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Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Jackets limp over the finish line

Make that 9-16-6 since the All Star Break.

Not even scoring the first goal could save the Jackets this afternoon. Again, they completely out shot and out chanced the St. Louis Blues (we've seen this episode before right?) but again, they completely failed at actually putting the puck in the net.

Result. 4-1 loss and an big exclamation points at the end of another miserable season. A season that the team did take some steps but ultimately a season where even a Stanley Cup winning coach could only get so much out of what is clearly an inferior and tremendously under skilled lineup.

Lit it up

Again the Jackets showed some toughness. Konopka, Rome and Sestito all got in scraps. Of course none of them won the decision. That made 7 fights in the past 2 games.

Andre Murray. I just love the way this kid competes every. single. shift. We need more players like Murray although the ability to finish would be nice.

Dim the light

Hey we scored first....and got a 5-3 goal...Peca could only whiff so many times right?

Adam Pineault. I really like what I've seen from this guy. Find someone who can get him the puck in shooting areas and this kid could pot 20 in the NHL. He's got great size and good speed.

Colin Wilson. Message to Ron Hainsey -- see how you can get pucks through to the net? Do you also see how you can actually make passes to the forwards sticks on the rush? When an unknown like Wilson can get called up and be our best offensive forward you really have to wonder how good Ron Hainsey really is?

Congrats to Tkachuk on his 500th. The celebration at the end was a little ridiculous though. I swear I was waiting for the NHL brass to bring out the cup. He's only the 3rd American in the history of the game to get 500.

Pretty good crowd but not much to cheer. Most subdued I've ever seen that place at a game closer. To me that's a good sign - expectations are rising.

Busted bulbs

Freddy Norrena. 3 goals on what, the first 14 shots? Our big game goaltending really hit the crapper over the past few weeks.

Leclaire. Hurt again? Just when I thought we could put his durability issues behind us. This negotiation could get real interesting this summer. I'd have no problem giving Leclaire his big pay day but I'm not sure he's proven enough still in the durability department to warrant. Still though, goaltending is to important to take a chance on - Howson will have to pay.

Ron Hainsey. I thought he was absolutely brutal tonight.

He wasn't the only one -- Jan Hejda had a rough night. From a couple of ill timed penalties (although very questionable) to just some average defending out there. Same goes for Rusty.

3 bright lights on the night

1. End of the season - good first half but horrible second half..couldn't end quick enough
2. Tom Sestito - first NHL game and the kid represented himself well but still plenty of work to do on his game
3. Tkachuk's 500 - definitely not a Jacket fan favorite but 500 is quite an accomplishment and that was the first time I've ever seen a player get one live

So with 8 AHLers in the lineup and with the playoffs out of reach the Jackets crossed the finish line.

The Jackets went 2-7-1 over their last ten including dropping the last 5 straight. They were above .500 the entire season until the final two games which was in no doubt a very disappointing way to finish the year.

So what's next? Scott Howson was on the post game radio show and he was asked that very same question. He gave the same answers he's been giving for quite some time -- the we'll turn over every stone to improve this team but we'll do so without sacrificing for the future. Says when we become good we want to become good for a long time. Mentioned that UFA and trades will be the primary focus.

Another interesting nugget was about Jakub Voracek. Howson said at the end of training camp he told Voracek that he reminded him of a young Ales Hemsky and that they told Hemsky to go back to junior and dominate that league which he did. He said Voracek has done the same this year and that he'll be given a strong look this coming season. In fact he made it sound like since he is no AHL eligible that if he doesn't have anything left to offer in juniors he'll be kept on the big squad to learn how to play in the NHL. I think we can basically pencil him in outside of a gaping regression this offseason which is unlikely.

Bottom line though is that big changes are coming. Howson obviously won't commit to anything but he again reiterated the money they have to spend, the assets that are available and their commitment towards winning now and in the future. He said they desperately need to upgrade their skill level on the back end and then go from there.

Now the focus quickly turns from this season to Howson and if he'll be able to get the right pieces added this offseason in a very competitive market place.

Howson is now on the clock and there is no more room for failure.

Lots more to come this offseason from this blog in regards extreme makeover expected in Jacketland.

-LTL

4 comments:

Bethany said...

UGH, that's about the only thing I can think to say.

Anonymous said...

I am glad this misery is over. That was painful.

Rick said...

Once again, a disappointing finish. That said, I think you're right, expectations are rising. I hate the saying "look to the future" and I think Jackets Prez Mike Priest said it well yesterday in the Dispatch that the future is NOW!

Tom said...

On the FSN Ohio broadcast, Howson said he is looking for 2 centers and 3 defensemen, minimum. Should be a fun summer.