Posts Tagged ‘preview

07
Oct
10

Blue Jackets Season Preview

Like a kid on Christmas eve, the start of Blue Jackets Hockey tomorrow brings the promise of new toys, gadgets, gizmos and stuff to be excited about. In a few months a lot of those “new and cool” toys will be broken, laying in a junkyard somewhere, some of those toys will be gathering dust in the corner of your bedroom, and others will still be actively used deep into the springtime.

The Jackets are the anti-Jeopardy game show right now. There are far more questions than answers beyond, Q: “Who’s the captain?” A: “Uhhh, Rick Nash”, Q: “Did you make the playoffs last year?” A: “LOL”

While I predict the Jackets to have a good season, there are enough reasons to be negative. The lack of turnover from a 14th place finishing team can be disconcerting, but right now, it’s all about faith.

I’ve got a funny feeling about Ethan Moreau. I’m not sure if it’s a good one, but I think it is. Moreau has shown that he has a chip on his shoulder and that the coaches trust him. Winning one of the “A”‘s on this team, that has had seemingly strong supporting leaders for Rick Nash, says a lot to me. I’ve got high expectations for what he can bring to help Rick Nash and to fire-up this team when it’s needed.

The path to redemption for Steve Mason begins tomorrow. As a human being, there is no way that Mase is okay with what his legacy might be at this point. “Yeah he was really good for a year, just like Vesa Toskala” and it’s pretty crazy how many people hate him!

What was on display in the pre-season was a reassuring, but until Mason is showing confidence, poise, speed, and skill when the games count, I will remain a skeptic.

I strongly believe that Mason is the goalie that we saw during the run to the playoffs of 2008-2009, but he has to make re-believers out of many fans, and many critics across the NHL.

A few predictions for this season

  • At least once I’ll ask, “Ummm, why did we fire Hitchcock?”
  • Rusty Klesla will play less than 45 games
  • The new 3rd jersey’s will be surprisingly awesome
  • A few new CBJ blogs will pop up and a few will flame out
  • Nikita Filatov will amaze us all
  • There will be a whopping 5 CBJ Hat-tricks this season, Nash (2), Filatov, Voracek, Umberger
  • Fans will still suggest that Nash should be stripped of the “C”
  • Nash will proceed to score 40+ goals again this season
  • When we joke about the potential lock-out, we’ll all laugh, but secretly be very scared
  • Voracek will end the season on the top line
  • Mike Commodore will cause at least 2 concussions, unintentionally of course
  • John Moore will play fewer games in Columbus than David Savard
  • The Sweden games will be a horrible tease as we wait almost a whole week after Saturday’s game
  • Rick Nash will play on the top PK unit by season’s end
  • The Jackets will make the playoffs

Of course, none of these will probably come true, and I’ll look like an idiot.

A few final comments

My conference prediction calls for the Jackets to finish 6th in the conference. A bit of the method to the madness how I made such a prediction: Nashville and St. Louis are vastly overrated. The moves made in St. Louis leave a lot of questions, and too much weight is being placed on the youngsters for the Blues. The Jackets have a more complete team, hands down. I know I’m probably biased, but I just don’t see how the Jackets can reasonably finish behind the Blues in this year’s final divisional standings. The Nashville Predators forwards may be one of the most overrated groups in the league. Adding Lombardi was nice, but coming off a career year there’s a very unlikely chance he repeats the same feat.

The Jackets have struggled to find consistency in any part of their game throughout their history. Be it goaltending, scoring, defense, the CBJ’s beginnings have been rough.

Tomorrow the team starts moving the right direction and winning back those that once believed.

06
Oct
10

Season Preview – The West


The moment we’ve all been waiting for… my official Western Conference predictions!

The Columbus Blue Jackets 10th anniversary season begins with more questions than answers.

How does a 14th place team make almost no changes and expect to get better?

Can Steve Mason rebound from the sophomore slump to end all slumps?

Will the real Mike Commodore please stand up?

Can Rusty Klesla stay healthy and finally be the defenseman so many expect?

Will Derick Brassard become the player we saw in 2008-09 on a consistent basis?

It’s kinda like a soap opera… except fun to watch and actually interesting.

Rather than sit and answer each of those questions specifically, I took a few minutes and looked at the entire Western Conference and (later) the Jackets specifically.

2009-2010 Western Conference Final Standings:

Teams that got better:

Vancouver, Los Angeles

Teams that stayed even:

Edmonton, Columbus, Calgary, St. Louis, Nashville, Detroit, San Jose, Chicago

Teams that took a step back:

Minnesota, Dallas, Anaheim, Colorado, Phoenix

After Chicago’s cup win and subsequent dismantling it’s almost hard to put them in the “even” group, but when a team has that much talent, it’s hard to put them in the “step back” group.

I think the conference is completely up-for-grabs, seemingly more than ever before. Vancouver and LA are to me the best in the West and should be in the thick of it when it playoff time comes. Now for the 2010-11 standings prediction:

1. Vancouver Canucks

2. Los Angeles Kings

3. Chicago Blackhawks

4. San Jose Sharks

5. Detroit Red Wings

6. Columbus Blue Jackets

7. Calgary Flames

8. St. Louis Blues

9. Anaheim Ducks

10. Nashville Predators

11. Edmonton Oilers

12. Colorado Avalanche

13. Anaheim Ducks

14. Minnesota Wild

15. Phoenix Coyotes

Take it for what it is. If I’m completely wrong, I won’t be shocked, but if I’m spot on… well that won’t even happen.

I wanted to get this posted before the NHL season officially begins at noon Thursday, but I’ll have a more “Jackets-centric” preview before Friday’s opener.

Happy Hockey Season everyone!




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