directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blues think out of the box; York on waivers

A friend of mine sent me this email that he received from the St. Louis Blues yesterday:

Ticketmaster Name Your Price Sale Starts Today!

Want Blues season tickets but not sure you can fit them in your budget? Now you can.

For one week only, fans can name their own price in select sections on full season tickets, 10 game plans and single game tickets for all October home games during the Ticketmaster Name Your Price Sale.

The sale, which is a first in the sports industry, begins Monday, Sept. 29 and continues through Sunday, Oct. 5.

During the week, you can "Name Your Price" on any of the following tickets:
*Full Season Tickets
*10-Game Packages (a premium game plan or weekend plan)
*Single Game Tickets in October, including Opening Night vs. Nashville

The Blues know there's nothing better than a sold out Scottrade Center with exciting, pulse-pounding Blues action. Name Your Price today before it's too late.

If your price is accepted, your order will be processed immediately.

Hurry. This once-in-a-lifetime offer ends Sunday, Oct. 5.

I know this is bit gimmicky but its also an interesting and creative way to try to fill their building.

Its a tough and competitive environment out there and I get the sense that the Jackets marketing staff is living and dying by this "if we win they'll come" strategy. That may be true for a while but keeping arenas full is a living and breathing thing and the Jackets have to continue to get creative in finding new ways to attract new fans to games every game every season..

We've seen in Detroit that even if you ice a great product, you still may not be able to fill your arena every night.

Michael York has been put on waivers by the Jackets according to the very reliable Andy Strickland on Remeber that York signed a 2-way deal that essentially means he'll earn a much higher salary in the NHL than if he plays in the AHL. Like any veteran he'll have to pass through waivers before being assigned to the Syracuse Crunch.

York quite frankly just hasn't had a strong camp and as of now, doesn't appear to be in the fold for anything more than a year in Syracuse. Should he go unclaimed (which I think he will) and the injury bug really strikes the Jackets he may be a depth call up but that appears to be it at this point.

Check out this great read over on with Rick Nash. Nash has some more juicy quotes for us to eat:

"I think last season was the first season teams actually started taking us serious," Nash said. "We weren't as consistent as we wanted to be, but you could sense that teams were taking us serious. We're the only team to not make the playoffs (in the NHL), but with Ken Hitchcock as our coach, now teams are watching us and that puts us on the map.

"We're lucky for how patient our fans are already, but we have to show them a good product and start winning to get the whole city excited."

"I think I'm responsible to take this team to the next level," Nash said. "They have invested a lot in me and they have made me the captain to lead this team to the next level."

Those are words I love to read from our captain. Read more from Nash here.

Looks like Columbus has invited another enforcer to Crunch camp. According to Lindsay Kramer former Crunch enforcer Mike Sgroi is slated to join the Crunch for camp.

This is the part that interested me the most though. Kramer speculates on why, with John Mirasty in the fold, would the Crunch invite another enforcer:

Maybe this is how it shakes out now - Mirasty impressed the Blue Jackets during the preseason and will be on-call as Columbus' tough guy. Sgroi is signed to play in Johnstown again, which is now Columbus' ECHL affiliate. When Mirasty is called to pinch-hit for the Blue Jackets, Sgroi can pop up to Syracuse for those three-in-threes.

Honestly that was my first thought as well. I thought Mirasty showed he's competent enough for spot "tough guy" duty at the NHL level but its also important to have someone patrolling the Crunch ice in his absence - especially with the kids we have down there.

We'll see how this plays out as Mirasty would have to be signed to a 2-way contract before the Jackets could even think about calling him up.


Jackets lose Torres in expected win

The Jackets rolled last night 7-1 over a Chicago team filled mostly with AHLers, junior players and blockheads.

There were some strong signs and some bad ones but the story of the night was Raffi Torres' seperated shoulder that will keep him out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks.

It happened in the 2nd period when Torres agreed to fight Ben Eager before a faceoff after he slashed rookie Jakub Voracek on the wrist. Eager, a noted pugalist, won the fight convicingly. It was an ill-advised move but one in which Torres was certainly looking to make an impression in his frist game as a Jacket as someone who will compete hard and stand up for his teammates.

Unfortunately what looked like a very promising 3rd line (Torres and Peca were excellent last night) has now been put on the back burner. As Hitch stated in the paper now somebody will have to step up and this is exactly why you need quality depth in your organization.

As far as the game itself its very hard for me to get excited about a blow out score against an "maybe" AHL caliber squad but lets break it down anyways:


* The new faces continue to show up on the score sheet which is a great sign. Kristian Huselius had a 3 points night as did Fedor Tyutin. Christian Backman had 2 points and Raffi Torrest notched a goal. In fact out of the 7 goals scored 4 of them were from the new faces.

* Was nice to see Nasher get goin with 2 goals and an assist.

* I am personally blown away with Huselius' puck skills. Unlike Z who creates room for himself Huselius creates room for his linemates and finds them in open spaces. He is so smooth with the puck as well and I have yet to see this guy really flub a pass. I really like his ability to gain the blueline with the man advantage. He does have to watch his turnovers.

* Michael Peca had a nice first game. He put in over 14 minutes worth of work with 5 of that on the PK. He was also 57% in the face off circle and collected a helper. The 3rd line is definitely where Peca is most effective.

* I thought Torres looked incredible for the minutes he played. He was strong on the puck, played the body and made smart hockey plays -- well until the right which we'll get to later.

* The PP got going as the Jackets collected 3 PP goals. Still hard to get real excited about it against that 'hawks lineup.

* The Garage Bar - two big thumbs up! Nice staff, great prices and wonderful atmosphere.

* Alex Picard with two fights..who woulda thunk it? He played a decent game overall I thought.

* I thought defensively the team was really good. Allowed low percentage shots and generally contacted the 'hawks AHLers. Commodore and Hejda looked very good as a shutdown pair while Tyutin and Klesla played solid physical games. In fact Commodore and Hejda and led all players in ice time with 22+ and 23+ minutes respectively. Another intersting stat is that Commodore had 3 blocked shots while Tyutin had 4.

* Game ops did a little better on the replays (I liked the overhead goalie shots) but I think there is plenty of more room for improvement.

* Modin looked much better last night. He had the legs pumping and didn't look nearly as rusty. Although he didn't convert, that rush he had in the 3rd was a beaut!

* Leclaire was also much better (especially when compared to Huet) but of course his competition was much lighter. He made some really nice gloves saves, seemed to be positioned and moved well. Now about that stickhandling.....

* Brassard and Voracek were just okay last night. Which isn't to say they played bad b/c they didn't but I didn't think either played as well as they did on Friday. Both these guys don't look out of place at all out there and are going to really help. I was a little worried about Brass there in the 3rd as he took a cheap shot behind the 'hawks net that looked like it rattled him a bit but the Dispatch boys said it was a cut lip and he's okay.

* I thought Jared Boll played a fine game. How he got a 5 minute major for keepin a glove on a taking 3 jabs is beyond me. I guess when you do what Jared does he doesn't get the benefit of doubt on most nights. I tell ya that is the first time I've seen a skate break at the NHL level... poor Boll couldn't get off the ice with that bad wheel.

* That first period by the Jackets was a train wreck. As someone said last night to me, it seems to take this group a while to get going and they seemed to be playing down to their competition. Agreed but that doesn't make it any prettier to watch.

* Arena was empty. I see Nationwide like that in the pre-season and I think there is no excuse for it. The Jackets should be using these pre-season games to sell their product at a discount in hopes of making up those losses on the backend let alone the money gained on concessions, merchandise, parking, etc. Sure it may be a short term hit financially but the potential benefits of hooking in new fans vastly outweighs the negatives. If they are going to insist on having 8 pre-season games the Jackets have got to start thinking out of the box in terms of how to market them. You can't sell these games as you would regular season games -- it just doesn't work.

* For as good as Torres was you hate to see him drop the gloves in a situation like last night. Frankly I was worried the entire time about his ACL and wasn't even thinkin he'd injure something else. The silver lining here I guess is that the extra 4 to 6 weeks off should have that ACL injury completely healed.
* I'd really like to see Backman improve his lateral play with the puck. He had a lot of shots blocked which is a shame b/c the dude has a cannon. Maybe it was just one game but if he moved left to right better last night with the puck he would have had a lot more shots on net.

* A 7-1 win against this team just didn't know a whole lot for me. Now if we can break out those kinds of scores in the regular season I may start mapping out the parade route!

1. New faces continue to shine in the scoring department notching 4 of the 7 goals.
2. Rick Nash pots a couple and grabs a helper as he shakes the rust off and prepares for the regular season.
3. Fan in the 4th row of secion 107 who got the entire area chanting "Backup" as Huet was struggling. That guy was a riot all night - well done!

Honorable mention goes to the couple of readers I got to meet last night at the Garage Bar who are great hockey fans! A special shout goes out to Mike Dury who from what I understand is an avid reader but wasn't able to make it --- I hope to grab a beer and chat some hockey with ya soon Mike!!

The Jackets move to 2-3 on the pre-season and their next game is Thursday night at home versus the Buffalo Sabres. Jakub Voracek continues to lead the team in pre-season scoring with 1g, 4a in 5 gp. Huselius, Nash and Tyutin are right behind him with 4 points each.

Tonight is the season ticket holder event at the Columbus Zoo. It should be a fun event and I hope to see alot of you out there tonight to meet and hang with this year's Jackets!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Chicago goes with watered down lineup (Update: Khabibulin waived)

Puck-rakers just posted Chicago's lineup for tonight:

Forwards: Jack Skille, Jesse Boulerice, Kevyn Adams, Troy Brouwer, Igor Makarov, Pascal Pelletier, Craig Adams, Kris Versteeg, Petri Kontiola, Adam Burish, Evan Brophey, Ben Eager.

Defense: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Sopel, Jordan Hendry, Matt Walker, Doug Janik, Aaron Johnson.

Goaltenders: Cristobal Huet, Nikolai Khabibulin.

Only a couple of regulars in that mix for Chicago but they did bring some muscle in Boulerice and Burish to name a few.

Bottom line is the Jackets should steamroll right over this Chicago lineup with the guns they are breaking out for tonight's game....and I stress should. They'll need to solve Huet or Khabibulin to get there and we know how the Jackets have a penchant for making goaltenders look like Vezina winners. Darren Elliot had this to say about the Jackets:

For all the promise shown last season, this still won't be the campaign in which the Jackets finally make the playoffs for the first time in their history. Alas, they still don't have enough dependable scoring outside of Rick Nash, even with the additions of Kristian Backman and RJ Umberger.

No mention of the young impact rookies expected to help scoring. Then again that's no surprise given the probably 2 minutes worth of research Elliot put it on the Jackets.

While Allen Muir, also of, asks this question about the Jackets:

Were the sweeping changes enough for a playoff berth?

Give GM Scott Howson credit. He recognized that the mix he inherited was not good enough, and rather than move his food around the plate, he came up with a whole new recipe.

Howson bet heavily that R.J. Umberger's stellar playoff run wasn't a fluke, and that he'll be the center the Jackets have long sought for Rick Nash. Howson traded one talented but enigmatic scorer (Nikolai Zherdev) and brought in another (UFA Kristian Huselius). He added Jiri Novotny and Raffi Torres for a more rambunctious checking line. And he completely revamped the blueline, wildly overspending on free agent Mike Commodore and airlifting Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman in from the Rangers.

Those are a lot of new faces...and not one is a sure thing. But you have to like the look of the mix. For the most part, it's a gritty, straightforward bunch that looks ideally suited to work with coach Ken Hitchcock's system. If they can get anything out of an impressive-looking but unproven group of youngsters, including Derick Brassard, Nikita Filatov, Jakub Voracek and Maxim Mayorov, the Jackets should contend for a postseason spot...but that may be as close as they get in the highly competitive West.

Here Muir does a much better job. He at least mentions some of the young guns who are showing they are ready for the big-time and the style the Jackets are going to play. Although he did swing and whiff on Jiri Novotny being a new face.

Speaking of Filatov, he seems to be getting good reviews now that he's back skating with the team. Puck-rakers dropped this juicy quote from Hitch today about when the Jackets could expect to see him in game action:

"We'll see how he looks Wednesday in practice," Hitchcock said. "He looked a lot better (today) than (Sunday). A lot more confident. He really looked good today."

I've heard very good speed and agility thus far with this kid. We all may finally get a chance to judge for ourselves come Thursday or Friday.

If this kid makes a case Howson could have a tough decision on his hands. Portzline asked Howson if they would keep Filatov around for the start of the season as under the current CBA you can hold onto a player for 9 games before sending them back to their junior team. Howson said he hasn't ruled it out.

We'll have to see how he does but if I was a betting man I think they take the cautious approach with this kid and let him play a year of junior unless he absolutely just plays lights out. Quite frankly after giving Brassard and Voracek another year or two of development and seeing the benefits of it now I think it would be a wise decision. Could be a little conservative but that's okay.

A friend just pointed me to this interview with Rick Nash over on

ESPN: When did you first realize that you were on the fast track to becoming a professional hockey player?

Rick Nash: Remember back when you were a kid and you had to write down what you wanted to be when you grew up? I always wrote NHL player. I didn't even think it would happen back then, I mean how many kids in Canada and around the world are dreaming about that, and it only really happens for a small, select percentage. But that was my dream. Then when I was 17, I saw the first central scouting list that came out and I was rated fourth in North America. That's when I realized that I needed to take this a bit more serious because my dream was about to become my job.

That picture is a classic. That is a fantastic read so be sure to check it all out. Being on the cover of that game really is giving Nash and the Jackets some great exposure!

UPDATE: It looks like Khabibulin will not be starting tonight as the Blackhawks have just waived him. I doubt anyone claims him due to that contract but there are a lot of teams with goaltending question marks so you never know.


Pre-game thoughts: Peca & Torres to see first game action tonight

The Jackets take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at Nationwide Arena. The 'hawks are 3-0 in preseason coming off a 4-3 agains Dallas last night. The Jackets meanwhile are 1-3 with all 3 losses coming on the road with mostly non-regulars in the lineup.

Tonight will be the second game of this preseason where Hitch will ice regular heavy lineup. In fact out of the lineup below I count, as does Puck-rakers, 19 players who are expected to make the opening night roster:

F1: Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius
F2: Fredrik Modin, R.J. Umberger, Jake Voracek
F3: Raffi Torres, Michael Peca, Jared Boll
F4: Alexandre Picard, Jiri Novotny, Andrew Murray

D1: Jan Hejda, Mike Commodore
D2: Fedor Tyutin, Rostislav Klesla
D3: Kris Russell, Christian Backman

G1: Pascal Leclaire
G2: Fredrik Norrena

Hitch notes in this morning's paper that these last 3 home games will be used to work on chemistry. There is also an piece on the PP and how its extremely important to get quick puck movement not only from the forwards but more importantly from the backend. So expect a lot of attention in that area which is vitally important. Just think back to last season when all of those 1 goal games slipped away and if we just could have scored 1 PP goal how different the season could have been.

Stories to watch for:

* The top 6 looked real good versus a fairly stacked Nashville defense on Friday - can they build on that?

* Can Brassard and Voracek continue their strong camps?

* PP point watch -- who is going to emerge as our PP point men. It appears Backman and Russell are the favorites for the first unit but need improvement. Does Tyutin make a push... or how about putting one of the rookies back there in Voracek or Brassard?

* Leclaire was definitely rusty on Friday... how will he look in game #2?

* Its Torres' first game action since his nasty MCL/ACL injury 9 months ago. Torres plays a gritty North American style game when healthy but is going to need some time to regain confidence in that leg. Lets see how this next step for him in his recovery goes tonight.

* Its interesting to me that Peca comes back the same night as Torres. If you recall last year Peca was recovering from a broken leg and certainly had his challenges regaining his confidence in his injury. Well after some time off with bronchitis, he begins his 2nd year as a Jacket tonight and will look to build off a decent year last season.

* Both Peca and Torres formed a formidable line in Edmonton, especially in the playoffs, so we'll see if that chemistry can re-ignite itself.

* Picard sees his 2nd game of the preseason after notching a goal in his first. He's kind of the forgotten man on the depth chart after being the 8th overall draft pick in the 2004 draft. He's also a guy who came off a nasty injury last season so lets see what he's got tonight in a 4th line role.

* Kristian Huselius struggled a bit through the first 2 periods on Friday but really came on strong in the 3rd. Clearly shaking off the rust. I thought Modin was the same. I look for stronger games from both of these wingers tonight.

Raffi Torres makes his CBJ debut tonight so hopefully we'll see some signs of what he can bring to the table. Also Peca is in the lineup playing where he fits best which is the 3rd line hole.

I'll be very interested in how our PP points perform. Can Backman gets shots through from the point? How does Russell do looking for the backdoor plays? Can Tyutin or someone else emerge to help carry that load? How is the overall chemistry?

Crowd salue at the end of the anthem

I haven't seen Chicago's lineup yet but last night they dressed all their big guns in Toews, Kane, Sharp and Campbell. The 'hawks notched 3 PP goals and Campbell had 4 assists. Translation -- these guys can score and make you pay if you take penalties. The Jackets have to be a lot more discplined than they were against Tootoo and those Preds.

They also need to take advantage of being a man up alot more this season than last. The quest to find that chemistry moves onto page 2 tonight.

I'm heading to the Garage Bar tonight to see what that is all about so if your looking for some pre/post game suds stop on over!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Montreal unveils All Star jerseys

You can't see them really well but the Montreal Canadiens unveiled the All Star jerseys for this season.

The All Star jerseys are on the left.

This is their 100th year anniversary and they are pulling out all of the stops as they've got a Cup contending team, the All Star game and the draft this summer. They are also wearing all of those old vintage Canadiens jerseys pictured above throughout the season.


Tootoo's antics derail Jackets

I didn't get to catch all of last night's game on the radio but judging by what I did catch and by the box score Predators super pest Jordan Tootoo once again got under the skin of the Jackets and drew a whopping 6 penalties. The Preds went on to win the game 3-1.

The Jackets were badly outplayed in the first period getting outshot 15-2. They bounced back in the second and outshot the Preds 19-0. Unfortunately the lineup, with only RJ Umberger as a top 6 player, was unable to to convert on numerous chances. Be it mostly a Syracuse roster or not the Jackets have to score when they play that kind of period -- that was the game right there.

There were some brights spot, especially Freddy Norrena's continued strong play in the pre-season. He held the fort as long as he could. Grant Clitsome also played another stong game leading the Jackets in ice time with over 24 minutes played. Mirasty also got to drop the mitts with Grant and by all accounts had another strong bout.

Unfortunately the PP continued to sputter and the PK gave up two more PP goals. Both Jared Boll and Derick Dorsett were goaded into double minor roughing penalties from the pest.
The Jackets have got to figure out a way to contain this guy and prevent him from getting in their heads. I know everybody wants a piece of him but that's his game. They need to start hitting first where it hurts the most when they play this team, the scoreboard. Then let Tootoo's antics come to them and turn the tables.

The loss drops the Jackets to 1-3 in the preseason. All losses coming on the road. There are 4 more preseason games left to play and my guess is that these games will have mostly Jacket regulars in the lineup as they start getting down to business with the core for the start of the season on October 10th.

Cuts are expected either today or tomorrow. The Jackets take on the Blackhawks at home tomorrow night at 7 EST.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Mirasty

I saw these vids over on HFBoards and have to post them here. Here is 5'9" John Mirasty taking on 6'7" Derek Boogaard:

Really its unbelievable he can hang right in there with a guy so much bigger than he is.

Here is his fight with Gratton last night:

I absolutely love this quote from him in the paper this morning:

Mirasty, who will be sent to the minors within a week, might get another chance to play tonight in the return game at Nashville. He plans to keep close watch on Predators agitator Jordin Tootoo.

"He's not going to be running around out there, at least as long as I'm still here," Mirasty said.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Its a step

With just about a full lineup the Jackets were able to squeeze out a 1 goal win versus those Nashville Predators. Umberger, Voracek, Murray and Huselius were the goal scorers for the Jackets -- that right, 3 out of the 4 goals were scored by new faces this season.



* Lots of positives tonight but lets start with the rookie Voracek who had a goal and an assist. He really did play a strong game and brings that skill the Jackets desperately need. He played 15+ minutes and finished a +1. He's starting to make me believe he might be able to contribute right away as that's 1g, 3a for 4 points in 3 games for this kid.

* RJ Umberger. I'm not sure about anyone else but I LOVED Umberger tonight. Again he's not flashy but he just so solid in all 3 zones and he showed tonight with his goal that he's damn good around that net. If tonight is any signs of things to come he's going to be just fine as a top 6 center for this team.

* Fedor Tyutin. Another new face I loved. Liked his transition.....liked his play with and away from the puck.... liked everything about this guy.

* Christian Backman. MUCH better than I was anticipating. Wasn't as weak defensively as I thought and he blew Hainsey's doors off in he transition game with smart passes on the tape. I'd like to see him get more shots though as he didn't register any tonight. He did finish a +2.

* Kris Russell worked very well with Backman. You can tell right away he's stronger but he didn't lose any of that slick skating ability. He jumped into gaps and also got on the scoresheet collecting a couple of assists and finishing a +2. That's the kind of night we need from him consistently throughout the year.

* The team in general came to play. They outshot the Preds 25-21 and outhit them 27-17. Quite frankly they could been up 5-0 in the first period with all their quality chances and that's without the top 2 lines playing near as good as they can.

* Mirasty got Nasty. That fight alone was worth the price of admission. He and Gratton really went at it and Mirasty stunned him a few times and popped his helmet right off. It was a sweet way to start the game. The best thing about Mirasty was that after Grant gave Voracek a cheap shot in the 3rd he did everything short of take a bad penalty to get that guy to drop his gloves but Grant and the rest of the Preds wanted nothing to do with him. He'll be in Nashville tonight for good reason.

* The grind line of Chimera-Malhotra-Murray was balls out tonight. I mean they played excellent. Murray got a goal, Chimera was hustling (nice race to that icing there in the 3rd) and Manny was making things happen. They cycled well and created chances. Not much more you can ask of a 3rd line.

* Huselius. He wasn't at his best over the first couple of periods but made up for it with a sweet goal in the 3rd to ice for the Jackets. Huselius plays a soft game but then again everyone knows that. What he does bring are soft hands and a knack to find the open players. His game is going to compliment this team much better than a guy like Z ever did.

* Nash. He had some great looks tonight but wasn't able to bury them. He did collect an assist and put in 19+ minutes. You can see right away this skill he's got to work with now and that he won't have to do it all himself.

* Brassard. Not quite as good as Voracek tonight but still solid. His backcheck there late in the game probably impressed me the most about him. He did collect an assist and made just a sweet pass to spring Nash on a breakaway. He also won 56% of his faceoffs which is outstanding. The one thing I will say is he needs to shoot more -- he passed up a couple of prime time opportunities to fire the biscuit.

* Modin was all over the place last night... it almost looked like he had a bad edge but his timing also seemed off. He'll be fine.

* Special teams were okay. The Jackets grabbed a PP on a 5 on 3 and had some flashes. The Preds though seemed to do whatever they wanted with the man advantage gaining the zone with ease -- still plenty of work to regain that stellar PK form from last season.

* Commodore, Hejda and Klesla were very physical and played solid games. Although both Commodore and Hejda were negative players last night.

* Pazzy was pretty shaky tonight. He made some nice saves in the 3rd to preserve the win but he wasn't as sharp as we know he can be. Need to get him in some more games.

* When the team comes out firing like they did last night they've got to convert early. This coulda and shoulda been a blowout but they didn't convert on their early chances.

* Crowd. Its just preseason but it was pretty empty in there tonight although I think it may have actually been an improvement over last year.

* The good news is that they stopped playing the sound of the stupid video clips that killed the arena atmosphere. The bad news is why not just kill the whole thing? Also WHERE ARE THE REPLAYS? Hits, fights, goals, penalties, it to much to ask to actually focus in on the game that's being played on the ice? Drives me nuts.

1. Young guns in Voacek, Russell and Brassard. They played well and all got their names on the score sheet. If we get that kind of production in the regular season we are going to be in good shape.

2. Offense. The top two lines created the most offense I've ever seen from a Jackets top 6 and I don't think they even played close to their potential.

3. Mirasty. Sports are all about entertainment and that is what Mirasty gave us in those first few minutes of the 1st period....and good for him for finally getting a taste of the highest level at age 26.

At the end of the day its a step and its a win over a team that has had our number the past 3 years. The offense showed major signs that they will be able to put the puck in the net, the new faces showed they are going to contribute and the defense showed that they can move the puck better than last season. Still lots of work to do and we also have to remember that Nashville didn't play with two of their big guns in Arnott and Dumont.

The boys are right back at it tonight with much different lineup. My guess is that Nashville goes with a stacked squad so lets see how the boys do. I don't think this game will be streamed so we'll have to listen to it on the radio/internet stream.


Ovechkin gets cover...

..of ESPN the Magazine:

There is also a write up and video here.

I'm no fan of ESPN but am a big fan of "The Great 8" (or is it Ovechking?) so figured this was worth a shout out.


Pre-game thoughts: Things could get "nasty" tonight

There has been a line-up change tonight. John "Nasty" Mirasty has been added to the roster while it looks like Adam Pineault has been removed.

This appears to be in response to the Preds bring alot of "rock-heads" (as my friend put it) to town for the Jackets first home pre-season game of the year.

The lineup should be as follows:

F1: Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius
F2: Fredrik Modin, R.J. Umberger, Jake Voracek
F3: Jason Chimera, Manny Malhotra, Andrew Murray
F4: Tom Sestito, Derek MacKenzie, John Mirasty

D1: Fedor Tyutin, Rostislav Klesla
D2: Jan Hejda, Mike Commodore
D3: Christian Backman, Kris Russell

G1: Pascal Leclaire
G2: Dan LaCosta

Personally I think its a great move putting Nasty in the lineup. In fact I wish Hitch would put Dorsett in there as well. One thing is for certain, the Jackets are going to have to beat a wins out of this team this year and it start tonight at home.

Some other stories to follow tonight:

* This game marks the Jackets debuts of: Umberger, Commodore, Tyutin, Huselius and Backman -- pretty exciting!

* How will the two young studs in Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard (of whom I've dubbed Jakeass....Jake+Brassard) against a stout a Pred defesnse? How will they gel with their linemates in game action?

* Who gets first dibs at Tootoo? My vote goes to Commodore although I think Dorsett would have have been a better matchup (that kid can bring it).

* This is the projected starting will they do on the tranistion? Can Russell and Backman brings signs of life to the PP? I think the top 4 are going to be very physical.

* I personally can't wait to see Tyutin.

* Remember that cheap shot on Vyborny last year from Erat? I certainly hope some of the Jackets players do.

* You know its got to be eating Jared Boll up to not be able to get into a game like this.

We need those hammers ready to throw in the regular season so its a good move to hold him out and let that hand continue to heal.

* Leclaire gets his first start of the preseason. All eyes will be watching to see if he comes out of the gate flashing the (what should have been All-Star) form from his breakout season last year.

* How long until someone drops the gloves? I give it 5 minutes tops.

Who doesn't want to see John "Nasty" Mirasty throw down tonight?

This is our first opportunity to get some new traditions started in Nationwide this year. I will promote 1 idea each game to see if we can get something new going. I'm open to any suggestions so be sure to click on the "Crowd Chant" link to the right of this page to suggest ideas.

Tonight lets go with the crowd salute after the National Anthem conludes.

Hitch wants this one tonight... and he wants it bad. Its only the preseason but a game like this where we are pretty much icing our roster can really set the tone in terms of how good and how tough of a team they can be. I look for a rough and tumble game between two teams that to achieve success need to work hard each and every night.

For those looking for a watering hole pre/post game I have been told the Garage Bar is welcoming all hockey fans while the R Bar is in transition to its new location. Adult beverages are $2 bottles and $3 tall boys. Its located right off of Neil Ave. next to the Lodge Bar.

If you can swing it I certainly recommend making it out for this one tonight. Even in preseason games against Nashville are must-watch hockey....and its time that the Jackets start coming out on the winning side of these tilts.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Highlights from last night

Just a quick post. Minnesota Wild TV has some game highlights up. You can check out, among other things, Voracek's sweet pass by following this link.


Hitch is rolling out the big dawgs on Friday

Puck-rakers just released the lineup for tomorrow nights game and as expected, its a doozy:

F1: Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius
F2: Fredrik Modin, R.J. Umberger, Jake Voracek
F3: Jason Chimera, Manny Malhotra, Andrew Murray
F4: Tom Sestito, Derek MacKenzie, Adam Pineault

D1: Fedor Tyutin, Rostislav Klesla
D2: Jan Hejda, Mike Commodore
D3: Christian Backman, Kris Russell

G1: Pascal Leclaire
G2: Dan LaCosta

We get our first looks at what will likely be our scoring lines and starting top 6 on defense. The only regulars missing are Peca, Novotny, Boll, Torres and Norrena.

I think the only two players to see action in the first three games are Murray and Voracek.

Not a whole lot of muscle in this lineup but with the likes of Sestito and Commodore they should be able to handle things if/when the game gets chippy.

I would have liked to have seen Dorsett (pictured right knocking the feathers out of a 'hawk) in the mix but after two straight nights of dropping them (and taking a nasty hit) he'll get rest. I look for him to play in Nashville along with Mirasty.

The quesiton is how does Nashville respond? Do they match it with a veteran heavy lineup or hold back until their home game the following night?

Make no mistake about it though, this lineup tells me that Hitch wants to win this game tomorrow night. He is also giving the fans a good lineup for their hard earned dollars.

The NHL is in the process of rolling out its new web page design. Check it out here.

The design is nice and I think does a better job of using the NHL's shield colors as its primary pallet on the web site. The roll over team logos are a nice touch as well.

A poster forwarded me this link (thanks BHG!) from Maxim magazine and it gives us 10 reasons to care about the NHL.

I'm tellin ya, its the season of top 10 lists!

Puck-rakers also notes that Nikita Filatov skated today on his own and will do so again tomorrow. If all goes well over the next few days he could play at home either next Thursday or Friday.


Ten things that just can't happen this year

Sick of top 10 lists yet? Well I've got another one for ya!

Here are 10 things that I believe can't happen if the Jackets hope to make the playoffs for the first time in their 8 year on ice history:

1. Rick Nash misses 10 or more games

2. Jackets go under .500 on the road

3. The Jackets PP is not in the top 15 in the league

4. The Jackets don't beat the Predators at least 3 times

5. Brassard and/or Voracek fail to contribute a combined 65 points

6. Leclaire starts less than 60 games

7. Freddy Modin scores less than 20 goals

8. Defense combines to score less than 30 goals

9. Jackets don't finish top 10 in goals against

10. Win less than half of their OT/Shootout attempts

Fire away - agree/disagree..? What are some others?


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jackets make game of it

The Jackets dressed a bunch of lower line guys and propsects but still managed to hang in there against a pretty stacked Wild squad losing 2-1.

Jiri Novotny collected the goal with Voracek and Clitsome with the assgits. Freddy Norrena stopped 29 of 31 shots.


* Freddy Norrena did his job and held this team in for the first two periods when the Jackets were outshot 25-12.

* Jakub Voracek seemed to show well again tonight as I heard his name many times and he collected his second assist in as many games.

* Grant Clitsome, the kid many have been raving about since prospecet camp made one hell of an impression tonight. He led all players with 23+ minutes of ice time and displayed keen hockey sense and the poise we've been seeing. I look for him to get bumped from Group 'B' to Group 'A' asap so the Jackets can take a longer look at this guy. Now it wasn't a perfect night for him as he was a -2 and didn't get any shots on goal but he seemed to be all over the ice making plays.

* Jiri Novotny with another goal. What can you say besides this guy wants to keep his job and he's certainly making a big case early.

* Natiowide Jackets commercials - specifically the Jazz one - A+++

* PK killed all Wild penalties (I believe it was 9 total). Bounced back well after allowing 2 PP goals the night before.

* Andrew Murray was solid...again.

* Jackets managed to snare a PP goal which was good. Hard to get a read on where the PP stands with the mixed bag of players we've seen thus far but all I know is the two botched 5 minute majors two nights in a row reminds me of last year's nightmares on the PP.

* Nice 3rd period outshooting the Wild 11 to 5.

* Although Mayorov got limited time (only 8:50) the radio crew was impressed with his play and he seemed to make some things happen. Same with Pinneault.

* Dorsett took a nasty one. I think I heard Mathews say his name again at some point. This kid is a gamer though and dropped em again.

* Paging Michael York. Seriously did anyone hear his name during this game? Did not hear much out of Clay Wilson either.

* That Chipotle "burrito" song commercial. Yeah I remember it so it did its job but Miley Cyrus songs are less annoying.

* No streaming of the game online. Again no excuse.

3 Bright Lights on the Night
1. Freddy Norrena - played very well and kept the team alive in this one which is all you can ask for
2. Grant Clitsome - great debut
3. Jazz - laughing just thinkin about that commercial..well done Nationwide!

Some good quotes in the paper today with Hitch singling out Novoty, Norrena and Murray. I'm going to have to revise my thoughts on Novonty it seems!

Boys are back at it today at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nikita Filatov is expected to hit the ice for the first time this camp.

They take on those Preds tomorrow night and word has it the Jackets plan to ice a veteran laced roster. Don't want miss this one!


Sestito Bolerice fight

A fan in Chicago posted the Sestito/Bolerfice fight from last night on youtube:

Sestito hung in there but caught that nasty one at the end. I wonder why the same fan didn't post the Chimera and Dorsett fights? I wonder...

Pre-game on in 3 minutes!


Pre-game thoughts: Right back at it

Puck-rakers has released tonight's lineup and without further adu:
F1: Mike York, Jiri Novotny, Jakub Voracek
F2: Craig MacDonald, Steve Kelly, Jared Boll
F3: Andrew Murray, Trevor Frischmon, Maksim Mayorov
F4: Adam Pineault, Blair Yaworski, Derek Dorsett

D1: Jan Hejda, Marc Methot
D2: Richard Matvichuk, Aaron Rome
D3: Grant Clitsome, Jonathan Sigalet

G1: Dan LaCosta
G2: Fredrik Norrena

By my count that is 11 players returning from last night's lineup (including the goalies).

As puck-rakers suggest there isn't a whole lot of meat to that lineup and apparently Minnesota will be icing a veteran laced squad.

That said there are some good stories to watch:

* How does Voracek mess with 4th line guys in York and Novotny? Remember Voracek could very well start further down the lineup and play his way up as the season progresses. By all accounts he played very well last night so we'll see what he can bring on a back2back.

* Hejda to see PP time? That is what Puck-rakers stated this morning. I give credit to Hitch for thinking out of the box but I see this experiment lasting about as long as the Z-at-center one did. Its preseason though so why not try it and I see it as a tip of the cap to Hejda for playing so well under Hitch.

* Grant Clitsome. I love what I've seen thus far from this kid and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in game action and an extended look.

* Mayorov gets his first taste of NHL preseason action. He'll be playing along Fritschmon who has impressed this preseason and Mr. Consistent himself Andrew Murray.

* I think we'll see York get a lot of playing time tonight so lets see if he can bring more to the table than last night's performance.

* Look for Dorsett to drop them again. Look for Boll to keep the mitts on. In fact with this lineup I don't see as many dances as we saw last night.

* LaCosta let in 2 goals in 8 shots. Since I didn't see the goals I can't say if they were soft but we'll need a much better save % than that to win tonight.

* The ole vet Matvichuk gets his first bit of game action. Actually I've kind of liked him in camp. No wheels but I never saw this guy out of position.

* Hopefully the AHL vets have better nights than what they showed yesterday.

Game Spotlight
Its really 2 fold for me tonight. I want to see if Voracek can have another strong game and what another youngster in Mayorov can bring to the table.

Its an 8 p.m. EST start tonight. No word yet if Minnesota will be streaming this (we already know Columbus completely dropped the ball) but the games should be on and respectively. I'll update this post if I find anything out.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Youth is served in preseason loss

Preseason game #1 is in the books and after going down by 2 quick goals the Jackets battled back to take a 3-2 lead in the 3rd only to give up another two quick goals. So much going "undefeated" in preseason.

Okay so onto the review.

This season I'm rolling out the "stoplight" for my game reviews. Basically GREEN is great. YELLOW is okay. RED is bad.

Its really hard to get a read on the game through the radio but I'll give it a whirl.


* The kids were alright. From the sounds of it Derek Brassard was the best player on the ice just like he's been in camp. Jakub Voracek also sounded like he played very well. Sestito and Dorsett did their jobs while Kris Russell played good D and moved the puck well.

* Speaking of Russell - he led all players with over 24 minutes of ice time. Backman was second with over 23.

* Jason Chimera seemed to show well notching a goal playing with the kids while also giving Cam Barker a beat down. Speaking of Barker what was with him being Mr. Tough Guy tonight?

* Novonty and Picard with goals. Nice start for them to get on the board.

* Boys battled back from a 2 goal deficit to make a game of it.

* Hey, the did score 3 goals which is usually a win for this club.

* Blackhawks crowd was announced as a sellout. Although I did read you could get $2 tickets on stubhub to the game. Regardless it creates a nice buzz even if they are giving seats away. This is something the Jackets brass should look hard at -- the preseaon is the place to discount tickets and get new fans to come out and get em hooked...

* Sounded like Norrena made some good saves tonight. Not sure if the goals he let in were weak or not.

* Didn't hear much out of York tonight. Not much out of the defense either but again its hard to translate defensive play over the radio.

* Boll with only 13 minutes. You have to think Hitch limited his ice time so he didn't start throwing down out there with his still healing hand.

* The powerplay did not sound sharp. Not much generated on a 5 minute major.

* Same with the PK. They allowed 2 PP goals including a critical one that tied the game up in the 3rd.

* George & Bill. I appreciate that you get all excited but when there is no TV could you please describe the play and what's going in more detail. I still don't know why Bolerice got that 5 minute major.

* Gave up 4 goals. LaCosta didn't sound particularly sharp out there.

* No live video streaming. In this day in age there is absolutely no excuse why these preseason games, especially on the road, are not streamed live over the net. None. This is mature cost effective technology here folks - lets use it!

3 Bright Lights on the Night

1. Vorack and Brass -- kids sounded like they made some magic out there tonight
2. Chimera -- goal and a fight in preseason
3. Dorsett/Sestito -- did their jobs out there

It will be interesting to hear what Hitch has to say about this one and I'm sure there are some bright spots and some things that need worked on. Remember though that as he said in the pre-game interivew, these first 4 games are about evaluating individuals while the final 4 are about evaluating the team.

That said I still wanted to win this game as I'm sure he did as well especially after digging out from a 2 goal deficit to take the lead in the third. The Jackets young 'D' that played in this one needs to learn to close out this kind of game.

Next up is Minnesota tomorrow at 8 EST.


"Darth" Gerber and more Commodore

Just saw this over on HF. Apparently the Sens fans nicknamed their goalie Martin "Darth" Gerber as he wore a black mask last season. Apparently he decided to run with the idea:

Pretty cool! Now if only we could get Leclaire to run with the "Grinch" on his!

Actually there is a story behind snoopy being on Leclaire's mask but I can't remember what it is -- if anyone knows please post in the comments.

Also check out this read from the Calgary Sun about Mike Commodore (courtesy of Puck-daddy over on and his thoughts on those who criticized his contract:

"My buddies told me (TSN's) Pierre McGuire was running his mouth off and I couldn't care less. Whether I deserve it or not is not up to guys like Pierre McGuire. I've worked hard to get where I am. The market is at where it's at. It's not like I was going to say, 'no I'll just take one-and-a-half.' "

Best part, he says, is that it wasn't just the money that made Columbus a good fit, it was the role they want him to play -- something that was diminished in Ottawa where he finished last season following a trade.

"I think I can be out there against the top lines and I think I should be out there every third shift and kill penalties. By no means do I think I should be out there on the powerplay. I think I'm an 18- to- 20-minute guy and that's what I think I deserve and when I think I'm at my best. I had a conference call with Columbus and asked how they saw me and they basically described me the same way and that went a long, long ways."

This part is great:

"After I agreed to terms, I just sat down and said 'wow, I can't believe that just happened,'" said the character from Fort Saskatchewan.

"Then I called my mom. I said, 'look, you're both driving cars that are about to die -- I'll buy you two new cars. Whatever you want.' "

According to Lindsay Kramer Steve Mason is out for another least. Ouch. Assistant GM Chris MacFarland is guessing that Mason may miss at least 2-3 weeks of the season.

This is not only a blow for the Crunch who will now rely heavily on Dan LaCosta but also the Jackets in terms of goaltending depth. I'm one fan who felt really good about our goaltending situation *if* Mason was playing in the AHL. Now if Leclaire gets hurt and Norrena struggles its LaCosta until Mason regains his form which could be a while.

The Jackets will continue to give Mason all the time he needs to recover and hope its not a re-occuring problem. Would hate to see an entire year go to waster for this blue chipper.

According to Mior or Dahm may get the chance to be LaCosta's backup.

Here is another note from Kramer's blog:

MacFarland said he's been so impressed with the early play of rookie forward Devin DiDiomete that he wants to work out an AHL deal with the middleweight scrapper

Great for DiDiomete!


Pre-game thoughts: Gentlemen, start your evaluations

The first 3 days of practice have been good for coaches and fans alike to get a preliminary read on the new faces and to see how existing ones have progresses/regressed. That's a start but there is nothing like game action to get a real good read on where players stand.

...and that starts tonight in Chicago at 8:30 EST followed by a game tomorrow night in Minnesota.

Here are the Jackets lines for tonight according to Puck-rakers:




Definitely an interesting mix of locks, damn near locks and prospects/veterans competing for open spots.

Here are some of the game-within-a-game stories I'll be following:

* How does Christian Backman QB the PP?

* A line that did a fantastic job last preseason has been re-united --- Chimera-Brassard-Voracek are back together. I assume Hitch wants to get these kids as much pre-season time as possible while resting the vets like Nash and Huselius which is why Brass has been temporarily broken up from them. Chimera gives the kids a veteran to play with whom can handle the rough stuff if needed.

* Plenty of willing combatants in the lineup with Dorsett, Sestito and Tollefsen. Boll is also in there but has been told not to drop them -- we'll see if that lasts.

* York-Novotny-Murray could very well be the fourth line this year. York is a guy I'm very interested in seeing in game action as he's just been so-so during practice thus far.

* Kelly and MacKenzie are both having good camps and are making early strong cases to be 1st and 2nd callups -- lets see how they do tonight in game action.

* The only guaranteed roster spot to a d-man is Backman -- other than that everyone else has something to play for tonight.

* Norrena should see a lot of preseason work and I think he could benefit more than most tonight by putting in a solid night's worth of work to get that confidence rolling.

The 'hawks will be rolling out some studs in Kane and Sharp up front but its in the backend where they are hauling out the big guns early with Campbell, Seabrook, Barker and Keith all scheduled to suit up. No Huet or Kahbby in goal though.

Check out to see a pretty cool new graphic for opening night.

Here is a "Stat of the Day" for you (which will be returning much more regularly now that games have begun) -- the Jackets went 3-3-2 last pre-season. In fact they lost their first two games.

First cuts were made yesterday. Calvert, Delisle and Regner were all sent back to their junior teams. Out of the trio of 2008 draft picks Clavert seemed to leave the best impression but these players will be given plenty of time to develop and improve their games over the next couple of seasons.

Maybe we'll get lucky and be able to stream the game tonight on Why the NHL/Jackets don't at least stream these games on-line is beyond me.

I did check 1460's schedule and it looks like they will have the games on via live stream and over-the-air. I'm not sure if the FM home of the Jackets will be airing them as I couldn't find their on-line schedule but my guess is yes, they will be.

I know does a decent job with live box scores for these pre-season games for anyone wanting to track the progress online.

Game finally on tonight boys and girls!

UPDATE: Just received word that the Jackets will be streaming the game tonight live on their web site. Apparently my wish was granted tonight :)

Just received updated word that the game will either be streamed live on the Jackets web site or the 'hawks - so please check both.

There is also a nice game preview here. I also just read that the 'hawks are expecting a near sell out tonight at the United Center. Impressive for a team that did not qualify for the playoffs and that fact that its preseason.

Well apparently it will not be streamed at all now. Sorry for the rollercoaster ride folks.



Methot not happy

Reading the Dispatch's coverage this morning about the battle among Jackets defensemen for posititions I was a little bit shocked to read this quote from Marc Methot:

"If the (Blue Jackets) want to hold on to me, they can," Methot said. "And if not, good riddance. I'll go somewhere else. That's the bottom line.

"It's really frustrating. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. It's tough, actually, to come in and still compete for a spot. And I'm sure a lot of guys feel the same."

Well excuse the hell outta the Jackets Mr. Methot. There is a reason why you haven't nailed down an NHL job yet and its because you just haven't been good enough. Three years to develop in the AHL for a 6th round pick is not an uncommon occurance in the NHL.

Methot has NHL potential and is a big stay at home d-man but there are lots of those types of d-men in the NHL thus there is lots of competition. While I can certainly appreciate the fact that he believes he's ready for the NHL it doesn't do a whole lot of good to whine about it -- go out and grab it. Don't give management a choice but to keep you.

If he's already bitching to the paper about having to win a job in training camp then just imagine what this guy might be like in the locker room.

Really though that kind of statement is basically saying "get me the hell out of Columbus, I desperately want a change of scenery".

You know yesterday when I said its going to be a really tough call which two to keep between Tollefsen, Rome & Methot? I think that call for me just got a lot easier. I would think upper management may feel the same - we'll soon find out.

I'll have more on the game tonight a little later.

Fire away - what are you thoughts on Methot's comments?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Need a hockey fix?

A little birdie told me that allegedly you can go to this link and stream either the Leafs/Sabres or Flyers/Devils game (it shows Rangers/Sens for some reason). The quality certainly isn't HD but its servicable.

Bummer about the Rangers game as I wanted to check out Z but hey, any game is better than no game. What would be really sweet is if the Jackets game showed up tomorow!

Edit: A buddy just sent me the link to the Rangers game -- check it out here.

Also the interface for Jacket TV has been completely revamped and improved. Definitely check it out here.


Blues new 3rds (UPDATED with new Buffalo 3rds)

In case you haven't seen them yet here are the St. Louis Blues new 3rd jerseys:

Pretty sharp. You can view more pics off their web site here.

Here are Buffalo's new 3rds:

Would have been really nice but what is up with the needless piping? Whomever designs/approves the Sabres unis needs canned asap. I mean how do you screw up such a classic look?


Filatov meets WWE

Nikita Filatov has a new blog entry up. A very eneteraining read about his training and adjustment to his new surroundings.

I particularly liked this part (translation courtesy of google and Skaut):

In terms of leisure, this is yesterday with friends visited restling. Went there with Maxim Mayorovym, Andrei Plekhanov and Kirill Starkovym. Kirill - Danish national team player, but he has Russian roots. Restling - a show which was shown on television in Russia. Represent approximately 10 thousand people came to see! Хотя While it is understandable because that scene does not fighters, but rather acrobats. In addition, went into a big store, a 15-minute drive from the city. Some clothes I bought myself, the phone.

Be sure to check out the rest here where he talks about rooming with Brassard (who is trying to learn some Russian), his impressions of Columbus and the skill level at camp.

This kid really does seem to be wired correctly and its pretty cool to read a blog entry of experiences. I'm really looking forward though to seeing what this kid can do on the ice which sounds like it could come as early as Friday.

If you haven't heard this interview yet from Mike Commodore go out right now and listen to it here (scroll down to "interviews"). He talks about how this whole robe thing started, his fight will Boll and many other things. Although for some stupid reason Torggy dogs our new logo at the beginning - idiot. Then again Ricordoti ends it on a high note asking Commodore to do one thing for him -- punch Adam Foote in the face.

Mike Commodore may quite possibly be the best interview I've ever heard from a pro hockey player. Dude just gets it.


Great coverage today...

The Dispatch boys are coming out firing on all cylinders as the Jackets first preseason game is just 1 short day away.

Bob Hunter has a great on Hitch and his "win now" mentality here.
Tom Reed weighs in on Matvichuks (who while slow really hasn't looked that bad out there) push to make an NHL roster here.

Finally Aaron Portzline comments on Freddy Norrena's expected role as the Jackets backup goaltender this season here.

There is even an article from Suzanne Hoholik that discusses how the Jackets plan and prepare for medical emergencies on the ice here. I particularly liked this bit of info:

Head team trainer Mike Vogt is the first person to head onto the ice to assess players who need medical attention. He tells the medical staff what he's learned with one of two hand signals: If he points to the bench, he needs a doctor. If he raises a fist, everyone -- assistant trainers, team doctors and medics -- is to respond.

That is 4 NHL related article this morning. I challenge you to find any other major paper in North America who matches that.

The Dispatch continues to do an amazing job covering the Jackets and we are lucky to get the coverage that we do from those guys. Keep up the great work!

Some new interviews are up with guys like Huselius and Nash over on Jackets TV as well as video from the event held down at Nationwide on Friday afternoon. Be sure to check them out.

In addition to their published articles the Dispatch blog has their predicted 23 man roster and lineup here. Looks pretty solid but I would change a few things:

F1: Rick Nash -- Derick Brassard -- Kristian Huselius
F2: Fredrik Modin -- R.J. Umberger -- Raffi Torres
F3: Jason Chimera -- Michael Peca -- Jared Boll
F4: Andrew Murray -- Manny Malhotra -- Jake Voracek

Extra: York

D1: Jan Hejda -- Mike Commodore
D2: Rostislav Klesla -- Fedor Tyutin
D3: Christian Backman -- Kris Russell

Extra: Rome, Methot

G1: Pascal Leclaire
G2: Fredrik Norrena

Couple of notes:

* If Torres remains healthy through camp and is ready for opening night I think he gets the nod on the 2nd line. If not then I think Hitch thinks about putting Boll or Murray up there. At this point I don't think Voracek is ready to start the year in the top 6. That could certainly change if things pick up for him during preseason.

* I think Novonty is waiver-bait. York hasn't been lights out but he's been better than Novonty. With MacKenzie having a good camp and MacDonald, Kelly and Dorsett right behind him I don't see room for him.

* I hate to say it but if I had to choose today which defensemen to trade or send through waivers between Tollefsen, Rome and Methot despite the toughness he brings to the table I think Tolly is the one to go. This is by far the hardest decision for me this camp -- I go back/forth every day on this one. Glad I don't have to make it!

* The way Clay Wilson is playing he has really forced his way into the mix and could give Russell a run for his money but for now I think Russell starts opening night. They both bring 'O' and with our top 4 being the way it is this bottom pairing needs to have some offensive flair.

Fire away - what does your opening day lineup look through 2 days of camp?


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 2 impressions

Howdy all.

Lets get right into it.

Lots of breakout drills today followed by a scrimmage.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the scrimmage today so I missed the fireworks between Chimera and Klesla. Apparently though Klesla gave Chimmer a nice face plant against the boards which he then took exception to with Klelsa. Both pushed and shoved a bit and then the next shift all was forgotten. Hey its physical and intense game out there and these vets know how to let it go and concentrate on that next shift. That said lets see that kind of play against the Nashville's of the division boys.

The Nash-Brassard-Huelius line continues to just rip it up out there. Brassard has been the most impressive player for me in the two days I've watched. Huselius and his skill with the puck is right there with him. I don't think I've seen him fumble the puck or miss a pass yet. Nash is Nash - size, reach, skating, puck control, shot -- all in top notch form. Can't wait to see if this line can translate it game day play.

The other rook Jakub Voracek continues to look like a rookie. He struggled a bit early on but seem to get better as the practice progressed. Note to Jacket fans -- I'd lower your expectation for Voracek and increase them a bit for Brass. I see it taking about a half season for Voracek to start finding his game at this level.

Modin-Umberger. I like where this due is headed. I've been very impressed with Modin and as I said yesterday he looks very healthy. He ripped a couple of goals today. Umberger's play in tight spaces down low has been a pleasant suprise for me. He needs to work on them face offs though.

Norrena was okay again today. Struggles early but he did make a few sweet stops as practice went along (how about that one right off his stick as he was diving across the goal?). I was on the opposite end of Leclaire so didn't see him as much so can't really comment on his play.

Its so hard to get a read on guys like Boll, Dorsett and Sestito b/c they can't play their banging style of games. That said Boll's hands look improved... Dorsett looks like he belongs and Sestito's skating has come a long way in a short period of time.

Mike York had his moments out there but I really want to see what he brings in game situations.

Liked Torres again today. He looks much better than I expected coming off that injury.

The d pairing of Commodore-Hejda and Klesla-Tyutin remained in tact. I thought all had decent days. I've been impressed with Commodore's outlet passes. Not sure where the 'O' is going to come from this group though.

Backman has been a little better thus far than I anticipated. I really want to see what he brings in powerplay situations though.

The battle on defense continues between Russell, Rome, Methot, Tollefsen, Wilson and Sigalet. To be honest none have really pulled away from each other - at least to me but I think a guy like Tolly needs to step it up.

Dereck MacKenzie has been the best of the fringe guys (MacDonald, Kelly, Picard, etc).

Another really good crowd this morning to watch the boys in action.

Its hard to believe but their first preseason game is only two days away against the 'hawks.

Fire away - for those that got to see the scrimmage - what did I miss besides the Klesla/Chimmera fun?


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 1 impressions

Wow what a day!

First off -- HELL YEAH to the folks who showed up to today's first day of camp. You folks completely rocked that place! I mean... standing 'O' during the post practice stretch.. THATS what I'm talkin about C-bus!!

I know for a fact the players recognized and thrived off of your enthusiasm today... just fantastic stuff... when we get to the playoffs boy I can't wait to see this town blow up.

Okay.. on to today's impressions: word "magical". I said to a number of people (well, anyone who would listen) that Nash has never had passes/plays like Huselius was dishing to him today. He was just finding him all over the ice in shooting positions. If that translates into game day dishes then we are in for a treat. Brassard was also incredible today -- he looked like he belonged and just further solidfied my stance that he is the impact rookie to keep your eye on this season. Kid was flying all over the ice.

Modin-Umberger-Voracek.... one word "surprise". Everyone thought it would be Nash-Umberger-Huselius but Hitch has already thrown his first curve ball (that didn't take long) in the line department -- more on that in a sec. As far as the line, Modin looked really good and better yet..really healthy. Umberger played the exact type of simple yet effective game I was expecting.. the kind of game Hitch loves. Voracek looked like a rookie on that line but showed his skill as well as deceptive wheels.....he realized pretty quickly though that this isn't Traverse City. I look for him to continue to improve.

So what's with the line mixup? All we've heard is that Hitch and co would play Nash-Umberger-Huselius all preseason. That is certainly still a possibility but what he did makes perfect sense. What today's moves showed me. First off its obvious Torres is a few weeks away from any kind of top 6 duty -- in fact he's only got the green light to go for 45 minutes intervals. Secondly Hitch would prefer to balance his scoring across two scoring lines. Thirdly he is not going to line up two rookies on a scoring line..yet. Fourth(ly) Chimera on a top 6 spot is last resort. Fifth(ly) who says Hitch doesn't give young guys a shot?

Commodore. Looked solid and how about this guy being the last player off the ice? Just set your expectations for him as being a solid top 4 shutdown d-man who is going to be one helluva leader on this team and you won't be dissapointed. He made some nice outlet passes and oh this dude is certainly big as advertised.

Huselius. I eluded to hit above already but wow -- can this guy play the game or what? Makes quick smart plays at high speed.....every play he makes he does as his linemates advantages...and makes it look easy. I am very intrigued as to how this guy is going to work out for us.

Tyutin. To me he just looks like a good defensemen. Great size and moves extremely well. Not the best practice for him today but my man-crush has been activated. He needs to shake off some rust. Something interesting I learned about him today was that he had a baby the same day he was traded from NY to Columbus. I'm sure he liked New York but if your looking to start and raise a family there aren't many better places than right here central Ohio.

Hejda. I've seen it put best on HFBoards by an Edmonton poster. Hejda is a like a "black hole" - he just sucks people in. He looked very good today doing what he does best paired next to Commodore.

Klelsa. Looks like he's got even bigger! That's really all I noticed from 97 today which to me is a good thing.

Murray. I thought he was one of the best forward on the ice playing his game. His motor was churning and he just does all those little small things out there that win you hockey games. I'm also glad Tyutin grabbed 51 so there will be no more confusion between he and Nash -- not that there games are similar but at quick glance those two are comparable build wise.

Goaltending. I thought both Norrena and Leclaire were okay today. Nothing fantastic but I didn't see either let in softies. Then again with so much going on the ice you need like 8 sets of eyes to track everything.

Sestito. His skating looks drastically better to me than last season.

Russell. No doubt he's much bigger than last season.

Matvichuk. Looked real slow but also well positioned and hardly ever got beat

Tollefsen. Not his best practice as he continues to struggle with the puck but in typical Tolly fashion got physical in front of the net when needed.

John "Nasty" Mirasty. Looks like he can whoop some ass but he was also suckin wind though a vacuum in group B. I will say he can skate better than Shelly (sorry 45) but that's about it.

Chimera-Malhotra. Gave exactly what we've grown to know from these two. Although someone did make the comment that they thought it looked like Chimera trimmed down a few pounds.

Filatov. Saw him at Boston Pizza. Said hi and welcomed him to Cbus. If you've ever seen Brassard in street clothes after he was drafted that is exactly what Filatov's build reminds me of at the same age -- not small but can certainly stand to put on a few pounds. Was great to see him out at day 1 of camp but can't wait to see this kid on the ice.

I did not stay for a lot of group B but once again Grant Clitsome looked like a beast to me. Other notable names in Group B in addition to Clitsome were Mayorov, Holden, Pineault and Plekhanov.

Was sweet to see Nash lead the post practice stretch. That's your captain folks!

York. Didn't really notice a lot of out him.

Backman. This dude is much bigger than I thought but about as physical as I thought as well -- which to say is about as much as Hainsey ever was. Didn't seem nearly as bad as Rangers fans painted but didn't do a lot for me either. I really wanted to get a good look at his heat from the point but he never really unleashed it.

Picard. I wonder how this guy scored 40 goals in junior? He wasn't terrible or anything but his hands... oh his hands...

Wilson. Reports are that he's gained some 15 pounds. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to him but I heard that some were impressed with this game today.

Boll was Boll. He got a heroes welcome when he hit the ice at the start of practice which was super cool.

Rome and Methot. Both were solid today. I'd hate to have to choose between the two.

After the main drills the d-men were taking a lot of shots (Russell working alot on setting Tyutin up for the 1 timer) while the centers worked on face-offs (with Manny schooling everyone) and the forwards doing their thing at the other end of the ice.

Overall the practice today was very high temp with some good energy and contact. Lots of good competition especially on the defense.


Be sure to check out Bzarcher's camp pics from today here.

Fire away - for those that made it down... who impressed/depressed you today?


This and that

Peca is out according to the Dispatch. The good news is that its just an illness (bronchitis) so he should be back before we know it. I'd much rather a vet like Peca miss time than say a guy like Voracek or Brassard. Lets hope this isn't the start of a bad trend.

Sportsnet's Mike Brophy thinks the following

about the Jackets:

Can the Columbus Blue Jackets make the playoffs for the first time? (No) has us ranked 24th heading into the season:

Still without a true No.1 center, the Blue Jackets managed to bolster their roster this summer with the acquisitions of R.J. Umberger, Kristian Huselius, Christian Backman, Raffi Torres and Mike Commodore. Trading away Nikolai Zherdev is also a positive, as he never seemed to fit in Ken Hitchcock's system.

Hitch was interviewed by and has some good quotes:

"We changed out a third of our roster, which is significant," the Blue Jackets coach said. "We think we know what we have and we're really happy with our changes, but I don't think anybody in the NHL knows what we have. We're the mystery team in the West because we've made such significant changes."

"We feel like there is a definitive spot for everybody, but I'm curious just like our fans are," Hitchcock said. "How good is Umberger going to be? Is Brassard as ready as people think he is? Does Voracek make our team? How good is our defense with all the changes we made? I mean, we changed out half our group on defense."

He pretty much sums up my thoughts.

I was thinking (yep, it happens once in a while!) about the Chicago Blackhawks yesterday. Remeber when they added big time UFAs (at the time) Nikolai Khabibulin and Adrian Aucoin as their headline grabbing offseason acquisitions and everyone thought they were playoff bound? ...but instead they crashed and burned? It wasn't until last year when they finally hit on some rookies in Toews and Kane that the 'haws took big strides.

I think the Jackets are well aware of this... and I think they are also very aware that while their offseason acquisitions are smart, big competitive players who will help it won't be until the likes of Brassard, Voracek, Russell and Filatov find their strides at the highest level when they will take the biggest strides.

Most of the time history has shown that UFAs just compliment an already strong roster. They aren't neccesarily part of the core - especially in that first year.. For every Marc Savard there is a Mark Parrish. For every Scott Niedermeyer there is a Adrian Aucoin.

As we see all the new faces this morning don't be surprised if say a Kristian Huselius only hits the 50 point plateau instead of that 70-80 point one in this first year or if say a Fedor Tyutin only puts 15 points on the board. Its going to take these guys some time to adjust and no matter whom the Jackets would have acquired this offseason they will have still needed guys like Voracek and Brassard to contribute to make that playoff push.

I'm as excited as the next guy with our acquistions and the more I think (there I go again) the more I think Howson was right to pursue the kind of a 2nd tier players that he did. The hard working no frills types who give you an honest effort night in and night out. The risk of those guys busting out drop dramtically. The high skill will have to come from our draft picks and looking at other successfull organizations in this league that is the template --- from Detroit to Pittsburgh to Washington to Chicago and Edmonton -- their high end skill are draft picks.

So off we go today on another year of professional hockey in Columbus -- one in which I can honestly say, that while not a cup contender, is a team that I think we will all be proud of the effort and outcome once it concludes.

I look forward to seeing many of you down at camp today and over at Boston Pizza after.