directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Who's smokin, who's chokin - 20 game mark

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, November 24, 2008

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

Welcome back to another round of "Who's smokin, who's chokin".

For this round we'll take a look at who/what areas have performed well and who/what areas have plenty of room for improvement.

* Derick Brassard has been on fire since the first drop of the puck. He's tied with Chicago's Kris Versteeg in rookie scoring with 20p in 19 games. He's also a +9 and has a 6 game scoring streak. He's currently leads all Jackets in scoring and is tied for 21st in overall league scoring.

* Steve Mason. In 6 games played Mason is 4-1-1 with a .913 Save% and a 2.28 GAA. He's also got a shutout....and oh yeah, this kid is a rookie!

* Rick Nash. After a prolonged slump in the goal scoring department Nash is on fire scoring a goal in each of his past 5 games. In fact in his past 10 games Nash has 13 points. He's currently 15th in goal scoring and 28th in overall scoring in the league.

* Even strength. The CBJ are 8th in the league at even strength scoring 40 goals 5 on 5. At 4 on 4 the Jackets are 2nd scoring 4 goals.

* Overall scoring. The Jackets are tied for 12th in the league in total scoring racking up 59 goals.

* First NHL goals. Voracek, Filatov, Methot & Dorsett have all recorded their first NHL goals through the first 20 games.

* Rookie impact. Brassard, Voracek, Methot, Dorsett & Mason have all been impact rookies for the Jackest who have may key contributions.

* Road record. Believe it or not the Jackets are very respectable 4-4-2 on the road.

* Offseason acquisitions making an impact. While Backman and Torres (who actually had a great game the other night) have struggled Umberger, Commodore, Huselius and Tyutin have all had a positive impact and are producing. Umberger is tied for 2nd in goal scoring with 8. Commodore has 9 helpers which leads all Jackets defensemen. Tyutin is leading the Jackets in minutes played and keeps getting better. Huselius has 13 points in 19 games and does a tremendous job settling things down at there with his puck poise.

* Mike Commodore is 12th in NHL defensemen in hits with 51. Jan Hedja is 27th with 41.

* Jan Hejda is 17th in NHL defesemen with 43 bocked shots. Mike Commodore is 21st with 41.

* Although he's slowed of late Jason Chimera is off to the best start of his career collecting 5g, 9a for 14 points in 20 games. The best part though has been his patience and poise with the puck and his play in all 3 zones.

* The checking line centered by Michael Peca has been very good. I've loved Peca on the PK most nights.

* After digging themselves an early hole the Jackets have dug themselves out going 5-2-3 in their last 10. The players have done a good job staying resilient I give coaching and management a lot of credit here for keeping everyone focused.

* We have replays ladies and gentlemen!

* The Jackets beat some top teams in that first 20 including Montreal, Buffalo, Vancouver & Calgary.

* Depth Depth Depth! The Jackets team has shown that it is by far deeper than any team we've seen before. If someone goes down there is now quality depth both on the team and in the farm to pick up the slack.

* The Jackets finally beat Nashville in regulation!

* Garage Bar for their good beer specials and tater tots.

* The Jackets are 14th in face off % winning 50.3% of the time.

* The great readers of this blog and their excellent contributions in the comments!!

* Special teams. 30th ranked PP at 11.7%. The PK is 22nd killing at 80%. Needless to say they've both been brutal through the first 20. If they could ever get them rolling who knows, the sky could be the limit.

* Attendance. Columbus is 29th out of 30 teams in attendance coming in at 13,384 per game. Lots of hoping here. I hope as this team plays better people start noticing. I hope the marketing staff can find new ways to promote this team (CBJ rush as was mentioned in Puck-rakers). I hope things pick up after football season. That's a scary low number.

* Refs reversal on Nash in Minnesota (yeah, that one still burns me up).

* Leclaire on going injury problems.

* One timers and in general offense from the blueline when up a man. Even strength this group has looked real good. Up a man its been brutal as team know to pressure our blueline and really expose it as a weakness.

* Home record. The Jackets are 5-4-1 at home including playing two of their worst games all season. They need to do a much better job in their own house.

* The Jackets are 2-3 in OT. Those are all precious points that we can't afford to let slip away although I'm fully aware you aren't gonna win em all.

* The Jackets need to do a better job of playing teams below or equal to them in the standings. Islanders and two Phoenix losses sting.

* No R Bar yet... its comin soon though folks!!

* Norrena has really struggled going 1-3-3 with a 3.16 GAA and a .817 save%. His days as a Jacket may be coming to a close.

* Backman. His performance is well documented here.... basically he started off okay and then his play really took a nose dive. Salary dump, mis-advertised, whatever -- at 3.4 mil a year the Jackets need better play.

* Boll. Hand injury in the offseason. Concussion. He had a rough 20 games which has to be directly related to his injury problems.

* Raffi Torres is goalless so far as a Jacket in 10 games. He's of course coming off injuries so a slow start isn't totally unexpected. Still I think its safe to say everyone hopes he has a more productive next 20.

* There are some other players who, while they haven't been horrible, I think can be a lot stronger. Names like Modin, Klesla, Leclaire, Malhotra & Novotny are all guys I think fall into that category.

Bottom line is that the Jackets are very much in this thing after 20. The great news is that I don't think they've come close to playing their best hockey yet.

Check out the new poll to give your thoughts on who/what has smoked the most over the first 20.



Anonymous said...

Leclaire and Murray have been pretty bad. Peca hasn't been great, need a lot more from him then what we are getting.

Faceoffs have been a problem and hardly a green. Losing too many important draws. For example, offensive zone on the PP. Leads us chasing.

Jake should have been in both catagories. Started off strong, then had his issues. Bounced back some in the Thrashers game.

I see Backman's salary get's mentioned. A lot like Fed's salary. I don't see Leclaire signing a new contract getting air time. Backman hasn't been great this season, but harping on him constantly is like kicking a puppy. His salary, given by someone else, shouldn't even be a consideration in discussion of his performance. He was an afterthought to get Tyutin. Treat him like that and you'll be much happier. Hitch gave him his shot, he's getting less PP time now. Get over it.

What's more concerning about the PP is not as much that they have 11 PP goals, it's that they've given up 6 goals on the man advantage. On top of the 19 SHG's, that's 25 goals give up on special teams while scoring 11. That -12 if you include the 2 short handed goals we've had. Get that into plus territory and we're in good shape.

Yelling about attendence is also a waste of time. It's like the media complaining about the economic situation. Attendence is down across the league. Even if we start playing really well and get up into the top 4 or 5 we're likely not going to see a benefit of increased attendence (close to sell out) until sometime around March. We might get some blip games, but otherwise we are in for a tough time. I'm more concerned with the atmosphere at the game. Too many people on their hands.

Nash should be on the red side, as well, for all the break aways he's choaked on.

Mike said...

Well, I am not sure if we r still in the #8 spot as of today, but for hovering around that mark as of today, the first 20 games have been overall pleasing. Like u said though, it sucks that the 2 worst games, Edmonton & Phoenix happened at Nationwide. Showings like that are certainly not going to help recruit new fans who may of attended one of those for their first ever NHL experience. I do not want to use the "must win" tag for games, as that term seems to be ambiguous, but for the next game, it would be really nice to get some payback on the Coyotes. It is indeed frustrating to be ahead of them in the standings, and yet possibly have some more points that they earned on us. For now, I think I am going to hop on the Mason bandwagon and hope he continues his success as we could use some more consistent goaltending. Or if it does become a platoon situation, Pazzy plays like he did last year before the all-star break.

LTL said...

Good point about short handed goals against - that is a big time choke. I can see the argument on PP faceoffs but they've also done a good job winning defensive faceoffs.. still top half of the league is pretty good.

Disagree about attendance and your constant "yelling" to ignore it. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in the Jackets marketing department to improve it... i.e. did we really need to re-visit "carry the flag" again this season as an example? Is the word getting out like it should that this team is playing well? Has the entire experience gotten stale? Its one thing if we are middle of the pack but we are talking about 29th in a league of 30...there are 28 other teams doing a better job filling their buildings. Red flags better be raising in Nationwide b/c I gurantee you ownership isn't sitting there saying its a "waste of time" looking at these numbers - this is a business.

Like attendace we've covered Backman before... The guy needs to play better plain and simple which is why he's a red... At this point I'm just glad Hitch isn't playing him as much, that is a step in the right direction.

For all the break-aways Nash has missed he was still getting and creating those chances which is a plus for me. Add that to his recent hot streak (he's scored some timley goals lately (Minny, Atlanta) after his slump and to me he moves into the green.

Anyhow... thanks for the 'C'omments.


Big T said...

The Jackets should have a ticket/retail store across from OSU on High St.. They should also have tickets for sale at Columbus State,Otterbein, Capital, ODU, and Franklin in their book stores. Discount game day tickets. They should also work with COTA on gameday express busses from these schools. Just a start on getting more people in the seats!

Anonymous said...

While its still early, I say the Z trade is officially awful. Tyutin is serviceable, and has a decent contract, but Backman completely offsets that. Not only does he cost a LOT, he is a useless player that management just can't justify scratching or (better yet) sending down. Howson was obviously forced to take this contract on...WTF??? I don't care that Z likely would have left...shall we trade Nash next? Considering Backman's money, we could have easily signed Juice while keeping Z...and we have a glut of D-Dmen. Not a good move...and I used to like SH.

JAL said...

Backman has not been good so far, but some guys take longer to fit in than others, and I'm not sure the Backman/Tollefson pairing is a good one. Tolly can hit, but he might as well be carrying a lamp post as a stick when it comes to puck handling. That puts some extra heat on Backman, who also has to cover more area. I am willing to wait and see on him -- he had a much better game against Atlanta.

Zherdev? Fine early, but wait until later. He was never going to play well in Columbus for an entire season, so get over it.

Tyutin, Commodore and Umberger are all great acquisitions. Torres just needs to get his legs under him.

Still think that there is one more reasonably big deal awaiting, with either Ottawa, Tampa Bay or Colorado in the mix.

Just my $.02.

A Shot From The Point

erik said...

Anon (1),

Murray and Peca bad ? I am sorry but Peca is a key part of our PK and does a solid job for us on the specialty teams and the 3rd line (Not even mentioning the intangibles he brings to the table).. Murray is a solid 3/4th liner who works hard and does the little things right, you can't expect too much from him.. Now I think the entire team has been pretty solid with the exception of a few, and they are debatable.. Modin hasn't found a solid stride nor has Torres.. Backman is completely forgettable and has a tendency to get pushed around in a heated physical battle (let's not even mention the salary-dump figures). Klesla has been so-so at best.. LeClaire is up and down, Norrena has been subpar. Tyutin however is very solid player, but he has that Hedja factor to him, he's very good at what he does but he's the complete opposite of flashy, and yes I do know people expected more from him offensively... OKT has been pretty solid as well, you have to keep in mind he's a 3rd line D-man.. Boll needs to be put on IR for a couple of games to get back to his old self...

Now to the juicy rumors:

The dispatch is reporting:

"-- More chatter about a trade with Ottawa. Scouts from the Senators have been at just about every Blue Jackets game this season. Our good friend Jim Clark, formerly the Blue Jackets assistant GM, was at the game on Saturday in Atlanta. Nick Polano was in Columbus so long earlier this season he was overheard cussing about John Cooper. I'll keep calling people I know who are close with the Senators."

WHAT is Ottawa thinking ??? They have had scouts at 13/14 of our 20 games??? (home/away) I am sorry they are talking to SH behind the scenes, they have to be... They have had 2 different scouts attend !!!! Does anyone have a clue what the talks are about... Spezza ?? Vermette ?? who the heck knows... The only thing I know is that Ottawa is apparently really interested in some CBJ personnel because they have spent a lot of time scouting us for the last couple of weeks..

LTL said...

"Carrying a lamp post on his stick".. haha.. well played.

Erik - this Ottawa situation reminds me of the Rangers last year when their scouts were camped out at Nationwide most of the season....however we didn't see any action til the offseason.

I look up and down their roster and the only player that really makes any sense to me is Vermette. We could certainly use another top 6 center/forward and his contract isn't an anchor.

Alot of folks have mentioned Chris Phillips but do we really need another stay at home d-man? If Phillips is part of the package then a guy like Klesla must be going the other way.

I think our biggest priority must be a PPQB and I don't think Ottawa has any player of that mold to offer so I'm not getting to excited about any deal with them.

..but the juicy rumors are always fun to throw around!

I'll tell you one guy I'm interested in though and that's Sergei Zubov. The Stars are off to a horrendous start and could use a shakeup. Hitch has experience with Zubov and he'd be a big time help on our PP. This is the final year of his deal at 5+ mil and then he'll be a UFA -- nice short term solution who could really give our PP a kickstart.

We'd have to send some salary the other way and a decent prospect but I think its very doable if Dallas is willing to dance.


LTL said...

Oh and check out this artcle on Ottawa's situation:

As far as Zubov the one concern I do have is his injury (hip).. I'd have to make sure that is fully healed before pulling the trigger.

Here is forecaster's breakdown on him:

ASSETS: Has outstanding passing skills and is extremely agile. Possesses outstanding hockey sense and usually makes the right play at the right time.
FLAWS: Isn't physical at all and can be overmatched at times when opposed to big forwards in front of the net. Injuries are also a concern.
CAREER POTENTIAL: No. 1 defenseman.

Sounds like a guy we could use eh?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for leaving Fedor off of your chocking list. I have heard a lot of folks say he sucks. I think his numbers are not great but he is doing great hockey things. I think for the casual hockey fan (which 75% of our "fans" are) he is not a good player, but he is.

JAL said...

To add some fuel to the fire, I saw Jim Clark at the Syracuse Crunch vs. Chicago Wolves game we took in the day after the Jackets/Sabres game in Buffalo. He then had dinner with the Crunch coach across the street.

So, who do you think he had his eyes on in Syracuse--Dorsett, Filatov, MacKenzie, Russell or Wilson? Somebody else?

Erik said...


Good point about the rangers, but I think last years Rangers where pretty good and they didn't need a mid-season shake-up.. It really looks like Ottawa wants to shake things up soon.. .I don't think they are as patient as NY..
But you are also very correct, and I share your viewpoint on personnel ... I don't see what Ottawa sees in us, and we could potentially see in Ottawa. There aren't any good match ups or possible trades.. Vermette is OK, but he doesn't blow me away.. Philips is a no-no period... unless it's a Philips for Klesla swap as you mentioned.. BTW I wish we could get Zubov, but he's very fragile unfortunately... combine that with his age and I think you won't find many suitors.. But I would love to have him for a year..

Now we have JAL providing this nugget:

"To add some fuel to the fire, I saw Jim Clark at the Syracuse Crunch vs. Chicago Wolves game we took in the day after the Jackets/Sabres game in Buffalo. He then had dinner with the Crunch coach across the street.

So, who do you think he had his eyes on in Syracuse--Dorsett, Filatov, MacKenzie, Russell or Wilson? Somebody else?"

AND the dispatch is reporting:

"Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson watched the morning practice with super agent Ritch Winter.
"Friends," Howson explained. "Fellow Edmontonians."

Good line, fine explanation. But Howson's from Toronto."

BTW Winter does NOT represent Spezza or Vermette.... Let the rumors begin !!!