game is a lot better than the last home game on a Sunday.

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CARRY THE FLAG

29
Mar
09

Instigators – JACKETS LOSE

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Since this is the midpoint of the back-to-back series this will be a little less than the normal amount of effort (which is probably none).

The Jackets pretty much decided not to show up until the 3rd period after this hit by TJ Oshie on Rick Nash.

No elbows involved, but it could be argued that Oshie charged Nash from the second he stepped out of the penalty box.

After that Juice decided to make things look easy drawing the Jackets within 1 goal. Soon after Rick Nash “counted the cash” to tie it up.

http://www.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?hlp=8470041&event=STL425

Jump if you want to see it, until I figure out how to embed NHL.com videos.

Anyway, the Jackets held on to force OT then a Shootout in which the Jackets lost 2-1 in 4 rounds.

This game was pretty whatever. The Jackets needed a boost early to win this one, but didnt get it, hopefully the home crowd will be enough tonight to ignite the team.

28
Mar
09

Game 75 – ST. LOUIS BLUES

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The Blues have some of the best special teams in the league with the 8th ranked (20.8%) Power Play and 7th ranked (23.0%) Penalty Kill. Somehow they had been pretty much written off at the deadline and now are coming on strong. So far in the final 10 games the Blues have gone 2-0 and the Jackets have gone 1-0-1, meaning they are one of the teams who’ve already made up a point on the Jackets’ lead over them in the standings.

Since this is a weekend back-to-back/home-and-home it is imperative the Jackets at least split the weekend seiries. The Blues hold a 2-1 season series advatage, but I honestly don’t believe it’s because the Blues are a better team, the Jackets tend to look at the standings and then forget about a team that is typically below them.

Split and we’ll be okay… lose both and we could have a problem…

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CARRY THE FLAG

28
Mar
09

Wild Wild (mid)West

Lots of stuff happening in the last few days around Columbus. There’s definitely a sense that Blue Jackets fever is ramping up with the increased news coverage and articles/stories on national media sites and television shows.

First the most important:

“It’s pretty neat,” Salmons said. “The curtain window (in the living room) was open and I saw Manny and Jason coming to the door. It really caught me off guard. But what really surprised me was to see Scotty (Howson). He presented me with the contract. It’s really amazing.”

That’s an excerpt from the The Dispatch’s story on Ryan Salmons a 19 year old dealing with terminal cancer. The Blue Jackets signed Ryan to a 1-day contract and was paid a visit by Malhotra, Chimera, and GM Scott Howson. Puck-rakers had this to add:

Chimera says that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was awesome during the “contract offer” to Ryan, that Howson went methodically through the contract, page by page, the way he would any potential player. The GM told Ryan he hadn’t seen him play, but that he heard a lot of good things from his scouts.

Howson said his contract would include two tickets to the first playoff game, if the Blue Jackets qualify. Ryan’s father, Brad, sat in amazement as Howson went over the entire deal, making his son feel special.

“This is the general manager of a major professional sports team,” Brad said. “Who would take that kind of time?”

Absolutely amazing people are running the Blue Jackets organization. Between Mr. Mac and now Howson and Hitch, the Columbus Blue Jackets are an outstanding example of class and dignity for all professional sports.

Here’s the video from ESPN’s First Take: http://bluejackets.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=705&id=37893

Probably already heard about this, but Blue Jackets Rookie Phenom was the victim of death threats during Thursday night’s CBJ vs. Calgary game. This dude was arrested later that night:

Peter Stenzel

Epic

Since the Dispatch’s website is down right now, Puck-daddy gets linked instead…

(Almost done) This little tidbit looking forward to the 2010 Olympics next year in Vancouver:

I think Umberger is going to be on the American team in Vancouver, as part of a pretty strong forward corps that includes Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown.

Ask yourself who team GM Brian Burke would select instead of Umberger. Jason Blake? George Parros? Dan LaCouture? I don’t think so, definitely not, and hell no. Umberger is in.

Nice to see a non-Canadian Blue Jacket getting some love.

The Hockey News

Last but not least, Puck Daddy sizes up the Western conference race and doesn’t really consider the Jackets on the bubble anymore… he must be drinking the Aaron Portzline kool-aid.

27
Mar
09

Statement Time – JACKETS WIN

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If you claimed to have seen this one coming, come here so I can punch you. The offense had not finished chances in its previous two games against far weaker opponents. Mason had looked just “good” recently, as had the defensemen. This game was an absolute statement made by a team on a mission.

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Awesome seats

There was a lot of back and forth to start, Mason made some huge saves and then the Juice-Manny-Nash line got on the rush and cashed in.

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From there on the Jackets straight up out-played the Flames. Some flamer took a penalty and believe it or not… the CBJ SCORED A POWER PLAY GOAL…. yes I’ll say it again, THE CBJ SCORED ON THE POWER PLAY. This was not the typica PPG by the CBJ that is generated more thanks to the rush or some fluke, but a goal generated by shots from the point giving the guys crashing the net a chance to deflect/tip-in/redirect. Suddenly the score was 2-0 and the Jackets were on the verge of blowing it open… then Calgary got a 5-3… HUGE KILL.

Raffi Torres came out in the second ready to guarantee a win (the Jackets are 10-0 when Raffi scores) and almost scored the second PPG of the night. Making it 3-0… in case you missed the game, here’s what the 2nd period looked like:

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Yeah kinda crazy… this happened too:

Message sent.

Jason Williams came out in the second with the final nail in the coffin…. on the power play… again. That isn’t a misprint. Game blouses, 2 more points, 6 away from “clinching”, this is really going to happen.




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