Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

MVP

I still can’t get over the fact that we were in a playoff game a week ago tonight. The Blue Jackets played 4 games into the post-season… finally. It came and went so fast, but it definitely gives us all something to look forward to for many years to come.

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The Blue Jackets official website is polling the fans for the seasons MVP. The 3 finalists are Umberger, Nash, and Mason. It can be argued that without either one of these 3 players, the Jackets would not have found themselves playing into late April. Not only were these players integral in their success, but multiple players contributed Game-Winning-Goals this season:

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Notably: Torres, Williams, Malhotra, and Murray were instrumental in this teams successes and just by looking at that chart, this was a true TEAM. Everyone contributed somehow, someway, the only “regulars” who didn’t contribute a game winner were Commodore, Methot, Tyutin, and Boll, but even they contributed multiple goals each this season.

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My congrats to FS-Ohio on a record setting year:

The network televised 76 regular season games and local broadcast ratings averaged a 1.86, which is the highest for a season since the network began televising Blue Jackets games during the inaugural 2000-01 season.

The article goes on to provide a list of the CBJJ’s top 10 local TV ratings:

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Very cool, I would love to see this translate to larger crowds throughout next year’s regular season… and somehow into something completely unrelated, but more jersey’s in the stands, less suits and “going out” attire. I will continue to brainstorm and lobby for this as well as referring to it as a “Union of Blue” or “Blue Union” because in my opinion “Sea of Blue” is just too generic and doesn’t make sense like “C of Red” in Calgary. There’s “Orange Crush” (Philly) “Rock the Red” (Washington), let’s be original and have a “Blue Union” or “Union of Blue”.

If you’re checking out the site, I’d really like to hear a couple comments or suggestions about topics in the post at hand, or just in general. Maybe some thoughts on how to really get the ball rolling on the “Blue Union”

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Carry the flag!

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28
Apr
09

Sporratic

The end of the Jackets season has come, but in hand with that are the final few weeks of school, and of course the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With that in mind, last night the Chicago Blackhawks eliminated the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks eliminated the #1 Seed, President Trophy Winning San Jose Sharks. This sets up some outstanding second round match-ups:

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#4 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #3 Vancouver Canucks

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#2 Detroit Red Wings vs. #8 Anaheim Ducks

All I can say is “QUACK QUACK QUACK!!!”

In case you didn’t notice yesterday Steve Mason was selected as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top goaltender during the regular season.

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Honestly Mason probably won’t win the trophy he doesn’t have the wins, save % or GAA that Thomas does, but he does have the “wow” factor as well as the 10 shutouts helping him out. There is a good discussion over on Mirtle’s blog about the fact that all 3 goaltenders come from teams with a very defensive minded system. In Mason’s defense he played behind the worst defense of all 3 finalists, and still was able to post the 10 shutouts. Not only did the lack of defensive talent hurt Mason, but also the fatigue of the first NHL season and having a bout with Mono did not help his cause.

I’ll try to get back on a more regular posting schedule… once the weather stops being so freaking nice out.

25
Apr
09

Food for thought

Alright with the completion of our foray into the post season, its never too early to start thinking about the draft or free agency. The draft has never been something I’ve really cared about, I’ll typically research the guys that the Blue Jackets pick-up after they are drafted. This was the first year that the Jackets were not part of the draft lottery, which was won by the New York Islanders who will likely draft John Tavares. I have no idea who the Jackets will draft at this point, or the possibility always exists for a trade.

Speaking of the trade market, I do not expect a trade of the first round draft pick this summer, mostly because it puts us at a higher risk of not being able to continue to develop talent and become a traditional power, but just a one hit wonder.

FREE AGENCY

The Blue Jackets were very active last year from the draft through free agency, do not expect that again. Currently the CBJ have about 6 million in cap space, which if they make no moves will double to approximately 12 million, but of course there are all the rumors that the cap may not increase, or even go down.

Forwards eligible to become free agents this summer:

Jason Williams, UFA, 2.2 million

Michael Peca, UFA, 1.315 million

Manny Malhotra, UFA, 1.2 million

Jiri Novotny, RFA, .75 million

Chris Gratton, UFA, .625 million

Of that group, I expect only 1 or 2 to be resigned, my preference for resigning (without much bump in salary that is):

1. Williams 2. Malhotra 3. Peca 4. Novotny 5. Gratton

A lot of it will be dependent on who is willing to take a similar salary, and who we decide to keep around as a depth player. We never got to see much of Gratton, so he is probably gone, and Novotny is an RFA so he will most likely be tendered a qualifying offer at the very least.

Defensemen eligible to become free agents this summer:

Christian Backman, UFA, 2.3 million

Ole-Kristian Tollefson, RFA, .675 million

Aaron Rome, RFA, .545 million

Marc Methot, RFA, .523 million

Of that group possibly 2 but more than likely only 1 will be resigned, my preference for resigning:

1. Rome 2. Marc Methot 3. Tollefson 4. Backman

Rome proved in limited time that he can be an NHL-er and will challenge for the 3rd pairing in this off-season, not to mention he was pretty good in his limited time in the playoffs. Methot was not what some people thought of him, in my opinion, he was below average with periods of suck. Tollefson brings a lot of toughness, but has become injury prone and will probably move along with Backman, who I think took too much of the blame when the CBJ stunk it up. My lasting memory of him will be the OT winner against the San Jose Sharks. I could see him as a darkhorse to get resigned but for far less salary.

Goaltenders eligible to become free agents this summer:

Wade Dubielewicz, UFA, .500 million

I don’t expect Dubie to be resigned, but if the coaching staff and Howson see something they like, there’s a very small chance he’ll be back.

There are some very tough decisions on the horizon especially with all the free agents coming up next summer…. more on that later.

24
Apr
09

Elimination – JACKETS LOSE

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Well there it is, the last final score of the 2008-2009 season. And yet there isn’t a feeling of complete disappointment, we all knew once we made the playoffs that eventually we were going to end the season with a loss, unfortunately this one ended with 6 straight, including 4 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As disappointing as it is to be the only team besides the Atlanta Thrashers to get swept in their first ever playoff appearance, this was a far different animal than that debacle.

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When other teams Presidents say “If they let the call go, nobody would have said a word”, you know you got hosed. The third period of last night’s game was what playoff hockey is all about. I’ve watched the playoffs for a while now, and while I have yet to have a team in a true playoff game, until last night, I do know what it’s about. I will not deny, by any stretch of the imagination that the Jackets did have too many men on the ice, but what will I dispute is the 5+ calls throughout the third period, not to mention the rest of the game or series, that were utterly ignored. If you’re going to put the whistles away, leave them away, do not decide a game because you suddenly want to play things by the book.

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Easily the most amusing penalty… not so much after last night

I don’t think its necessary to do a complete recap because absolutely everyone I talked to, even non-tradtional hockey fans, were watching last night’s game. The energy in the Arena was somehow higher than it was for the first home game two nights previous. After the Wings would score the Jackets and their fans would not relent, without being overly dramatic it was an epic scene. While it is disappointing for the season to now be over, the playoffs have whet the pallet of many Ohioans who cannot wait to get back in Nationwide Arena to cheer on the now-relevant-again Columbus Blue Jackets..

23
Apr
09

Game 4 – DETROIT RED WINGS

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This could be it, but it doesn’t have to be. I know that the team and coaches want to take this series back to Detroit, but honestly I feel like the fans aren’t gonna bring it like they did on Tuesday. It is understandable to a point why the fans won’t be as boisterous as they were, but with the effort this team has shown to get all the way to the post-season, they deserve our help.

The series is not over despite being down 3-0, and the Jackets are still not eliminated from the playoffs, so there is no reason why we as fans should mope around tonight not cheering our butts off for the Blue Jackets. Yes Detroit is good, yes they are better than us, but think back during the regular season when this team found ways to beat San Jose with Dan LaCosta in net. Think about beating Washington, in D.C. when everyone was injured. The impossible can happen and we could win 4 in a row, and thusly the series. That probably won’t happen, but everyone needs to want that first EVER playoff victory, and it can happen… Just get that first goal, and anything can happen…

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CARRY THE FLAG!!!

22
Apr
09

History – JACKETS LOSE

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Yes, the season is all but over, but there is still one more guaranteed chance to be part of this year’s special Columbus team. Last night the Jackets played their best game so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as witnessed, the best still isn’t good enough against this Detroit team. Detroit acquired the best free agent last off-season after winning the Stanley Cup… that says enough. This year’s Detroit team looked beatable in spurts throughout the regular season, but the team that has shown up to take on the CBJ is playing lights out.

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The scene was perfect, both outside and inside of Nationwide Arena fans cheered, heckled (few and far between) Red Wings fans, and smiled with giddyness as 8 seasons of frustration was finally about to be relieved. It is unfortunate the game didn’t go the way we all wanted, but that’s the way sports go. The focused machine of the Red Wings was focused to an extreme and got in an early goal after the energy in the arena reached a new level when the Jackets took their home ice. The Jackets were able to get some chances, but Chris Osgood brought his A-game and thwarted the boys in Blue at every turn.

Many memories were made, but not the one that 19,200+ tried to will the Jackets to. The passion was there from most of the players, and the biggest thing to hope for is that the Blue Jackets learn from this playoff experience like the 06-07 Pittsburgh Penguins learned from their near sweep in the first round.

As I’ve said many times, it could be a lot worse. We didn’t trade away the future just to get in, we are no where near the cap, we have some of the best young players in the NHL ready to make their mark, and don’t forget the Management and Coach who have righted this ship in very short order… the real work comes after the CBJ season is officially complete… which it still isn’t. There could be a miracle sent down from Heaven above, and the Jackets could rip off 4 straight wins, I am just trying to help us all realize what a good thing we’ve got going here and it will be here for much much longer.

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Someday…

21
Apr
09

Playoffs Game 3 – DETROIT RED WINGS

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Here it is, the first ever home playoff game for the Columbus Blue Jackets. It is unfortunate the team did not make a better showing in Detroit, otherwise this could be an even more special night than it will already be. The Nationwide faithful will finally experience in their own arena what first became a hope and dream in 1997 when Columbus was awarded an NHL Expansion Franchise. Now the dream of Mr. Mac, the citizens of Columbus, and hockey fans across Ohio are coming to fruition.

The Blue Jackets face a daunting task against the best team in the NHL. The Red Wings power play has been lethal and the penalty kill has been perfect. If the Jackets expect to gain any momentum they must stay out of the sin-bin, and hit, Hit, HIT the Red Wings. It would be a huge bonus if the penalty kill could perform like it should. The players on the first unit of the PK (Nash-Malhotra-Commodore-Hejda) and even second unit (Vermette-Umberger-Klesla-Tyutin) have the abilities to not only kill penalties effectively, but score shorthanded. At this point in the series I am more worried about their performance thus far as opposed to the known evil, the CBJ “Power play”.

It is critical for the fans to do anything in their power to encourage the team whether they score first or not, whether they are leading or trailing, supporting Steve Mason, taunting Chris Osgood, booing the officials, etc. Tonight is supposed to be a “Union of Blue” or “Sea of Blue” (which is kind of generic in my opinion), but the CBJ Officials never got into the idea, so it hasn’t publicized officially, but it shouldn’t be based strictly on the backing of the front office types. Calgary’s “C of Red” started with the fans and the organization caught on later, time for the Blue Jackets fans to take ownership of the atmosphere in Nationwide and bring down the house tonight!

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CARRY THE FLAG




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