Archive for January, 2010

28
Jan
10

What the Doctor ordered – JACKETS WIN

NSH 2 – CBJ 3

When the Blue Jackets power play looked futile through two attempts last night, there was little hope that we’d see something different on the 3rd power play of the evening. Even more disconcerting up to this point was the lack of shots that the CBJ had generated on Pekka Rinne. In the limited action Rinne had seen it looked to me that he was just not feeling the puck well.

Luckily the Jackets were able to get it going last night thanks to the power play, the positive momentum generated on the 3rd power play lead to a great re-direct of a Milan Jurcina point shot by Derick Brassard. The Blue Jackets were able to carry the momentum into the 3rd period where 8 minutes in, when Juice cashed in on the CBJ’s 4th power play of the night. 39 seconds later, Freddy Modin took advantage of a mishandled puck and rammed home the Blue Jackets 3rd goal of the evening with just over 11 minutes remaining.

We all knew what could happen in the time that remained, and sure enough Nashville stormed back. As long as I can remember following the Blue Jackets, two things have never changed about the Predators, Barry Trotz and resiliency like a lawn weed. Thankfully the Jackets and Steve Mason were able to ride out the storm and came away with a 3-2 victory in the end.

A couple thoughts about last night:

-Raffi Torres was fairly invisible. He registered only 2 shots and didn’t have a single hit.

-Jake Voracek is not completely up to speed. Granted Jake did not play much (10:27), but he was unable to register a SOG, and just didn’t look “with it”.

-Interesting to see that 9 different players registered a point in the win.

-The only skater on the ice for both Nashville goals? You guessed it, Fedor Tyutin

-Steve Mason was solid stopping 29 of 31 shots and will now look to win back-to-back starts for the first time since October on Thursday against the Kings

That’s it, Go Jackets!

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26
Jan
10

Game 55 – NASHVILLE PREDATORS

And on it goes. The Jackets continue to try to find consistency, but have struggled game-to-game. The Predators are coming into Columbus after losing 3 straight and look to make things right against the 14th place Jackets.

7:00PM EST, Fox Sports Fail-hio, High Definition

In 4 games this season the Blue Jackets are win-less against the Nashville Predators, but have been able to keep it close and gain points in 3 of those losses.

Throughout the season, it has become clear that the Blue Jackets just aren’t the same team they were last year. This isn’t some overnight realization, but its time to take a step back, and look at what was done last year and what’s being done now. Simply put, the same guys who came up big last year, have not been reliable in 2009-10. This has caused major strife for the team, management, and coaches. It should be obvious to most by now, that barring something catastrophic, Hitchcock will not be fired this season. Why pull the trigger on the Head Coach when the Calder Trophy winner has flat-out sucked it up? In all honesty, Hitch would’ve been fired last year if Mason had been this average, and it wouldn’t have helped his cause that the Jackets would have had no chance at the playoffs without Mason’s surprise season.

In just over a month, the NHL trade deadline will be here, and there may be some tough goodbyes for the fans and players. Players like Raffi Torres, Fredrik Modin, Milan Jurcina, and Jared Boll could all fetch something in return, and at least one of those 4 will surely be wearing a different sweater after March 3rd. Now is the time to enjoy watching them play for our team and cheer them on, because regardless where they end up, you root for the team, not the player. Sure you can hold a special place for them, but Columbus comes first, and should always.

Previews for tonight:

On the Forecheck

Yahoo! Sports

NHL.com

And finally, I was fortunate enough to have my opinion published in The Dispatch today. Check out the article titled “Jackets’ home games test fan support

CARRY THE FLAG!!!!

23
Jan
10

Game 54 – MINNESOTA WILD

It would be a good start for the Blue Jackets if they can avoid giving up the first goal, let alone doing so in the first 2:29 tonight in Minnesota.

9:00pm EST, Fox Sports Ohio, Standard Definition

In case you missed it on Thursday night, Fox Sports Ohio proved how much they care about the hometown team:

Yeahhh… that on top of cutting away from a fight… unfortunately we have no other way to watch the Blue Jackets, but this low-level of coverage cannot continue.

The Jackets are walking into a dangerous game. The Wild have lost 4 straight games, including a valiant effort Thursday night in a comeback against the Red Wings that fell short in the shootout.

When it comes to playoff hopes, the Jackets’ are nearly evaporated:

The cut-off sits right around 95-97 points, which for the CBJ to reach would need a herculean effort at this point.

Match-ups against the Wild through the years have been relatively “boring” defense-heavy games but interestingly enough Goaltender Steve Mason is 0-1-1 in two starts in Minnesota posting a 1.93 GAA. Seems to me, if Mason can continue earning back his playing time, and the offense can continue to manufacture goals one way or another, the Jackets could be in good shape.

The Jackets MUST survive the opening period being tied or only down one goal if they to have a chance to win. We all know they can do it… question is, will they?

GO JACKETS!!!!

TEAM COCO!

21
Jan
10

Game 53 – BOSTON BRUINS

The show must go on. Onward we march towards mathematical elimination from the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean these games should be ignored or thrown away.

7:00pm EST, Fox Sports Ohio, High Definition

A lot of good television tonight, but will the Jackets-Bruins game be something worth watching? The “Dad Trip” continues and the Blue Jackets need to win to salvage some level of respect from their parents, but also from the Eastern Conference. A season after laying the smack down against almost every Eastern team, the Blue Jackets are paying for it this year posting a record of 4-5-2 so far. I seem to remember many fans rekindling the call for the CBJ to be move to the East… where are those people now?

Tonight we see the return of Steve Mason to the net-minding duties in his first start since Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Blackhawks. In the home loss to Chicago, Mason surrendered 6 goals on 31 shots for a woeful .806 save percentage. It’s interesting to note that in relief duty this season (2 gms 48:10) Mason has posted a 1.000 save percentage and faced 20 combined shots in those outings. If Mason is able to put together an average game tonight, and come up with a few big saves, the Blue Jackets could be in luck.

The Bruins don’t give up much defensively, this is especially due to their penalty kill where they rank 1st in the league (87.9%). Even strength is where the Bruins are more susceptible, but then again the CBJ are dead-last in 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio.

The projected line-up:

Umberger-Vermette-Nash
Torres-Brassard-Voracek
Huselius-Pahlsson-Clark
Dorsett-Modin-Boll

Commodore-Hejda
Russell-Roy
Tyutin-Stralman

Mason
Garon

It blows my mind that Hitch would rather have Tyutin or Stralman in this line-up over Milan Jurcina. Marc Methot will get the bench tonight, but won’t be considered a “healthy scratch” after not participating in morning skate with an “illness”… being a -3 must make you feel really sick to your stomach, especially after making excuses for the 3 goals you were on the ice for Marc.

Tonight would be the perfect opportunity for the 4th line to surprise everyone and do some damage. Dorsett is beyond due for a goal, but then again so is Jake Voracek. Overall, expect a very defensive game with a relatively low score.

GO JACKETS!!!

20
Jan
10

2 Goals, No hatty – JACKETS LOSE

CBJ 3 – PHI 5

No surprises last night in Philadelphia. The Blue Jackets gave up a goal in the opening 2:29 for the 5th straight game (remarkable that they’ve won games in that span), showed some fight, but withered in the end.

A night after having arguably his best night of the season, Center Derick Brassard (6-16-22, -14) won only 33% of his face-offs and took two obstruction penalties, one of which led to a Flyers goal in the waning moments of the 2nd period.

It was a bizarre game, not hard-bizarre as Hitch likes to say sometimes, but weird in many ways. I’m going to try to offer various thoughts, one bizarre, one not bizarre:

Bizarre: Mathieu Roy in a fight – Not Bizarre: Marc Methot returning to spectacular levels of suck after his injury absence

Bizarre: Giving up goals to 2 different goons (Asham/Carcillo) – Not Bizarre: Giving up 5 or more goals

Bizarre: Dorsett and Boll not agitating the crap out of the opposition – Not Bizarre: RJ Umberger and Rick Nash carrying the team

Bizarre: Jan Hejda posting a -3 – Not Bizarre: Marc Methot posting a -3

Bizarre: Throwing hats on the ice for the opposition – Not Bizarre: Honoring a former player beloved by fans

Overall the Blue Jackets had a less than stellar night, but the story of the night was had to be the play of RJ Umberger who carried the Jackets about as far as he could. In the 3rd period when it looked as if Umberger had scored his 3rd goal of the night, the Flyer faithful threw their newly acquired hats in what was a classy salute to the former Flyer. A couple links about the gesture and about Umberger’s time in Philadelphia:

Fans Show Appreciation for Umberger

Umberger – A Young Player Who Got It

A bit of other news about the CBJ:

A look at Man-Games Lost by Mirtle – The Jackets are 11th

West Side gets Casino nod – Possibly not going to be a part of the Arena District, time will tell.

Restoring the Rosters – A look at an “all-time” best players drafted at Forward, Defense and in Goal.

19
Jan
10

Game 52 – PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

On the second night of a back-to-back the Blue Jackets look to put together a bit of a winning streak and get things going in Philly.

7:00pm EST, Fox Sports Ohio, Standard Definition

I’m not going to pretend to know what to expect from this game, last night I was expecting gloom and doom, and it seems that things tend to go better when I keep that mindset.

The Flyers last played Sunday evening in a loss to the Washington Capitals 5-3, and have now lost 2 straight. The Blue Jackets broke their 3-game losing skid last night with a 4-2 win at home over the St. Louis Blues.

Both teams find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff standings. However the Flyers are only 3 points out of 8th place in the East but the Blue Jackets sit 10 points out in the West. Adding to their woes, the Flyers are a good example of why Columbus doesn’t spend to the Salary Cap; sitting on the outside looking in of the playoffs feels better when your team is more than $8 mil below the league’s salary cap versus the Flyers sitting less than a million below the cap. This has a lot to do with the massive contracts of Chris Pronger, Danny Briere, Mike Richards, and Kimmo Timonen.

Tonight Goaltender Mathieu Garon will get the start in net as the Jackets look to find more consistency on the back-end. The forward lines aren’t scheduled to change minus the return of Freddy Modin on the 4th line. Defensively Mike Commodore will sit out and Fedor Tyutin will return… really doesn’t matter unless they decide to suck.

GO JACKETS!!!!!!!

19
Jan
10

Raffi! – JACKETS WIN

STL 2 – CBJ 4

Yes they did. No way. No really, they won. I still don’t believe you.

The Blue Jackets pulled out of the slump and won their 19th game of the season last night. Spurred on my winger Raffi Torres’ two-goal night and goals from Chris Clark and Rick Nash, the Jackets stood tall and defended the home turf.

After giving up a goal barely a minute into the game to Blues forward Paul Kariya, it seemed as if we all faced “another night at Nationwide”, but two straight goals by Raffi Torres sent the Blue Jackets into the locker room with the lead and momentum after the first period.

The second period saw a surge by the Blues, but the Jackets would have nothing to do with it. Keith Tkachuk drew St. Louis even at 2 a piece, but Rick Nash seized the lead on the power play for the boys in Blue make the Columbus lead 3-2, and they would not relinquish.

During the last period Chris Clark notched his first goal as a Blue Jacket and that would be all the insurance necessary. There were a couple negatives during the 3rd period however. One major issue was the power play… or lack thereof. In two opportunities on the man-advantage the Blue Jackets registered 1 shot. To me the game began to reek of yet another blown 3rd period lead, but thankfully the Blues did not garner the expected momentum from successfully dominating the CBJ’s power play. Another bit of disappointment came from Ken Hitchcock not putting Raffi Torres back on the ice to try to earn the hat trick. His explanation from Puck-rakers:

“I was trying to get the damn puck out of our own end,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve had some bizarre-ness happen to us all year. I got blasted by the players and the coaches, and now the fans – and now the media. So, I’m batting a thousand.”

Amusing if nothing else, but disappointing to not see Raffi earn the ‘trick.

A couple quick thoughts:

  • RJ Umberger is on the verge of having some big scoring nights. He was very close on 4 or 5 occasions last night but just seemed a slight bit off.
  • Jake Voracek needs to simplify his game and get out of his slump. It seems to me he is just trying too hard and gripping the stick too tight to be productive.
  • Derick Brassard broke out of a bit of a slump and had an outstanding game all around.
  • Derek Dorsett played his first game with an alternate captain’s “A” on the jersey. He was a force everywhere on the ice when given the chance. A huge congratulations is deserved for one of the hardest working players on the team.




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