Archive for October, 2010

30
Oct
10

Game 10 – COLORADO AVALANCHE

The Jackets make their first appearance in Mile-high City of the 2010 season. After a 0-4 swoon against the Avs, just one season after sweeping the season series, the Jackets look to start this year’s series on the right foote. (pun intended)

9:00pm EST, Pepsi Center

Fox Sports Ohio, High Definition

How will the young Jackets handle their 3-game winning streak? On Thursday there were questions about handling a 2-game streak of wins, but heck, keep on winning and I’ll gladly ask the questions.

I think it’s safe to say the Jackets are off to a hot start. The only real setbacks have been the ugly home losses to Chicago and Calgary, but the Jackets have found a way to win 6 times in 9 tries… not a bad clip.

One of the most interesting aspects of the early going for the CBJ is the lack of scoring from players you’d expect:

Chris Clark 0-6-6

Kristian Huselius 3-2-5

RJ Umberger 4-1-5

Marc Methot 0-5-5

Chris Clark is actually leading the club in something, and it’s not most-overpaid-over-the-hill-winger. Seriously, I don’t have a problem with Clark, and it’s great to see a player like him contributing so far. One has to think that if Moreau doesn’t go down with a broken hand, that Clark isn’t showing so much fire and scoring touch. Plus it’s a contract year for Clark and Moreau…

Tonight’s line-up via The Cannon:

Rick Nash Derick Brassard Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Derek Dorsett
Chris Clark Samuel Pahlsson Kyle Wilson
Nikita Filatov Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Rostislav Klesla Marc Methot
Kris Russell Anton Stralman
Nick Holden Fedor Tyutin
Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

It was a surprise Thursday, but won’t be tonight as Jan Hejda is out of the line-up again.

Game previews on the busiest night in the NHL:

NHL.com – Directly from the NHL preview:

Really? Rick Nash is an All-Star center??? Just because we’re a small-market team doesn’t mean we don’t notice your mistakes in the preview NHL.com!

The Dispatch – Could tonight be the night the CBJ score more than 3?

Yahoo! Sports mentions the middling CBJ power play (4 for 41).

 

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28
Oct
10

Game 9 – EDMONTON OILERS

The Oilers come to town touting last summer’s number one overall pick, Taylor Hall, and a slew of other high picks from recent drafts.

7:00pm EST, Nationwide Arena

Fox Sports Ohio, High Definition

Winners of two straight, which version of the Columbus Blue Jackets will show up? Will we see the team that put up clunkers against Chicago and Calgary or the hard-hitting team from Stockholm and the Anaheim, Chicago, and Philly wins?

I tend to believe the “real” Blue Jackets are of the winning variety and when the pressure’s on, that’s who we’ll see.

Playing a team like Edmonton can be a tough spot for any team. This is an opponent the Blue Jackets should beat, which is why I worry about tonight’s game.

The Oil are full of young energetic players, and then there’s that girl named Ales.

Don’t get me wrong, they are a talented group that can be dangerous especially if Sieve Mason shows up tonight.

Game Previews:

The Copper and Blue has probably the most in-depth scouting report you will see all season about the Blue Jackets. (ht to Dark Blue Jacket)

NHL.com points out that the Jackets lost the season-series opener last year, but won 3 straight… will this year be the same?

Yahoo! Sports reminds us of Hemsky’s stats against the CBJ (7-10-17 in 9 games)

The Dispatch wonders if the CBJ can keep up the winning.

Finally, not a game preview but a great article from today’s Columbus Dispatch about the “hometown hero” RJ Umberger. When Umberger was signed in the summer of 2008 I instantly started to mull over the options of different CBJ sweaters to buy. Umby became the first every professional sport jersey/sweater I have ever purchased with a player’s name on it. With his hard-working, gritty style, and oh yeah, he’s a BUCKEYE, it made sense for someone like me to pick out his name for my own sweater.

Go Jackets.

25
Oct
10

Game 8 – PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Pardon the later-than-normal game previews, unlike bloggers in Detroit, we Ohioans actually have jobs to do.

7:00pm EST, Nationwide Arena

Fox Sports Ohio, High Definition

Before I go on with the preview, how bad was Saturday night’s production of the Jackets @ Chicago? From the opening where we witnessed Jeff Rimer talking to his producer and saying a few silly things, to missing what I figure to be 95% of the faceoffs throughout the game (which is sadly nothing new for this network), it was largely a forgettable performance by the guys in the booth. On top of that replays were completely off. The play would be frozen in the wrong place, sometimes Rimer or Davidge’s comments would be about a different replay than what was shown, a complete mess.

With all that said, so far I thought production quality had made a move in the right direction, especially with the new video montage of fans, players, and others heading into Nationwide to watch a game.

On with the preview!

For once I’m not going to say it, this isn’t a must-win game. This is a “win and it would be nice” kind of game. What I’m looking (and hoping) for is that the Jackets can return to their dominant ways against the Eastern Conference, much like the stretch that helped vault them into the post season in 2008-09.

A few line-up tidbits:

Jared Boll has been activated off of the IR, that means my favorite player is back in the line-up. From Official Blue Jackets Twitter

Kristian Huselius is OUT tonight with some sort of foot/ankle issue. From Aaron Portzline

Check out The Dispatch for the projected lineup… I would guess you can just slot Boll in for Juice?

Game previews:

Yahoo! Sports

The Dispatch

NHL.com

Time to build on Saturday’s big win. Consistency from Garon will play a huge role in how the Jackets fair tonight.

Go Jackets.

23
Oct
10

Game 7 – CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

After last night’s clunker (I’m detecting a pattern here) the Jackets try to redeem themselves in the home of the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

8:30pm EST, United Center

Fox Sports Ohio, High Definition

I haven’t watched the DVR version of last night’s loss to the Flames, and part of me thinks I shouldn’t, but will end up subjecting myself to the pain. From what I’ve been told, and understand, the Jackets were run out of the building in embarrassing fashion.

Not good.

This team must start to stand up for itself and maybe, just maybe, Scott Arniel’s comments about the players level of play will force some inspired play.

Regardless, we’ll have a new look tonight (via Aaron Portzline’s Twitter):

Filatov’s on the 4th line. Haha. Stop being a baby when you make a mistake.

It didn’t take the weekend series for Arniel to make the sweeping changes that I expected. I look forward to what Brassard and Voracek might be able to bring when setup with Nash tonight. How will Juice respond on the 3rd line?

Game starts soon. Time to wake up boys.

Go Jackets.

22
Oct
10

Game 6 – CALGARY FLAMES

People who read this blog or follow the Jackets in general will think I’m crazy after this statement… This is ANOTHER must-win game. The Flames are a team that the Blue Jackets need to assert themselves on, especially at home, and that’s not even considering that the Flames have a goaltender making his NHL debut.

7:00pm EST, Nationwide Arena

Fox Sports Ohio (High Definition)

After Wednesday’s (mostly) solid performance the Blue Jackets look to bring back the fans to Nationwide Arena. As previously mentioned, the organization has resigned itself to the cold hard facts; Winning is all that matters. And that reasoning is only compounded on a weekend when people have LOTS of options other than a losing hockey team.

To reaffirm the “must-win-ness” of a CBJ win tonight, the Flamers are coming off of a 4-2 loss last night in Detroit. Making the most of the teams playing on a back-to-back is a vital benchmark to achieve for the Jackets to find themselves in the post season.

Check out the line-ups here (via The Dispatch)

The line-juggling will be interesting if the 3rd line takes a step back with Dorsett instead of Moreau, who the Jackets will be without for 4-6 weeks due to a broken hand.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a change to the Voracek-Brassard-Filatov line if they continue to struggle through this weekends games.

Game previews:

The Dispatch – Keep an eye on Umberger as he goes toe-to-toe with Jarome Iginla tonight.

Yahoo! Sports – Jackets are looking for ways to improve

NHL.com – Which player (on either side) will step up and control this season series?

Finally, via Twitter and Puck Daddy, take a look at last night’s crowd in Phoenix:

If any media wants to come down on the CBJ for attendance issues, they have some other (much more) major issues in Phoenix to deal with before Columbus is their focus. To me this is far more unacceptable for the Coyotes (coming off a strong season and playoff berth) than the Blue Jackets. Where are the season ticket holders? Do they even have any season ticket holders? I really just can’t fathom this tiny of a crowd watching hockey… except for those OSU hockey games in the cavern they call the Schott.

20
Oct
10

Remember the Name – JACKETS WIN

Call him a late-bloomer, call him undersized, but don’t call him a minor-leaguer any more.

Derek Mackenzie showed tonight that his presence on the CBJ 4th line could be one of the more consistent things about this roster, especially coming from a player who not many expected to be here.

I’ll admit that when Puck-rakers kept discussing the “upcoming signing” of Derek Mackenzie, I wasn’t exactly excited to watch the probable signing of a depth player like him.

Boy were we ALL wrong. There were very few people who I think expected Mackenzie to have the start that he has had. I have to say he has been just plain impressive these first 5 games. Maybe it’s expecting nothing from the 4th line that makes D-Mac so impressive, but the hustle, speed, grit, and hard work that he has shown so far is a beacon of light for the franchise as it struggles to bring back the fans.

It seems to me that Rick Nash may have risen out of the initial lull he showed through the first few games of the season. As great as it is to see the 3rd and 4th liners putting up points, it was only a matter of time until either Rick woke up, or the bottom 6 stopped scoring and problems began. The timing of Nash’s goals tonight comes at a point where he will be needed to carry the load as Ethan Moreau will be out for some time with a broken hand.

Pretty disappointing for Moreau, as he had a great first few games, now we see who else, beyond Nash, steps up to fill the leadership and grit void undoubtedly left behind.

A couple other random thoughts:

  • I think it’s time to break up the second line, at least to get Voracek, Brass, and Filatov going. Somehow someway, those guys have got to contribute, and they were all far from impressive to me tonight. Maybe there’s something I’m missing with how defenses are playing them, but watching Voracek get knocked off the puck on multiple occasions is a bit troubling.
  • 9,802. Remember that number. The lowest attendance EVER at a home Blue Jackets game. Someone in the post-game presser worked it into a question of Coach Arniel, and very candidly, Arniel responded that (paraphrasing here) “Winning will take care of that”. Later during player interviews Marc Methot (I think) echoed the same thoughts. I’m glad to hear a candid approach to it honestly. Winning is the one thing missing from the 10 year’s of CBJ hockey, and everyone knows it. From front office to on-ice employees, winning needs to continue, and it will hopefully cure-all.

A great win over a team the Jackets NEEDED to beat, and did. Calgary comes to town Friday and the Jackets travel to Chicago on Saturday. Let’s see what the CBJ can do on a back-to-back if play continues to improve.

20
Oct
10

Game 5 – ANAHEIM DUCKS

Is it possible to have a “must-win” game only 5 games into the season? Probably not, but even when the regular season is 82 games long, every single point matters.

The Ducks are one of the teams, much like the Wild, that the Jackets must be able to scrap out a win against if they are to get within sniffing distance of the playoffs this season.

7:00pm EST, Nationwide Arena

Fox Sports Ohio, High Definition

While this isn’t the real home opener, it’s my own home opener. It’s going to be great to watch some live NHL hockey (that counts) for the first time this season. I hope, and certainly expect, that the Jackets continue to play the style of the San Jose and Minnesota games, and not that what was witnessed by a sellout crowd against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

To see a nice breakdown of the projected line-ups for both the Blue Jackets and Ducks, please check out The Cannon.

Game previews:

From NHL.com: Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger is off to the best start of his career. He has 3 goals — including the shorthanded game-winner Saturday against the Wild.

From The Dispatch: the Blue Jackets haven’t beaten Anaheim at home in regulation since the 2007-08 season…. wow.

Yahoo! Sports

Not sure how you could miss this ray of sunshine from last night’s games:

Puck Daddy shares his take on what will be another prime example of the NHL’s inconsistent punishment guidelines.

Go Jackets.




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