directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Some postive signs from new NHLPA boss Paul Kelly

I followed the lockout of '04 about as closely as any fan not directly involved in the negotation could so when I heard that the NHLPA had fired Ted Saskin, who along with the NHL's Bill Daily, were the men primarily responsible for the CBA the NHL currently operates under, I cringed a little thinking "here we go again".

I just finished reading an article from Scott Burnside of regarding Paul Kelly's visit with the board of governors and actually came away from that read feeling a little better about the NHLPA's new hire. Here are some quotes:

"I actually started by telling them a little bit about my professional background, which is the fact I have spent 27 years as a trial lawyer and I have tried dozens and dozens of cases to juries and state and federal courts and that there's something invigorating about the fight," Kelly said. "Between hockey players, who are never shy to take on a fight, and a trial lawyer, who has had many, if it comes to that, I hope that my guys would be well-represented.

"That said, I really think that the way to approach this for the good of the fans, for the greater good of the sport, is to try and work through these issues. I told them expressly that it is my view that any labor interruption in this sport would be devastating, that the public, particularly in the United States, would turn away in disgust and that we owe it to the game and to the fans to work through issues and to avoid any discussions of lockouts and strikes. And I sensed a positive agreement on the part of the owners to that comment.''

On Thursday, he told the governors he hasn't had enough time to look over the collective bargaining agreement to know whether the players would exercise their right to re-open the deal after next season, the fourth of the post-lockout accord.
"We're going to wait until the end of this season and see where we are," Kelly said.

Kelly spoke to the board for about 35 minutes, and one governor asked if some of his constituents were upset at his appearance at the meeting.

"My response to that is a couple of things," Kelly said. "One, there is going to be a reservoir of players, particularly some of the senior guys, that might hold that view. But frankly, in my judgment, it's a new day. We can't continue to hold those views of this relationship. We've got to talk, we've got to communicate; we can't have this kind of cold war approach.

"That said, I did tell the players' executive board of the Players' Association that I had been extended this invitation and I will tell you that every member of the executive board unanimously endorsed and encouraged me to come down here and to meet with and address the owners. It's not an issue."

I'm relieved to hear that Kelly seems to have a good grasp on the pulse of the game, especially in the States. There is absolutely no way this league could sustain another work stoppage this close to missing an entire season - especially south of the boarder.

This new CBA seems to be working just fine for the players and as Bettman mentioned in that article league revenues are projected to rise yet again atlhough he didn't say how much. That's good news for the league, not the best of news for a market the size of Columbus however as this market just doesn't get the high dollar revenues that a bigger market produces.
It also means that some of the big market teams that spent to the cap this year will have some more room this offseason to spend even more - that particularly hurts us as we are one of the teams that will have a lot of payroll flexibility and the less teams involved in the bidding for unrestricted agents obviously the better off the Jackets will be....but I digress.

So while Kelly's words do give me a faint hint of optimism and he appears to be saying all the right things, I'll believe there will be an extended labor peace when I see it. Lets hope both the league and the players aren't foolish enough to lock horns again.

Jackets blanked first time this season

At this point in the season a year ago the Jackets had been shut out 6 times. Last night's 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks marks the 1st time this season the team has been held scoreless.

That bit of a positive news aside the Jackets dropped their 2nd in a row and are 1-5-2 in their last 8 on the road. They are 4-7-2 for the month of November. After a 7-3-2 October their record in November has eaten away any goodwill their fast start created - at this pace they will not make the playoffs which should serve as a sobering reminder to the players on this team as they look at a season deciding home stretch in December in which they must play well above .600 hockey to stay in the hunt.

Lit it up

Robert Luongo. He pitched is 3rd consecutive shutout and with the few quality chances the Jackets did create he was there to shut the door.

Boll and Shelley. Hey, at least these two were doing their job out there getting their noses dirty and dropping the gloves when needed.

The PK continues to shine. It killed 4 of 4 penalties last night.

The Jackest won 62% of their face offs. With that kind of number that means they have possession in the offensive zone quite a bit and *should* be able to score.

Dim the light

Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev were completely bottled up last night. Both had a couple of decent looks but nether were dominate and at lot of the night completely neutralized by the Canucks checking line.

Fredrick Norrena wasn't terrible. He was the victim of a fluke goal off of Adam Foote's foot and the second goal was the work of some great cycling by the Sedin twins. This guy deserves a better fate than he's received - he needs some goal support.

The defense continues to play well at least defensively, the just aren't getting the support they need from the offense. They do need to do a better job transitioning the puck up to the forwards however.

Busted Bulbs

Speaking of support -- the Jackets offense is on life support right now. If Rick Nash or Nik Zherdev aren't scoring then no one is. The Jackets have just 3 goals in their past 3 games. Rick Nash has just one point over that span.

The powerplay is a complete wreck. Can't enter the zone with possession. If its dumped in they aren't winning the battles for control. If they do get control guys like Sergei Fedorov are missing what should be passes he should make in his sleep. The defense isn't making plays to keep pucks in the zone.

I need an APV put out for secondary scoring on this team. Where are the goals from Chimera, Malhotra, Brule, Fritsche, Fedorov, Vyborny, Peca? That's almost our entire 2nd and 3rd lines. Combined they have just 22 goals. Rick Nash and Nik Zherdev alone have 23 goals.

I'm not panicking but if this group can't pick up the slack I can see our 2nd and 3rd lines being completely revamped next season with guys like Brassard and Voracek filling holes and free agents brought in for the rest. Of that group I just listed 4 are unrestricted free agents - if they can't get it done (and they are given every opportunity to get something done) then why bring them back? Our offense must absolutely be more balanced if this team has visions of playoffs dancing in their heads.


As Rick Nash was quoted in the paper this morning, Calgary is a huge game on Saturday night if they hope to salvage something from this road trip. Only one problem, Calgary is in a worse slump than we are and have lost 3 in a row - think they are looking at Saturday as a must win game? They are a tough nut to crack at home as well. That game in Edmonton is really stinging at this point.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pre-game thoughts: Jackets look to bounce back from poor effort in Edmonton

The Columbus Blue Jackets look to bounce back from 3-1 to Edmonton Monday night as they take on the Vancouver Canucks who are winners of their past two games and sit two points ahead of the Jackets in the standings with a 13-9-2 record.

Keys to lighting em up

Solve Robert Luongo. Luongo is a hot right now going 3-1-1 in his last five outings. He has a 2.28 gaa and .919 save% - after a rough start he is back to his all star form. He's also riding a 137 minute shutout streak and hasn't been scored on since November 23rd! The Jackets need to attack Luongo....and keep attacking. They can't afford to get frustrated.

Norrena must shine. Freddy Norrena is now the #1 guy until Pascal Leclaire gets back to 100%. Norrena was able to shoulder the load last year becoming the first Blue Jacket goaltender to finish the season with an above .500 record and he must build off that success starting tonight. This team is expecting much more than a .500 record this year and will need Norrena to give them excellent goaltending to help them get there -- no softies!

Special teams and secondary scoring. At the same token the Jackets need more scoring....more importantly they need their special teams to be special and get those timely goals. The Jackets have played well of late at even strength and have down the PP opportunities but they need to convert. Nash and Z can't carry the flag offensively every night -- guys like Fedorov and Vyborny who have basically been invisible the past few outings and need to find ways to get on the scoresheet.

Shut down Vancouver triple threat. That threat being the Sedins and Markus Naslund. Those three lead the way for the Canucks offensively and have a combined 69 points. If the Jackets can keep those three off the score sheet then they have a great shot at winning this game.


Both Chicago and St. Louis won last night to pull ahead of the Jackets by two points in the Central..... The Jackets need to keep pace tonight and win a big road game in Vancouver. This is a team they are looking up to in the standings so there should be no problem getting up for this one. They squandered away the first two points of this 3 game road trip against Edmonton - time to grab a couple here tonight. They just need to play the same way they did against Minnesota and stay within their system and they'll be right in this one til the final horn.

The Canucks won a game here in Natiowide they shouldn't have - its time for the Jackets to repay the favor.

Its a late 10:00 start Jacket fans so gets your pre-game naps in early!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Week 8 Power Rankings - maintaining - maintain the same spot at 6
Back-to-back wins has the Jackets on the right track and it just happened to coincide with Mike Peca's return to the lineup. - down from 19 to 22
Pascal Leclaire hasn't faltered yet, although he has been only ordinary a few times recently. But he is handling a workhorse load more than capably and he is making a Columbus team with limited talent among the skaters look better than it is. - up to 17 from 19
Have cooled off, but still work hard. - Jackets nudge up to 10
Just three road games in December give the Jackets a chance to put a streak together. - Down from 16 to 18
Two straight wins including shootout victory over Wings - Down from 9 to 14
(.575) The Blue Jackets had a rough Week 7. The club dropped three of four and fell out of the Top 10 in the rankings and into the No. 14 position. Columbus stumbles into Week 8 having only won once in its past seven games. - Down from 16 to 20
Under the tutelage of Ken Hitchcock, who celebrated his one-year anniversary as coach of the team last week, Jackets are 39-38-9. Before Hitchcock, they were 144-229-33-24, for a .401 winning percentage. Enough said. - awaiting release

Average Score: 14.88 (last week 14.42)

The Jackets slide ever so slightly this week. I scratch my head at some of these rankings, especially from CBSSports - Wes Goldstein obviously does not believe in the Jackets and what they have accomplished thus far this season and his rankings reflect it. Oh well, not much you can do about it. Jackets have to just keep chuggin along and of course it wouldn't hurt to pick up some road 'W's in Vancouver and Calgary here in the next two game.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Powerplay powerless

The Jackets special teams were not special at all last night going only 1 for 7 which included not being able to convert on a 5 on 3 with minutes left in the game down by one. All that resulted in a 3-1 loss to the worst team in the Western Conference the Edmonton Oilers.

Lit it up

The Edmonton penalty killers. There were times last night when the Oilers pkers had the pucks more often on our powerplay chance than we did. They could have easily had 1 or 2 short handed goals if not for some key saves by Leclaire/Norrena.

Dwayne Roloson was the best player on the ice, especially when the game was on the line in the 3rd. A hot goaltender can win a game on his own any given night and that's exactly what he did last night.

Dim the light

At even strength the Jackets played real well which speaks towards the amount of PP opportunities they had but alas they could not do anything with them.

It was nice to see the team rebound so quickly with a Ron Hainsey after Rick Nash missed his penalty shot chance.

We still have yet to be shut out this season.

Busted bulbs

The powerplay obviously was the biggest bust of the evening.

I thought Sergei Fedorov and David Vyborny were absolutely horrible on the evening. Missed passes, getting pushed right off the puck....very ineffective. The only one on that line that even looked half way decent was Curtis Glencross.

The entire team just didn't seem to have any energy. Lost many races to the pucks and battles in the corner. Even though we outshot the Oilers, they seemed to want it more got it.

Pascal Leclaire injury. 'nuff said. I just have my fingers and toes crossed that its not that serious like the early reports have indicated.

Rick Nash's penalty shot = B.U.S.T.

Somebody really needs to convince me why this organization hasn't sent Gilbert Brule down to the minors? I mean really, what is this kid accomplishing staying up at this level at this point? I say let him go down, *hopefully* tear up the minor leagues and call him back up at a later date. Why not give a guy like Joakim Lindstrom a quick look-see? At a minimum I think he could fill Brule's role and be more productive on the powerplay.


Unfortunately this was another game that we can look back at and think boy, did we miss a good chance to collect some points there. Its also another case of the Jackets not beating a team they should - that seems to be a real issue that I'm sure isn't easy to address. The players need to start looking in the mirror and get up for these teams b/c it could damn well bite them in the butts at year's end.

Next up Vancouver on Thursday night.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Live bloggin

Another game the Jackets can look back at and think "what if".... Outshout Oilers 31-19... 1 penalty shot that was missed... and 7 powerplays including a 5 on 3 for a minute with mintues remaining in the 3rd and the Jackets come up empty handed.


41 seconds left... Jackets special teams just not special tonight...they are outshooting this Oil team 29-19... can't beat Roloson..

Big face off here..

Do you think about pulling the goalie here? Probably not since they could ice it all they want... WOW...Jackets catch another big break here -- get a 5 on 3 for a's the game.

DAMN...there was our chance by the Nash-Peca-Z line... Jackets drew a powerplay out of it...but excuse me if I don't exaclty get excited about a PP chance for this team tonight....

Boll-Brule-Nash on a line....Hitch lookin for anything at this point...Jackets just don't have the jump and are losing battels all over the ice...Boll got away with one there to when he ran into Roloson..

Whelp...not surprised to see that goal by the Oil... the Jackets have had multitude of chances on the PP and haven't even come close to mounting anything sustained...I have a feeling that goal just sealed the fate of this game.

Jackets not getting the face off wins on this kill.... manage to kill it but the Oil had a lot of posession on it.. Jackets running around in their own zone now...need to regain composure..

Get the feeling here that whomever makes that one big mistake is gonna lose this game... think Fedorov turnover late in the 3rd during that St. Louis game a few games back.

Hah..what a hit by bad it flattened Shelley...



Jackets PP is a total mess this game... 4 minutes there with really no sustained pressure...they may just want to decline these the rest of the game as they are playing better even strength.

NO really we can credit Hainsey with two goals this game...scored one and saved one.
Reviewing that's close... can go either way I think. I have a feeling they are gonna count this one. Nice effort by Hainsey regardless...

Jackets PP is a mess...they just gave up a shorthanded breakaway...Norrena with another H--U-G-E stop....Jackets need to remove their colletive PP heads from their asses...

Bad call on Stoll there by the refs on Z....the Oil definitely have a beef with that a double minor...Jackets have got to get something goin here.

Some decent news on Leclaire..a tweaked hamstring....if that's it then I can start breathing again...

Norrena an awesome save there..especially coming in as cold as the Edmonton weather...still waiting on ole Jim Day to give us an update on the situation with Leclaire....I fear the worst but am still hoping for the best.....him goin down with an extended injury would be a serious kick to the you know where region.

Not good...Leclaire talking with trainer...favoring left leg it looks like...we all know Leclaire injury history.... Norrena in...not good...not good what-so-ever.

Jackets survive that Oiler PP....and I mean survive...Leclaire with some sticky sweet saves..

Jackets get nothing on the remaining minute of PP.....nice hustle by Nasher though...Glencross with a slashing penalty..



Uhg....actually how bout way to describe that PP opp....Jackets catch another break with Edmonton getting caught with to many guys on the ice.. go on their 3 PP of the game....period ends with 1 min left on the PP which also looked like dung - Oilers PK looking good.

Jackets caught again in an odd man rush when they muffed another cross ice pass...that's twice now...first one resulted in a goal...the second the hockey gods smiled down on a us and blessed Leclaire's post. Jackets just drew another penalty...goin on their 2nd PP. much for the missed net....Hainsey just unloaded one from the point that got through Roloson..looks like Vybes and Peca with assists....nice face off win for bad he doesn't get an assist...just goes to show how important those face off wins are.

Crap.....missed fact missed the net entirely....that one hurts.

Uh oh... penalty shot time... #61...sweet pass from Peca... yowza!

Jackets draw a lets see what this PP can. Boll also flying around out there and doing what he does best which is throwing that body of his around....kid never takes the night off...if you need a pee break - now's the time - glass broke (probably from a Boll hit!)..

Good kill by the Jackets. Vyborny with a real nice defensive play in the slot to deny the Oil a prime scoring chance.

The 4th line caught down low which led to an odd man rush on that Oilers goal. Its also a shot I'm sure Leclaire would love to have back. Jackets not lookin good early on and just took a penalty to boot.


Figured I'd give this a whirl tonight.

Lindstrom Named Rbk/AHL Player of the Week

Even more Crunch news... Joakim Lindstrom has been named AHL Player of the week:

In two games last week Lindstrom had 3 goals and 4 assists. Lindstrom now has 22 points in 20 games.

Now my next thought is, does a week like that earn Lindstrom a trip up to the big squad? I think if there were injuries in the top 6 that answer would be 'yes' -- the problem for him is that the Jackets have been a relatively healthy bunch this season and with Freddy Modin due back from IR soon that further decreases his chances.

He'll just need to keep pluggin away and if he keeps this kind of productivity up he's make it realy hard to keep him down for much longer. I just hope if/when he does get called up he gets a real look in the top 6 and gets some quality PP time.


Platt doing well in new home

Was just taking a gander to see how Geoff Platt has been doing since his trade to the Portland Pirates of the AHL - I have some good news to report as Platt is playing just fine:

7 GP 5G 8A for 13 points

Those are pretty incredible numbers. Great for Platter.

On the other side the guys the Crunch got back for Platt are doing a good job as well:

Cody Wilson - 4GP 1G 3A for 4 points
Aaron Rome - 3GP 1G 2A for 3 points

Granted you must also take into account these guys are both defensemen.

By the way - the Crunch have finally updated their web site -- check it out here.

Lightning strikes Doug MacLean again - deal to buy Tampa reportedly dead

Just read this here:

The deal Absolute Hockey Enterprises was hoping to put together to buy the Lightning from Palace Sports & Entertainment apparently is dead. Palace Sports nixed the purchase agreement when Absolute Hockey did not come up with a required $5-million payment. Now the investment group has splintered as Coral Springs real estate developer Jeff Sherrin is suing Hollywood producer Oren Koules for allegedly failing on Nov. 13 to make a capital contribution of $4.16-million. Sherrin is asking $50-million in damages. The suit was filed in the 13th judicial circuit in Hillsborough County. The other known members of the investment group are Mark Burg, Koules’ business partner, former Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean and Tampa attorney Steve Burton.

Tampa fans should consider this a blessing in disguise as anybody who opens their eyes can attest to that the Blue Jackets organization is and has been MUCH better without the loud spoken former GM and President involved.


Pre-game thoughts: First extended road trip of the season

The schedule has been relatively kind to the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. So far the longest road trip they've had to endure is two games. That changes starting tonight as the Jackets take on the Edmonton Oilers as they begin their first 3 game road trip of the season that will also swing through Calgary and Vancouver.

Keys to lighting em up

The Oliers are currently tied for the worst record in the Western Conference with Los Angeles Kings. They are 9-13-1. The Jackets admittedly get up for teams above them in the standings but tend to have let downs against teams below them -- they must end this trend starting tonight.

The Oilers have also given up the 3rd most goals in the league which would seem to translate that A. their goaltending has stunk or B. their defense stinks or a combination of both. The Jackets must take advantage of this.

Jackets must win the battle of the special teams. The Oil have the worst PP in the league and they'll be going up against 4th best PK in the league. Similarly the Jackets only have the 19th best PP in the league while Oil have the 10th best PK. Now is not the time for the Jackets PK to falter and the PP has been on a roll of late - need to keep that going.

The Jackets have played well on the road so they'll need to play that style and avoid the let downs we've seen often after emotional wins like the ones they had over Detroit and Edmonton. Hitch will have these guys focused but it will be up to the players to execute.

Also on a side note there are a couple of Edmonton connections with the Jackets. Kris Russell, who is expected to play tonight, is from that area and of course our new GM Scott Howson was originally with the Oilers as an assistant before we plucked him. Also Jason Chimera was originally drafted by the Oilers and spent a lot of time in their system.

Another big 2 points on the line. With the West as tight as it is the Jackets must win games like this against teams below them in the standings.

Wouldn't it be nice to see Russell get his first goal as a professional tonight?


Nice article on Howson from the Edmonton Journal

Great read this morning on Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson from the Edmonton Journal:

Scott Howson's first trade was much like the man himself, modest and focused on getting even the smallest job done properly.

The rookie NHL general manager sent Geoff Platt from the Columbus Blue Jackets to Anaheim for Aaron Rome and Clay Wilson on Nov. 15.

"It wasn't a big deal for me," Howson said last week.

It wasn't a big deal outside the players' households either, but you've got to start somewhere. True to his nature, Howson has taken small, careful steps in the first six months on his dream job, and that attention to even the smallest detail has been noticed by other influential members of the Blue Jackets organization.

"It's really a people business. He and his wife, Antoinette, have done things that have really enhanced the hockey club," said head coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's just the way you treat people. Little things you do for the staff and their significant others. I really believe it will make us a lot better."

"His strengths really balance with me. He's a really patient, big-picture guy who sees things in months and years and I fight the daily fight, like all coaches do," said Hitchcock. "Because he was a player at all levels, his ability to understand the team mindset at the end of competition is calming for me. You're able to move past the emotion of the game and that's important for me.

"I really appreciate his evaluation of every situation we're in. We talk about players. Scott watches 95 per cent of our practices, which is helpful to me. Scott spent time in the AHL and he understands development, even better than (coaches) do. He has a clear understanding of where a player is going to go. He's able to see a player's overall hockey sense."

I don't think anyone can complain regarding the job Howson has done thus far. He made some smart pickups this summer in guys like Hejda, Peca and Novotny. He's calm and calculated and he's figuring out this team, its strengths and weaknesses and he's letting his resources like Hitchcock and his staff do their jobs -- something that "other" guy could never do.

Maybe he'll swing a big trade this year or maybe not but I think when the time does come to make a move, whether it be this season or in the offseason, Howson is gonna make the right one.

Much more here.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jackets feast on some a shootout....finally!!

3 up 3 down - so it went as Peca, Nash and Zherdev converted on their shootout attempts to finally win a shootout game for the Jackets as they move to 11-8-4 for the season.

This was a huge game (they all seem huge don't they?) as the Jackets came out with a strong effort on the tail end of a back to back against a Wings team that has owned this overall series. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop for this team like they are going to into some prolonged slump but 20+ games into the season I can stop that wait as this team is for real.

Lit it up

How bout that Zherdev! He had that bad turnover that resulted in the Wings second goal which can't be overlooked but Z more than made up for that gaff with strong play in both ends, a couple of hits (how bout that one on Clearly towards the end of the game!) a goal and a game clinching shootout goal. This kid just looks like he's enjoying playing hockey again (see pic to the right for proof) and being a Blue Jacket. Its really astonishing to think about where this kid was last year and where he is now - he's making me a believer.

Pascal Leclaire. He didn't have an awesome game but boy did he come up big when the game was on the line in that 3rd period through to OT and the shootout. That save he made on a redirected Holmstrom shot towards the end of the 3rd was about as clutch as you could get. He was also huge during the Wings 5 on 3.

Shootout! Finally this team got a damn win during the shootout. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the fair weather Wings fans walk out of Nationwide with the heads between their tails.

Congrats to David Vyborny for playing his 500th game (all as a Blue Jacket) and recording his 300th point.

How important is Michael Peca to this team? Jackets are 9-4-2 when he's in the lineup. Lots of fans ready to give this guy an extension now although I'd argue we should extend Hitchock first!

Speaking of, every game I'm more and more impressed with Hitch. The guy just knows how to control a game and what buttons to push when. For instance the timeout he called in the first period as the Jackets were hemmed in their own zone and iced the puck. He recognized that even though it was only the 1st period it was a key point in the game and burned his TO to give his guys a rest and refocus them -- and whadyaknow, the momentum changed in the Jackets favor. Most coaches don't call a TO there.

Also a tip of the cap to Chris Osgood. The score of this game could have easily been 4 or 5 to 2 after the second period. He made some outstanding stops.

Gawd I love the Rbar. Seriously if I could put a bed in there and sleep I would. Another fantastic job by Mike, Natalie and the gang as they put on another great event for the fans last night. If you've never been then go, your missing out on a great hockey atmosphere pre and post game.

..oh and a big shout out to my boss for tracking me down in the arena and bringin an extra beer for me in the process!

Dim the light

It was a quite a night on the scoresheet for the Monster but Nash did some little big things that really helped this team. The pass he picked off during the Wings 5 on 3 was just as important as scoring a goal - maybe even more important. Boy did he have some great looks though in the 2nd period but credit to the Wings for not giving up.

The PK did give up a goal but thanks to some great goaltending, active sticks and outstanding face off wins (Jackets won 60% of the faceoffs last night) the kill did its job, especially when it needed to the most in the 3rd period.

Almost a full house yesterday. The upper and lower bowls were jam packed. The only reason it wasn't a sell out was b/c of the club section. Place was rockin though!

Busted Bulbs

So Aaron Downy couldn't handle Shelley so he went after middle weight Jarred Boll? Boll gave him all he could handle that's for sure....and Downy, leave the waving off the refs crap to Mathew Barnaby, especially after you just got your ass handed to you earlier in the game by a guy in your weight class.

How many chances were the refs gonna give the Wings in the face off circle in the Jackets zone during their powerplay in the 3rd period? Michael Peca won not one, not two but three in a row as the stripes kept blowing the play dead after each win. Talk about "orginal 6" calls. The face offs that late in the game or so critical and to all of a sudden start getting picky when the Jackets are already down a man was ridiculous.

After a bad bad loss to the Florida Panthers at home the Jackets have responded well taking 4 of 4 points over weekend to vault them back into 5th in the conference (although they are actually tied with 4 other teams for 2nd with 26 points) and keeping pace with a very competitive Western Conference.

It was a loads of fun to be a Jacket fan this weekend!


Friday, November 23, 2007

Picard with 2 assists tonight for the Crunch

Was just checking out the Syracuse Crunch score tonight to see how the Jackets' AHL affiliate was doing and turns out they won 6-4....better yet Alexandre Picard in his first game since suffering a major ACL/MCL injury at the end of last season notched 2 assists in his first game back.

It was also a huge night for Joakim Lindstrom who had 2g, 2a for 4 points. New acquisitions on the blueline Jim Rome added a goal and a assist and Cody Wilson notched 2 helpers.

Good day for Blue Jacket hockey fans all the way around!

Jackets run wild, Leclaire earns record setting 6th shutout

The Columbus Blue Jackets finally got a win this afternoon in Minnesota by blanking a very hard to beat at home Wild team 4-0. Leclaire was huge in net stopping all 32 shots including 8 powerplay chances by the Predators. Peca, Vyborny, Fritsche and Nash collected the tallys for the CBJ.

Lit em up

Really no other place to start other than Leclaire. For a guy who wasn't expected to start tonight he definitely righted his game in a big way by collecting a team record setting 6th shutout of the year. Leclaire has struggled a bit in his past a few starts with the worst coming off his last outing against Florida -- some of which can be contributed to Pascal, some of which to the team play in front of him. Hopefully this is the start of a good stretch for him although he'll face powerhouse Detroit in a back to back start tomorrow night unless Norrena feels better.

Michael Peca. I got to thinkin...what is this team's record with Peca in the lineup b/c it seems like when he's in, we win? So I did a little diggin.....they are 8-4-2 with him and 2-4-2 without I think its pretty easy to see where Michael stands with this squad and he was just as important tonight notching the first goal of the game, an assist, +1 and went 9 for 15 in the face off circle...he's got 2g, 7a for 9 point in 14 games so far this year. We just need him to stay healthy.

Rick Nash. What more can you say about this guy - he's just having a monster year. He notched another goal and an assist. He's got 27 point total which puts him in the top 10 in the league....he's got 16 goals which puts him tied for 2nd in the league in that department. This guy has been fantastic and I still don't think we've seen the best from him yet.

Speaking of faceoffs... Fedorov went a whopping 11 for 12 in the circle while Malhotra went 10 for 14. I think faceoffs are one of the most underrated areas of hockey and this team is really excelling at it.

Special teams. The powerplay seems to be finding its groove. The team notched to PP goals in 5 chances. The PK also got back on track killing off all 8 Wild powerplays including a 5 on 3. Oh...and we can't forget Fritsche's shorty (thanks for the early gift Burns!)!

Dim the light

After being rightfully demoted to the fourth line David Vyborny got on the board with his second goal of the season. Perhaps this will light a fire under #9.

Defense as a whole looked much better tonight blocking shots, taking away the lanes and generally keeping the Wild and their speed to the outside most of the night. Also a tip of the hat to Adam Foote for sticking up for Jiri Novotny as he blindsided by a guy who just happened to come out of the box as he was rushing up the ice looking the other way. I don't want to call it a cheap shot because it was legal and if the roles were reversed I would expect a Jacket player to do the same -- really just an unfortunate situation for Novotny, hopefully he's okay.

Busted Bulbs

Had to feel a little bit for the Wild -- their game completely reminded me of some of the Jackets' games the past few weeks. Its not that they really played that bad of game, they drew tons of penalties and skated hard...but they just couldn't connect on passes, convert on their special teams and could not hit the net for the life of them. Also like the Jackets, they got off to a nice start but have since cooled significantly. That said, glad its them and not us who got shuout!

Uhhh....I know the Wild needed a shakeup but why Todd Fedorok? I'm sure the Wild fans quickly saw why this guy has been the biggest prostitute in the league since for the last couple of years when he took a ridiculous cheap shot at Jarred Boll after the whistle and after he was already called for another word - bonehead. He won't last in Minnesota long and you've got to think this dude has used up about all his NHL chances.

Shelley vs. Boogard - yawn.

Young guns Brule and Russell scratched. Both were the right moves for Hitch to make....hopefully both players use this as motivation and learning experiences and not in some other way. I really think the organization should consider sending Brule to the AHL to regain some confidence but that's for another story another day.

This was a huge 'W' for the Jackets. I thought the Florida game was a must win but this win certainly eases some of that pain. It would be gigantic if the Jackets could take 2 more points from the slumping Wings tomorrow night but it won't be easy... The Wings are coming off a loss and had today off. The Jackets need to lay off the turkey leftovers tonight, put this win quickly behind them and start focusing on this Wings team. We saw the last time these two met that the Jackets can hang with em if they play their game.
Also a big tip of the hat to Ken Hitchcock's one year anniversary as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. What a long way this team has come in a year!
Hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Great win today boys!!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I'm thankful for family, friends and at the end of the day that we have a professional hockey team we can all call our own in Columbus Ohio!

That said, I'll be real thankful if we can get a road win against Minny tomorrow afternoon!!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pre-game thoughts: Jackets need big win tonight

The once comfortable pad the Jackets had in the standings only two short weeks ago has recently been closed to the point where they find themselves in a 5 way tie for 7th in conference with 22 points. One win tonight and the Jackets could vault to tie for 3rd - that is how tight the West is right now.

The Jackets face only their 2nd Eastern conference opponent thus far this season tonight in the Florida Panthers. The Panthers haven't visited Nationwide since 2002 and are coming off a win two nights ago versus the Washington Capitals. The Panthers are 9-12-1 with 55 goals for and 65 goals against thus far this year . They are certainly an up and down team who appears to be up right now. They are led by Oli Jokinen with 23 points and Nathan Horton with 15 -- kind of their versions of Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev if you will -- granted all four players play a different style.

Keys to lightening em up

Jackets have to find a way to beat goaltender Thomas Vokoun. Vokoun has a respectable 2.95 save% and .908 goals against average. He's had a lot of success versus the Jackets when he was with the Panthers.

In the same light, Pascal Leclaire needs to shut down Jokinen and Horton and make the saves he's supposed to.

Stay out of the box. The Jackets have been burnt recently on the PP, especially 5 on 3, so they need to play their way within their system and not take stupid penalties.

Jackets need to find some motivation and energy for a team they don't typically face in the Panthers. I suspect the team that comes out stonger and gets on the board first will win this game.

Secondary scoring. Nash and Z can't do it all. Need guys like Vyborny, Chimera, Brule, Manny and co. to contribute on the score sheet.

Win in regulation. Lets not even get to a potential shootout and close this game out in regulation.

The road doesn't get any easier tonight with games against Minny on the road Friday and Detroit back at home on Saturday. Jackets need these two points.

See you all at the Rbar!



Week 6 Power Rankings - Jackets slide further - Up to 6 from 8
The Jackets are finding out that they can only ride a hot goaltender for so long as they've lost seven of nine in November, though three of those have admittedly come via the shootout and those aren't the same as your run-of-the-mill loss. - Sitting at #12.
Surviving without two key veterans in the lineup – Michael Peca and Fredrik Modin. - Down to 19 from 16
A couple of weeks ago, coach Ken Hitchcock said his team still has to prove it can win on the road to make a real statement. It hasn't yet. - Down to 16 from 13
Nash can’t do it all on his own - awaiting PR release - down to 14 from 10
The bad: the Jackets have lost six of their last seven including two shootout defeats. The good: they notched three power-play goals against Detroit on Sunday. Columbus sailed into the game 3-for-44 on the PP since Oct. 27. The puzzling: After starting the season by winning seven of his first nine, Pascal Leclaire has dropped two of his last four while allowing more than three goals in three. - down to 19 from 11
Hitch will keep them in the hunt. - down to 15 from 12
The Blue Jackets are thankful for Rick Nash buying into Ken Hitchcock's system. - awaiting PR release

Average Power Rankings Score: 14.42 (11.6 last week)

The Jackets slide continues as they missed out on some precious wins/points last week. They've got 3 games this week starting with Florida at home tonight, the Wild away on Friday and the Wings at home on Saturday.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Alexandre Picard expected back Friday

Almost 8 months after 2004 1st round pick (8th overall) Alexandre Picard suffered a devastating MCL and ACL injury to his leg he's expected to make his season debut for the Jackets' AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch. Apparently he's also bulked up according to Crunch blogger Lindsay Kramer:

I don't know what Syracuse forward Alexandre Picard's been doing while recovering from his knee injury, but it's quite obvious he's passed a lot of time by lifting weights.
Picard said he's 10 pounds heavier than last year, up to about 205, and it shows in his upper body. He was an agitator before; now he looks like a solid light-heavyweight.
"I was just working out upper body. When you do that six days out of seven, you get bigger,'' Pic said Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Jackets Picard hasn't done much with the NHL time he's been given - in 40 games for the CBJ he's only been able to register 1 assists (although he did have a couple of goals waived off). Still though sometime it takes players longer to develop that others and it will at the very least be good for the Crunch to get a little more offensive firepower in their lineup. I know I'll be very interested to see how quickly Picard bounces back and how he looks next to a guy like Derick Brassard.

Glad to have you back out there AP!


Burnside still not a believer

Scott Burnside of the gave out his 1/4 season awards and this is what he had to say about the Jackets:

Bottom Falling Out -- Player Award
Pascal Leclaire, the talented young netminder for the Columbus Blue Jackets, won seven of his first nine starts and pitched five shutouts along the way to earn leaguewide raves. Lately, not so much. In his past five appearances, he has one win and has shown signs of coming back to earth. At 25, Leclaire is still the Blue Jackets' netminder of the future. He just may have to wait a bit for that Vezina Trophy.
Honorable mention: Nashville's
Radek Bonk, who had eight goals through the Preds' first 20 games, which is a career-best pace for the perpetual underachiever.

Bottom Falling Out -- Team Award
Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they have been one of the feel-good stories of the first quarter; they've hung around the playoff race in the Western Conference standings. Through Monday's action, their 22 points put them in a four-way tie for seventh in the conference. Heady stuff for a team that has never been to the postseason and which most predicted would finish at, or near, the bottom of the conference.

After years of dysfunction, the team appears to have turned the corner with Ken Hitchcock in his first full season behind the bench and GM Scott Howson learning the ropes and getting ready for a full-fledged spending spree next summer. But this is still a team that relies far too heavily on Rick Nash (his 23 points in 20 games was eight more than the second-highest scoring Blue Jacket, Nikolai Zherdev) and that paucity of offensive depth is what will ultimately cost Columbus a playoff spot -- this season.

Obviously Burnside has yet to believe.....funny enough no mention of the 4 shootout losses or how this team is top 5 in PK, goals against and face off percentages in the league. Heck they are only one win out of 3rd in the conference. Sure this last stretch (2-4-2) against the central hasn't been as successfull as our start but most teams will slump and then break out of it. Heck this team had every chance to win 5 of 8 of those games. I get the impression from Mr. Burnside that he thinks this team will continue to slump right out of the playoffs - this style this team has played night in and night out will keep this team in the hunt, there is no doubt in my mind.

The Jackets still have a lot to prove to the national press so they have to keep the medal firmly lowered to the ground and learn how to close out opponents at the end of regulation and even into the extra sessions.


NHL All Star Voting - don't forget to vote for Leclaire and Nash!!

Just a quick reminder to vote early and often for both Rick Nash and Pascal Lelcaire.

You can vote by following this --->>> link!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hainsey rumor

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun had this to say about Ron Hainsey:

The Blue Jackets have been thrilled with the play of D Ron Hainsey, but GM Scott Howson is going to face a difficult decision at the trade deadline. If he can't get Hainsey, who can become a UFA July 1, signed there's a strong chance he could be dealt. Making $900,000, Hainsey has been one of the club's best blueliners ...

I think Howson is going to have a lot of difficult decisions at the deadline. Ron Hainsey is just one of 7 prominent CBJ players scheduled to be unrestricted at the end of the year with Shelley, Peca, Foote, Fedorov, Chimera and Vyborny being the other 5. I think Fedorov is the only sure bet to be gone by next season (I think he's dealt at the deadline).

As far as Hainsey if the Jackets really want to hang onto to him they'll have the money to do so. Hainsey is playing a key role in the top 4 on this team, he leads the team in scoring for defensemen and is 3rd on the team in average minutes played per game. He's 27 now making 900k now and if he continues this pace will no doubt be looking for a 4 to 5 year deal for a 2+ mil per, maybe more. Is he worth that? Depends on what's out there as an alternative I guess.

I'm on the fence with Hainsey. I like his defensive play this year but I'm still not sold on his offensive ability. He's gets a lot of shots blocked, he doesn't do a great job QBing the PP, reading the play and finding the open man to gain the zone -- instead opting to dump it in on a lot of occasions and trying to retrieve himself which works maybe 25% of the time. He's also not overly physical.

From Hainsey's perspective you'd think he'd want to stay here as his career was stalled in the AHL until the Jackets picked him up off waivers from the Canadiens.....*but* there are only so many times for these players to cash in.

If I'm Howson I'd kick the tires on a new deal and if he doesn't want to sign then maybe you consider trading him...the problem is we can't trade all our potential UFAs at the deadline especially if we are in contention.

One things for sure - there are really going to be some interesting decisions to make come the deadline and the offseason. It will be Howson's real opportunity to put his stamp on this team.


Who's smokin, who's chokin - 20 game edition

Its been 20 games for the 2007-2008 edition of your Columbus Blue Jackets -- that means the season is 1/4 of the way over -- so in that vein lets take a look at who's smoked and who's choked thus far this year:

Who's smokin

The Blue Jackets team as a whole has been smokin -- especially when compared to seasons of yesteryear. The Jackets have 22 points which is good for 13th in the league overall and 8th in the Western Conference. They are only 2 points out of the 3rd best record in the West. Just to really put things in perspective this team last year after 20 games was 5-14-1 for 11 points and had already fired head coach Gerrard Gallant.

Rick Nash. 14 goals which is good for 3rd best in the league. 23 points which is good for 13th in the league. Leading scorer in all categories for the Jackets. More importantly is that Nash has really matured and become the franchise player and leader this team needed him to be. Rick Nash is unquestionably playing his best hockey of his pro career.

Nikolai Zherdev. Has this guy really silenced his critics (myself included) this season. I'm not sure what caused the turn around...whether it be Ken Hitchcock's confidence in the young dynamo....the departure of the egotistical Doug MacLean...the arrival of soft spoken but steadfast new GM Scott Howson....or just Z maturing.....or a combo of a lot of things... Zherdev is also playing the best hockey of his career. With 15 points in 20 games Z is also off to the best start of his career and is starting to become the consistent impact player the Jackets hoped they had drafted 4th overall in 2003.

Pascal Leclaire. Although he's taken an inevitable step back from his blistering start to the season. Leclaire has posted a lead leading 5 shutouts, is 2nd in the league in GAA with 1.77, 4th in the league in save % with a .935 - Leclaire is also showing why the Jackets took him 8th overall in the 2001 draft. He's remained healthy (knock on wood), played consistent and has really given the Jackets that reliable goaltending this team needed to get off to a solid start.

Penalty kill. The Jackets PK has held the #1 spot for most of the season killing at above 90% (although it did drop to 4th in the league at 89% after last night's game) and has been a major key in the Jackets success this season.

Face offs. This is another area where the Jackets have smoked where in the past they've choked. Currently they sit at 4th in league at 52.7%. Manny Malhotra has really come into his own in this area leading the way for the Jackets with a 59.9% and is in the top 5 of the league.

Offseason acquisitions. Who says the more the spend the better off you are? Its no secret the Jackets did not have a lot of budget flexibility this offseason so they had to go bargain shopping. GM Scott Howson appears to have gotten some great deals specifically in Jan Hejda and Jiri Novotny. Hedja leads the team in +/- with a +7 while Novotny is centering the top line and has 10 points in 20 games. Michael Peca is another guy who looks solid even though he's had to battle through some injury issues -- he's got 7 points in 13 games and is playing a key role on the PK/PP and even strength.

Defense. The Jackets are ranked 4th overall in the league giving up only 2.30 goals per game. This a tremendous credit to team defense, goaltending as well as coaching. The defense led by Adam Foote and Jan Hejda have done an outstanding job shutting down the opposition's top lines game in and game out. Captain Adam Foote, who leads this team with over 23 minutes per game, in particular has since found his groove now that he's being played to his strengths which is even strength and penalty kill.

Coaching staff. Outside of maybe trading up to draft Rick Nash - has there ever been a more important move for this organization than bringing in Ken Hitchcock? He's taken essentially the same team that was 7th worst in the league last year and turned them into a contender this year. If he can get this squad into the playoffs can coach of the year be far off?

Cannon. Still a beautiful piece of artillery.

Rbar Arena. The undisputed kind of hockey bars in Central Ohio. Don't forget to join them for their "Wings Sucks less" promotion this Saturday. For $15 bucks you get unlimited wings and a free t-shirt!

Who's chokin

David Vyborny. 7 points in 20 games for the leading scorer of the past 2 seasons? Some say its just a slump -- I'm not so sure. I personally think is more of his game being exposed under a system that actually demands competitive physical hockey every night. If you were to ask me today if I thought David Vyborny, an original Blue Jackets who will be a UFA after this season, would be retained I'd say no and that I think the 3-4 mil he'll want could be spent better elsewhere in this lineup.

Fredrik Modin. No way he makes this list if he could stay healthy. Still though the injuries he's suffered this season have certainly been disappointing as this team could certainly use the 20-25 goals he would bring to this lineup. Modin has only been able to play in 6 games while collecting 2 assists. He's had back spasm and groin issues.

Gilbert Brule. Probably the absolute most disappointing player for me is Brule. I really thought this would be a break through year for this kid but so far it hasn't been as he's only been able to collect 2 points (1g, 1a) through 20 games. I just can't quite put my finger on what is wrong with this kid -- he's a good skater, good hands, will hit and go in the dirty areas but just doesn't seem to have kind of consistency out there. I really think he could use a few games in the AHL but the coaching staff seems committed to this kid and letting him develop at the NHL level. Who am I to question them after the turn arounds we've seen with Z and Nash right?

Powerplay. The Jackets PP has really cost them some points this season. Although it did seem to find its groove last night against the Wings its still ranked 20th in the league converting at 15.5 which is disappointing. Gary Agnew is in charge of this special team so perhaps its time to let another member of the staff have a crack at it - the PP needs to be at least top 15 especially for a team that's not loaded with scoring.

Sergei Fedorov. Even though he's on pace for 50+ points this season I personally have not been pleased with Sergei's effort. He's our highest paid player but on some nights he plays like our lowest paid. The money is what it is at this point but there is absolutely no excuse for Feds to hurt this team like he's done some nights -- the most recent being against St. Louis. I still don't see any possibility 91 is back next year but what I'd like to see the rest of this season - or at least until the deadline b/c I think no matter what he gets traded - is just a consistent solid effort, one that doesn't hurt this team's post season chances because of lazy uninspired play.

Rookies. After solid starts rookies Jared Boll and Kris Russell have tailed off a bit in the past 5 to 8 games. These kids are certainly part of this team's future and this stretches are inevitable for rookies but I'd like to see them get back to the games that got them on this team here in this next 20 game stretch.

Attendance. Average is 3 last in the league. Need a lot of improvement there Columbus faithful! Also a tip of the cap to Doug MacLean for inflating the numbers to save his skin those last few years.

Game ops. Great job on the cannon but they have got to stop it with these movie clips right after a goal scored. All of the crowd noise and momentum is completely taken away when they play these clips right after the home team scores as the fans look at the jumbo tron -- we need more crowd noise not less. Here's a tip - play more replays or some good rock music instead!


Z shines, powerplay sparkles, shootout thuds...

Nikolai "Z" Zherdev shined with 3 points and the powerplay sparkled going 3-5 but unfortunately the Jackets thumped yet again in a shootout as they fell to the Detroit Red Wings. This is the 4th time in 4 attempts that the Jackets have lost a shootout this season. That is four precious points and 4 wins in the win column that they have let get away from them.

The Jackets now stand tied for 3rd in the conference with 22 points with Nashville with a 9-7-4 record.

Lit it up

Zherdev scored 3 points in a magnificent effort in all areas of the game last night. He razzled and he dazzled offensively and even more impressive was his play away from the puck in all 3 zones. In 20 games Z has 15 points which already almost half way to his combined point total in 71 games all of last season. Z is on pace for just over 60 points which would be a career high and a complete turnaround from the player we saw last year in a CBJ sweater.

Rick Nash also had a big game collecting 1g and 2a. His line with Z and Novotny were outstanding controlling the puck and giving Detroit all they could handle. Nash is also off to a career start and is on pace for over 90 points and 56 goals. He has completely taken over as the undisputed leader of this team and is leading where its the most important - on the ice.

Jiri Novotny I also thought played his best game of the year. Nothing real flashy but he was very strong on the puck...played well in the corners and really complimented the two young dynamos he was flanked by. He'll definitely see more time with those two as the season progresses. Jiri is another guy who is off to a career start notching 10 points in his first 20 games which would equate to a 40+ point total assuming he stays healthy and maintains this pace.

Finally...and I mean *FINALLY* the powerplay found some life last night going 3 for 5 and helping keep this team in it. In fact, out of the 8 goals scored during this game 6 came with the man advantage just to give you an idea of how important the PP is. The Jackets PP blew it against St. Louis but it came alive today. One has to wonder if Hitch had a little more control over the PP after the downward spiral its been on the past two weeks under assistant coach Gary Angew

How can you not love Ken Hitchcock? I mean is this guy engaged in the game or what and he uses all of his tools at his disposal. I love the TO he called when the Jackets had a two man advantage to calm his troops and refocus them....even better I loved it when he pulled Leclaire for a stretch after he was clearly rattled by some Detroit goals to talk to him and settle him back down... He had done the same to Norrena earlier in the both cases it seemed to work. Hitch knows how important these points are and he understands the ebbs and flows of a game and the mental state of his players during them. These little things are what separates a great coach from an average one.

Dim the light

Really like the way Jody Shelley is playing....there has been some definite improvement in his game. In fact that line of Boll-Brule-Shelley hasn't been a liability at all on the ice and they have created some scoring chances for themselves.

After killing some 16 straight penalties the PK wasn't able to keep their streak alive. The vaunted Detroit PP took advantage of a 5 on 3 opportunity to convert two chances...and then scored on a later PP opportunity.....the Jackets will look to start a new PK streak on Wed against Florida.

Another very solid game out of Duvie Westcott. He got his first goal of the year last night as Hitch seems to have restored a little bit of faith in #10 using him quite a bit on the PP. If Duvie continues to play within himself and keep things simple this year should finally start to turn around for him.

Attendance was around 15,500 which was the 2nd best of the season. Unfortunately most of the extra bump came from Wings fans.....c'mon Jacket faithfull...spread this word...this is a team we can finally be proud of so lets all do our part to pack this place with Blue Jacket fans!!

Busted Bulbs

Pascal Leclaire had a tough one tonight. Make no mistake about it...the Wings can make a lot of goalies look average and they did play a part in making Leclaire look it last night.. That said, Leclaire seemed to be really off his angels with the Wings ringing multiple shots off the posts and he just didn't exude that confidence he has shown this year between the pipes. Unfortunately he couldn't hold us in the shootout either. The good news, he was good enough to get a point.

The shootout. The law of averages would think this thing would start evening out for this squad but so far not the case as the Jackets have lost all four of the ones they've been involved in. On the bright side, at least they were able to score a couple of goals in this one. Precious points lost so far here.

2-4-2 against this Central during this 8 game stretch. Definitely not good enough. Its a segment the team could look back on at the end of the year saying "if we just coulda" against some of those losses....especially the shootout loss against Nashville and the regulation loss against St. Louis which saw the Jackets dominate play only to not convert on PP chances and blow the chance at any points in the final minutes.

The Jackets take on the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Its a team they don't see often who has had some strong goaltending of late from Tomas Vokuun. After two well played games that only saw them take a point out of four the Jackets will be lookin to get back in the win column at home this week.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Lazy turnovers and a dismal powerplay result in loss of precious points

The Jackets held the edge in total play tonight but came up empty in the points department when a horrible turnover late in the 3rd period by Sergei Fedorov turned into a St. Louis Blues goal and sealed the victory for them. As a fan I feel like I just got kicked in the "you know what" area -- I can only imagine how Hitch and the team feels.

Lit it up

The Jackets as a whole outplayed this Blues team. They out shot them 30-23... They drew more penalties....they did everything they should on the road. There is no reason they shouldn't have walked out of there with at least a point....bu that's what happens when players get lazy.

Again the PK did its job killing all of the Blues penalties.

Fredrik Norrena deserved a much better fate. Not much he could do on either goal. He made the saves he should make to keep this team in it.

Congrats to Al MacInnis!

Dim the light

Westcott continued to play well his second game back and picked up a late assist on Nash's goal. In fact the entire defense I thought played better tonight and made crisper sharper passes. They may have more to do with the Blues lack of offensive fire power after the Kariya line but it was a step in the right direction.

Toronto finally didn't screw us on a video replay when they awarded Curtis Glencross a goal after Erik Johnson intentionally lifted the net.

Alot of players played well tonight and deserved a better fate. The Chimera-Manny-Fritsche line particularly good and Nik Zherdev could have had a multiple point game if he and his linemates could convert on their chances.

Busted Bulbs

Could our 6 million dollar man Sergei Fedorov have played worse tonight? Pathetic is the best word to describe him. The first goal was a direct result of him not covering his man (Kariya) in front of the net....and then with less than 3 minutes in the game this NHL veteran, winner of 3 Stanley Cups, an MVP and future Hall of Famer skates the puck out of the zone in full control and then just hands the puck to the Blues in the zone! A few second later the puck in is our over. The only thing Fedorov did well tonight was take faceoffs (he went 10 for 4) --- this team cannot just throw points like this down the drain b/c of lazy pathetic play like this -- wake the hell up Feds!

Powerplay = powerpoop. As much as Feds hurt this team tonight the powerplay was right up there with him. This team had a 5 on 3 for over 1:30 in the 3rd period and failed to put any points on the board. It was a turning point in the game and ultimately the Blues capitalized after we failed to put them away. This team's powerplay has been in a downward spiral the past few weeks and games like this is when you really feel the impact of not converting --- the Jackets have got to get this thing back on track.

This team needs to learn to hit. the. net.

This was a very frustrating loss...probably more frustrating than the Dallas loss where this team blew a late 1 goal lead to lose in a shootout. These were precious, precious points thrown away b/c of one player's inability to focus and this team's inability to capitalize on the powerplay. This the kind of game you look back at if you miss the playoffs and say damn -- there was two points we should have had.

It is what is now though...the Jackets have to put it behind them and focus on a Wings team who comes to town on Sunday -- things don't get any easier. I hate to be negative but the Jackets could find themselves only 1 game above .500 after Sunday - that after being 5 games above .500 less than a week 1/2 ago.


Pre-game thoughts: Jackets try to make it 3 in a row against Blues

So its the battle of the blues round 3 tonight. The Jackets have beat the Blues in their first two meetings this season scoring 3-0 shutouts for both contests. Don't look for more of that this game as the Blues are certain to use those shutouts as big time motivation to take it to the Jackets tonight.

Both team are coming off a victories and both see this as a ikey 4 point games int he division

Keys to lighting em up

Every time we face the Blues this year its gonna come down to shutting down the Tkachuk-Boyes-Kariya line. This line starting off very hot and has cooled of late to we can't let them heat it back up.

Play our game. We can't get caught in track meets or come out flat...we've got to play our shutdown hard nosed defense style - no nights off for anyone.

Special teams will be key. Our PK has to stay strong but even more importantly our PP has to start doing something to help out the offense.

Its Al MacInnis night in St. Louis so its gonna be a packed house and the Jackets are gonna have to weather the initial storm as more than likely the Blues lineup is gonna come out with a lot of emotion to win this game in front of a passionate home crowd. Must weather that storm and if they can grab an early lead that will be very key.

Norrena gets the start tonight over Leclaire. Norrena has played okay so far this season but doesn't have the wins to show for it. The team seems to play more confident in front of Leclaire but I suspect Hitch hasn't been thrilled with Leclaire's performances the past few games and wants to give Norrena a look tongiht and follow up with Leclaire against Detroit on Sunday. Its not that Leclaire has played terrible but he has given up some suspect goals when it comes down to it and even if we win, that can't be overlooked. Past regimes and coaching staff would overlook such details.

Should be an interesting one tonight. The law of averages suggest maybe it will be the Blues night but the Jackets seem to play well against this team of late and of course could use the 2 points.

Finally, congrats to Al MacInnis on his entry into the NHL Hall of Fame. For those new fans who never had the pleasure of watching this player he really was something. You can read more about him here.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Platt moved in minor league deal

I just read over on the Puck-rakers blog that Geoff Platt (pictured left) has been traded to Portland for two minor league defensemen Clay Wilson and Aaron Rome.

The Puck-rakers do a good job getting into the "Disney-like" Platt story so I won't get to much into that here.

The bottom line is that Platt didn't fit into the future plans of the organization and the Jackets needed to bolster both their defensive depth and more importantly get their minor league affiliate the Syracuse Crunch some badly needed help on the back end.

First lets take a deeper look at who the Jackets are getting back in this deal:

Clay Wilson (pictured right)
Age 24
6 ft, 195lbs
11-Jul-06: Signed as a free agent by the Anaheim Ducks.
Has played 3 years as a pro with his best year coming last season for the Portland Pirates where he put up 9g, 34a for 43 points. He appears to be one of those players who can play both defense or offense. I'm still not clear exactly where he's been playing recently but you'd think with Syracuse's defensive woes Wilson will certainly start out on the blueline.

Aaron Rome (pictured right)
Age 24
6.01 ft 225 lbs
Drafted in the 4th round by the LA Kings in 2002
07-Jun-04: Signed as a free agent by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Rome has been a pro now for 5 years. He's known as a stay at home defensemen and judging by his PIMS (he had 139 in 76 games last year) he's not afraid of the physical stuff. All signs point to Rome sliding right into a top 4 spot in the Crunch lineup and he may even be an call up option for the Jackets if they get thin in the back.

The Jackets give up Geoff Platt who under the MacLean administration was a diamond in the rough who really showed some much needed offensive talent. Unfortunately for Platt his game didn't quite fit into the plans of what Howson/Hitch are trying to build in Columbus and he wasn't getting the playing time in Syracuse so obviously something was up there as well - he had only scored 4g, 3a in 15 gp after piling up 28g, 21a for 49 points in 53 gp last season.
It also appears that Bruno St. Jacques is headed to Anaheim/Portland as part of this package. Jacques was brought in as a late free agent signing to try to fill wholes in the Syracuse roster specially on defense. It appears that move didn't accomplish much and he was thrown in as part of this package.

This trade makes sense on a lot of levels. For Columbus they get some much needed young but experienced defensive depth that should instantly pay dividends for the Crunch. For Platt he gets a new start for a Portland team that I'm sure was looking for some more offensive fire power - he'll be penciled right into their top 6. They also get Jacques who can fill a hole vacated by the loss of Wilson and Rome.

Platter (as his teammates regularly referred to him) seemed like a great guy and his story from undrafted player to NHL regular is a compelling one. I wish him nothing but the best of luck in the future and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him back at the NHL level sooner rather than later.
I also want to note that this is Scott Howson's first trade as General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets - albeit a minor one.