directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Anyway you want it..

The Jackets continue to find new ways to win. Last night wasn't the prettiest by any stretch but they stuck to their system, got a big goal and Mase took care of the rest.

Its a tremendous sign as the good teams always perserveer and make those big plays when needed to get those points. The Jackets certainly are proving that they are one of those teams.

I won't get into a big stoplight game review but I did want to point out some quick positives and negatives.

Even though he didn't get on the scoreboard I thought Rick Nash had a tremendous game -- especially defensively. I thought Kristian Huselius and Andrew Murray were also strong. The goal that was scored was timely and a terrific feed by Michael Peca and an equally impressive redirect.

Defensively I thought all 6 guys played strong. That was probably Tollefsen's best game in a long time as a Jacket. Commodore and Hejda were towers of power against that Sen's top line.

..and of course we can't forget Mase. He didn't have to be superman but he did make some fantastic saves down the stretch when the team needed him most and you have to be good to get lucky -- thank you post!

Negatives... if only they had a powerplay... for the most part it was a mess all evening.

Hey..two points is two points... and the Jackets are finding ways to beat the teams they should lately.

Friggan tremendous crowd last night -- way to represent Columbus!!

Another big two points up for grabs against Dallas in about an hour.

I expect a much more physical hard nosed affair. This will be classic Western Conference hockey as two bulls lock horns to decide this one.

The team that can bring it the hardest for the full 60 will likely take the win.


Who needs a Jacket when your this hot?

I'm going to give a quick recap from the game last night in a little bit. In the meantime I wanted point out all the coverage that has popped up on the Jackets the past few days.:

Puck-daddy's got em covered with his post called "Wait, when did the Columbus Blue Jackets get swagger?". Thanks to Rob for sending that one in.

Josh public has em covered with a great piece he wrote called Steve Mason: Chasing Tony O. has em covered with a read called Good times for bad teams.

...and if one isn't enough from you, Ken Campbell from has another article up called Who will claim the Calder?

NHL has em covered with a nice cover story from last night's win called Mason back to blanking opponents.

..and of course we always have all the great Dispatch coverage.

Life is a fun for Jackets fans right now... finally! Lets see if they can keep it goin tonight.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Pre-game thoughts: Sens still dangerous

Despite their 17-22-7 record the Jackets cannot underestimate this Ottawa Senators squad.

To begin with they are 4-4-2 over their past 10 and are coming off a convincing 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blue last night. They are playing some pretty good hockey lately.

Secondly they beat you on special teams. If the Ottawa Senators come out with energy and play you strong at even strength their special teams will take the two points. They are 14th in the league on the PP and 12th in the league on the PK.

Of course the Sens are carried by the big 3 of Heatley, Alfredsson & Spezza. They each have 38+ points and are the horses on this squad.

* The biggest key for me is don't underestimate this team. The Jackets have a habit of playing down to their competition and if they do that tonight, the Sens will pounce.

* Contain the big 3. These boys do a lot of their damage on the powerplay (they each have 15 or more points w/ the man advantage) so if they can stay out of the box and check these 3 tight at even strength they stand a good chance at shutting them down.

* Keep this game at even strength. The Jackets right now rank 10th overall in the league scoring 90 5 v 5 goals. The Sens are dead last with only 64. Stay out of the box and make this Sens team play you at even strength.

* Keep doin what your doin. The Jackets have found themselves. They are in a groove. The foundation and competitiveness are there. They know how they have to play to win. Got to keep executing the game plan.

* Mase looked better in Detroit. He needs to outplay Auld and when the Sens do get a PP he needs to be our best penalty killer.

* Nasher carried the team offensively against Detroit.. lets get him some help tonight. A guy that is due for a goal is Modin. I also look for Chimera to get on the scoresheet.

* The Jackets PP showed signs of life against the Wings even potting a big one. That trend needs to continue.

* The Sens played last night so there is absolutely no excuse to get outworked in this game.

* Ottawa is actually pretty stingy defensively only giving up 134 goals against. They make you pay a price to score. That said they are dead last in goals for in the league only scoring 112 goals. Bottom line the Jackets can't get pretty and have to pay a price to score and if they stay tight defensively it will be tough going for Ottawa as well.

* The players are feeding off the home crowd these days. Lets get loud in there tonight Columbus!!!

The Dispatch had an interesting read on Mike Commodore as he faces off against the team that traded for him for the first and only time this season. Will there be a little extra motivation for Commie?

Mike Commodore
"To be honest with you," Commodore smiled, "I'm perfectly happy to be in Columbus."

Also here your chance to watch Antoinne Vermette. Perhaps a CBJ target at the deadline?

Jason Williams
"It's great to be back in a hockey market," Williams said. "Now, I want to get back in the playoffs. If I can help this team get in that situation, and have a long run, it would be great for the organization and great for me."

Also be sure to check out this interview with Ken Hitchcock from the Fan590. He talks about a couple of his unheralded players and how they aren't sure what they want to do yet come the trade deadline.

Puck drops at 7. See ya at the R Bar post game (hopefully pre game as well)!!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, start your planning!

Was just reading this over on HF but wanted to post it here as well.

The Jacket Backers are organizing a road trip to Detroit on Saturday March 7th. I've had this date circled on my calendar for quite a while (after all my sister lives in Toledo so yeah...the kill two birds deal) so I'll definitely be in attendance.

Here are the details from the Backers site:

The Jacket Backers have a block of 40 tickets in Section 203.

Tickets are $54 for members and $74 for Non-Members. This is a ticket only event - no transportation provided.

To reserve your seats or for additional information please contact

I'd say its about time to turn the tables and invade the Joe for once Jacket fans.

Don't believe the hype that its hard to get tickets to the Joe either. If you aren't interested in the Backers deal give the Joe box office a call, check ebay or do the old fashioned ticketmaster deal.

Tickets are not hard to come by.

Its a tough economy out there but if you can swing it, it sure would be nice to see the Jackets represented in Detroit for this one!

There are some other juicy road trip dates out there as well.

There is the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, Feb 6th.

The Caronina Hurricanes on Saturday Feb 14th.

..and those wanting to make a vaca out of it there is the Florida swing that starts w/ the Panthers on Saturday Mar 21st and concludes in Tampa on Tuesday Mar 24th.

Also for those into this kind of thing, don't forget the Jackets fashion deal is tonight at the Hilton next to the Polaris Fashion Place mall. Show starts at 5:30.


West watch

The Jackets got some nice help last night.

Chicago took care of Anaheim on their home ice by a regulation score of 3-2.

Then the Nashville Predators knocked off the Canucks on their home ice 5-3. That is something like Vancouver's 7 straight loss at home. So much for the Sundin spark...but I digress.

After it shook out, Columbus still sits in 9th with 51 points which is tied with Minnesota (7th), Anaheim (8th) and Vancouver (10th).

The even better news is that Anaheim sits in 6th with just 53 points but has played 3 more games than the Jackets. Heck Phoenix is in 5th also with 53 points and has played one more game.

This home stretch grows bigger and bigger for the CBJ. Now is definitely the time to make a move.

Complete standings are updated on the right hand side of this blog.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I wanted to point out this read by

Wanna be a rock star in the NHL? You have to beat the best. We’re nearly 50 games deep into this glorious 2008-09 season and while there are some universal truths (Boston and San Jose good, Tampa and the Isles bad), there’s still a lot of mud on the windshield as playoff jockeying begins.

In the interest of clearing the picture up a bit, let’s look at which teams have truly earned their points to date. Including last night’s results, the six current division leaders (Boston, New Jersey, Washington, San Jose, Detroit and Calgary) have been defeated 95 times in regulation, overtime or the shootout by 28 different teams. Tampa Bay and the Islanders are the only squads yet to defeat a division winner.

Subtracting wins against each other, the best teams have lost 75 times to 22 teams. If there’s a dark horse team hoping to hoist the Stanley Cup this summer, they’re obviously going to have to go through at least one of the division leaders along the way, so wins against those penthouse franchises are paramount; after all, the easiest way to prove you can do something is by doing it.

With that in mind, here are the teams who can put The Fear into a favorite in the post-season:

COLUMBUS (five wins)
Ken Hitchcock said it was crucial for his Jackets to beat the Sharks earlier this season. They did. The Jackets had a golden opportunity to come out of the all-star break with a resume-building win over Detroit. They took it. Coupled with rookie netminder Steve Mason’s two shutouts against Alex Ovechkin and the Caps and you have a team with fire in the belly and a fever for the post-season.

Interesting. Click here to read more.

Also an interesting read here on NHL vs. NBA in terms of ratings/attendance in the same city.

Only 3 NHL teams beat the NBA in TV ratings... Minnesota, Philadelphia and a bit of surprise in the Capitals.

I know its not the same but it would be interesting to see how the Jackets stack up to the basketball Buckeyes.


The Versus snub

By now you've probably heard the news that Versus has decided to drop the Jackets/Blues game on February 3rd in favor of the Caps/Devils.

The good news is that FSN Ohio will be picking up the game....the bad news is that once again the Jackets are used a floor mat for national television to wipe their feet on.

What happened to Versus being contractually obligated to show all 30 NHL teams at least once a season?

This is a ratings game and obviously a Blues/Blue Jacket matchup isn't going to rake in the viewers.

For FSN Ohio...heck, they probably welcome this news with open arms considering the Jackets just drew their 2nd highest rating (4.53) in history.

Its a long road to respectability for the Jackets... a playoff birth will certainly accelerate things.

This was just sent into me by Rick. Its a playoff probability site. Check it out here.

As of today this site has the Jackets probability of making the playoffs at 51%. Contrast that to the Predators who have only a 9% probability of making it.

Great site. Thanks Rick!

In case you missed it on one of my twitter updates the R Bar has a great new special. You can fill up one of these bad boys (pictured right) with 110 ounce of Canadian for 16 bucks.

I saw them in action last night and lets just say, they looked like they were getting plenty of use!

So the Wings have inked Henrik Zetterberg to a whopping 12 year contract worth 72 million dollars.

My opinion is that term is way to much and anyone who bashed Garth Snow for signing DiPietro to a 15 year deal better be doing the same with Ken Holland.

In the world of guaranteed contracts in a physical sport like hockey there are just way to many unknowns to throw out that type of length. Injuries, losing, disease, deteriorating skills.. so many variables.

The more important thing is how does this set the market for Nash? I don't see Howson or Nash willing to go that kind of term and that is a good thing. That's not to say Nash won't be here for his career but why lock yourself into that kind of length...? Both sides will want to commit but also have some flexibility for the future.

I look for a 5 or 6 year deal in that 40 million dollar range around 7 mil a year. That would take Nash to age 30/31 and give both sides some security but also flexibility down the road when who knows how things will look in this league.

Of course with this news, Toronto FAN590 couldn't resist their own wet dreams of acquiring Nash. They were speculating that Nash will want 10 mil a year and that Columbus couldn't afford him b/c of the young players they have to sign.

Utter and complete nonsense.

So let me get this straight. Howson won't pay or commit to his best player who is only 24 b/c he is worried about signing his young players 2, 3 or 4 years from now?

No way these guys actually believe this sh** they are shoveling.

Howson certainly has set aside enough cash to resign his best player and no way either party asks for that kind of cash if the intention to re-sign with Columbus is a legit one and not a "Foote" type back door ploy.

..but remember, everyone wants to play for Toronto.

With the way Nash has cranked up his play the past 6 weeks and has been the guy any thoughts I entertained of trading him have certainly faded. He's been fantastic.

The Jackets keep playing the way they are I expect a quick negotiation and deal on or close to July 1st. No way Nash bails when things are just starting to get fun around here.


Captain Columbus!

I've seen Rick Nash play a lot of games...but I honestly cannot remember a more dominant performance by #61.

..and I'm not just talkin about the goals... the goals were were great of course...but this guy looks like a man possessed against the he was willing this team to victory. He wanted the puck.. he wanted to carry this team... he wanted to be "the guy".

Now of course the Wings were shorthanded... but you know what.. I don't care. I have no sympathy for teams with injuries, suspensions or what have you...not after the adversity this Jackets team has had to battle through. 2 points in this league is still 2 points... and this was much more than just beating this Wings.. this was a big 2 points to get coming out of the break when the playoff race really heats up.


* Rick "the monster" Nash. A short handed goal, a PP goal and an even strength OT winner. There is your hat trick. More impressively is that he has elevated his game to a level I have never seen before. This Rick Nash is a guy Howson signs to a huge extension this summer.. this Rick Nash is a franchise player you do not let go. I love this Rick Nash! He completely carried this squad to a win tonight....and how about that hustle to get back on that late 3rd period turnover?

* How about that save Manny Malhotra made on that open net with a tie score? Save of the game.

* PP looked the best I've seen in a long time.. they were getting their entries.. tape to tape passes.. quick puck movement.. even scored a timely goal.

* Love to see a fired up Commodore there at the end of the 2nd. He also collected 2 assists, led all players with 26+ minutes, was a +2 with 2 blocked shots. How do you like me now Babcock?

* Even strength the Jackets can play with any team in this league and they showed it again tonight.

* Kris Russell. This kid is coming into his own.. rattled a shot off the post but he is just skating the puck so well... he's also doing a great job at keeping pucks in the zone.

* I want to give a big shot out to Jared Boll tonight.. I know he didn't get on the score sheet but he is playing some great hockey lately... he's finishing his checks.. carrying the puck well... and the thing I love about him is that he takes hits and doesn't get sucked into any dumb retaliatory penalties...

* Helluva crowd tonight considering the elements outside. Man..when these fans have something to cheer for they get LOUD!!! Loved Nash's comments after the game regarding the home town fans/arena.

* Jackets were a physical bunch in this one.. outhitting the Wings 25 to 17.

* Jackets got some bounces... this one could have went either way and the Jackets found a way to grab this one.

* A big..and I mean BIG win in OT to get this push off on the right foot coming out of the all star break. They are now 6-5 in OT game this year.. quite the turnaround from last season.

* 2 penalties against. The Jackets had to stay out of the box against this squad and they did a pretty good job with it in this one.

* The Jackets got away with some calls tonight...for once.

* Slow first period... strong second... weak third... great OT.

* What happened to Jason Williams on the point? ..and did Chimera play center the entire game?
* Voracek had a hot/cold type game. Couple of nice feeds to Russell and Williams... but also had some turnovers and "rookie" moments.

* Only 45% in the face off circle.

* Mason looked sharper and more rested in net tonight. Solid game for him as he turned away 21 of 23 shots.

* The so-called "Wings fan" I was talking to on the way out whom I asked what happened to Zetterberg he responded saying he played the whole game..and that he never got an alert from espn about anything.... okay bud.. keep representin the wagon.

* The dolt who keeps on playing those stupid movie clips during the games... dude, just stop! Your killing the atmosphere. While your at it get a new DJ.

* The photographer who wouldn't let the fans throw their hats through the hole in 108 at the end of the game.. instead of letting fans show their support he chose to call security... were the pictures of the staff cleaning up the hats that important?

* Tollefsen... love your physical play but dude has to make a better outlet pass.

* I know the Wings missed Datsyuk and Zetterberg.. but this team comes back to earth the minute Lidstrom retires... he makes everything go back there.. especially on the PP. He's a great player but I think its about time for him to hang em up ;)

* I don't want to hear any boo-hooing from Wings fans about only dressing 11 forwards... no bailout for teams who spend to the cap.

* Bummer Manny's point streak came to an end but that was a helluva run for him. Time to start a new one.

1. Rick Nash.
2. Big 2 points coming out of the break.
3. Mike Commodore salutes Mike Babcock.

With the win the Jackets move to 9th in the Western Conference....just 2 points out of 5th place. This West is getting even more tighter... I'll have updated standings shortly.

Great way to start this push boys! Lets keep it going against Ottawa this Friday!



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crank it up!

Watch this at least 10 times today and think dirty thoughts about those damn Wings!

Blue Jackets - Ladies and Gentlemen from Skraut on Vimeo.


Monday, January 26, 2009


This was a comment posted in response to the "musts" post that I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to read as its well thought out and researched.

Every single roster player has to step up his game at least one notch..
This is the tightest playoff race that I can remember.... and it's simple... those teams who step it up are in... those who don't are out.. Remember separation will come in the next couple of weeks.. Here is my assessment of everyone's chances...

Phoenix Coyotes

Trajectory: UP

Playoff birth probability: 85%

Assessment: Playing some of their best hockey as of late (hottest team in the West right now), putting away top teams and have momentum, I am predicting a playoff birth.

Edmonton Oilers

Trajectory: UP

Playoff birth probability: 50%

Assessment: 7-3-0 in last 10 games, getting points (even ugly points) and starting to get momentum. The Oilers have the talent to go on a run, but will they?? First 10 games after the break will be crucial..

Vancouver Canucks

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 50%

Assessment: 2-4-4 in last ten… If the lack of chemistry continues the Nucks are toast. If Luongo and Sundin turn up the heat this could be the team to watch in the West. The first 10 games after the break are make it or break it for this team.

Anaheim Ducks

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 60%

Assessment: Let’s just say it JSG is not playing his best hockey.. the ducks are 4-6-0 in the last ten and they are struggling.. However with the talented veterans on this team (Teemu will soon return) you know they are going to have a good ending to their season.

Minnesota Wild

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 40%

Assessment: Minnesota’s key ingredient Defense has been missing as of late, this team is just not deep enough (especially when it comes to forwards) to make it. I expect them to slowly fall off..

Columbus Blue Jackets

Trajectory: UP

Playoff birth probability: 55%

Assessment: Need to finish their chances, and improve the PP/PK. If the Jackets are able to turn up the heat they should be able to take advantage of their 11 of 13 at home and secure a little bit of a buffer.

Dallas Stars

Trajectory: Stable

Playoff birth probability: 60%

Assessment: Shocked, that’s all I can say.. Watching last year’s playoffs the Stars where the 2nd best team in the league. I was sure they would be in the top 3 at this point in time. They have too much potential and quality to miss the playoffs, I am predicting a comeback for the Stars. I wouldn’t rule out a run to the conference finals.

Colorado Avalanche

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 35%

Assessment: Too old and too little organizational depth. After the all-star brake the competition will turn it up a notch and the Avs won’t be able to keep up.

Los Angeles Kings

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 25%

Assessment: They have a good nucleus of rookies, but they are still 1 to 2 years away from making an impact.

Nashville Predators

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 25%

Assessment: Years of budget cuts are finally starting to catch up with the Preds (3-7 in the last 10), they might have an upward spasm (trading a D for an FW) but they are simply unable to get enough momentum to catch up with the other teams.

St Louis Blues

Trajectory: DOWN

Playoff birth probability: 2%

Assessment: Injuries, bad luck and lack of depth beyond the 2 lines all add up to a rebuilding mentality. Look out for the Blues in 2011.

Great read Eplagge! I appreciate the post!

Game back on tomorrow!


Buyer beware

Check out this post on Craigslist:

I've got 2 extra tickets to the Wings game tomorrow night, and will only sell to a Blue Jackets fan. All you Detroit fans, go to hell. I'm sick of you people in my building!

Section 206, row E (5th). great seats on the CBJ attack-twice corner. These are my season tickets, and they're here for a reason... these are my favorite seats in the building!!!

Face value is $26 each, selling for $20 each. Can arrange for a pickup/delivery/meeting today if you act fast, I've got errands to run in the afternoon and might be able to drop off.

call me for best response

Patrick 614-###-#### If I don't answer send me a text message to this number.

ps... I'm serious about CBJ fans only. I will not sell my tickets to someone that even remotely smells like a Wings fan.

***UPDATE*** These tickets are gone. I am leaving the post up for another day, which I normally never do, in hopes of making you, the CBJ ticket seller, aware that there are Detroit fans out there. There's a hell of a lot of them. DON'T SELL THEM YOUR TICKET. EVER AGAIN. Steve Mason thanks you.

Atta-boy Patrick!

Speaking of Detroit.. don't they have two roster positions for sale tomorrow? (queue rimshot)


10 "musts" on road to playoffs

The stretch run is about to begin on Tuesday and here the Jackets sit just 2 points out of the playoffs with a record of 22-20-5 with 35 games left to play.

With that in mind here are 10 keys that I believe are "musts" for the Jackets to nail down a spot in the big dance for the first time in their 8 year on ice history.

1. Powerplay must improve.
It is what it is up to this point and the Jackets have managed to survive without it but as the heat gets turned up the Jackets must get key goals from their special teams to consistently grab points in this tough Western Conference.

2. Penalty kill must improve.
I list this second because even though its been bad it hasn't been 30th out of 30 teams bad. That said this team is built on defense and should be much better than 19th overall in the league -- no excuses, it must be better.

3. Now is the time.
With 10 of the next 13 at home this is the time for the Jackets to make a push. They must come out of the gate strong and win at a .700 clip or better at home.

4. Health.
Although their depth has been tested and responded to keep this thing afloat, the Jackets can ill afford to keep having those injuries pile up. Must stay relatively healthy.

5. Howson.
Still over a month away from the deadline but assuming the Jackets stay alive, Howson must get some more help to fill in the remaining holes -- especially a PPQB and a center -- they don't have to be superstars that mortgage the future. Jason Williams type adds are fine by me.

6. Nash.
He has shown some unbelievable signs this past 4 to 6 weeks of having the ability to elevate his game and make players around him better and really become that franchise player we all hoped he would become. He must continue to take those strides and carry this team into the postseason.

7. Road wins.
15 of the 35 remaining games are on the road. The Jackets must go .500 or better to secure a playoff birth.

8. Secondary scoring.
Nash can't do it all. He has gotten and must get more of the secondary scorers to contribute on the score sheet. The Jackets have 7 players over the 20 goal mark. They have 4 players in double digit scoring. While it seems like they have scored more they are still the 5th worst scoring team in the conference -- they need even more goals down the stretch. Veterans like Malhotra, Chimera, Modin, Peca, Umberger & Huselius must lead the way.

9. Beat the west.
26 of the 35 games left are against Western Conference opponents. 16 of those are against division opponents. Those are the big 4 point swingers... must beat those teams and limit any 3 point opportunities.

10. Watch the burnout.
As much as I love Mase the organization has to be carefull not to burn this kid out. Must give Dubie some starts and Mase some rest.

HM: Kids need big second half.
Guys like Russell, Mason, Voracek, Boll, Dorsett and Methot have all played well and contributed thus far. Must get even more production over the next 35 to get in.

Fire away - what are your "musts" for the Jackets to grab a spot?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Giddy up!

If you didn't catch the Super Skills competition from last night definitely watch the cip below:

Looks like Malkin and Ovechkin have kissed and made up.

Ovechkin certainly "gets it". This is where you showboat and how can you not love this guy's energy and passion out there? Its infectious and great for the game! This event is all about having some fun and showing off your personality...something we don't always see a lot from NHL players.

The breakout challenge competition as a whole was much MUCH better this year. Guys tried a lot more tricks and giving them a minute to showcase themselves on multiple attemps really worked well.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

You be the judge?

This is the aftermath of Kyle Beach scoring in an empty net in a major junior game last night:

That's the thing with hockey that you don't find much in other sports... if you show up your opponent then be prepared for a response.

Fire away - showboating or not?


Week 15 Power Rankings - mixed bag
Rank: 10 (+5)
8-3 in the last 11 games, the Blue Jackets are starting to realize their potential, though the upside seems to be limited as long as Manny Malhotra is centering the top line (even if he does have eight points in the last eight games).
Rank: 18 (unchanged)
Rick Nash. It appeared a fourth straight All-Star appearance was not in the cards after a recent injury, but now Nash thinks he will be available for the game after having returned to regular-season play. Obviously rookie goalie Steve Mason has been the best Blue Jacket, and while he was snubbed for the real event at least he got selected as a young star.
Rank: 19 (unchanged)
With a recent 7-3-0 run, the Blue Jackets are just one point out of a playoff spot heading into this week's action.
Rank: 17 (+2)
Kristian Huselius's giving mood last week helped his team move up in the rankings. Huselius dished out five assists and scored one goal in the club's three Week 15 games.
Rank: 17 (-2)
Need a little help up front.
Rank: 16 (unchanged)
Are they massive? Not just yet, but it's taking shape. When Mike Commodore unveils the robe, you'll know.
Rank: 10 (+5)
8-3 in the last 11 games, the Blue Jackets are starting to realize their potential, though the upside seems to be limited as long as Manny Malhotra is centering the top line (even if he does have eight points in the last eight games).
Rank: 15 (+1)
The Jackets, gunning for their first playoff appearance, are picking things up, especially on the road. They've won five of the past seven away after losing the previous seven on the road.

Meta-score: 15.25 (previous week 16.4)

TSN and THN both have the Jackets ranked the highest at 10 this week. ESPN has them the lowest at 19.

These rankings tell me some people are starting to believe that the Jackets are legit while, regardless of their recent success, some still aren't jumping on board.


..and I thought I was a homer!

Listen to the Calgary announcers in this video for a good laugh:

Really guys...after 4 replays including a super slow mo shot of Regher's stick thwacking Dorsett's grill you still think that was a skate that spread him open like a taco?

Video doesn't lie but we have learned this year (thank you Toronto) that it certainly can be interpreted many different ways.

As puck-rakers reported yesterday this play is under league review as well it should be. Of course its now up to Campbell to hand out the suspension so.. yeah... don't hold you breath for anything significant.

Hopefully Dorsett is okay after that cheap shot.. he's a tough kid so I don't expect him to miss much if any time.

Thanks to Kevin for sending this in!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Here we go again

News broke yesterday via Puck-rackers that Hitch will be trying Jason Chimera at center when he returns to the lineup on Tuesday.

My reaction was the same as when I heard this about Zherdev, Vyborny, Modin & Nash.

Ain't gonna work.

In fact I give it two shifts.

I've covered this before but again at this level is very rare to move a player out of their natural position and expect success. I love Chimera but he has enough to worry about playing his natural position at left wing.

At the end of the day Chimera could play goalie for all I care as long as the team wins but for the sake of discussion I'm not expecting a whole lot out of this one other than another message to Howson from Hitch, be it unintentional or not, to go out and get me another center.

On the heals of The Sports Business Journal reporting that Jackets ratings are up 40+% Puck-rakers also reported that ratings for Wednesday's game against the Calgary Flames drew a 3.19 rating which was the best since 2001.

That is stunning, especially given the timeslot, and a wonderful sign for this market. If those ratings are ramping up that much now just think what they could be when/if this team is in the hunt in March let alone if they sneak into the playoffs!

According to the NHLPA has officially declined to re-open the CBA.

"Today's announcement that the NHLPA's membership is committed to playing under the CBA for two more years is great news for all hockey fans," said Kelly. "While the NHLPA's membership has issues with the current Agreement, the players and their Executive Board decided that due to the current economic conditions as well as the players' focus on continuing to help grow this game and expose our great athletes to many more fans, now is not the appropriate time to enter complex labour negotiations."

Considering the salary cap has increased some 40% since the first year of the agreement I think the players have done okay for themselves.

Trying to play Mr. Objectivity for a second.. to me this system is working. Does it have some areas where it can improve on both sides? Yes.. of course. No agreement is perfect. However this agreement has leveled the playing field and has given every market a chance if managed correctly -- heck, for proof just look at how many teams are still alive for a playoff first over halfway through the season.

The agreement has also brought some fiscal sanity to the league. Now should the stronger teams be expected to prop up the struggling markets forever? No. The key indicator to me is if a team is winning and there is still no support then it may be time to take a serious look at things -- that goes for Columbus as well which being the homer that I am I can only hope it never to comes to that.

Of course contraction or moving a team is much more complicated than the waive of a magic wand or typing it into some blog. There are many dependencies interwoven in such a process including building leases, sponsor commitments, board of governor approvals, city obligations, employment impact, charities on and on and on.

I also think that if a true partnership is to be made then the NHLPA should have more of an active voice and financial stake in things like expansion, relocation, special events, etc. Steps have been taken in that direction such as the competition committee but more are needed.

For the league I'm sure they'd like to revisit the UFA eligibility rules and caps on contract lengths among others.

Personally I'm just glad both sides weren't stupid enough to slide in the direction of a lockout/strike so soon after the one that cost everyone an NHL season in '04-'05. I hate to think of what this league would look like after another protracted labor standoff.

The agreement expires in 2 seasons but the players do have an option for another year.

Its mid-season grade time.

First lets look at what had to say about the Jackets:

About What I Expected:
Columbus: Is this the best Blue Jackets team in franchise history? Right now, I would say yes. Is that going to be good enough for the first playoff appearance in franchise history? Right now, I would say no. And yes, that abominable power play (still dead-last in the league at an almost criminal 11.4 percent) still has much to do with my answer.

Now over to

Columbus Blue Jackets: CSteve Mason and his play in the Columbus goal is one of the more compelling stories of the season, but it still might not be enough to get the Blue Jackets into the playoffs for the first time. They picked up Jason Williams, who had been a bust in Atlanta, but they still lack a No. 1 center for Rick Nash. Heading into Wednesday, they were just three points out of eighth with two games in hand.

I can't agree more about the PP. They have somehow survived this long essentailly without one but it absolutely must improve in these remaining games if the Jackets want to sneak in. I really believe that.

It looks like Nash is in for the NHL All Star game but Filatov is out for the AHL All Star game. Derick MacKenzie will be taking his place.

The Crunch may be coming back to life a little bit.. they blanked Rochester 4-0 last night off the heals of a Dan LaCosta shutout. Vigilante, Garlock, Kelly & MacKenzie collected the goals.

Sports Illustrated takes a stab at what their starting All Star lineups would be if fans were taken out of the voting (which to me isn't a bad idea considering the outcome this season - I mean no Ovechking in the starting lineup -- c'mon).


G Tim Thomas, Bruins
D Zdeno Chara, Bruins
D Andrei Markov, Canadiens
C Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
LW Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals
RW Alexander Semin, Capitals


G Steve Mason, Blue Jackets
D Dan Boyle, Sharks
D Shea Weber, Predators
C Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings
LW Patrick Marleau, Sharks
RW Jarome Iginla, Flames

Yep that is our very own Steve Mason styling for the West.

Although honestly I think the best outcome happened for the Jackets as this kid desperately needed a break and his absence at the Young Stars game is a middle finger firmly extended in the direction of one Colin Campbell.

More All Star. Looks like Crosby is back in according to Darren Dreger at TSN:

Pittsburgh has no intention of testing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's threat to suspend those who choose not show in Montreal for this weekends All-Star festivities.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is en route to Montreal and will arrive early this afternoon to fully participate in all off-ice All-Star activities.

The NHL says it will enforce an understanding that all players who decline to show after being named to the All-Star teams must miss at least one game before or one game after the All-Star weekend.

Guess we know why Nash is there don't we?

Putting my Mase bias aside for a second, I can understand the league and the players positions. The league wants to showcase its stars and has television commitments. From a player's perspective this is one long grueling season and even though the All Star game is relaxed, that 4 days of R&R out of the spotlight has to look mighty tempting.

Rules are rules.. I'm just glad they weren't in place for the youngsters.

The real beauty out of this is if Datsyuk and Lindstrom don't play guess which game they would have to sit out? That's right... Columbus on Tuesday.

A reminder that if you need your hockey fix and the All Star game doesn't do it for ya -- there is some other great hockey in town as the hockey Buckeyes, unbeaten in their past 12, take on Western Michigan both Friday and Saturday nights. I'll be heading out to Saturday's game to catch the action.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stat of the day

Only four Blue Jackets have played in all 47 games this season:

Mike Commodore
Jan Hejda
Fedor Tyutin
RJ Umberger

Interesting that there is only 1 forward in that mix and our top 3 defensemen have remained healthy (knocks on first piece of lumber in sight!).

More stats:

Jackets point total at the 2007-2008 All Star break: 56 (25-20-6)

Jackets point total at the 2008-2009 All Star break: 49 (22-20-5)

What's interesting is that after the All Star break last season the Jackets only won 2 of their next 18 games. 11 of those were on the road.

That is a perfect example of the heat getting turned up after the break and the Jackets were not able to respond.

Lets hope that's not repeated after this year's break -- which honestly, I don't think will happen because:

1. That team last year started hot and eventually faded. This year's version seems to be ramping up.

2. The Jackets play 10 of their next 13 at home. They just finished playing 11 of 16 on the road.

3. They should start to get healthy.



That was one tired Blue Jackets team on display last night. Understandable considering it was their 3rd game in 4 nights.

...but you know what, they battled...they stuck up for one another..they took the best the Flames had and gave it right back to them.

Was it textbook Hitchockey? Of course not but to come out and battle the way they did after such a deflating loss in Edmonton once again shows this ain't your grandpa's Blue Jackets. This is a team ready to legitimately compete for a playoff birth for their first time in franchise history.

Now if they could just get those damn special teams on track imagine where this team could go?

Lets take a look at the game.


* Gutsy effort. Boys were dog tired but they competed like crazy out there. Lets see... 3rd game in 4 nights, back to back, end of a 3 game road trip, injuries, 4 day break right around the corner and against one of the top 4 teams in the West who had lost 2 in a row -- yeah I'll take that point and get out of dodge.

* Everyone contributing offensively. 8 different Jackets on the scoreboard last night.

* How about RJ? Dude was struggling prior to last night's game but he was the Jackets best forward and had the most jump last night --- and of course he notched 2 big goals and took a dirty hit for the team. Guy had a team high 7 shots.

* A big "hell yeah" to Methot for jumpin in to defend his teammate. That is just another sign that this group is becoming a team.

* With a depleted lineup the veterans logged some heavy minutes. Nash, Manny, Modin, Williams, Commodore, Umberger and Hejda all played 20+ minutes.

* Speaking of Williams... another great game with a beauty of a pass to Voracek (whom also played great) for his 4 point in 3 games as a Jacket.

* Tollefsen taking that shot from Roy was a great example that this team is playing with their heads as much as their heart. As Hith has said, that is being "dug in".

* Gonna give Mase a pass for last night. This kid was clearly exhausted but man'd up and held this team in it when he could. Its a shame those two shootout attempts he stopped went to waste.

* Nash was the same but he stepped up and scored a big shot handed goal to put the Jackets up in the 3rd. Great players find ways to make a difference even when they clearly aren't 100%.

* Those cross ice passes are killing the Jackets and they have to find a way to shut those down... They did do a better job of clearing pucks out and limiting the neutral zone turnovers.

* It got pretty ugly there at the end of the 3rd... the Jackets were hangin on by a thread.

* Jackets have to find a way to make teams pay on the PP... especially with 5 on 3 advantages... those are the opportunities to put teams away. They are playing through it but boy are they making things harder on themselves instead of making team's like Calgary pay for their aggressiveness.

* You just knew the refs were going to even things up. They called the Jackets for 3 straight hooking penalties in the 3rd -- one of which the Flames converted to tie this game up. No calls on the Flames after the 2nd period -- yep they were perfect..right.

* That lack call on Regehr's cross check to Dorsett's face was an embarrassment to officiating and the game... he should have been ejected on the spot. Did they honestly think roughing would spread Dorsett's face wide open like that? Where is this so called "crack down" on shots to the head? Friggan joke.

* The shootout attempts were ugly.

1. Gutsy effort by all involved.
2. Everyone contributing on the score sheet.
3. RJ Umberger with a tremendous effort.

The Jackets finished this 3 game road trip capturing 3 out of a possible 6 points. That Edmonton game still stings but when you look at the adversity this team has overcome, especially with injuries and the sheer amount of back to backs (the most in the league), this team is clearly coming together and getting stronger as the season wears on.

The end result wasn't exactly what they hope for but they grabbed a point and as stated, sit just 2 points out of the 8th seed and just 4 points out of the 5th.

Now its time for these guys to plug in and re-charge. Traditionally after this break is when the "haves" start turning up the heat and make their playoff pushes. Its a time when the "nots" get left behind.

So over these next four days the boys need to get that R&R but realize that they are going to have to work even harder when this break is over.

Hopefully they get some of their walking wounded back before they meet Detroit at home on Tuesday.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Juice will not be turned loose tonight

Puck-rakers has informed us that the Juice will not be squeezed tonight againt the Calgary Flames. Bummer too as I was looking forward to see how he would respond against his former mates.

For the Jackets this is just a little more injury adversity piled up on stacks of adversity. They have shown the ability to play thought it if they stick to their foundation.

Looks like Picard will get the nod which means to expect Hitch to pull the level on the Line-o-matic 2009XL.

My first thought was that Williams would get bumped up to a line w/ Nash and Manny but that line of he, Torres and Boll was the most effective last night -- can't break that up right?.... uuhhh..right.

For tonight's game its simple -- the Jackets have to get back to playing the kind of hockey that has made them successful so far this season. That is tight checking with suffocating neutral zone play with a strong forecheck. They must get better goaltending from whomever is in net which looks to be Mase.. we need some jaw-dropping stops to have a chance at this one.

The Jackets know this game is a big challenge.

They know how tough Calgary is, especially at home.

They know they this is the final game on the road trip before a much needed 4 day rest and they want to finish it strong.

They know they can't give up the quality chances they've given the previous two games.

They certainly know the special teams have to be better.

They know they need to execute better on the little things.

They know Calgary is on a two game skid themselves and is looking for redemption themselves heading into the break.

This game is going to be as much mental as it is physical...and it will be physical. The Jackets have to find a way to get points tonight.

The good news? The Jackets tend to play up to their competition and Calgary is a few rungs up.

Pucks drops at 10!



Jackets hit oil slick

You know how the saying goes... you can't get to high after wins or to low after losses.

Last night's game was certainly a low point as the Jackets blew a late 3-2 lead to fall to the Oilers 4-3 with seconds remaining in regulation. It was a valuable two points that were just thrown away by a Jackets team that has shown many times this season they are better than that.

Two costly turnovers... one by RJ Umberger while tying to kill penalties and one by Mike Commodore who failed to get the puck deep in the final seconds of regulation was all the swiftly skating Oilers needed to get back into this one and take home the victory.

Those are plays the Jackets had not been making until recently. Those are the little things that get you wins and get you much needed points. If not executed properly they are also the plays that get you greens and fairways in April.

Trust me the players and coaches know it much better than the us fans watching.


* The line of Boll-Williams-Torres was the best line for the Jackets. Boll has been playing great hockey lately and collected a hard working goal in the paint to get the Jackets even. Williams has done all you can ask as he grabbed a helper and nice goal scorers goal with a low shot that found Roloson's 5-hole.

* LOVED Kris Russell again last night. He just isn't making many mistakes on either end of the ice and is skating the puck so well. With an assist last night he also surpassed all of last season's point totals in 37 less game -- he now has 11 points.

* The Jackets are getting the scoring...especially from secondary sources but unfortunately their defense and goaltending levels have dropped.. more on that later.

* Jackets were real good in that dot last night when 61% of their draws.

* I liked Methot a lot last night. A couple of nice hits... a great wrister. He gets a yellow as he and Tyutin allowed Hemsky to break in uncontensted -- a breakdown we haven't seem much from this squad this season. Some say well what about Hemsky's last goal -- he could have played it better but so could have Mason. That one was on Commodore and if Methot goes for the poke-check Hemsky goes by him... he played him okay... guy is just a world class player who took advantage of the Jackets scrambling.

* Besides that gaff on Hemsky's goal I really liked Tyutin. If you watch him closely he cleans up a lot of messy plays back there... if a pass if off he collects it... he doesn't give up on plays and rarely gets caught out of position... he is skating the puck out of trouble much more efficiently than he did early this year.. he is really turning into the complete package for us.

* I was almost going to give Backman a green as he played the best I've seen from him since the start of the season. Alas he did take that penalty in the 3rd which started the Oil rally.

* Voracek has a beauty of a pass on Williams' goal. Only 12 minutes for him last night. I hope he gets more minutes against Calgary b/c I think he's playing really well.

* The Jackets are not getting the little things done. They aren't getting clears..they are committing unforced turnovers... they aren't getting down and blocking shots.. they aren't getting the big saves... the aren't playing "heavy" on the puck.

* Mason has hit a wall. Everyone knows it. His quickness, especially side to side has fallen. The league seems to have figured out where to beat him now which is high. He isn't making that big save to bail his team out now which magnifies every other mistake made up ice. Kid needs a break. I'd start Dubi tonight.

* Umberger has been brutal lately and was a -3 last night. Commodore certainly knows he has to make a better play at the end there as well.

* Nash looked like a guy that is clearly still hurting last night. He made a couple of nice passes but was very lethargic and pretty much a non factor. He could use time off.

* Jackets allowed Hemsky to beat them. 4 points. Credit certainly goes to him but certainly the Jackets had to do a better job of containing him.

* How does Jared Boll get a roughing penalty for getting jumped on by the goalie? Or how do you miss that pick set by Moreau who flat out tackled Russell? Officiating certainly isn't to blame for this loss but some of these calls/non calls lately are just inexcusable.

* Penalty kill has gone to crap. Of course its no coincidence that in that same span Mason has struggled. The Jackets are allowing to many cross ice passes for one timers --- they have to fill those lanes or get bodies in front of those shots. To many clean looks right now.

* PP looked good at times but again no production on the scoreboard. Special teams are really hurting this squad again.

* Another blown lead in the 3rd period for the 3rd time in 3 games. It just can't happen folks. Good teams don't let those things happen.

1. Willams
2. Boll
3. Torres

The Jackets will have to put this one behind them quickly as its another tough Western Conference team tonight. A win tonight gives them a 2-1 record on this road trip and a boost heading into the break. A loss and all this momentum that has been built up is lost.

Calgary is one tough nut to crack... especially at home where they have only lost 5 games. Jackets better not get caught looking towards the break or this one could be over early.

This team has shown the ability to bounce back after deflating losses so I expect a good effort tonight.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Get a load of this..

I was reading over on HF that apparently Colin Campbell -- you know the NHL VP of Ops in charge of the multiple "war room" Columbus screw jobs - is upset that Columbus is not sending Mason to the Young Stars game.

Apparenlty earlier today on Toronto Radio 590 in reaction to the announcement that Mason will miss the Young Stars game, Campbell said that the rule is that if a player plays the game before the All Star game then he must play in the actual All Star game. However there are no such rules for the Young Stars game.

He then added the Young Stars game rules will be changed to match those of the All Star game and that he was not happy with Columbus.

This is a great move for Columbus as the playoffs are the goal here and not some hokey Young Stars game that means squat. We need to keep Mase as fresh as possible for the stretch run.

As for Campbell's comments...well....karma, ain't it a bitch?!


Pre-game thoughts: Two in two til break

Will there be a game that doesn't mean something significant before the end of the season?

I think not.

..and that is a great thing if your a Jackets fan!

This is only the second time in eight seasons the Jackets have actually been in this thing up to this point in the season. Last year the Jackets were in the mix at the All Star break and this year, as of today, the Jackets sit just 1 point out of 8th and 3 out of 5th in the west!

Tonight its another biggie as one of those team that sits just 1 point ahead of them is the Edmonton Oilers which the Jackets will face tonight at 9 o'clock....then its right back at it the following night against the Calgary Flames before they hit the 4 day All Star break...

Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy!

For now though lets focus on one game at a time and that's the Edmonton Oilers. The Oil have won 2 straight and are 6-4 over their last 10. The Jackets are 1-1 against Edmonton so far this season including getting their butts kicking at home on Nov 18th.

What's interesting is that Edmonton hasn't been all that impressive at home only going 10-8-3 so far this season compared to a road record of 13-11-0. The Jackets have won their past 5 of 7 on the road and have played much better hockey of late away from the friendly confines.

* Need to be much tighter defenively then they were against Vancouver. That goes from goaltending all they way out. They allowed Vancouver to much room through the neutral zone which led to a nasty Canuck forecheck that was effective.

* Hemsky is their key offensive cog that needs contained. They also have a dirty defense that can bring the heat from the points -- especially on their 16th ranked PP.

* Jackets need to take advantage of the Oil's 28th ranked PK. The Jackets are slowly taking steps on their PP, especially with the acquisition of Jason Williams -- a PP goal or two would certianly go a long way in deciding this one.

* No excuse not to get up for this one. There are another big 2 points up for grabs against a team your in direct competition with for a spot in the dance. Jackets must come out with strong legs from the start.

* Watch those young forwards. The Oil like to make a quick transition and they get a lot of quality chances off the rush. Watch the neutral zone turnover and watch getting caught flat footed.

* Punish them. Jackets are a big team so hit when there is a hit to be made.

* Need a bounce back performance from Mase.

I'll be watching Mase closely -- he looks to be close to burnout and I just hope we aren't riding this horse to much. If he struggles early watch for the early hook to give this guy a rest.

It was good news to hear Mase would be resting over the break. He's earned it and the Jackets are going to need him when the temperature really gets turned up after the break.

Also keep an eye on Gilbert Brule who is seeing some time up on the big squad -- he'll want to make a statement tonight. Same can be said about Torres wearing union blue for the good guys.

Expect a playoff type game tonight as both teams know how critical these points are. They also both know there is rest around the corner so whomever hangs it on the line the most will most likely come out victorious.

Puck drops at 9 EST!



Monday, January 19, 2009

Must see CBJ vid

Skraut has done it again folks!!

Blue Jackets - Ladies and Gentlemen from Skraut on Vimeo.

Download it here.

If you need a viewer download VLC media here.

Awesome job again my man!

Jackets need to hire this guy already!!


CBJ ratings up, Buckeyes roll and more!

According to The Sports Business Journal both Attenance and TV viewship are up in the NHL.

While attenance for the CBJ is ranked in the bottom 5 it is certainly on the uptick as both the on ice performance and creative marketing has led to a noticeable increase.

What even more interesting is tha tthe Jackets television raitings have risin a whopping 40.20% to 1.43. That is good for 8th best out of the 24 North American teams.

Both of those numbers should only continue to improve.

The Ohio State men's hockey team stretched their unbeaten streak to 12 games with back to back victories over Ferris State.

The wins improve the Buckeyes to a 16-6-2 overall record and 9-5-2-2 in the CCHA.

Ohio State is now ranked 10th in the pairwise rankings and 10th on the power rankings.

They are also starting to get some national press here. OSU players Elkins and Bartkowski were also named CCHA players of the week. Congrats guys!

They'll return home to face off against Western Michigan this Friday and Saturday.

This team is real good folks so if your looking for you hockey fix this weekend as the Jackets will be off for the All-Star break.

Some good news here as its being reported that the NHLPA will not opt to reopen the CBA.

The Globe and Mail is reporting that given the current economic conditions, the players believe that it would not make sense to risk either a lockout or strike at this time.

Lets just say thank god they aren't that stupid. They CBA expires after the 2010-2011 season.

Who else is watching this Boston/St. Louis game? Wow what a game! We'll see if the "war room" call that game tying goal a high stick.


5 questions with Nikita

This 5 question interview was sent into me by a New York Rangers blogger named Aaron. He had the opportunity to ask Nikita a few questions that he was orginally going to use on a Rangers blog but asked me if I would like to post them here instead for Blue Jackets fans.

Of course I jumped at the opporunity. Without further adu:

1. What was your initial feeling when you were drafted by Columbus? Being a top 10 pick you must have felt much excitement, but did you feel you should have been drafted higher?

Nikita: No. I was really happy about that and didn't even think what team would be better for me. just was waiting for that moment when I'
ll hear my name... :)

2. Were you surprised the Blue Jackets did not send you down to Juniors to develop and learn the North American game? You were drafted by the OHL, but instead you made the Jackets. How did that feel?

Nikita: When i was coming here..?

Aaron: Yes.

Nikita: I was ready to any desicion of the team. Even junior so of course I was happy that they didnt send me there cause my goal was to prove that i can make nhl team...but ahl gave me a lot...I mean helped me a lot.

3. You said the AHL gave you a lot, how so?

Nikita: Great team..very good league.. I really was growing there as a hockey player..received a lot of confidence..and I've learned a lot of new and very important things about North American hockey there.

4. The Blue Jackets have a group of young talent in the core of their team. Is the transition to the NHL easier when your playing with other rookies such as Steve Mason?

Nikita: Ya of course. We've got such great young players as Mason, Brassard and Voracek....and it helps a lot...but also of course very important role is on older guys cause they are leaders and we ve got such great veterans also so its perfect for young guys we can just listen and be learning a lot of from them.

5. The Blue Jackets currently are 1 point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. I know it is early, but can we expect this team to keep pushing hard toward a playoff spot unlike last year? And if so, do you think this team can keep up with the powerhouses such as the Red Wings and Sharks?

Nikita: Ya. I do. Of course i ve played just 8 games but i know that team is playing really good against strong team..teams..and also there is 40 more games to be not the last team to make play sure that we can pass first round of play offs

Aaron: Nikita thank you very much! Hopefully you have a long and successful career in the NHL. Good luck to you and your team this year.

My thanks to both Nikita and Aaron for passing this along with the green light to post it on this blog! I'm sure I speak for everyone who visits here when I say we appreciate it!


Jackets find a way

The Jackets have been finding a lot of ways to win lately. Last night was no exception as the Jacket won a wild one in Vancouver 6-5 in a shootout.

The game was setup to be a tough physical affair and it certainly didn't disappoint. There were hard hits and a couple of scraps and generally open ice was hard to come by.

What did surprise was the sheer amount of goals put on the scoreboard....especially considering the goaltending talent that was at both ends of the rink. 10 regulation goals in a back/forth game that ultimately took shooters to decide the outcome.

The game also marked the return of Jackets' captain Rick Nash....and thank you for that! He was a monster notching 1g, 2a and a shootout goal to seal this one. I think its safe to say that at some point not to long ago, Nash elevated his game and hasn't looked back. He now has 42 points in 41 games including 17 points over his last 11 contests. He has unquestionably and consistently been the franchise player we'd all hope he'd become over that stretch.

There were lots of other stories from the game so lets jump right into the review.


* Rick Nash... see above.

* It wasn't pretty but the Jackets found a way to get two key points on the road against a very motivated team in Vancouver who had lost 6 games in a row at home. Previous Jackets teams would have showed up and taken their beating -- not this one, not now. As Commodore said, its not always going to be a Picasso but I'll take that 2 points anyway we can get it.

* Everyone contributing. 5 goals were scored by 5 different players. All were different plays. You had the tic tac toe passing on Manny's goal. The PP one-timer by Williams (yes I said one-timer). The wrister from just outside the dots by Commodore off a great play by Umberger. The dirty gritty goal in front of the net by Torres. Finally the wrap around by Nash after Peca/Huselius made great plays up high. 1 PP and 4 even strength goals.

* PP came through with a very timely goal after the Jackets went down 3-1. That was the exact type of goal the Jackets need from their PP. It gave them a spark that I think was the biggest reason the Jackets salvaged two points from this one.

* We saw what we all hoped for when Howson acquired Jason Williams last night. He delivered on the PP and he delivered in the shootout. How about that right handed shot from the PP and a one timer no less? That quick release and accuracy of that shot had me salivating. He has also stepped up his physical game which we can only hope continues after the "new car smell" wears off. That shootout goal was something special as well -- especially with a half swollen eye.

* Gare was right on with Boll's fight... that was well timed and also added a spark. With all his yapping..who got the last laugh last night Hordichuk? Boll had a nice feed to Torres for his goal as well.

* OSU vs. OSU. I didn't realize that there was a rivalry between Kesler and Umberger.... nice to see Umberger step up.

* This is BY FAR the best hockey I've ever seen Manny Malhotra play. Be contract motivation or whatever -- got to ride this horse.

* Actually all the Jackets played a tough game... nobody backed down.. everyone got their hands dirty... that was a team out there.

* Great call to dress Tollefsen for this one... his edge was needed and he played okay.

* Commodore and Hejda each a +3. These two just do not get enough credit for the way they have been playing this season. Hejda is now a +18 while Commodore is a +13.

* Huselius has really stepped up his game of late and made a fantastic play to keep the puck in the zone that eventually led to Nash's goal. He now has 31 points in 42 games.

* Mase was great in the shootout stoning both Vancouver shooters. He also played well at the end of the 3rd to secure a point for the good guys.

* Another OT win. I need to look up and see how many that makes but I believe we are well above .500 in OT situations at this point which is a drastic improvement from last season.
* Jackets are 3-0 versus Vancouver this season.

* 5 goals against is never a good thing. As Hitch and everyone said after this one, the Jackets were not able to control or contain Vancouver's offense -- especially the Sedins who seemed dominant everytime they were out there.

* Bad break on the tying goal when Mason's clear bounced off of Nash and in.

* Goaltending on both sides was sub-par. Mason didn't give up horrible stuff but he's stopped shots like Pyatt scored on last night.. and he overplayed Sundin roofer a bit. Nice to see the Jackets get him some goal support.

* Officiating was bad. How can the high stick to Williams go unnoticed? Or the cross check to the face of Dorsett? Or Nash getting hauled down from behind... Or Russell getting hooked in OT on a partial break-away?
* Was it just me or was Rimer apologizing for Luongo's performance all night long? I know he used to call Panthers game but we get it... he had an off night.

* Need to be much tighter defensively.

* I thought the Jackets were toast when they went down by two.

* Gave up that point to Vancouver.

1. Rick Nash.....the monster returns.
2. Team scoring/effort
3. OT win on the road

You hate to give up that point but all things considered you have to be happy the Jackets were able to grab two points from that rollercoaster. I just can't stress enough what the environment had to be like to play in -- a team that is winless at home in its past 6, their franchise goaltender just returned, they are slipping in their playoff race -- that was a must win for those guys but the Jackets showed again that they aren't rolling over for no one!

The win moves the Jackets up to 9th place with 48 points which is 1 point out of 8th Edmonton (who they play tomorrow) and just 3 points out of 5th place.

As Nash said in his post game interview, having a chance to win every night makes things a lot more fun. A lot of those guys in that room have waited a long time for this. Still a long way to go though.

The great news is that team looks to be improving as the season rolls along...unlike last year when they started off hot and then fizzled.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Toronto comedy club

Here's what I picture when a "disputed" Columbus goal gets sent to the "War Room" for a review.

Respone from Toronto: "Dude, I'm half in the bag and just lost my it whatever it you want -- we are talkin about Columbus here".

"Hey Bruno, pass the biscuits"...

I mean seriously... I'm been meaning to hit up the Funny Bone over at Easton but why bother when all I have to do is flip on an NHL game?

That is now 3 games where Toronto has screwed the Jackets. Lets review:

1. The Minnesota game where Nash's tying goal was ruled a goal and then later over-turned due to an "inconclusive" high stick.

2. Then we move onto the Dallas game where Manny "conclusively" and "distinctly" kicked in a goal while flying through the air trying to avoid the goalie on one leg which would have been the game winner.

3. Now against New Jersey the Jackets had a game winning goal against them allowed despite a slow whistle and despite the net being off the mooring before the puck crossed the line - see this pic:

That is the at least 3 points that Jackets have had taken away.... those 3 points could easily be the difference in grabbing a playoff spot in a tight Western Conference.

This system is BROKE! Its a humpty dumpty after he fell. Its me after a big win on a Saturday night -- a total wreck.

Now the Jackets have themselves to blame as much as Toronto for letting that New Jersey game slip away.... most notably the failure to convert on 3 powerplay chances and get that critical 2nd goal. was also the first game since his injury I really missed Nasher being out there. We needed a big play from our biggest player but of course he was out.

Regardless, the Jackets have enough of their own issues to worry about... they can't continue to play the opposing team and the NHL at the same time because quite frankly they won't win.

Does the NHL recognize this or even care? Probably not. Not when there are biggest issues at hand:

"What will it be tonight boys.... five card draw or seven card stud?"


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shrewd move by Howson

The Jackets claimed 5'10" 180 pound 29 year old goaltender Wade Dubielewicz today.

It was a curious move considering the Islanders had just signed him after he and his KHL team agreed to part ways (oddly enough Freddy Norrena took his place on that team) but did not put a claim in on waivers. Any team that plays in Europe must pass through waivers before coming back to the NHL.

Howson and the Jackets must have received some news that Pascal Leclaire is out for the season and basically swooped in and scooped him up from right under New York's nose.

The Islanders are certainly kicking themselves (and cussing Howson) for not putting a claim in -- they had the first opion to do so. Certainly they beleived nobody would want this guy so why bother.

Here is the run down on Dubielewicz:

Is a great student of the game and works very hard in practice. Plays his angles well and lets the puck hit him on most occasions.
FLAWS: Must prove he can stop top NHL shooters on a consistent basis. Has limited physical talent, so he must to continue to work extra hard at his craft.
CAREER POTENTIAL: No. 3 goaltender.

Dubielewicz only has 37 NHL starts over parts of 4 NHL seasons. His best year was in 2006-2007 when he started 18 games, won 9 of them and helped carry the Islanders into a playoff birth.

If you recall the Jackets could have claimed Curtis Sanfore while he would cost a little more dough (he's signed for 650k this year) he does have 108 starts with 37w, 37l & 11 ties.

Not sure what Dubielewicz has over Sanford other than saving a few bucks. Perhaps it was just more of a timing thing as when Sanford was on waivers the status of Leclaire was still unknown.

It was a shrewd move by Howson as even though he played by rules, he certainly didn't make any friends within the Islander's organization today.

I wouldn't count on Dubielewicz doing a whole lot but if he can give Mase a rest on the occassional night, stay healthy and perform better than Lelcaire or Norrena...other than potentially burning some bridges here, it should be a solid low risk move by Howson although I think I'd rather have Sanford all things considered.

Howson has been active lately.

1. Pineault to Chicago for Blunden
2. Wilson and a 6th for Jason Williams
3. Roster claim for Dubielewicz

I still think there is a bigger move to be had here but that probably won't come until the deadline.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Pre-game thoughts: Out devil the devils

Jackets get another Eastern squad in their house tonight -- this time is 3 time cup champions New Jersey Devils.

The Devils are a team that despite losing names like Gomez, Niedermeyer, Guerin, Arnott, Rafalski, Holik, Sykora, Stevens yet they just keep on chugging along.

Heck I'm not sure they can even use Brodeur as a reason anymore as although he has been a fixture for them between the pipes over the years, they are currently putting up the wins without him due to injury.

Right now they sit 10 games over .500 with a 25-15-3 record for 53 points which is good for 6th in the East. They are 6-4-1 over their past 10 and get this -- are 12-7-2 on the road.

The Jackets certainly have their work cut out for them tonight.

* As the title of this post suggest -- the Jackets need to out devil the devils. New Jersey plays a very similar game to the Jackets. They all buy into their system, work hard, create chances off of strong defensive hockey and they are really converting.

* Don't let this team get up on your early as they have the ability to lock you right out of a game. It behooves the Jackets to come out strong and get on the board first to put the Devils on their heels.

* Got a new face in the lineup in Williams as well as getting Torres and OKT back in the lineup -- need to continue that everyone needs to step up mentality.

* Be prepared for a fight right from the start.. this Devils team does not take shortcuts.. the team that makes that first big mistake will probably lose this one. Should be real tight neutral zone play.... hard board battles... physical affair.

* If your interested in watching what I think is the best American player in this game today -- keep your eye on Zach Parise.. this kid is real good and is putting up fantastic numbers.. he's got 25g, 25a for 50p in 43 games. Need to contain this guy.

* The Devils can beat in you in a lot of ways.. they are middle of the pack on both PP and PK so they can score and stop you... they get production from a lot of guys.. they have 5 guys over 32 points and another with 28... Jackets need to counter that by rolling 4 lines that are also effective which they have been of late.

* Mase will need to bounce back from an 'okay' outing against the Avalanche.

I think everyone will be watching Jason Williams to see what he can add to this team -- especially on the PP.

Looks like no Shannahan tonight. Probably a good thing. Thanks to those who gave me the heads up on that news.

I think we'll see a big crowd tonight. Lets support these guys as its the final home game before hte All Star break!

Special request to game ops -- can I please get a Motley Crue "Shout at the Devil" tonight?!