All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: THN predicts the Jackets 12th, Fiscler thinks they may be playoff bound

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

THN predicts the Jackets 12th, Fiscler thinks they may be playoff bound

There seems to be a new trend emerging for the Jackets where you read one publication picking them as locks to make the playoffs and then you turn around and 5 minutes later read someone predicting them to get into it.

Hey its better than last year right where just about everyone picked them to be in the bottom 2 of the league.

As puck-rakers reported earlier The Hockey News Yearbook has been released and they are picking the Jackets to finish 12th in their conference. In fact here is their top 15:

1. Detroit 2. San Jose 3. Minnesota 4. Dallas 5. Anaheim 6. Edmonton 7. Chicago 8. Calgary 9. Nashville 10. Phoenix 11. Vancouver 12. Columbus 13. LA 14. Colorado 15. St. Louis

Hey they are just predictions but Minnesota 3rd? They are also jumping on the Edmonton and Chicago bandwagons. Quite frankly I think the entire west is a toss up after Detroit, San Jose and maybe Dallas.

Overall they gave the Jackets a grade of C-.

For comparison's sake here was their prediction of the West last year:

1. Detroit 2. Anaheim 3. Calgary 4. San Jose 5. Minnesota 6. Vancouver 7. Nashville 8. Colorado 9. St. Louis 10. Chicago 11. Dallas 12. L.A. 13. Edmonton 14. Columbus 15. Phoenix

Now here was the outcome:

1. Detroit 2. San Jose 3. Minnesota 4. Anaheim 5. Dallas 6. Colorado 7. Calgary 8. Nashville 9. Edmonton 10. Chicago 11. Vancouver 12. Phoenix 13. Columbus 14. LA 15. St. Louis

Not bad on the West but boy did they really miss on the East. They actually had Montreal, Boston, Washington & Philadelphia missing the playoffs which as we know now, all 4 made and in fact Montreal had the best record in the East.

I really think the West this year will be a surprise in terms of the teams left standing for the playoff this season. Will the Jackets be one of those -- I sure hope so!

...and hey lets not forget The Hockey News actually predicted the Jackets to make the playoffs in their 2006-2007 preview which of course they then proceeded to tank. Fool me once right...

Aaron Portzline writes most of the rest of the CBJ coverage in the yearbook and what he didn't write he commented in the Dispatch blog which was Nash ranked 36th out of the top 50 players and Voracek and Brassard in the top 10 of rookies to watch out for.

Speaking of top 10 rookies here was his list of the top 10 prospects for the Jackets:

1. Voracek - Skates like thew ind and is amazingly creative
2. Filatov - Has breakaway skills, but needs physical growth
3. Brassard - Great palymaker just needs to fill out
4. Mason - Towering stopper is positionally sounds
5. Methot - Sturdy defender moves the puck safely
6. Goloubef - Safe and realiable two-way defender
7. Sestito - Rugged winger can score a litle too
8. Pineault - Plays tough and has a wicked wrist shot
9. Weber - Mobile big man with offensive upside
10. Picard - Injuries have derailed a once-promising career

They do give the Jackets prospect group an A- overall.

One more tidbit is that they feature each team's top shootout performer from the year prior. Kristian Huselius is ours converting on 4/5 attempts for a .800 percentage. Overall the Jackets had a .297 success rate in the shootout - ugh.

Stan Fiscler of The Hockey Journal however has this to say about the Jackets:

Scott Howson’s Blue Jackets haven’t created any major headlines lately but the ex- Oilers aide may be putting together the NHL’s sleeper team of 2008-09. There may not be an All-Star among the roster additions but there’s plenty of substance. Between R.J. Umberger, Kris Huselius, Raffi Torres, Mike Commodore, Fedor Tyutin and Chris Backman, Columbus has a neat nucleus with which Ken Hitchcock can work. If Pascal Leclaire matures as a No. 1 goalie and Russian whiz Nikita Filatov lives up to his notices, the pieces for a playoff team will be in place.

Fiscler seems to be one guy that isn't looking at each move individually but instead as a whole. He realizes that games aren't won in offseason headlines and that what Howson has done is acquire competitive pieces for Hitch to mold into formidable team that will play their style of game night in and night out.

Here is a real interesting tidbit from Puck-rakers, Syracuse Crunch(er) John "Nasty" Mirasty will make his first appearance at Blue Jackets camp this year. Mirasty is about as tough as they come so it will certainly be interesting to see what he can do both on the ice and with this fists. It sure would be sweet to see him last long enough for that first home exhibition game against the Preds -- no way in hell I miss that one!

Honestly though I wouldn't be shocked if Mirasty got a couple of cups of coffee should some "nasty"ness break out against some teams early in the season and the Jackets call him on subsequent meetings.

-LTL

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the predictions when they actually seem to take some time to really have a look at what our needs were, where we were last year compared to our additions/changes this year, and the style we play. When they just say we are going to suck because we always have it is very irritating. I get sick and tired of reading articles from lazy writers who don't bother to do any research.

One of the big problems is that people have looked at our Huselius addition and Zherdev trade as a wash and they don't see us as having added any offense. They have been repeating that to themselves, and to anyone who will listen, since the deals were made therefore anything that shows otherwise is difficult for people to comprehend.

Thing is, our top 6 (other than Nash and Z) were so bad...pathetic actually that even average scoring from our new guys will give us a LARGE offensive boost. When you are the worst offensively by a mile, it doesn't take much to give us a huge boost. Our defensive numbers were top 10 in the league and if we can add even 30 more goals to our totals we will be in very good shape.

Erik said...

Anonymous,

I completely agree, the main stream hockey reporters don't bother to do their research.. Calling Huselius for Z a wash is the most common comment among hockey writers and it's the dumbest comment I can imagine.. First off Huselius has proven to be a consistent 50-70 point player for several seasons.. Z hasn't had 2 in a row.. Secondly Z was never able to compliment Nash, Huselius makes his living feeding power forwards.. Now you have a skill player supporting one of the best Power forwards in the league in Nash.. Huselius is used to working with Iginla, arguably the best in the biz. Thirdly, Huselius has played in a Hitch type system and embraces it, he might not be the best D-oriented winger but he can coast by.. Z just didn't fit.. So in conclusion we get a player that is more consistent, fits better, has similar skill although Z probably has more potential and most importantly will finally provide some space and setup for Nash to unleash his full potential.. How the heck is that a wash ??

Regarding offense, if Huselius, Umberger and Nash (I am calling it the HUN line) can create some chemistry I think we can see record years for all 3 players.. H&U both are guys that can rack up the Assist points, and hopefully unleash Nash while adding some goals as well.. The second line will be a quality line as well, if Modin can stay healthy.. with Modin, Brassard and Torres.. That's a pretty decent 2nd line.. Modin can provide a lot of offensive possibilities for T&B when he pulls D-men to the boards..

Call me crazy but I think we will see huge production increase from the 3/4 lines, with players that add experience and 3/4-line quality in Peca, Chimera, Malhotra, Novotny and York, and lot of young talent in Voracek, Filatov, Murray and Boll. Finally these guys will be playing where they belong and can contribute.. I think the 3rd and 4th line will be really competitive, the days of 3/4-liners playing 1st and 2nd line are over...

Combine that with the improved D, which was one of the best in the league last year.. and I think we will be in the hunt...

Add in the intangibles, such as better leadership, more chemistry and players that actually fit the coach's system and this should be a very exciting year for the Blue Jackets.. Nobody should underestimate the effect of cutting of the dead weight...

Anonymous said...

Erik--I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have said. I am not sure if you have read my postings in the past re: comparing our offense to what our offensive potential is this year, we add in the ballpark of 27-35+ goals (depending on what Brassard scores).

Even if our additions score their NHL averages we are far better offensively.

I really think that top line of ours is going to be tough to stop. You have two big bodies in Nash and RJ. Neither one is afraid to take it to the net, both can make plays and score goals. Then you have the sneaky, shifty Huselius finding the holes the big bodies create. It is a suddenly a triple threat line and defenders will have a tough time knowing who to cover. Nash has typically been the only guy to worry about on the top line and he still managed 38 goals!

We also have other options--Modin and Nash were a great pair together as well and you could slot Brassard between them as well. We can do a lot of different combos. As we know Hitch goes with 2-somes more than anything and we have much more dynamics in changing out that third guy.

I can't friggin' wait until camp!!!!!!!!!!

Erik said...

Anonymous,

I did read your post, I assume all lengthy anonymous posts are yours.. You are right we are adding more goals... but more importantly we are adding more skill and grit.. All the additions fit the Hitch system, which is extremely important. We are more skilled, deeper and more competitive... I agree I can't wait till camp.. Hey maybe Howsen will pull another stunner and add another piece.. chances are slim.. but you never know what opportunities present itself.