Archive for February, 2010

21
Feb
10

USA VS. CANADA

Tonight, 7:30pm, MSNBC

It may not be for the Gold, but Team USA takes on Canada in the final game of pool play today in what is considered by many the greatest rivalry in international hockey.

This song is all you need: (NSFW)

U-S-A-ALL-THE-WAY!!!

15
Feb
10

Scott Howson on NHL Live

A brief transcript of what Howson discussed today on NHL Live, this is mostly paraphrased with the topic first and the response right after:

Biggest Difference Pre and Post Hitch so far – Always an uptick in energy from the players, a different voice causes players to respond, more “push-back”, cites Sunday’s Chicago game being up 2-0, down 4-2, tying it up to reach a shootout

Trade Freeze – discusses that paying a player for 2 weeks who is just sitting there is a little weird, but he expects more action after the Olympic break, says we have players receiving interest but will have to wait to see what pans out, throws a twist in for post-Olympic break

Pressure – continued review of where the team stands, acknowledgement that it will be very difficult to make a playoff push, points are an issue, but the amount of teams between 14 and 8 are the real problem

Plans during the Olympic Break – going to junior and college games to watch prospects and looking at players who will be available in the upcoming draft

Jody Shelley – thought about trading for Jody, involved in the talks but timing wasn’t going to allow it to work, hopes that Jody will earn himself a new contract with New York

Draft Philosophy, best available or certain type/position – 1st pick always go with best player, huge gap at center in the organization that Doug tried to fill with Fedorov (how’d that work out?)

Playing career – most the players don’t know about it, played with Toledo Golddiggers, Bernie Nicholls said he’d break records with Kingston

Olympics – Talked to Nash about working with Hitch again, definitely made for awkward timing, wished good luck to Rick (and others)

Stress of this season – He looked for glimmers of hope as the losses mounted, Hitch was a huge part of getting to the playoffs last year, didn’t see improvement after many chances

Interesting thoughts and words from the GM.

Go Jackets! Go America!

14
Feb
10

Game 63 – CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Another opponent coming in on a back-to-back after winning last night in Chicago in a shootout. Interestingly enough, the ‘Hawks have had 3 of their last 4 games go to the skills competition, and have also won 3 straight.

5:00pm EST, Fox Sports Ohio, High Definitino

Winning 4 of the last 6 the Jackets come in on a bit of a hot streak, but looked somewhat lost on Friday night after giving up 3 straight goals to the road-weary Canucks and losing 4-3. The Canucks are a very good team with a great defense… same with the Blackhawks.

The biggest overall differences between the two opponents comes in team speed and skill. The last time the Jackets met the Blackhawks it was a thriller of a Saturday afternoon game where the Jackets relinquished a lead in the 3rd period, losing 6-5.

It is expected that Mathieu Garon will get his first start under IHC Claude Noel today. Hopefully he can continue to perform the way he has all season long when called upon to take a start instead of Steve Mason. If memory serves correctly, he has been very good after not playing a few games, but has struggled when playing multiple games in a row himself.

After today we all face a 15-day Olympic Break without any Blue Jacket hockey. Luckily this isn’t like the summer Olympics where there is no hockey to speak of, but Nationwide Arena will not play host to the Jackets for some time.

Mark your calendars because Team USA takes the ice for the first time on Tuesday at 3:00pm against Switzerland.

GO JACKETS!!!

GO USA!!!

14
Feb
10

Same issues, different coach – JACKETS LOSE

VAN 4 – CBJ 3

A change of pace today for a recap of the Vancouver game. Since I watched on tape delay I kept the laptop handy and made some game notes as it went by. I should’ve kept game time as it went by for organizational ease, but, live and learn. Anyway, here we go!

1st Period

Nash goal – middle finger to the late arriving fans, we have far too many fans who think they won’t miss anything if they are a few seconds late, or a get up a few seconds early for some more beer and popcorn.

Baumgartner goal – 1st goal of the season… can’t be giving those up this late in the season… Guess what? Marc Methot was way out of position, what’s new?

Jared Boll goal – taking the fight to VAN, 4th line doing their job! Mega-props to Noel putting them on after the Vancouver goal, another middle finger to late arriving fans

Jurcina High-sticks Samuelsson – HUGE PK coming up, double-minor too.

PK again – Voracek and Brass on the kill which is great to see…Methot making up for bad play early with great hit on Kesler… Russell on the PK… Huge kill

Juice playing some defense and, what the heck?? steals the puck!?!?

Power play… Nash double-shifted on the PP

Hustle by the 3rd line is outstanding

Hejda picking up a stick on the fly haha

Alex Burrows is a bitch

2nd Period

Ryan Kesler seems to be everywhere

Kris Russell laying some checks, good to see further rounding out of his game

Hemmed in our own zone… can’t control the play, again the 4th line gets the first real possession

Defensive passing suddenly looks sloppy and bad

Great save by Mase… followed by a great scoring chance by the young-guns (Brass & Voracek), exactly what you want to see, generating our own momentum

“Got a piece of Boll” – Bill Davidge

Sweet jesus, too many men… AGAIN, somehow that’s Hitchcock’s fault, Penalty Kill… Jake looks huge out there with Brassard, good energy from a great kill leads to….

RAFFI TORRES – he will be missed, but someone must step-up when he goes elsewhere at the deadline

STEVE MASON – what in the wide world of sports? you think he’d have learned from last season (Detroit), just when the CBJ seize momentum this kind of play gives it right back to the opponent

Paging Rick Nash… seemingly he disappeared after his opening goal

Big missed slash on Brassard at center ice

Is it me or are we taking point shots more often?

Goaltender interference – huge kill coming up as the ‘Nucks have momentum, scary shot in the neck/collarbone on Hejda, nice use of the stick by Nash, great play by Mason, great kill, now build on it, FSO tells me that’s 16 straight successful PK’s

“Raymond went down very easily” – Bill Davidge… again

Being out-shot 26-16… wow, nothing new I guess

Jan Hejda – pinching in on the play? Surprising to see from him

3rd Period

Jackets are looking slow and un-energized

Forecheck – 1-2-2, not sure if I like just one deep forechecker

Nice strength on the puck by Stralman

High Stick on Vermette – MASSIVE kill ahead… if you keep taking silly penalties, you’re going to give up a goal… even though it’s tied, I have a very bad feeling the Jackets are on the verge of going back into their shells

Here’s the adversity Noel was waiting for

Rome is COVERING THE PUCK WITH HIS BODY, has to be a delay of game call at least

Steve Mason – looking good in recent games, now has given up 3 goals tonight… lots of big juicy rebounds that are very scary, even in the games when he posted shutouts

OMG – Puck deflected off Brassard’s stick, up and over Mason… wow, 4-3 VAN, CBJ have given up 3 straight goals, very sloppy play now, TIMOUT CBJ

Russell – great to see him jumping up on the play still and looking dangerous with the puck

Nice side-to-side movement by Mase to make a huge save

Zombie Nation… really?

Power Play coming up – Must score… we’re making Raycroft look like Marty Brodeur

Can’t muster anything… empty net and the Canucks aren’t wavering

Game over

Post-game thoughts:

  • Well, we got the adversity that Interim Coach Claude Noel was looking for, we didn’t completely fold, but we didn’t do a good job getting the game to that point. When you hold leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-1, you have to be able to hold on. After the timeout the Jackets looked more organized, but still couldn’t muster much as Raycroft had gained confidence as he made many easy saves after the initial Blue Jackets onslaught.
  • In my opinion, Steve Mason lost this game tonight. After looking very sharp for a 3 games, he gave up 2 very bizarre goals, one that he gave right to an opposing player, and another that will be considered “fluky”. The timing of both goals was terrible, but as previously mentioned, the 2nd goal where Mason made an unforced error, was truly the back-breaker, and set the Canucks off and running on 3 straight goals.
  • Noel now has a chance to correct the issues that Hitchcock could not. This team has struggled mightily with mental toughness all season long. There are more blown leads than I care to think of, but it is good to see the team performing well after the late timeout. We’ll see what happens on Sunday, and after the Olympic break.
12
Feb
10

Game 62 – VANCOUVER CANUCKS

The Jackets look to continue their hot streak against the (hopefully) road-weary Canucks among an NHL record-setting 14-game road trip in which they have reached a 3-3 record thus far.

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

Time is short, and I have a job to do, but the Jackets will try to take advantage of the worn down Canucks, coming in on the second night of a back-to-back from Florida.

Just one potential line-up change as Fredrik Modin is a “game time decision”. Steve Mason in net, but Mase will not face soon-to-be-Olympian, Roberto Luongo, instead back-up Andrew Raycroft will get the start.

Winning tonight would give the Jackets their 4th straight win overall, and their 3rd straight over division leading opponents. Certainly the bump from Hitchcock’s removal has helped, so has Mason’s huge jump in play, if it all continues tonight and Sunday, Scott Howson should have some very tough decisions to make.

Bits of news and previews:


GO JACKETS!!!

11
Feb
10

Slow Day

Not much going today as the Blue Jackets practiced in preparation for the Vancouver Canucks coming into town on Friday. From Puck-rakers:

The suddenly-resurgent Blue Jackets held a robust 45-minute practice this morning in Dispatch Ice Haus. Among the participants were defenseman Anton Stralman and left winger Fredrik Modin, both nursing injuries.

Glad to see Modin getting back in the saddle, but still wondering where Mike Commodore is…

Porty had this tweet this morning:

Of course the rumor-mongers ran with this. We’ll probably hear a lot of crazy exchanges brought up, but don’t believe them until you hear it from a reputable source. (Umberger to Pittsburgh anyone? Laughable) Looking at the Oilers roster, they have A TON of free agents come season’s end, RFA’s and UFA’s alike. It will be interesting to see if anything develops.

Earlier this evening TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Steve Mason was contacted as the 4th reserve goalie for Team Canada:

On February 1st, Team Canada submitted its 23 man roster and also provided a list of reserve players.

Final Olympic rosters don’t have to be in until Monday.

Team Canada officials are reluctant to divulge the number of reserves, or their identity, however sources tell TSN the reserve list includes four forwards, three defencemen and a goaltender. All of the players on the reserve list have been contacted by Canada’s management team and told to be ready in case of injury.

……

Columbus Blue Jackets’ goalie, Steve Mason has also been instructed to be prepared in case Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, or Marc-André Fleury suffers an injury.

Talk about a huge couple days for the big guy in net, 3-0 since the coaching change, and giving up only 1 goal in that time, posting back-to-back shutouts, and now being named a reserve for team Canada.

11
Feb
10

The 300 pound gorilla in the room – JACKETS WIN

SJS 0 – CBJ 3

With the Sharks circling in the closing minutes the Blue Jackets, led by Steve Mason, stood tall. Not enough can be said about how clutch Mason’s play was last night. The Sharks put up 40 shots, including 20 in the 3rd period, and Mase stopped them all. Tonight was a textbook example of why games are not played on paper, as in many sports, the role of underdog can be a tough one but the Blue Jackets know it well, and played the role of spoiler perfectly tonight.

I believe that had the Sharks been able to put one home in the last minutes the Jackets easily could have crumbled against the newly invigorated San Jose attack. The team is still mentally fragile, but Interim Head Coach Noel has given them a new, fresh look on life and hockey, and as he puts it are showing the emotion and playing passionate hockey.

The game started off relatively slow with both teams very carefully poking and prodding, but it quickly ramped up after an icing call against the Sharks and some “extracurriculars” ensued after the whistle. From there on things ramped up with each passing minute until the final flurry.

Scoring for the Jackets tonight were Rick Nash, Jakub Voracek, and Antoine Vermette. Once again, the Jackets scored first under Claude Noel as they have yet to even trail or relinquish a lead under his leadership. The time will come when the club will have to fight adversity and find a way to win a tough game, but hell, LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL! It was outstanding to see Jake break his 26-game goalless drought, but making it even sweeter was the outstanding pass from Derick Brassard as he saucered it perfectly in front of Jake streaking towards the net.

It has been really great to see this team performing to the level we all expected this season, but as some pointed out on twitter and other outlets, if Steve Mason was performing this way a month, let alone two weeks ago, Hitch wouldn’t have been fired, and the CBJ would be in the playoff hunt. It can go both ways however, as Hitchcock was saying many of the right things about his players, but the message had grown tiresome, and the team was being suffocated. Is the current streak due to Hitch’s removal or is Noel really that great of a coach? Time will tell, and soon. When there is a mid-season coaching change, there is always an extra jump in the step of the players and usually an increase in wins and effort, but for how long? The Pens last year come to mind, going on to win 9 of 10 and eventually the Stanley Cup after firing Michel Therrien, but take a second and look at more recent firing/hiring’s with the Blues and Flyers. The Flyers won only 2 of the next 10 games after firing John Stevens and the Blues won 6 of their next 11, finding some success and some failure.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish Noel the utmost success, but we don’t need to get ahead of ourselves expecting a miracle run to the playoffs and maybe more after “just” a 3 game winning streak. I’ll support the team regardless who’s behind the bench… unless his name is Mac…. I won’t go any further.

Go Jackets




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