directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 2008

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This guy has some balls...

A frequent reader just sent this in to me (thanks Kevin!)... its from Al Balderas who is a staff writer for the OC Register.

He writes a blog titled "Does the NHL reall need the Blue Jackets":

The NHL schedule-makers did Ducks fans a favor by having the Columbus Blue Jackets play at Honda Center tonight.

If you have plans to ring in the New Year, and they don’t involve attending tonight’s game, you aren’t going to miss much.

The Blue Jackets entered the league in time for the 2000-01 season. They’re still vying for their first trip to the playoffs. They began the day with 36 points, which essentially puts them in 10th place in the Western Conference, along with the Minnesota Wild and the Kings.

When the Blue Jackets were in town earlier this season, I asked some of the fans at Honda Center to name a Blue Jackets player. One gentleman said Rick Nash. The rest looked as if I’d asked them to recite the lineups of one of the Soviet Union’s Red Army team.

Truth be told, it might be time for the NHL to cut the Blue Jackets loose.

Ohio State University is better known in Columbus, Ohio (and a lot more successful) than the Blue Jackets. Even Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew has won more championships than the Blue Jackets.

I attended a Blue Jackets game several years ago and, true to form, Columbus was blitzed by Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche.

When the Detroit Red Wings, or any other team for that matter, come to Anaheim, you usually see a cluster of their fans draped around the railing that overlooks the tunnel from the visitors’ dressing room to the ice.

When the Blue Jackets were here on Dec. 7, there weren’t any fans near the tunnel. There were a few Ducks’ fans.

OK, so comparing the Red Wings with the Blue Jackets is like comparing L.A. County to Orange County but I think you see my point.

If the Blue Jackets were to go away, I seriously doubt they would be missed. At least Ducks fans would have fewer players to try and recognize.

Now I have seen hypocritical before but this one takes the cake.

Now here is a writer of a team that was named after a friggan Disney movie who thinks he knows this league and hockey enough to sound off on who or what is important.

How many fans in Columbus could name a single Anaheim player? Ohh.. guess we should contract them. It couldn't be that they just don't follow hockey outside of their own team now could it?

Seriously...this guy gets paid to write this garbage?

Stick to the Fying V buddy and we'll worry about the Jackets.

Be sure to leave your comments on his blog following this link.

-Gordon Bombay

Great day of hockey!

Here we are...the final day of 2008 and if your a die hard hockey fan (which chances are if you read this blog you are!) then what a day of hockey we have in store.

In progress right now is the New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers.

Then at 6 o'clock its the San Jose Sharks vs. the Minnesota Wild.

..and then it gets even better. For you folks with the NHL Network be sure to tune into the World Junior game of the week and that's the 3-0 United States vs. the 3-0 Canadians! That game will be a great one -- they always are. Check out the game preview here. The two CBJ prospects to keep an eye on are Teddy Ruth for the US and Cody Golubeuf for Canada.

Of course the main event is later tonight as our Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Anaheim Ducks at the pond. Just a quick preview on this one today. As the Dispatch points out the Jackets are 13-13-1-3 against Anaheim all time, including 5-7-1-2 in the Honda Center.

For the Jackets its pretty simple. Keep playing the way you have the past two games which is strong hard working straight line hockey with Mason cleaning up any mistakes and chances are you'll find success.

Of course the key to shutting down Anaheim is to limit Getzlaf and Perry and to not give their 11th ranked PP with guns Pronger and Niedermayer launching rockets from the backend many chances (i.e. no dumb penalties).

As Hitch stated the last couple of days this team is really dug in. Well tonight is not the time to put the shovels or hard hats away if they want to make it 3 in a row.

Enjoy this final day of 2008 folks and if your like me, its about time to break out the bubbly!

Have a happy safe new years!

p.s. it looks like the R Bar will not be opening tonight but should be open by Friday. If your looking for a place to watch hockey I would recommend the Buffalo Wild Wings in Dublin as a great place to start.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The Jackets past 4 games have been shutouts. 2 straight shutout losses...then two straight shutout wins. Strange game eh?

One of those losses of course came against the LA Kings at home on Dec 23rd -- which to me was their worst played game of the season. The Jackets had failed to score in the two games they met the Kings so far this season.

Last night the Jackets were able to turn the tables on the Kings....on the road no less. They played textbook defense, Mason was a tower of power again in nets, they were strong in the neutral zone, were physical in all 3 zones and got that key first goal which was on the PP no less to propel them to a 2-0 win.


* Jackets came out flat again but Mason held the fort early and then gradually they got better and better. That was a key b/c in both defeats against this Kings team they got up early and never looked back.

* PK was fantastic with their best killer being their tender.

* How good were the Jackets tonight defensively? They were rock solid in the neutral zone.. they kept just about everything wide... cleared bodies and rebounds in front nets.. payed the price physically... that is the way they are going to have to play every night to win...

* Mason was rock solid again. I think this shutout was his easiest though due to the way the team played defensively.

* Kings announcers were very good. They do a superb job analyzing and explaining their plays. Although could they try any harder to jinx Mase by saying "Shutout" anymore times? Don't blame em though.

* Somebody put some Wheaties in Huselius's cereal bowl... he was flying all over the ice the with puck...unfortunately he wasn't able to get on the board.

* Hejda really played the body well... it was a hard hitting game by both squads all the way around.

* Klesla using his face to break up a very good King's scoring chance.. that was sacrifice and a fantastic play by 97 when the score was 0-0. Overall I thought he played a really hard nosed game which is his niche.

* Fantastic energy from Boll...he really came to play and I'm glad he didn't drop them against Ivanans.. would have really liked to see him grab that one at the end there off that feed from Peca.

* Got a key PP goal... like both Nash and Russell a lot on the PP tonight... Tyutin struggled.

* Big time hustle from Nash to get that all important empty netter to seal this one...he had a really strong game.

* Manny won some big face off wins.. especially in the defensive zone in the 3rd.

* Tough game for Russell early... couldn't connect on passes... falling down..but he made up for it with a nice pinch on the PP to collect his second goal of the year... sweet pass by Nasher as well.

* Backman hit sighting... yes, he made a hit...he took a hit and got pucks through. Decent game.

* Walking that thin line offensively... they got by tonight with that 1 PP goal and the empty netter but they are going to need to produce more than 1 goal to get on a run here.

* Untimely penalties by the veterans out there... Peca should know better and Commodore has got to be smarter than taking a needless delay of game penalty with a second or two remaining in the period.

* Everytime I watch Kopitar I think oooohhhh...what if! This is certainly not a red but that Drew Doughty is going to be somethin special as well.

1. Solid team effort especially defensively.
2. Special teams were special. PP got a key goal and the PK was flawless.
3. Mason with his 4th shutout. This guy is single handily keep the Jackets alive.

This win was big in many ways. They finally got 2 points on the road after losing their past 7...and against a conference rival that is also fighting for those final playoff spots. With this being the start of their longest road trip of the season it was critical for them to get off to a good start which they accomplished by playing the kind of game they must play to win -- strong defensive hockey with flawless goaltending and special teams that make an impact.

Unless Howson brings in some major pieces to fill the holes this is the kind of game the Jackets must play to stay in this thing. Its ain't pretty but if it translates into points then give me ugly.

The problem is that its such a fine line and as great as Mase has been you can't keep expecting this guy to play shutout hockey...he's going to need some more goal support.

Now they find themselves back at .500 sitting 12th in the West 3 points out of 8th while 5 points out of 15th. We've seen this before -- lose two win two. At some point they have to break out of this pattern if they want to break through to the playoffs.

They'll try to make it 3 in a row at the pond in Anaheim. A place the Jackets have not found much success including a 5-3 defeat this season. In fact they are 0-2 versus this team this season. More payback in store? We'll find out tomorrow night.

Great key win. Time to focus on Anaheim, grabbing 2 more big conference points and making it 3 in a row.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Tavares with an amazing goal!

Don't try this one at home....actually, try it and then send me the vid!

This is a goal by Canada's John Tavares in the WJCs. He's projected to go #1 or #2 overall in this years draft. Now this is some sick skill:


This and that

This was sent to me from Dave and its an article from the Toronto Sun. It takes some shots at Columbus and gives a little more detail on how the Jackets front office as reacted to the Toronto Gong Show:

First here is the shot at Columbus in their "sneak peak at hockey headlines in 2009":

Usual free agent lunacy as Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Kings get into multi-million dollar bidding war for Staffan Kronwall.

Now some nuggets:

With Derick Brassard out a few months with shoulder surgery, the Jackets could be looking at Doug Weight as a replacement...The Jackets burned up the phone lines to NHL HQ last week after a disallowed goal against Dallas. A Manny Malhotra overtime breakaway shot hit Marty Turco’s pad and went in off his skate as he dove to avoid a collision. It was ruled to be kicked in from the war room in Toronto, even though most replays showed it to be unintentional and some Jackets were told by officials on the scene that the goal would surely count once it was reviewed. No less than four team officials, general manager Scott Howson, coach Ken Hitchcock, president Mike Priest and majority owner John P. McConnell called the league office to voice their displeasure, amid past mutterings that the small-market Jackets never get a break. “We have very difficult calls to make, and we make them,” NHL senior vice-president Colin Campbell said. “It doesn’t matter who the player or the team is.”...

Weight makes some sense on a variety of levels. He's affordable, he's a UFA after this season, can run the point on the PP and shouldn't cost a whole lot to obtain (I'm thinking 2nd round pick). That said he is 37 and after watching him play the Rangers tonight looks very slooooow! He would be a band aid that I don't think would heal much if any of the Jackets wounds.

After reading some reports of what Scott Howson had to say in the season ticket holder meeting this past weekend I wouldn't bank on him going after Weight anyway.

First off he said he would prefer a younger player but has to work with what teams are willing to part with (which certainly won't be a whole lot of young talent).

Howson said he will not part with any of his young blue chip talent in Brassard, Voracek, Filatov or of course Mason. He said he would be willing to deal his #1 but only for a young talented player that would add to the nucleus of the team -- again teams typically hang onto those players.

So if he doesn't want older players and won't part with young assets where does that leave him? Not with a whole lot of options which is why I don't expect him to do much if anything regardless of how this team performs on this road trip. That certainly can't make a guy like Hitch happy who even with Brassard has had big holes in this lineup that aren't going to disappear.

That said keep your eye on Toronto. Their GM Brian Burke certainly isn't afraid to make a deal and he'll look to start putting his stamp on this squad sooner than later -- he's got some tasty talent likely to move in Nik Antropov who is a center and a couple of d-men in Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle. The Jackets won't part with what it will take to land Kaberle but they may have enough ammo to land a Antropov or Kubina -- both of whom could help this lineup.

Here is another shot at Columbus...this time courtesy of the NYTimes as they take their turn predicting headlines in 2009...granted this article spares nobody in the NHL:

Columbus misses the playoffs again but the Nationwide Arena was filled every night after the Blue Jackets began a promotion in which 18 randomly selected fans suit up for each game.

The Syracuse Crunch finally ended their 10 game losing streak against the Hamilton Bull Dogs this past Saturday winning 5-4. Guess who was in the opposition's net? Marc Denis.

Speaking of the Crunch Maksim Mayorov ended a 15 game goal-less streak when he notched one. John Vigilante also ended a 12 game goal-less streak when he notched a couple.

It also looks like Stephan Legein will resume his hockey career when he meets with Howson and co. in Columbus on January 5th. Speculation is he'll get assigned to Sryacuse and will probably be in their lineup for their game on the 6th.

This actually works out in Legein's favor I think. Legein will be joining a struggling Crunch team are struggling and could use a spark. If he can bring a strong work ethic and attitude he should have no problem finding a spot in this lineup with ice time unlike last year where he was joining a hardened tight knit Crunch lineup that was on a tremendous roll.

Its a great opportunity for him to get his hockey career back on track. Now he needs to seize it.

If your looking for a hockey fix this week don't forget the Ohio Hockey Classic kicks off Friday Jan 2nd at the Schott. Ohio State will take on Army while Miami will take on Clarkson. The winners of those games will meet on Saturday at 8 p.m. with the losers playing for 3rd place at 5.

The full schedule can be found here.


Online feeds for LA game tonight

I've had a couple of emails asking about online feeds for tonight's game against the Kings. Sorry for not getting to you guys sooner but here is what I've found.

If you don't subscribe to center ice (which will lift the local blackout but it will be the Kings' broadcast) try these links: (cost $5.99) (will list all hockey feeds)

Hope that helps!


More Wrigley... released another time lapse video of the rink at Wrigley:

This should be somthin!


Getting close!

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the new R Bar after the Philly game..... let me just say this place is going to be hockey heaven!!

Here are a couple of sneak peaks:

They are shooting to open on New Year's Eve which of course the Jackets will be playing the Ducks so if they are able to hit that date -- there is only one place to watch that game!!

I'll keep ya posted but also be sure to check out their web site for photos and updates (they also have a news letter you can sign up for!)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

60 minute men

First off -- how about that crowd?!! Always great to see that nat packed to the rafters like that.

...and thankfully the Jackets delivered a wonderful performance in front of them.

That was probably the most complete game I've seen this team play from start to finish. They had a lot to motivate them especially that complete dud of a game they tossed against LA on Dec 23rd.

The Flyers, coming off a loss to Chicago the previous night, were a tired bunch and the Jackets who were rested needed to expose them...and expose them they did.

They got secondary scoring from unlikely sources in Hedja, Murray and Malhotra which broke a two game shutout streak. They scored a very timely PP goal towards the end of the first to put them up by a critical pair. The goaltending did its job. They did a pretty good job staying out the box and when they did take a penalty the PK was solid against the NHL's best PP.


* As mentioned the boys put in a solid 60 minute effort.

* Players stepped up in the scoring department and getting that first goal early was absolutely huge and set the tone for the rest of the game.

* Steve Mason continues to shine recording his 3rd shutout of his young career. His stats right now are eye-staggering... He leads the league in GAA with a 1.87.. he's 3rd in save % with a .932 and his overall record is 10-7-1.... where would this team be without this guy? ...and whom else didn't hold their breath after Mason took that stick to the grill? Exhale...

* First ever win over Philly.

* They took hits to make plays... they gave hits to make plays... they worked hard in the corners and basically played the way this team must play to win... the question as always is can they sustain it?

* My 3 favorite players were Murray, Russell and Umberger... Murray worked his ass off all night and how about his work and goal on the PP? Russell was all over the ice.. he is really skating and moving the puck with authority now and of course covering for Backman's mistakes... He logged over 19 minutes and after flubbing a shot stuck with it and made a great play to setup Murray's goal... Umberger had a strong hard working game in all 3 zoens against his former mates and collected a helper..

* Fantastic crowd of over 18,400...!! The energy a crowd like that lends to the team has to be significant. I also want to give a shout out to the CBJ marketing staff for coming up with a great promotion that certainly helped put butts in the seats last night -- keep it up!

* Really I thought every forward had solid efforts.. from Nash down to Picard... everyone came to work with their hard hats for this one. Got to love a guy like Modin's willingness to play through what sounds like a substantial injury.

* PP looked good last night and delivered that very timely goal.

* Loved Manny's goal and he was amazing in the dot winning 88% of his draws. Apparently the NHL Network is doing a special on him so that was a nice game to highlight....good for him.

* Team defense was solid in clearing the net... supporting the goaltender in sweeping out about that save Peca had on Harntell? They did the little things that lead to shutout wins.

* Was very glad to see Voracek back on the ice in the second....exhale.

* Loved Klesla's fight (glad he didn't hurt) but I thought both he and Tyutin struggled as a pair. They had some good plays but also some blown coverages and Tyutin especially struggled to keep pucks in the zone.

* Lots of Flyers fans in the house... was happy to send them home pointless... I'll give them credit for not being obnoxious... at least the ones I was around... put it this way, they certainly weren't like those rediculous Buffalo fans who invaded Columbus during the holiday break a couple years back.

* What happened to our replays?

* Officiating was pretty solid although I thought the Boll diving call was rediculous. He may have dressed it up a bit but that was a solid shot to the grill Cote delivered.

* Backman... I just don't get the scratch of Methot to play this guy. If its to showcase him I hope scouts had blinders on last night..

* Man I cannot stand Harntell... I really wanted Boll to go with him but Hartnell doesn't want anything to do with a guy who actually fights regularly... he likes to take on the Dan Fritsches of the NHL.

* Can anybody 1-time a puck on this team? At this level there just isn't time to settle then shoot...

1. 60 minute effort,
2. Steve Mason standing tall in goal...again.
3. Secondary scoring steps up.
HM: First win over Philly

It was a solid game all the way around. Players stepped up and gave the home fans a much needed win after that mess against LA.

Of course the challenge is to bring that game night in and night out. They aren't going to outskill teams unless Howson adds some pieces so if they want to string a winning streak together it has to come down to mistake free hard working hockey that leans on the stellar play of their young goaltender.

Next up is LA tomorrow night. The Jackets should have no excuses getting up for that one. It also marks the start of a 6 game road trip that to me is the make or break point of this season.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Shakeup not a question of if...

You know what I'm real sick of? Seeing teams that were better than the Jackets when they entered this league actually become worse than the Jackets for a few years....and are now better than them and contending again.

Teams like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Philly, LA, Carolina...heck even the Rangers were worse than us back in the '04 season. All either are contenders now or have been the last couple of seasons.

Meanwhile, the Jackets continue the same circle of suck.

I look at the standings over the past 8 seasons and the only team that hasn't made the playoffs at least once is the Florida Panthers. Still they've managed 3 seasons of .500 or better hockey in that stretch.

Of course the ultimate measure is to look at our sister expansion team, the Minnesota Wild, a team who has made the playoffs 3 out of their first 7 years including a conference final.

The Jackets are a miracle that they have essentially accomplished nothing in their 7 year existence...outside of a Rocket Richard trophy.

They've have never played .500 hockey. They have averaged the highest first round pick since they came into the league. They have averaged 69 points per year with their best coming last year @ 80. Their best finish in the division was 3rd in 2005-2006. They've blown through 4 coaches and are on their 2nd GM. They've never been good enough to sniff the playoffs, lucky enough to win the lottery or bad enough to guarantee a top 2 two impact player (without trading up).

This season the playoffs are now a pipe dream. Their PP is the worst in the league. Their offense has collapsed like the stock market after a 21 rookie went on the shelf. With 6 of their next 7 on the road the Jackets will likely fall out of contention by the mid January.

This team is fragile, complacent and lacks any killer instinct. Yeah they have competed most nights but if you don't have wins to show for what?

They are not nearly good while also being not nearly bad enough.

I read message boards where season ticket holders are finally saying enough is enough. I want to tell them a bad hockey team is better than no hockey team but how can you say that to folks who have shelled their hard earned cash for 8 years...stood by this franchise with a year of no hockey...and haven't been rewarded with a team that can at least play .500 hockey? Its embarrassing to even type that... I mean .500 hockey still blows but I suspect many folks paying the bills would consider that a positive step.

These are folks who drag their butts out to support this team in horrible conditions like against LA only to watch a group of paid professional athletes sleepwalk their way through a game.

Its unacceptable and its not the fans fault. They've stood by this team longer than most fans in any city of any team with a similar losing record would. In fact I'd challenge anyone to find better numbers with a similar track record.

I'm not sure how you can fix what ails this franchise...the disappointment almost seems to just linger in the fibers of anyone who straps that jersey on. Moves are made but the holes and results remain the same.

I realize there are up and downs in a season and this is a very big down right now but I can't stomach anymore the Jackets are 'x' amount of points out of a playoff spot. I've heard it for 7 seasons and we know those results. They need to be in the playoffs right now!This season is on the same path as the rest. At this point this team is what it is -- ain't no magical trade going to fix it.

One thing is for sure...if the panic button wasn't hit yet....Howson better be whacking it with a sledge hammer now as this season is spiraling out of control.

Its not a question of if at this point, but a question of when....when does the shakeup come?

First things first... Howson and Hitch aren't going anywhere. Howson will be given more than two years and Hitch just signed a 3 year extension that kicks in the start of next year. Quite frankly I don't think it does any good to throw more turmoil into the front office or coaching staff right now - we need some stability there. Howson has rid himself of some fat but he has got to start filling some real holes now. We all know what they are.

So if not a coaching or GM change then what?

I think Howson makes a couple of mid level moves which has been hinted in the paper (i.e bring in a guy like Doug Weight) to try to keep the Jackets in it...ultimately its just a band aid on a broken leg that's not going to heal anything.

I think a much bigger shakeup will need to occur most likely in the offseason unless something presents itself sooner...unlikely.

This team has got to get much stronger up the middle of the ice and it has got to upgrade its skill on the blueline. This will drastically improve our scoring punch and special teams.

I know some are saying.. well that's just great LTL....why not throw me a winning lottery ticket while your at it. How do you propose we get those assets Captain Obvious?

Let me ask you a question. Who or what are the Jackets most valuable assets? Rick Nash right? Everything says time and time again just get this guy a center and he'll go nuts. Well what about getting a center for Rick Nash?

Here me out.

First off. I love Rick Nash. He is a class act on and off the ice. He is the kind of pro athlest you want your kids looking up to. He is always willing to represent the city of Columbus and we know he's a very talented player. The biased fan in me says no way you can deal this guy....he our captain and face of the franchise....but putting my blind homerism aside for a sec the big picure objective guy in me says lets take a step back and look at the situation.

Nash has never broken 70 points over his 5 year NHL career. He has a good shot this season as TSN has him on pace for 77 points. He is making 6.5 this season and 7 next. That is a lot of dough for a small market team to tie up in their "franchise player" who has yet to lead them even to a .500 record. There are also many nights when he isn't noticeable...which to me you can't have... even if he's not scoring he must be noticable night in and night out.

Lets look at guys who make 6.5+ mil a year:

Ovechkin, Crosby, Richards, Heatley, Chara, Hossa, Lindstrom, Gomez, Thornton, Vanek, Campbell, Drury, Spezza, Iginla, Lundqvist, Lecavalier, Luongo, Khabibulin, Niedermayer, Datsyuk, Boyle, Briere, Redden, Phaneuf, Jovanovski, Kovalchuk, Timonen, Smyth, Kiprusoff & Visnovsky

Add Malkin and Zetterberg in that group next season.

There are some duds in the there who shouldn't be making that dough (Redden, Drury, Smyth), but for those most part these are your impact players in the NHL right now.

Does Nash belong in that group because if the Jackets re-sign him he's going to get at least 7+ mil a year? Over his 5 year career he's scored 39, 57, 54, 57 and 69 points. He's primarily a goal scorer and has topped 30 goals 3 out of those 6 seasos.

Of course on the flip side 40 goal scorers don't grow on trees and Nash is only 24. He should only keep improving both in his skill and leadership abilities.

Some say well just get him a center and he'll be better. My argument is shouldn't your franchise player have the ability to make the players around him better?

If your going to consider moving him now or this summer is the time. He is signed for one more year after this and then he's a UFA. His value will be at his highest this summer and lets be honest here, he may also look to move on as losing year after year will wear on anybody.

Honestly my thoughts are that if things continue on the same route they are there are two things that must happen before next year -- 1. Howson must bring in a legit #1 d-man...and 2. How must either bring Nash a center (unlikely) or consider moving him as the way this team is currently configured with him as the centerpiece is not working.

To get those kinds of assets you have to be willing to part with something significant.

I'll throw one scenario out there just for the sake of discussion: Rick Nash for Eric Staal

Huselius Staal Voracek
Modin Brassard Filatov
Chimera Umberger XXX
Boll XXX Dorsett

Gone: Nash, Malhotra, Novotny, Peca

Kaberle Tyutin
Commodore Hejda
Russell Methot

Gone: Klesla, Backman, Tollefsen


If I ever consider moving Nash it has to be value for value and I don't move him unless its for a legit young #1 center or for a legit young #1 d-man. I don't ever consider a package of picks or players -- that does us no good and those kinds of deals rarely pay off (think Joe Thornton/Marian Hossa/Roberto Luongo trades) -- we need to address the center of the ice or #1 d-man.

The Hurricanes are sputtering and Eric Staal has been struggling (although he's come alive recently under his new coach) so maybe a guy like that is available. He's signed for the next 4 seasons. I feel we'd be left in decent shape on the wing with a combo of Huselius/Modin/Vorack/Filatov and even moving an Umberger there if needed.

I highly doubt Kaberle waives his NTC to come here but that is the caliber of player the Jackets must acquire. I'm done watching the Jackets PP sputter b/c of lack of skill on the blueline. I offer up our first rounder and what ever 2nd tier prospects/players or additional picks it takes to make a deal. Ain't no UFA of this caliber of player going to sign here like a Bouwmeester so I think it has to come via trade.

I'll throw yet another scenario at you. What if a guy like Evgeni Malkin became available? Nash would sure look good riding shotgun for Crosby....but how would adding the leagues top scorer to the top of this lineup look? I doubt Pitt would part with him, it would take more than Nash to get him and you worry about the Russians bolting at any time but that is the kind of impact player I'm talking about...

Bottom line -- if we miss the playoffs, again, then I'm shaking things up in a big way even if it takes moving the face of the franchise to get it done b/c quite frankly if we haven't been able to take the next step (even if that is a .500 record) with him as the focal point....whose to say we ever will? This market doesn't have the available capital to add another 7 mil a year player to help him

...and with him scheduled to be a UFA after next season this summer a big decision has to be made on the direction to take this franchise. Are the Jackets prepared to tie 7 million up in a guy per season on a long term deal who has yet to crack the 70 point plateau or lead this team into the playoffs?

In losing Nash it would be a big PR hit for the Jackets short term and I'd hate to see him go as he's a very likable guy but my bigger concern at this point is losing this franchise and if this losing continues. who knows what may happen.....

If they miss the playoffs, the Jackets will tie a league record for most consecutive season without the playoffs this season with 8. Its time to start asking/exploring the tough questions.

Enough is enough.

Now all this said, watch 61 get a hat trick tonight.

Fire away - would you ever consider moving Nash? If so, what would it take?


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Jackets fans!!

I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone out there who takes time out of their busy days to check in on this blog a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Its not easy following this team year after year....this I when I see the comments and participation this blog generates I really appreciate it and it certainly keeps me motivated knowing that I'm not the only hockey nut out there that keeps believing in this team and franchise.

Anyhow....if anyone finds a #1 center or #1 d-man under their trees this year perhaps you may consider re-gifting it on over to 200 West Nationwide Blvd!

If not just pop in your Anson Carter "Hockey Holidays" cd and carol away!

I'll be taking a break until the 26th so please check back then for some thoughts on a "shakeup".

For all you big & little kids out there be sure to track Santa tonight following this link!

Have a safe and merry one!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Open post

Hello all!

I'll be traveling tonight doin the family thing so I wanted to leave this post open for those that do get to watch the game and would like to comment.

Unfortunately my destination (Toledo) does not have FSN Ohio (blasphemy!!) so I'm stuck with updates on the iPhone until I can watch later tomorrow afternoon.



Want more laughs at the "War Room"?

So I was watching the Buffalo/Pitt game on Versus last and the game heads into OT tied at 3. Crosby deflects a puck with a questionable high stick and its reviewed by Toronto. This play was not ruled a goal either way by the officials.

Flashback to Minnesota earlier this season where Rick Nash has a similar play to tie the game that was ruled a goal but later waived off due to "inconclusive evidence".

Now tell me how one can be a goal but one cannot?



Yeah I've got some sour grapes as this crap is getting real old.


Monday, December 22, 2008

NHL Arenas

Cool vid showing all of the NHL's 30 arenas:


Gettin Wrigley Ready....

This is a video courtesy of as they prepare Wrigley Field for a New Year's Day regular season game with the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Detroit Red Wings:

I also just read that advertising for the event is up 40% from last year's inagural classic.

Great pub for hockey and I'm definitely lookin forward to watching it on New Year's Day!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Turning point?

I was going to blog about last night's game but with the news of Brass being out for the season that seems like chicken scratch at this point -- besides there isn't a whole lot positive to write anyhow. Swept by Phoenix?...sigh.

On to Brass.

First lets not kid ourselves -- this is a HUGE blow to the Jackets playoff hopes. Brass, even as a rookie, is the Jackets most skilled center. He was second on the team in scoring with 25 points in 31 games, tied for second in goals with 10, first on the team in assist with 15 and leads this team in +/- with a + 12. He was a legit Calder candidate.

All of that is up in flames in a matter of seconds with a gutsy but, with the benefit of hindsight, ill-advised decision to stand up for a teammate. Lets only hope he can recover 100% as he has had a history of shoulder problems in the past. This franchise desperately needs this kid as not only is he their only answer at center ice right now but this kid has got "it" -- he's skilled, he's passionate, he's competitive, a great teammate and he shows up every night....he's everything you want in a player.

Alas he's no longer an option for the 2008-'09 season.

For a team that lacks overall skill to begin with how do they respond to Brass being out of the lineup? Will this be the moment that Jackets look back 4 months from now and say was the turning point to their season? Obviously they can go two ways and that's up or down in the standings.

So what can or will the Jackets do to help bridge the skill gap vacated by Brassard's absence?

In the short term don't look for much out of management. There is a holiday roster freeze that is in effect until the 27th so for those thinking trade that can't happen until at least after the 27th. Regardless of freeze or no freeze the chances of Howson landing a skill center to replace are slim and slim to none unless he massively overpays which he won't be doing.

The Jackets have two games between now and the 27th -- one against LA on Tuesday the 23rd at home and one at home against Philly on the 27th. They should dress a lineup very similar to the one that took the ice against Phoenix last night unless some of the wounded walking start returning.

After that its 6 straight on the road where, considering the Jackets 4-10 record thus far when away from Nationwide, could very well decide their season.

Over the longer term no doubt Howson will be lighting up the phone lines to see if there is anything that makes sense out there. Again skilled centers don't grow on trees and he won't sell the farm to obtain one but maybe as teams start falling out of the picture, assuming for a second we aren't one of those, some short term solution becomes available. I'm looking at the Tampas, Islanders (Weight?), Atlantas, Torontos (Antropov?)... right now there are just to many teams still in the race.

I'm sure many are saying what about Filatov? He won't be an option until at least the World Junior Championships are over. If I had to guess now I'd say he'll most likely be headed back to Syracuse for a couple of reasons 1. he has really cooled in Syracuse and doesn't appear to be ready for the NHL yet 2. if Hitch is not going to play him in a top 6 role with quality minutes then you don't bring him up to ride the pine. Now if he lights up the WJCs and that confidence is flowing again then the Jackets may have no choice but to call this kid back up and let it ride.

So if no trades and no Filatov what does that leave? It leaves the guys on the team. Again players are going to have to step up. One man's loss is another's gain -- just ask Steve Mason. They can use it as motivation or use it as an excuse. Good teams don't use injuries as excuses. They don't have to tell us....their play will do all the talking to let us know which route they choose to take.

The problem is if last night is any indication of guys stepping up this could be a long 50 games to close out this year.

One thing is for certain both Hitch and Howson knows the importance of Brass being out of this lineup and although we won't hear much publicly you can bet they are reviewing every option available to them.

For now though this is just another blow to a franchise that just doesn't seem to catch many, if any, breaks.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

You be the judge...

Dubinsky's allowed goal vs. the CBJ that essentially decided the game:

Here is another view of the Dubinsky goal courtesy of Dave:

Malhotra's disallowed goal that essentialyl decided the game (pretty fuzzy):

How the NHL (Bettman, Campbell, whomever) can justify to any Columbus fan that Malhotra's goal was a "disitinct kicking motion" when a goal like Dubinskys isn't is complete garbage.

...and to hear Campbell say there is no favortism in today's paper....right bud. If there isn't then you damn well better start calling things consitantly b/c clearly (see examples above) that is NOT happening.

Thanks for the link on the Dubinsky goal Stephen!


Great promotion!!

I've been bangin on the Jackets marketing staff to do a better job in terms of creativity with ticket promotions.

So its only fair that I give them their due when they do come up with a great offer.

They are running a fantastic promotion in conjunction with Pepsi and Giant Eagle. If you purchase four 12-packs of Pepsi products you get a ticket voucher for 4 free tickets to any game before March 3rd.

When I first read this I thought...what's the catch? Well I'm living proof there is no catch. Just remember that if you want more than just one game be sure to check out each set of 12-packs in their own separate transaction -- otherwise say you buy 8 12-packs you'll only get 1 voucher.

From my understanding there are 60,000 tickets available

With ticket sales soft and the economy in the toilet Nationwide needs to continue to get creative to get folks in that building and this is definitely a right step in that direction. Now being a partial season ticekt holder myself, I would also love to see more deals for the season ticket holders as they, in conjunction with the sponsors, are the folks who really pay the bills.

For now though I would encourage all you fans out there to get out to your local Giant Eagle and pick up some Pepsi products and lets start packing Nationwide and support this squad!!

Hockey's Future ranks the Jackets organization 3rd:

Strengths: The Blue Jackets have a wealth of high-end talent in the system, spearheaded by current super rookies Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek. Outside of their impressive upper echelon of prospects, the Jackets have adequate depth at every position in the system but center.

Weaknesses: Despite lots of options at most positions in the system, outside the high-end players there isn't much talent that represents more than third- or fourth-line potential long-term. Also, with only two other options at center after BrassardKirill Starkov and Sean Collins – Columbus could seriously benefit from picking up young pivots. Top five prospects: 1. Jakub Voracek, RW, 2. Nikita Filatov, LW, 3. Derick Brassard, C, 4. Steve Mason, G, 5. Cody Goloubef, D. Key losses to graduation: Kris Russell.

In some other tidbits:

* Congrats to Nikita Filatov for being named to the Russia World Junior team. To be honest I'm astonished that Maskim Mayorov was not named.

* Also Clay Wilson has been re-assigned to Syracuse. I think that leaves an open roster spot so my guess is that Rusty Klesla is real close towards returning to the lineup.

* As a reader pointed out in the comments (thanks Rick!) Nash has the flu and is questionable for tonight. Depth is already being tested but without Nasher up there we go from testing to mission impossible (not really but I was just jonesing for a MI reference).

* Great read over on titled "Jackets improving, but Hitchcock wants more". Be sure to check it out.

* Fredrik Norrena has signed with Kazan of the KHL. That sure didn't take long. Good luck Freddy!


NHL contact info

For anyone interested in contacting the NHL regarding that debacle on Thursday here is the NHL's contact info courtesy of JAL:

Mr. Gary Bettman, Commisioner
Mr. Colin Campbell, Sr. Executive Vice-President
& Director of Hockey Operations
National Hockey League
1251 Avenue of the Americas, 47th Fl.
New York, NY 10020
Phone: 212-789-2000 Fax: 212-789-2020

I know most of us have probably cooled off by now and are focusing on Phoenix tonight but even under "cool" conditions that call still bugs the sh** out of me and they certainly got an email with my opinion on the matter.

Fire away!


Pre-game thoughts: Depth to be tested

Out: Klesla, Torres, Brassard, Tollefsen, Chimera, Murray

In: Novotny, Wilson, Picard, York

Of course Dorsett just came back into the lineup.

The new Nashville is the opponent tonight. Phoenix has solidly beaten the Jackets in all 3 meetings this season including 2 here at Nationwide.

The Jackets as mentioned are an injured bunch. They have 6 regulars out of the lineup and the Brassard injury (man I love Brass's passion, guts and competitiveness but to lose him in that fashion really hurts...) is a dagger as it removes, perhaps for months, the most skilled center the Jackets have from the lineup.

Depth will be tested.

Every team in the NHL goes through stretches over an 82 game season where injuries mount and most of the time its the depth that steps up and keeps the boat afloat while the walking wounded slowly return. Its not trades or the waive of a magic coaching wand. Players have to step up. The teams that can weather the injury storm are the teams that make the playoffs. The Jackets will be no different.

This is why Howson brought in a guy like York in the offseason. A guy with a lot NHL experience whose game may be on the decline but when injuries stack up he's a guy who should be able to step in and help keep the boat afloat.

More than York though its guys playing further down in the lineup that need to step up their games. Guys like Malhotra, Peca, Boll and Novotny are names that come to mind.

* As bogus as that call was the other night in Dallas the Jackets have to move on. Nobody can change the call and the NHL certainly won't admit error. Its time to use it for motivation... nobody is going to give the Jackets any breaks.. its clearly the Jackets vs. NHL.

* With less skill in the lineup special teams become even more important. The Jacket have to start making teams pay with the man advantage. The skill guys still there like Nash, Voracek, Russell, Huselius, Modin & Umberger have to bring it hard on the PP and convert!

* As I mentioned guys have to step up and play above their heads for a while.

* Contain Doan. Guy has been a Jacket killer this season. He is their leading scorer with 29 poitns 32 games.

* Have to get up for this one. This is a conference opponent the Jackets will be battling all season long for a final playoffs pot. The 'yotes have already taken 6 points in this season series... Jackets cannot let it be a season sweep for 8. No flat legs.

* Phoenix loves to set Jokinen up with the 1 timer... don't give him time or space b/c he's got a laser.

* Of course we have the standard stuff... stay out of the box, score first, strong even strength play and Mase just needs to play like he's been playing to give the Jackets a chance.

Couple of things. How will the Jackets respond after the Dallas "Texas Stole One" game? How will the depth perform? Does Brass's effort to stand up for his teammate bring this team closer together -- the Jackets are going to really miss him but that kid showed alot in that play about what kind of teammate he is and the price he's willing pay. If can't take some inspiration away from that play then your living a cold life.

Puck drops at 9 EST tonight.



Friday, December 19, 2008

Week 10 Power Rankings:

Wow.. already up to week 10...!
Rank: 16 (+4)
Rookie netminder Steve Mason hasn't allowed more than three goals in ten straight starts, giving the Jackets a fighting chance most nights.
Rank: 24 (+2)
No, we don’t expect R.J. Umberger to play top-line center any longer than necessary. Nothing against Umberger, one of the more versatile forwards in the league, but the Blue Jackets have to find the answer and they’re hoping that the fast start of rookie Derick Brassard’s career signals they have a worthy candidate.
Rank: 26
Have to be better on the road.
Rank: 23 (+2)
By picking up a point in each game last week, Mike Commodore helped the Blue Jackets win two of the three games they played. Included in the three points was his first goal of the year, which turned out to be a huge tally as it allowed Columbus to tie up a game it eventually won in overtime.
Rank: 18 (+5)
Steve Mason is staking his claim to the No. 1 job. The rookie is 8-5-1 with a 1.97 GAA and a .922 save percentage since his recall last month.
Rank: 21 (+1)
Are the Blue Jackets afraid of success? They haven't won or lost more than three in a row, and they haven't been two games above .500.
Rank: 23 (-1)
Steve Mason continues his strong play in net for the Blue Jackets, but the team's inability to hold on to a lead could really hurt them as their schedule doesn't get any easier this month.
Rank: 23 (+3)
Rookie Derick Brassard’s 24 points in 29 games is impressive, but his team-leading plus-12 is even better.
Rank: 26 (-1)
Solid team at home, but need to get much better on the road, where they play eight of their next 11 games
Rank: 22 (+1)
Not to toss a wet blanket on a two-game win streak, but this looks like a tough week for the Jackets: four straight against Pacific opponents, a group that's beaten them in eight of nine already this season.

Meta-score: 22.2 (last week 24)

The Jackets move up this week coming off two wins.

TSN has the Jackets all the way up to 16th while CBC ranks them all the way down at 26th. Only one of the rankings dropped the Jackets and that was ESPN by one spot.


York recalled?

He's now showing on the Blue Jackets roster.

Would make sense now that Brass it out.

More on this a little later today.

UPDATE: Puck-rakers is also reporting it.


Jackets get screwed....again!

Hitch in his post game interview:


Your damn right we did Hitch!

I don't think this screw job tops the Minnesota waive off due to inconclusive evidence even though it was ruled a goal on the ice... but its damn close!

How anyone can think Manny Malhotra is talented enough to kick a puck with one skate in the air while trying to avoid the Dallas goalie is out of their friggan mind.

If it was waived off right away that is one thing...but both officials called it a goal!!

These points are way to valuable and this is twice the Jackets have been robbed/dicked/screwed/hosed/cheated out of points they earned.

Toronto is a joke and this replay system is a farce.

I'm glad Hitch spoke up and I'm glad Jim Day told it how it is. Columbus has to stop taking this bullsh** from the league and fight back.

A poster on HF put it best. If that was Mike Modano with that play its a goal every play, any day, any season.

Sorry for the rant but I'm one pissed off fan and I'm sick of seeing this team get jobbed by a league that allows some remote "room" to make calls based on the flavor of coffee they drink.

To top it off we lose Brassard for 3 to 4 weeks with a seperated shoulder and where has Pascal Leclaire gone?

I'm glad we got a point and I'm proud of the way this team competed but damn......


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Picards back

According to Puck-rakers its Alexandre Picard who gets the call to replace an injured Chimera.

I certainly didn't see this one coming.

Chimera has been a top 6 winger most of the season so if I had to guess I would have banked on the Jackets adding someone with a little more scoring punch. We knew it wouldn't be Filatov or Mayorov b/c those kids are in Russia's World Junior camp preparing for that tourney kick off on Dec 26th.

In 16 games on the farm Picard has 2g and 5a.

There has been a lot of line juggling as Hitch looks to get this offense back on track so with Picard in the fold and assuming Murray is out the top and bottom six should consist in some form/fashion of the following:

Top 6: Nash, Huselius, Umberger, Brassard, Modin, Voracek
Bottom 6: Peca, Malhotra, Boll, Dorsett, Novotny, Picard

I don't watch Syracuse so I can just go by what's on paper and from what I've seen from guys this year and last -- I personaly wouldn't have minded giving MacKenzie a look-see. He showed last year and can adapt to a bottom 6 six role and is a hard worker. There is also the veteran Michael York who leads the team in scoring.

Anyhow.. we all know what Picard can bring and that's energy, hitting, some agitation.. and lately the ability to receive punches! I look for that kind of game tonight and any offense he can provide on top of that is a bonus.

Speaking of Syracuse. They dropped yet another game last night 5-1 to Grand Rapids. Mike York with the loan goal.


Stat of the day

Lots to share today from various sources:

* Steve Mason leads all NHL goaltenders in GAA with a whopping 1.91. He is 4th in Save% with a .929.

* Jared Boll played his 100th game last night.

* Michael Peca snapped a 13 game goaless streak when he tied the game in the 3rd last night.

* RJ Umberger snapped a 10 game streak with his game winner.

* Mike Commodore is currently 11th overall in the NHL with 83 hits. Amongst defensemen he is 3rd behind Brooks Oprik (111) and Daniel Girardi (96).


Programming Alert!!

This was just sent to me by the BHG (Blue Hair Guy) and I wanted to make sure everyone who reads this blog was aware:

They will have George Matthews on that “Voices” show on the nhl network tonight @ 730. They showed some cool highlights from it last night.

On a side note, anyone who was at the game last night may have noticed BHG. His mug was prominently displayed on the jumbo-tron as he was the proud winner of the Huntington show your card promo.

Nice job BHG... now maybe you can buy yourself a new wig?!


Mason stands tall, steals one!

Remember back to last year a week or two before the trade deadline when a possible trade with Tampa loomed to bring center Brad Richards here? Remember the rumor was that Tampa wanted a goalie and had their eyes on Mason but Howson wouldn't part with him?

We now know why!

Look young players are hit and miss.... its the chance to hit and hit big that makes them difficult to trade because to get those star franchise type guys they typically come from within as teams don't part with those assets. Right now Mason is hitting big... I'm talkin jackpot.

Now I am as excited as anyone about Mason but I have to remind myself that this guy is still just 20 years old and only has 15 NHL starts under his belt.... its those reasons and more you can't even think of dealing a guy like Leclaire at this point.

When you get a goaltender playing like Mase though you have to ride him and ride him the Jackets did, right to a 2 point win over San Jose last night.


* This isn't a game without Mason. He stopped 47 of 48 shots some of the jaw-dropping variety. It was the most shots the Jackets have given up this season with the previous high being 37 (read that in the AP article).

* Jackets didn't let Mason's play go to waste and got some key goals from guys who have been in long droughts. First Peca off a couple of nice feeds from Nash and Voracek...and then Umberger off an absolutely beautiful world class pass from Huselius... We also can't forget the play Tyutin made up the ice to spring those two... There are some names in there that haven't showed up on the scoreboard lately that the Jackets desperately need to show up... and they did last night.

* Jackets got 2 points even though they were outplayed. Kind of nice for once eh? So many times the Jackets have been on the other end of games like these so its time the pucks finally start bouncing the Jackets way..

* Sharks score the first goal in the 3rd and the Jackets win? Yeah I'd say that qualifies as a green! Hell I'm going Incredible Hulk green on this one!!

* PK was fantastic against a stout Sharks PP killing all 5 minors against.. of course Mason was our best killer.

* Even though the Sharks carried the play most of the night the boys were physical getting credit for 44 hits... Commodore led the way with 6 hits... Peca (yes, that isn't a typo) and Boll each had 5...

* Anytime you can keep Big Joe off the score sheet its a good thing. In fact the Jackets held the NHL's most potent offense to just 1 goal... that's a great thing!!

* With the win the Jackets move to 3-3 in OT.

* I loved Manny Malhotra on the kill.

* I loved Kris Russell carrying that puck with confidence and jumping into the play with speed.

* I loved RJ Umberger's game winning goal celebration!

* I loved the fact that Jackets beat the NHL's best team and got Hitch a win on his b-day!

* I would have put Nash in the red but he did make a nice play in the 3rd that led to the tying goal. Other than that I thought he was mostly invisible out there besides taking a couple of penalties... both of which I thought were questionable calls to say the least. Even if he's not scoring we should notice him every night.

* Chimera and Murray injuries. Watching on the tube they showed Murray wincing as he was heading towards the bench.. that certainly didn't look good. Chimera will be a big loss the way he is playing. Heck when is the last time he missed a game? We should learn more about how long these two will be out today.

* We seemed to lose a lot of key offensive and defensive face offs last night.. those offensive draws can be costly, especially when you have pointmen like the Sharks have that can drop bombs on you. The Jackets escaped but need to do much better in the circle against those top teams.

* PP same ole story.

* Attendance as 13,800... although it seems to be slowly but surely ticking up in the right direction.

1. Sharks "Mased"! He was also named the NHL's first star of the night!!
2. Steaks broken.. and that's a good thing for Umberger and Peca who came up wtih big time goals.
3. Battle back from 1 goal down in the 3rd to beat the NHL's best team.
HM: PK killing all 5 Sharks PPs.

The win moves the Jackets back to .500 with a 14-14-3 record. They sit 12th in the West with 31 poitns. 1 point out of 8th and 4 points out of 15th. From 7 to 15th is separated by just 6 points.
The Jackets don't have a whole lot of time to enjoy this one as its off to Dallas for a game tonight at 8:30 EST.

Can the Jackets use this game as a springboard towards putting prolonged winning streak together? Can they get back to their winning ways on the road? Will they have the legs on a back end of a back2back? How will Leclaire perform?

All questions that will be answered tonight. I tell ya one thing though, you know its crossing Hitch's mind to go w/ Mason again tonight. Its certainly tempting but personally I would give the kid a night off and recharge and give a Leclaire a chance to make an impact for this one.



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pre-game thoughts: Sharks pack big bite!

Its the NHL's best San Jose Sharks again tonight... the difference, this time we play them in our house where the Jackets are a respectable 7-6-1 all time against them.

The Sharks are pulling a Michael Phelps and swimming over anyone in their path. In just 30 games they have amassed 25 wins, 3 losses and 2 OT losses good for 52 points. That is the best start in the history of the NHL.

Heck on the road they are 9-3.

The good news is that the Jackets have played this team well both times they have met, unfortunately they haven't gotten the results. They'll need the same effort plus some tonight if they hope to change that.

* The Jackets have outworked the Sharks every place but where it counts the most and that's the scoreboard. The Sharks are to dangerous to not convert on your chances and if you keep them in the game, they'll eventually make you pay.

* Special teams. I know here we go again but if you want to beat the best you have play your best in every area and that includes staying out of the box and converting on PP chances.

* Sharks are deep front 1st line to 4th.. from 1st pair to 3rd.. from starter to backup. As a player if you think you can take a night off against this squad then you fail.

* Did I mention the Jackets have got to score on their opportunities? If they outplay their opponents like they have been recently in the first period, they need more than one goal to show for it! Crash that net, fire shots through, get rebounds, get traffic in front, get deflections... make the simple play.

* Don't look now but Rick Nash is scoreless in his last 5 games. In fact over that stretch he has just 1 assist and is a -6. Nash is our leader and captain.... need a lot more out of 61 than those numbers if this team wants to move up the standings.... no better time than tonight to break out of that slump.

* Mason just has to keep on keepin on. He'll see a lot of quality opportunities against this San Jose squad that has pumped in an NHL best 112 goals. Need to stop what he should and make the big save when needed which is exactly what he's done thus far this season.

* The defense has their work cut out for them. San Jose can roll 3 scoring lines... obviously Hitch will play his matchups since he has the last line change but all 6 guys need to be dialed in for this one. No easy goals or lazy plays out there.

* Nash isn't the only one slumping.. Huselius has 1 assist and is a -6 over his last 6. Umberger is even worse -- he has 0 point over his last 7 and is a -4. These guys have to get it going and covert on their chances!

Nash-Umberger-Huselius.... need production from these three. They are our top scoring line and our best players have to be their best against the NHL's best team. They are allowing way to many goals against while they are out there while not converting -- that has to change starting tonight!

On paper this looks like a butt-whipping in waiting but for some reason I have a good feeling about this one. The Jackets need to start seeing positive results from their strong play and if they can somehow muster 2 points out of this tonight it could really build some confidence.

...and as a side note, a little birdie told me it was Hitch's birthday today -- so happy birthday Hitch!

Lets get him a big win tonight!!



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stat of the day

Throwing you a curve ball today. This is a college hockey stat courtesy of InsideCollegeHockey:

Of the Buckeyes' top 13 scorers, all but one are freshmen and sophomores. The lone exception is OSU's leading point-getter, senior Corey Elkins.

I'd say they are well positioned for the future!

Miami sits at #2 in the polls while OSU creeps up two spots to #15 this week.


Norrena clears

I just read this bit of news:

With goalie Fredrik Norrena having cleared waivers, Steve Mason will start Wednesday against San Jose, and Pascal LeClaire will start Thursday against Dallas

Looks like its one of two options for Norrena 1. accept an assignment in Syracuse or 2. head back over to Europe. I'm going with option #2.

Also Puck-rakers has reported that Derek Dorsett has been cleared to re-join the club:

Right winger Derek Dorsett, out the last 2 1/2 weeks with a broken finger, has been cleared to return to the Blue Jackets. He's practicing today with the rest of the club and could play on Wednesday vs. San Jose.

It's not clear if Dorsett will be able to fight upon his return.

That is great news because the Jackets can certainly use Dorsett's energy. What doesn't make sense to me was Howson's comment in the paper this morning regarding Norrena being put on waivers:

Howson said the move was not to free up a roster spot in advance of Friday's mandatory holiday roster freeze that runs to Dec. 27.

Lets see... Roster is at a maximum of 23 players. Dorsett is cleared to return while Norrena is put on waivers. Seems pretty cut and dry to me that this was indeed a move to clear out a spot for Dorsett.

You've hung onto Norrena for this long so why else make the move unless someone on the IR is ready to return?

I guess Wilson could be sent back down but he's a nice option to have right now... Mason has proved his worth so Norrena becomes your most expendable part.

Moving on.

Lots of chatter out there that Mats Sundin has chosen his new team... Yeah its definitely not Cbus Jacket fans so don't get your hopes up. Its actually being speculated that its the Rangers. Of course the Rangers are damn near maxed out on their cap so something big would have to give for them to squeeze Sundin in. A big ticket player like Gomez or Drury would have to be on their way out.

There has been some speculation that the Rangers have a deal lined up with Vancouver and its Gomez's name that is getting mentioned. That makes some sense considering its Vancouver that has a standing 2 year offer to Mats at 10 mil per. If they miss out on him they may be willing to absorb a guy like Gomez as he is a center they could use. I wouldn't expect Vancouver to give up much, if anything, for absorbing that contract however.

The kicker for me is I believe Gomez has a NTC and he is just into the 2nd year of his 5 year contract with them.

There are some pieces on the Rangers that Columbus could certainly use with Gomez being one of them but including this year Gomez has 4 years left on his deal at 8, 8, 7.5 & 5.5 -- don't count on Howson taking on that one in a small market with a slumping economy/attendance and a cap expected to fall.

Now if a guy like Dubinsky or Giradi's name popped up in the conversation... things would get real interesting. The Rags won't part with those two quality and affordable pieces to get Sundin in their fold though.

Wonder if they'd take Backman back for Gomez (I kid... I kid..).


Monday, December 15, 2008

Only a matter of time for Norrena

Everyone saw this one coming so the news that Freddy Norrena has been waived isn't a surprise. The questions were when and how Norrena's Blue Jacket career would come to a close?

Trade? Waiver? Back to Europe?

We now have our answer.

I honestly thought they would hang on to him until after the holiday roster freeze so this move tells me two things -- 1. they have seen enough of Mason to know he can handle the load and 2. the Jackets must have a player ready to come off IR so they had to clear out a roster spot.

That player will either be Rusty Klelsa or Derick Dorsett. Heck it could be both with a guy like Clay Wilson getting sent back down.

Clearly though there was no trade market for Norrena as I'm sure Howson exhausted those options... and why would there be given is poor performance this year and last?

I'm sure Norrena will land on his feet and he'll certainly have no regrets. If he doesn't land on another NHL team (which I think is unlikely) he can always look back and say he gave the NHL a shot and turned in one really good season back in '06-'07 when he became the first Jackets goaltender to finish with an above .500 record.

Its kind of interesting now to reflect back on that deal that brought Norrena here. Remember it was Doug MacLean who traded Marc Denis for Freddy Norrena and Freddy Modin. Denis is now an AHL goaltender with the Montreal Canadiens organization and Norrena is more than likely headed back to Sweden. Freddy Modin will likely be the sole remaining player playing in the NHL.

I wish Norrena all the best in his as he continues his hockey career.

Fire away - thoughts on Norrena's career in Columbus?


Congrats to Goloubef!

Cody Goloubef, the Jackets 2008 2nd round pick, was just name to the World Junior Canadian squad.

The 6-1 194 lb native of Oakville, ON plays for the Wisconsin Badgers of the WCHA. He has 2g, 4a for 6p in 18g. He was the youngest player in the NCAA D1 hockey last season.

What I didn't know was that Goloubef was almost a Buckeye:

Growing up, I always wanted to go the NCAA route,” he said. “When I got drafted to Sarnia I thought about it for a little bit but it’s the real deal down here. There’s nothing else like it out there and this is the right place for me. I never really looked towards the CHL because I knew what I was going to get when I got here.”

The University of Wisconsin became Goloubef’s school of choice over Boston University and Ohio State partly because of the coaching staff, specifically assistant coach Mark Osiecki.

“For me, it really came down to the coaching staff, all of the facilities and the gut feeling that I got when I was down at the university,” he said. “I just felt the most comfortable with Coach Os (Osiecki). I knew that I had to learn to play in my own zone and I felt that he was the best guy to help me out there. So I decided that in order to benefit myself, I was going to come to Wisconsin. I chose the school that I felt looks the best in my eyes and where I felt that I could develop the best as well. So it was just the kind of deal that I
couldn’t turn down.”

Also here is a bit on his game:

Goloubef is an intelligent defenseman blessed with superb offensive skills and displays tremendous poise with the puck. He possesses a big shot and can get it to the net. He has excellent on-ice vision, follows plays very well and has little trouble finding and getting passes to his teammates. In addition, he can make really nice outlet passes. While his decisions with the puck are very good, he’ll need to be able to make them quicker to have success both at the collegiate level and beyond.

Its always a good thing when a Jacket prospect gets named to the WJCs. Its extra special when one goes the Canadian team as its an ultra-competitive squad to make and if you recall, Steve Mason won tournament MVP backstopping that team to the gold medal last year.

With Goloubef named that brings the "official" total to two with Ted Ruth playing for the USA. Of course its expected that both Nikita Filatov and Maksim Mayorov will be named to Team Russia over the next several days.

The only bummer was that Jackets 2008 5th round pick Matt Calvert was cut from the team. Calvert has been battling an injury and was not able to participate in the selection camp.

I look forward to watching all of these players in this year's tourney.

Remember all US games will be televised on the NHL Network. Also this tourney starts on December 26th. The full scheduled can be found here.

Congrats Goloubef!!


Weekend in review

I apologize for no updates yesterday but it was just one of those days where it was hard to find the time.

Anyhow lets get to the hockey action from this weekend.

VS. New York Islanders

The Jackets took care of business in a game where they had to take care of business. They won 3-1 off the strength of solid overall play from everyone in the lineup.

* Secondary scoring stepped up. Murray, Chimera and Modin all with goals.

* Overall the Jackets played the kind of game that makes them successfull. Everybody worked hard right through the lineup... They used the cycle well. The goaltending made the saves it should.

* Steve Mason was great again especially in the 3rd period.

* Jakub Voracek looks like a new player out there. He played great and really created the opportunity that resulted in Murray's timely goal to put the game away.

* Actually this game was one of the better officiated games I've seen this season.

* STOP THE PRESSES!!! We got a PP goal!

* The Jackets beat a team they should beat. They also extended their home winning streak to 4.

* The PK did its job killing the two PPs against.

* Group in Section 108 who were singing "Old MacDonald gave a goal" in the 3rd period... nicely done!!

* Jackets were awesome in the dot winning 65% of their draws.

* Loved the Boll Peca Wilson line... I thought those guys had a lot of energy for the few shifts they were out there.

* Decent crowd of over 15k. Would certainly like to see more for a Saturday night game but its a step in the right direction.

* Even Christian Backman played a solid game with over 14 min of ice time and he got 3 shots..on net!

* Hate to see them give up that shorty but they batteld through it.

VS. Chicago Blackhawks

Honestly I haven't gotten a chance to watch this entire game yet. I had a adult league championship game (go Ice Breakers!) so only caught the last 8 minutes.

From what I saw the boys looked like they were playing hard but again failed to put it in the net. They also gave up a last period goal which really hurts.

Modin is cetainly hot though. He notched his 5th goal in 7 games.

While the team is going great at home they have really struggled on the road dropping their past 5 without gaining a single point. Their defense seems to be improving off the great play of Mason but now their offense is drying up.

The Jackets just seem to be treading water right now. Win 2 lose 2 and so on and so forth. They have to go on a run and string some 4 and 5 game winning steaks together here if they really want to realize those playoff dreams.

The wheels are falling of the Crunch train. They dropped all 3 games this weekend.

Things started off Friday when they popped 3 in but lost 4-3. On Saturday they lost 4-2 to Toronto and yesterday they dropped a 1-0 decision to Rochester.

After a great start they have won just twice in their past 10 games. They currently sit at 14-12-0-1. They aren't scoring and their goaltending has been as sharp.

Cleary this team needs a wake-up call.

One more note. This was the final game for Nikita Filatov and Maxim Mayorov as they are off to Kingston, Ontario, to try out for the Russian World Junior team.

For more Crunch coverage check out Lindsay Kramer's blog.

If anyone had a great weekend it was the OSU Men's hockey squad.

They absolutely dominated Bentley in Friday night whipping them 10-1. It was actually a 1 goal game in the 3rd until the flood gates openeded and out poored rivers of offense. The Buckeyes scored 5 PP goals (must be nice!). In all 15 Buckeyes had points in the win.

Things were certainly closer on Saturday night but again the Buckeyes found a way to win in OT off the strenght of Zac Dalpe goal that gave the Bucks a 3-2 victory. Dalpe won the game when he batted a puck out of mid-air at 1:11 of OT to give them the win.

That marks 6 straight wins for the hockey Bucks and improves their record to 11-6-1. They currently sit 6th in the CCHA.

The Buckeyes are off until they host the Ohio Hockey Classic at the Schott starting on Jan 2nd. Miami, Clarkson and Army will be taking part in the tournament.

Finally, check out the Blue Jackets official web site. They have a pretty cool new graphic honoring Brassard and Mason for their rookie of the month awards.