directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buyers and Sellers

Lots of articles popping up about whom the buyers and sellers will be this deadline as they always do. Here are a few:
* Columbus - Here's a franchise-first: the Jackets are on this side of the trade-deadline fence. How far they get towards, and into, the playoffs depends on Scott Howson's ability to land a front-line centre. Nik Antropov, Tim Connolly and Brendan Morrison are being discussed. We don't quite hear the earth shaking with this news.

CBC Sports
Trade Temperature
Columbus Blue Jackets: Warm
The Blue Jackets have been looking for a top-flight centre but don't want to take on a significant contract in the process. It's unlikely such a player exists in the NHL. Columbus is on the precipice of its first ever playoff berth and is finally drafting wisely, so it's in a position to add a veteran or two.

The Sporting News
Columbus Blue Jackets: Buyers
Again, the Jackets might be more in the rental market and won’t go wild for big-salary talent. But they need a playmaker to go with Rick Nash and help for a lefty-heavy defense. Their priority is a center, because it would bump guys down the depth chart into more natural positions.

Trades that make sense
Buffalo sends Tim Connolly to Columbus for Rostislav Klesla and a third-rounder

The time is now for the Jackets to make the playoffs, but their chances of holding on to a spot diminish daily with Manny Malhotra and Jason Williams as their top two centers. Connolly is a legitimate top-six forward whose passing skills seem tailor-made to take advantage of a finisher like Rick Nash. He's a UFA after this season, but the chance to play a spotlight role alongside Nash might make C-Bus an appealing long-term destination. Klesla can't match Connolly's impact, but he gives the Sabres a reliable minutes-muncher who is signed through next season at a reasonable $1.6 million.

I don't see any need for the Jackets to toss in a draft pick in that deal. Klesla for Connolly makes some sense. I could also see the Jackets 2nd round pick for Connolly.

This may also be a reason why they are giving Aaron Rome a nice hard look right now... to see how expendable Klesla may be.

Also both the Crunch and the men's hockey Buckeyes won last night.

The Crunch ripped off 6 goals to beat the Grand Rapids by a goal. Clitsome, Holden, Picard, MacDonald, Frischmon & McGuirk with goals. Nikita Filatov did not play due to a sinus infection (boy this kid's had a rough go of it lately with his health).

#15 Ohio State knocked off #8 Miami by a final score of 6-2. The win keeps their Frozen Four tournament hopes alive and was the first time they've won since March 4th, 2005 (hat tip to Angelo Serra for the assist on that one).

The two teams meet again tonight for "senior night" at Value City Arena.


Friday, February 27, 2009

TV Alert (Update)

Just a reminder for you NHL Network subscribers -- they will be televising the #15 Ohio State vs. #8 Miami men's hockey game tonight starting at 7 p.m. EST!

Hopefully they fare a little better than the last time they were televised.

UPDATE: Game appears to only be on ONN locally. Its channel 100 for me on Time Warner.

Also a heads up that Jackets 2007 2nd round pick Will Weber and 7th rounder Trent Vogelhuber play for the Red Hawks.


Week 20 Power Rankings: Inching up
Rank: 13 (-11)
Given how long a wait it has been for the Blue Jackets faithful to see the playoffs, this season may feel like the making of Apocalypse Now, with a script written ten years before the feature film's eventual release. At least their star is better behaved.
Rank: 17 (+2)
Coach Ken Hitchcock wins the 500th game of his NHL career getting the victory in his 960th big-league game.
Rank: 17 (+1)
Kudos to rookie goalie Steve Mason and Columbus’ most serious playoff push, but can a team really get into the playoffs with the worst power play in the league? No, it’s not possible. It must improve.
Rank: 12 (+2)
Playing six games in nine days took their legs away; they better find them quickly, as a huge trip plays out this week.
Rank: 9 (unchanged)
Ken Hitchcock's always ridden his lead horse hard, but he might have to let up a bit on Steve Mason. Making his sixth start in nine days, the rookie had nothing in the tank during Saturday's 5-2 loss to Anaheim. But when to rest him? The team embarks on a critical three-game Canadian swing this week, and he gives them their best chance to win.
Rank: 16
Rick Nash was one of the main reasons the Blue Jackets were able to pick up five of a possible eight points last week. Nash finished the week with six points off three goals and three assists, registering three straight multiple-point games for Columbus.
Rank: 11 (+1)
Ken Hitchcock picked up his 500th victory and the Jackets are on a 6-2 run that is pushing them toward a bigger milestone, their first playoff appearance.
Rank: 14 (+2)
Columbus rescues center Chris Gratton from his minor league exile, so it's up to him to repay the Blue Jackets with some inspired play that helps them reach the playoffs for the first time.
Rank: 12 (-3)
Will they trade for an offensive-minded middle man this week?

META SCORE: 13.4 (Last week 14.2)

Crunch time!

If it weren't for the lack of pucks in the net I would say that was the most complete road game I have ever seen the Jackets play.

I'm not sure if it was the line shuffle, the rest or the fact it was such a big game but boy were the Jackets ready to play some hockey.

I honestly can't say there was one bad player on the squad last night. Everybody did their job.. everybody came to play.. everybody had energy... everyone gave a solid 60 minute effort.

It was beautifuly executed Jackets hockey (look.. I said "Jackets hockey".. we have an identify... whoo!!)

The Jackets can't live off just scoring 1 goal vey often but they found a way to get by with it and grab a HUMONGOUS! two points on the road against a team directly below them in the standings.

That score should have been a lot more than 1-0.... I'll give the whiny Rolo some credit for his work between the pipes for the Oil but the right team won this game on this night.


* Hey... St. Patty's Day is right around the corner and there was much green to go for the Jackets in the line. Like I said.. from top to bottom.. bottom to top... all 4 lines.. all 3 defensive pairs... everybody played a solid team game last night. That said, I do want to single some folks out.

* Dorsett-Gratton-Murray... this line was a terror all night long. Andrew "never a stride wasted" Murray had the motor churning... Derek "in your face" Dorsett was on his game skating fantastic working the hard areas of the ice... Chris "great to have you" Gratton was the perfect fit between those two guys... I know they didn't get on the board but they were absolutely essential to this win.

* Raffi Torres... geezus.. this guy gets the "shot from a cannon" award for his game. If that is the kind of Torres we can expect when healthy then look out.. His goal was sweet but I like the edge he brought to every shift even more than the goal.

* As far as the loan goal I also want to give major green lights to two players... 1. Jared Boll for a seeing eye cross ice pass right to Torres to spring him.... and 2. that play doesn't happen if its not for the work Marc Methot did behind the net prior to getting that puck to Tyutin.. he knocked not 1 but 2 different Oilers off the puck behind the net to start that breakout.. those are the kind of battles you win with but don't show on the scoreboard.

* Boll had a terrific game... he was clearly out to rattle away with a hit early.. then got dinged for an usportsman like.. he excuted his role extremely well.

* They STOPPED HEMSKY! Or "sandwiched" him as Hitch said. Loved Nash's hit on him deep in the defensive zone.

* Steve Mason. Okay so he didn't need to be superman to get this shutout but that sequence of saves he made in the 2nd with the score still tied at zeros were game savers/changers. I'm convinced that if that goal goes in the Jackets lose this game... they were dominating up to that point and they've been a fragile bunch of late and I think that goal, if scored, is a game deflater... but Mase was there.. He made a huge save and the Jackets go on to victory. That is what world class goaltending does for you.

* Lines looked really good.. there seemed to be some instant chemistry in all 4 sets.. all lines with over 10 minutes of ice time.. now that's balance!

* Nash looked re-energized and had a very productive game at both ends of the ice despite not getting points... he had a team high 5 shots.

* Hejda and Commodore looked to have found their mojo. I thought Tyutin was back to his regular self as well. The defense as a whole was fantastic... amazing what some rest can do right?

* Rome better never lose his spot to Backman. He is a far more competent player and, at least in these two games, does not look out of place one bit.

* 63% in the circle lets by Manny who won 15 of 22.

* PK was perfect.

* 10TV News for leading their sports coverage with the Jackets win!

* The powerplay didn't score but its the best I've seen it look in a looong time. They were getting entries with puck possession.... worked the puck for good opportunities, especially from the points. It was solid.

* 1 goal was enough tonight but need to light that lamp more often.

* NBC 4 gets a big ole red light. Do you want to know what their sports coverage this morning consisted of? The woman's basketball Buckeyes team and then the latest on Tiger Woods.. no Jackets highlights and not even a mention of the Jackets win.

Your telling me the home town professional hockey team in its first legit playoff battle after a HUGE win doesn't deserve at least a mention? Somebody's got an obvious agenda and its the last time I watch that news.

1. 60 minute team effort.
2. Bottom 6 making a difference.
3. Raffi Torres with the game winner against his former mates.

I'm still a little in shock this morning that our lovable losers are actually winning games like they did last night. I mean what a big win. It really has become a new era in Jackets hockey...and maaaan its nice for a change!

The win keeps the Jackets in 6th place with 68 points and more importantly ends their 2 game skid. The team above them, Vancouver, also has 68 points but sits 5th because they have two games at hand.

..and guess what? They are next up on Sunday night.

Yep.. they keep getting bigger and bigger.

The Jackets need to bottle up that performance against Edmonton and bring that kind of game to Vancouver. They'll get an extra day of rest and its the last game before the trade deadline!



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pre-game thoughts: STOP HEMSKY!!

Mike Commodore said it best after the disappointing loss versus Anaheim last Saturday.... "don't let it become 2"...

As we know it did become 2 and now the challenge tonight is to not let this thing become 3 and burn away all that momentum built form that 6-0-1 run.

The Edmonton Oilers are right on the Jackets heels.. They've played 1 less game yet sit just 1 point behind them in 9th place in the conference.

Yep you guessed.. just another one of the "biggest games in the Jackets history" tonight at Rexall Place.

The Jackets must find a way to get points in this game and in Vancouver. These are the games that will ultimately make the biggest difference to whether the Jackets are in or out come April.

*STOP HEMSKY!! This guy has almost single handily beat the Jackets this season.

* The Jackets have gotten way to careless of late in their forecheck and sticking to their system.. they are allowing to many odd man rushes and freedom through the neutral zone. They must get back to their hard work in all 3 zones b/c if they don't this quick transitioning Oilers team will chew you up.

* Broken record time but the Jackets have to win the battle of special teams. They didn't in Calgary and we saw that result. The Oilers are nothing special on the PP (20th) or the PK (28th) but that's doesn't mean they can't beat you with it.

* Need to limit Souray who has 17th goal and 40 points.. dude has a massive blast from the point that needs contained... Gilbert is also having a very good season on the blue line for them notching 34 poitns thus far. They like to work the pucks to those guys and they get shots through and on net -- limit their time and space.

* Edmonton brings a balanced attack.. They have 7 players with 12 or more goals (the Jacket have 4). Hemsky is the key but the Jackets need a complete defensive effort as they do have other weapons.

* Speaking of scoring... the Jackets have to get more of it. The lines have been significantly changed in hopes of sparking some offense.... somebody other than Umberger needs to step up and start putting pucks in the net consistently..

* As its been for most of this season.. the Jackets goaltending has to be excellent to win. Mase needs to control his rebounds and outplay Roloson. Hopefully he's energized.

* Never hurts to rattle Rolo and throw him off his game.. it doesn't take much either.

* Enough of this perimeter game crap... I can count on three fingers the players I've seen actually go to the net to try to score lately... Umberger, Boll and Dorsett... two of those guys aren't even top 6 guys.. your not going to score on outside with no one in front of the net... guys like Nash/Juice/Voracek/Williams/Malhotra have to get in the paint and pay a price.

* Defense has to do a much better job keeping pucks in the zone and helping out the forwards. Commdore/Hejda need to find their defensive mojo quickly...

Tonight marks the debut of Chris Gratton in a CBJ uni. I'm not expecting anything magical here.. just a strong physical effort that provides energy and some key faceoff wins... any points would be a bonus.

It will also be interesting to see if the lineup shakeup pays any dividends.

I'm not really sure what to expect out of this one. We've seen a couple different Jackets teams show up over the past week hopefully tonight we get the version that wins.

No live blog tonight as I've got my own beer league game.

UDPATE: Article from THN - Oilers Watch: Taking a lesson from Columbus

Check out this part:

Try facing a future that, though blessed with the presence of youngsters such as Nikita Filatov (a.k.a. the No. 1 NHL-ready prospect as selected by The Hockey News’ upcoming Future Watch special edition), Jakub Voracek, Derick Brassard and Steve Mason, could include the departure of star forward Rick Nash, slated to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2010 and rumored to be considering employment with another team.

Would love to know where this "rumor" is coming from... probably in Proteau's cranium. Solid journalism.

There is also a solid read here from THN titled "Umberger cooking up more magic?".



Co-ed on the move

A domino fell today with the following trade:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have cleared up a bit of their log jam along the blue line as they have sent Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi.

There have been a lot of rumblings about Whitney being on the block so the fact that he moved does not surprise. Whitney is 26 and is signed for 4 more years... with Gonchar back he become expendable.

The Penguins receive a 30 year old winger in Kunitz whom they hope can play along side Crosby. He's signed for 3 more years after this one.

Tangradi is a solid prospect with size whom projects to be a 3rd line forward.

The most interesting part of this deal to me aren't the players that were involved.. its whose next to go?

From Anaheim's perspective it most certainly means either Pronger or Niedermeyer are on their way out of town...maybe both. My guess is Pronger however. Don't expect Howson to get in on any of that centerfold action.

Jordan Staal has long been rumored to be available from Pittsburgh. Heck I even read one report that said first they'll move Whitney (check) then Staal would be next. That obviously remains to be seen.

If Staal is available he is one co-ed I would expect Howson to make a big play for.

With only 5 days and some change left til the deadline its certainly heating up out there!

UPDATE: Bob McKenzie weighs in on Pronger situation.


Interested in which players have NTCs?

As the trade deadline approaches I thought some may find, as I have, this list of players who have NTC (no trade clauses) interesting.

The Jackets actually only have two players:

Mike Commodore, CBJ - NTC [for 2008-09 and 2009-10]
Fredrik Modin, CBJ - NTC

I think we can add one more to that list once/if Nash resigns this summer.

I count 115 players thoughout the 30 NHL teams that have some form of NTC or NMC (no movement clause).

Of course we've seen teams get around this with Avery in Dallas and Boyle in Tampa. We've also seen players, like the frozen 5 in Toronto last year, stick to their guns and not waive their clauses.

This is great info when researching who may be available come next Wednesday and who may not be.


Not just in the states

A friend of mine just sent me this little nugget regarding the Jackets game in Edmonton tonight:

The Edmonton Oilers host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Rexall Place. The puck drops at 7:00pm and a limited number of tickets remain available.

Starting at 9:00am, every remaining seat inside Rexall Place, including all available pairs, standing room and single seats, will be sold for HALF PRICE, as part of the Molson Canadian Oilers Game Day Half Price Seats program.

Its just not the states running aggressive promos to fill their buildings. Sign of the times.

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


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whose line is it anyways?

Puck-rakers has posted the latest lines used in today's practice:

F1: Rick Nash -- Jason Williams -- Jake Voracek
F2: Kristian Huselius -- Manny Malhotra -- R.J. Umberger
F3: Andrew Murray -- Chris Gratton -- Derek Dorsett
F4: Raffi Torres -- Jiri Novotny -- Jared Boll

They also go on to note that both Michael Peca and Jason Chimera took "maintenance days".

Couple of thoughts here.

* Its definitely time to shake up the Juice/Nash pairing. They have both thrown up some points lately but the chemistry just seems off.

As Hitch mentioned on his radio show today Nash is not driving the net like he does when he's at the top of his game. He's been more of a perimeter guy lately and that's not what, where or how you want our 6'4" 220lb power forward playing.

I really really like the idea of Voracek with him at this point in the season as his game is progressing. He's a natural right wing (which allows Nash to go back to his left wing spot), he's skating well at NHL tempo, he's playing with a lot energy and he's using his vision to make those quick little plays that can free up a guy like Nash to do his thing. Maybe this shakeup sparks Nash's game and renews his energy. Voracek just has to be careful to not force feed any pucks.

* Juice is a guy I think can play with anyone. He knows how to create space and use any linemate given to him. The key for him is to not only shoot to keep his defenders honest, but to hit the net! Make the goalie make a save. He'll be playing with the hottest Jacket offensively in Umberger who is just so damn good around the net and lately the best forward driving the net... Get shots on net and let RJ cleanup up the rebounds or get a redirection.

* Not happy with Manny in the top 6 but who else is there? Manny's job won't change and that is to work hard in all 3 zones, win some key faceoffs and get the puck to the creators.

* Jason Williams quickly finds himself elevated to the first line. Williams as we know can shoot..he can also make a play...but he also gets caught going east/west more often than not and isn't the most efficient back/forechecker . He needs to keep his game north/south.

* My biggest concern w/ the Nash-Williams-Voracek line -- who is the worker? You'd hate to put that on a 19 year old's shoulders but unless this line plays a puck possession style and creates everything off the rush every shift the only guy who has shown enough energy to get deep on a forecheck and work for a turnover is Voracek.

* Chimera with the "maintenance day". Hitch also hinted today on his show that they may "shut him down". Clearly he's still bothered by his groin and Chimera without his speed has been a vastly ineffective player. He needs to rest until he's back to 100% health. No brainer here to me.

* Peca on the other hand I believe will be back in the lineup after taking a day off. Peca has been okay but he's generating next to no offense. He's got 4a in his last 15 games. I suspect he'll be in the lineup tomorrow against one of his former squad's in Edmonton.. probably in the 3rd line center knocking Gratton to the 4th.

* I'd also consider shutting down Torres. Torres has been largely ineffective but a 70% Torres getting 8 minutes a night is probably a better option than a 100% Novotny. Can't be missing open nets at this stage of the season with this much on the line.

* I like Gratton between any of these 3 players: Boll/Dorsett/Murray. This could be a terrific energy line.

* Next question.. how long until Hitch goes back with Nash and Juice if things don't quick immediately with these lines?

I know these lines are always fluid but I really like what Hitch has come up with here and hope he gives them a good run before shaking them back up.

Defensively it looks like the pairs will remain in tact. Commodore and Hejda have hit a rough patch over the last stretch while Tyutin really fought the puck last night... especially on special teams. Those 3 guys are the keys on the blueline and need to get their games cleaned up.

It really looks like the Backman run in a CBJ sweater is coming to a close. Aaron Rome is going to have to really play poorly to lose his roster spot -- this is a fantastic opportunity for him to show he belongs in the NHL for good this time.... let's hope he grabs it and doesn't let go.

Also just a heads up that I'll be live bloggin on deadline day so stop on in throughout the day. It really is one of the best "hockey days" of the year.

You've probably already read it but Howson talks about being a "buyer" in today's Dispatch:

"I believe we have a good chance to get in (the Stanley Cup playoffs) this season," general manager Scott Howson said. "We're not subtracting from our roster, I can tell you that."

"I'll be very surprised if I move a first-round pick," Howson said. "It would have to be a significant player, not just a rental."

No surprise there. Unless its a co-ed like a "Jordan Staal" don't expect any young blue chip assets or 1st round picks to move anywhere.

I voted Jeff Halpren in the poll but if Buffalo makes someone like Tim Connoly available for a 2nd round pick or lower then I really believe Howson has to roll the dice on that player. Antropov leads the way with 28% of the votes but I think Burke will want to much for him which will put Howson out of the running.

For those that want instant trade deadline news -- you can sign up here from for mobile trade alerts.

Finally a programming alert for you.

The 15th ranked hockey Buckeyes will be televised live this Friday on the NHL Network (which I think has a free preview running) against #7 Miami. That game will be in Oxford but the Buckeyes will play them at home the following night at Value City Arena -- the Jackets have that night off so if you don't have plans here you go! I'll certainly be there!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Live bloggin: Jackets @ Flames

Pre-game thoughts: Mess with the bull you get the horns!

That picture is all that comes to mind when I think about the game tonight - two Western Conference bulls locking horns.

I read an interesting post today from an NHL fan whom says he sees this Jackets team in the same way he saw the 2003-2004 Calgary Flames team. A team with one legitimate star, a hot young goalie and bunch of players with something to prove. It was also the Flames breakout season after missing out on the playoffs the previous 7 campaigns.

It was a very fitting analogy I thought.

If you recall that Flames team rode that wave all the way to the 7th game of the Stanley Cup finals.

Now do I think this Jackets team is capable of that...? Well lets not put the flame before the match but there are quite a bit of similarities between that team and this year's version of the Jackets.

Of course the Flames of today have that same superstar in Jarome Iginla but some of those players that needed to prove themselves in '04 certainly don't have to today. Guys like Kiprusoff and Regehr have certainly made names for themselves. Since then they have also added another budding superstar in Dion Phaneuf while also surrounding Iginla with well equipped talent like Langkow and Cammalleri.

So now that I can hear some virtual screams yelling would you get to a point already LTL I'll finally make it.

Take a good hard look at this Flames team tonight Jacket fans b/c in 2 to 3 years time there is a real good chance that this is what the Jackets are going to evolve into although I think the Jackets will have more top end scoring at the foward position.

For tonight though its all about the here and now... this 60 minutes. Can this Jackets team with 1 superstar, 1 hot goalie and a bunch of players with something to prove out compete a more hardened and seasoned Flames squad in their own house?

The Jackets need the points more than the Flames... they should play more desperate.. but as I mentioned yesterday the Flames are a very difficult bunch to beat at home.

* Not time allotted for a slow start and to gradually get in the game. If you want the 2 points.. you'd better be ready to compete after the first whistle blows.. you'd better be ready to play physical and you'd better be ready to pay a price to score.

* Iginla is the engine that pulls this train.. but believe it or not the Flames have 5 players who have scored 40 points or more sof ar this season... the Jackets have just two. So while Iginla needs contained everybody needs to contribute defensively to limit these guys offensively. Luckily though it looks like both Bourque and Langkow are out for this one. The Flames are the 4th highest scoring squad in the Conference with 187 goals.

* Kiprusoff is having a solid season with a .907 save% and a 2.76 GAA.. that said this team can certainly be scored on. They have allowed 172 goals against which is middle of the pack in the West. Jackets need balanced scoring -- Nash and Juice need to contribute obviously but other players need to step up as well.

* Steve Mason has to outplay Kipper.

* This will be in-your-face hockey tonight. Its a difficult style of hockey to play. If you aren't prepared to play it might as well take a seat in the press box.

* Flames PK is very good ranking 3rd in the league. Maybe the Jackets can catch them sleepwalking against the league's 30th ranked PP? Although we all know its been better than that since the new year. An early timely PP goal would certainly be huge.

* On the flip side the Jackets PK has climbed to 16th in the league.. it will match up against the Flames 18th ranked PP. The Flames will look to launch the bombs from the points via Phaneuf and co. which the Jackets will need to neutralize by getting in lanes, getting strong clears and getting bodies in front of those shots.

* Controlled desperation & no posts!!

This "Juice" returns. Tonight will mark Kristian Huselius' first game against Calgary since leaving the squad via free agency. Will he disappear or will he put the squeeze on the Flames in his return?

Keep your eye on Dorsett. If he gets a chance(s) to tattoo Regehr after the cross check to the face (that resulted in squat from the league) from their last meeting believe me he's going to take it.

The Jackets have not won in Calgary in their past 9 games dating back to March 29th, 2003. That is a streak that has got to end....and what better time to do it than tonight?

I know we've said it alot this season but as the Jackets stay in the hunt every game, including this 3 game road trip, becomes the biggest in franchise history.

I'll be "live bloggin" tonight with no interruptions so feel free to pop on in.



Who says this isn't a hockey market?

Thought some of you folks out there may be interested in seeing what the TV ratings look like for the 24 teams in the states:

NHL Local TV Ratings

Team / Network(Telecasts) / Ratings / Compared to previous season

1. Buffalo Sabres - MSG (38); Ratings: 8.87; +3.70% ratings from last season

2. Pittsburgh Penguins - Fox Sports Pittsburgh (37); Ratings: 6.14; +22.10% ratings from last season

3. Detroit Red Wings - Fox Sports Detroit (32); Ratings: 3.7; -21.80% ratings from last season

T4. Minnesota Wild - Fox Sports North (22); Ratings: 2.22; -12.90% ratings from last season

T4. Philadelphia Flyers - Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (32); Ratings: 2.22; +1.40% ratings from last season

6. Boston Bruins - NESN (37); Ratings: 2.16; +53.20% ratings from last season

7. Denver Avalanche - Altitude (35); Ratings: 1.65; +21.30% ratings from last season

8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Fox Sports Ohio (37); Ratings: 1.43; +40.20% ratings from last season

9. St. Louis Blues - Fox Sports Midwest (25); Ratings: 1.32; -42.90% ratings from last season

10. San Jose Sharks - Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (31); Ratings: 1.25; +42.00% ratings from last season

11. Washington Capitals - Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (31); Ratings: 1.2; +140.00% ratings from last season

12. Chicago Blackhawks - Comcast SportsNet Chicago (26); Ratings: 1.07; +72.60% ratings from last season

13. New York Rangers - MSG (36); Ratings: 1.03; -3.70% ratings from last season

14. Dallas Stars - Fox Sports Southwest (32); Ratings: 0.52; +18.20% ratings from last season

15. Phoenix Coyotes - Fox Sports Arizona (22); Ratings: 0.5; +100.00% ratings from last season

16. Tampa Bay Lightning - Sun Sports (31); Ratings: 0.49; -21.00% ratings from last season

T17. Los Angeles Kings- Fox Sports West (31); Ratings: 0.38; +26.70% ratings from last season

T17. New Jersey Devils - MSG+ (31); Ratings: 0.38; +15.20% ratings from last season

19. Anaheim Ducks - Prime Ticket (17); Ratings: 0.29; +11.50% ratings from last season

20. Atlanta Thrashers - SportSouth (27); Ratings: 0.23; +21.10% ratings from last season

21. New York Islanders - MSG+ (30); Ratings: 0.17; -37.00% ratings from last season

22. Florida Panthers - Fox Sports Florida (29); Ratings: 0.15; -16.70% ratings from last season

A 1.43 for the Jackets is extremely impressive especially when you consider they are only just sniffing the playoffs for the first time in their history. This thing is only going to keep blowing up.

I am surprised to see the Panthers at the bottom of the list considering they are in contention to make the playoffs for the first time in 7 years (sound familiar?).

Of course there is still a lot of work to do but there are a lot of strong signals being sent out this year that this town can certainly be much more than college football.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Thank you San Jose!

Only one game tonight but it was a biggie if your a Jackets fan.

The Sharks hang on in Dallas to beat them 1-0. Nabokov was outstanding.

The loss keeps the Stars behind the Jackets in 7th place but the Jackets still have a game at hand on them.

Huge west coast trip starts tomorrow in Calgary. The Jackets usually give Calgary a game but the Flames are a tough horse to whip in the Saddledome having gone 20-7-4 there so far this season.

I'll definitely have some pre-game thoughts tomorrow.


More fun with Foote.. (UPDATED)

These are courtesy of Tom:

Having some fun at "Captain Coward's" expense is always welcome!

As always if anyone has any pics they would like me to post just shoot em over to

The great hockey blog that is "Puck Daddy" got a hold of this pic and included it in their "Jersey Foul" post. Wyshynski's comment:

This is a Protest Jersey from a Columbus Blue Jackets fan who clearly isn't nostalgic for the days of Adam Foote as the BJs' captain. In fact, Columbus blog Light The Lamp, which ran this sweater, refers to the current Colorado Avalanche defenseman as "Captain Coward."

Props for the ironed-on (or is it stitched?) commitment to defacing the jersey of a former member of the franchise, now a hated rival.

Nothing like spreading Foote odor around NHL circles. Thanks for the assist Puck Daddy!

...and again well done Tom and son!


Rangers' coach Tom Renney canned

This news is just hitting the wire:

The struggling New York Rangers have fired head coach Tom Renney with 21 games left in the NHL season.

The last straw came after the Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, which handed New York its tenth loss in 12 games (2-7-3).

Rangers' assistant coach Parry Pearn was reportedly given his pink slip as well.

Renney's replacement was not announced however on NHL Live! on Monday, TSN Insider Bob McKenzie speculated that NHL on TSN analyst and former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella could likely take over as the Blueshirts next bench boss. The New York Post is speculating that former New Jersey Devils' coach Jim Schoenfeld, who works in the Rangers' front office, could be the choice.

Typically I wouldn't make a new post on an NHL coach getting fired but a couple of things here interest me.

1. Can you possibly imagine Nik Zherdev playing for John Tortorella? That's a New York beat writer's wet dream. Since his hot start Zherdev has really cooled (4p in last 11g) and has seen sporadic playing time --- sound familiar?

Speculation on my part but I wonder if ole Glen Sather would like to have a "take back" on that Tyutin/Zherdev swap? I'm know Howson wouldn't.

2. Tom Renney is one of the "good guys" out there in the NHL. As they say its easier to change the coach than the team although one has to wonder if the man above him isn't more to blame. It won't take him long to find another home in the NHL.

3. I just read this on HF and wanted to share here. Of the four teams whom started the year in Europe not one coach out of that group has lasted the full season:

Bolts: Fired Melrose
Sens: Fired Hartsburg
Pens: Fired Therrien
Rags: Fired Renney

Probably just coincidence more than anything but just in case...Hitch.. keep your butt and your Jackets firmly planted state side next season. Not that the NHL wants the Jackets involved in any special events anyhow.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Just in case.. missed the fights last night, check em out below.

Dorsett vs. Mikkelson

Boll vs. Parros

Boll vs. Moen

Dorsett with an absolute butt kicking but I still can't believe Boll with his two fights.. the 2nd being against seasoned heavy George Parros.. defintely putting it all on the line.

That was a beautiful clean hit on Morrison as well.

I also wanted to note that Jarred Boll now leads all players in the NHL in fighting majors with 20. That surprises me considering the injury problems earlier this season.

The Jackets as a whole are tied for 9th (Chicago)in the league in overall fighting majors.


Nice view!

At the request of Sean I'm opening up this post for folks to comment on where they sit or where they'd recommend sitting at the Nat.

My personal experience is that there really isn't a bad seat in the house. That's not the homer in me coming out... I've sat just about everywhere except for the section with your own personal tables and you'd be hard fought to find a seat where you don't have a good view of the game action.

There is one section in the upper bowl (can't remember the section) where there is only one way in/out. Also in the "upper" lower bowl there are some seats where you can't see the scoreboard very well.

I spend most of my time either in 108 or 209.

I'm not much of a glass guy as you can't see a lot of the play but with that said, there is something special about being that close to the action once in a while. Of course there is that whole "cost" thing.

For me the perfect seats are about 12 to 15 rows up in the lower bowl corners just above the glass. Close enough to feel the game and get rowdy yet far enough to see the entire ice.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Ducks roast Jackets

The Anaheim Ducks came out a desperate team and it showed on the scoreboard early. Sitting in 9th place on a 3 game skid this game against the Jackets was a must win for them.

Unfortunately for the Jackets they didn't get the goaltending, couldn't match the early intensity and couldn't capitalize on the multi-tude of early PP chances (they had 8 chances total) the Ducks gave them to get back in the game.

Result a 5-2 loss.


* Jarred Boll and Derek Dorsett did every thing they could to try to spark this squad.

Dorsett certainly made up for his earlier loss this week when he absolutley pounded Brendan Mikkelson to a pulp.

Boll, after a thunderous hit on Brendan Morrison, had a good fight with Travis Moen....but that wasn't enough.. he went with true heavy weight George Parros and certainly held his own later in he game.... I don't think the average fan out there realizes how much energy it takes to get into one fight let along go again against a guy who outweighs you by some 40 lbs... my hats off too these two!!

I credit both of these guys for stopping the bleeding in that first with both of their scraps.

* Sold out standing room only crowd. I know the Jackets can't win em all but man that hurts when they lay an egg in front of that kind of home crowd.

* Credit to Giguere he was strong turning away 26 of 28 shots.

* They actually showed a replay of Dorsett's fight.. couldn't believe it.

* Nash with a goal and an assist. That is 6 points in his last 3 games. Not much out of him in the first when the needed it however.

* I liked Juice because he was shooting! Of course he hit a post but that goal he scored on the PP was great patience and maybe as short as a week ago he dishes that puck instead of shooting.

* The Jackets were physical out hitting the Ducks 28 to 18.

* They did a pretty good job staying out of the box only giving up two PP's against. Unfortunately the Ducks scored on one of them.

* Was good to see Commodore's mean streak flair up when needed.

* I thought it was going to be a game when the Jackets cut the lead 2 to 1. Credit to the Ducks b/c they responded right away with strong shifts after and that 3rd goal was a killer.

* They outplayed them in the 2nd and 3rd but couldn't solve Giguere and although they had 27 shots.. not a whole lot of quality chances in that group.

* PP did get two goals... but as Hitch and Nash both said in their post game reviews... it wasn't good when it needed to be... not timely. The Jackets were given enough chances where the PP could have won this game itself.

* I love Mase and he's been great... but not his night. Boys needed to step up for him and get him some goals. He's going to have an off night from time to time.

* No breaks and no bounces. A quick whistle that resulted in a no goal. A post... some strange hops on Mason.

* Thankfully Hitch demoted Backman to the 3rd pairing and moved Methot up with Tyutin. He's back to his usual self and I hope Aaron Rome gets a shot next game over him.

* I wouldn't mind if Novonty spent the rest of the season in the press box.

* Congrats to Tyutin on his career best 26th points.. but a -3? Certainly a game he'd like to put behind him and getting Backman off his pairing will help.

* The Ducks turned the tables on blocked shots.. they had 15 to the Jackets 7.. then again the Ducks only registered 13 shots all game... it sure felt like they had more than that though.

* The loss would have been completely worth it if someone would have smashed Pronger through the boards..

* Russell was real quiet.... and his spill on the backcheck resulted in that 5th goal.

* 5 shots for Anaheim over the last two periods.. yet 3 goals.. yeah, not the Jackets night.

* More ridiculous videos .. more dump songs/stunts at intermission (what was that wedding thing??)... the game ops experience has gone straight to the toilet. Luckily we've got an entertaining team this year.

* Only 3 skaters finished without an minus -- Dorsett, Nash and Huselius.

* Boll/Dorsett... they both really put it on the line last night.
* Sell out crowd.
* Hey.. Ohio State's hockey team responded last night with a 3-2 win over Michigan!

Its a game we all wanted them to win but big picture, they aren't going win em all. What sucks the most for me is losing in front of that crowd but the Ducks were desperate and it showed early which was the difference in the game.

The Jackets retain 6th position but lots of teams won last night and are right on their heals. They are 6-1-1 in their past 8.

The boys have to quickly forget this one (which they've done well this year) and get ready another test on their final west coast swing of the season.



Saturday, February 21, 2009

Howson grabs Gratton

According to Puck-rakers:

The Blue Jackets have acquired center Chris Gratton on re-entry waivers. He had been playing in the Tampa Bay organization. The 6-4, 220-pound forward had been playing for Nolfolk of the AHL. He will join the team for the trip to Western Canada which begins on Tuesday in Calgary.

Forecaster's take:

ASSETS: Has a great combination of size and two-way savvy. Displays decent hands and a mean streak. Is solid on face-offs and sound defensively.
FLAWS: Has questionable hockey sense, which limits him in the scoring department. Isn't as complete a player as his package suggests.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking line forward.

Classic costco.

Certainly a low risk move.. I mean the Jackets will only owe him 150k to fnish out the season which is pocket change in NHL terms and then he'll be a UFA.

..but where does he fit and whom does he replace? No doubt the bottom 6:

Top 6: Nash, Voracek, Modin, Huselius, Umberger, Malhotra (I know.. but that's our reality right now).
Bottom 6: Boll, Dorsett, Murray, Peca, Novotny, Torres, Chimera, Williams (could be top 6 as well) and now Gratton

You can only carry a 23 man roster not including IR payers. With this acquisition I count 23 (including recent callup Rome) with Brassard, Tollefsen, Leclaire, Modin and Klesla on IR. Once someone comes off IR somebody's got to go.

My guess is it would be somebody in that bottom 6 group.. Novotny perhaps?

Gratton has playoff experience and is a big strong center who isn't afraid of the rough stuff. His style of game should fit in nicely with this current CBJ group. He's a worker who brings his hard hat to every game. Don't expect a whole lot offensively though as he's only got 2 assists in 18 games this season as he's spent quite a bit of time in the AHL.

Purely speculation on my part... but speaking of toughness.. perhaps Dorsett's bell is rung a little more than we've heard? Certainly wouldn't be the first time we haven't heard the entire story on health as it pertains to Jackets. Maybe Gratton's acquisition supplments some of that lost grit?

I mean who knew Tollefsen was hurt as bad as he is?

Bottom line is you can certainly never have too much depth this time of year.

It was also reassuring to read that this move would not prevent Howson from adding anyone come the deadline. With so many contracts stacked up though he'll have to move a player or two in return and adding a Gratton perhaps opens some options on that front.

Fire away - thoughts on the move?


Friday, February 20, 2009

This and that

Wanted to point out a couple of things.

Bob Hunter has a great blog on the Nash "everyone born in Ontario wants to play for Toronto" story that predictably flared up over the past couple of days. Check it out here.

The hockey Buckeyes got clobbered tonight by Michigan by a final score of 4-1. Not a good showing by the good guys. Luckily they have another crack at them tomorrow but they are going to need a much better effort to knock them off.

West watch. Couple of games tonight that impact the Jackets.

The Avalanche knocked off the Capitals in regulation in Washington. The Avalanche sit tied for 13th with 57 points.

The big game of the night is Anaheim vs. Detroit. Right now the Wings are in control with a 4-1 lead. For once the Jackets will be the more rested team when Anaheim rolls into town tomorrow. I'll have some pre-game thoughts tomorrow but I predict one heavy hitting game against what should be a supremely motivated Anaheim squad. Jackets got to be ready to butt some heads and roast some duck.

Add Tim Connoly to the mix? From

Now that Bob Gainey has provided the NHL trade market a long-needed high colonic, doesn't the pressure to make the next deal fall squarely on the shoulders of Scott Howson? With his Blue Jackets holding down the sixth spot in the West after a sloppy 4-3 win over the Leafs, Howson owes it to the team and its long-suffering fans to address the glaring need down the middle. Solid checking center Manny Malhotra is woefully miscast as the first line pivot. He's game, but with just two goals in 14 games, he's an offensive black hole.

A move will not only send the right message to the stakeholders, it can go a long way toward revitalizing Rick Nash, whose game has looked sluggish of late (that goal and assist Thursday night in Toronto notwithstanding). And the chance to play with a high-end pivot may encourage Nash to re-up with the club before his contract expires at the end of next season. If Buffalo is shopping Tim Connolly, Howson should be finalizing his offer right now.

Connolly certainly has the skills and would be a nice match with Nash/Juice... but its the health issue with him. At age 27 you'd think this guy was a co-ed.. but with the long injury history and expiring contract he could also be considered a cougar.

Over the last 3 seasons the most games Connolly has played is 48. However when he does get in he lineup he's close to a point per game player. This year he's played in 25 games and has 25 points.

I would agree with Muir though. Howson isn't going to find the perfect center but if he could grab Connolly say for a 2nd round pick then I think you'd have to pull the trigger and take that risk. This guy could really help if healthy.

Not sure Buffalo is in a position to be dealing Connolly as they are in a playoff battle of their own.

The trades are starting to heat up though. The latest move:

The Ottawa Senators Friday acquired center Mike Comrie and defenseman Chris Campoli from the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Dean McAmmond and a 2009 first-round draft pick the Senators had originally acquired from San Jose.

What a sec.. wasn't Ottawa supposed to be a seller? After all they sit 11th in the East some 13 points out of the playoffs.

Playoffs still possible.. yes.

What gives here?

First off the Islanders are rebuilding.. they want picks and they want to shed salary. They accomplish both here although they did give up a 25 year old co-ed Campoli who will be a restricted free agent next season. I'm sure my Islanders buddy will be a little disappointed to lose him but to gain a last first rounder is a nice chip. That and lets face... its TARGET: Tavares on Long Island.

Ottawa is where this deal gets wacky for me.

Two angles here.

1. The Sens believe they have a legit chance to get back into this thing so they add more offensive punch to make a run at it. They pull the trigger now as their captain Daniel Alfredsson is out with an injury.

2. They have a need for a young-ish puck moving d-man so the landed Campoli. Their top offensive d-man in cougar Filip Kuba is a UFA to be and is rumored to be dealt at the deadline.

Comrie is another cougar who is a center UFA to be. Ottawa has been rumored to be interested in dealing center Jason Spezza or Antoinne Vermette.

So what am I gettin here?

Kuba is dealt you still have Campoli.


Vermette/Kelly/Spezza is dealt you have Comrie.

....ooooorrr another option is that if their playoff aspirations falter they could still turnaround and flip Comrie at the deadline along with whomever they want to sell off.

Bottom line this deal certainly isn't the end game in Ottawa... I'm sure they'll make a push with these two guys and if they find themselves still out of it come the deadline (likely) then we'll see the next moves here...and who knows, maybe the Jackets get in on some Ottawa action.

No doubt things are starting to heat up around the NHL and some dominos are starting to fall. The deadline is only a 12 days away and its going to be a lot of fun being a "buyer" for once.


Quote of the day

From Ron Wilson via the Globe & Mail:

Earlier in the day, Wilson had said he wanted to model the Leafs on the Blue Jackets, who are a big, mobile team. They also practise the defensive hockey Hitchcock preaches.

In the past, the Blue Jackets always had a little scoring punch, but their defence was prone to collapse. Under Hitchcock, long one of the NHL's most demanding taskmasters, the Blue Jackets play defence or they don't play.

"The accountability is huge," Wilson said. "They've got all their top players backchecking. And they've got big defencemen like [Fedor] Tyutin who've come into their own.

"They have really improved their back end. They're a lot more mobile and now they have a big-bodied goaltender in Steve Mason. That presents a lot of problems for us."

Did I read that correctly...?

"Wilson had said he wanted to model the Leafs on the Blue Jackets"...

I guess I did... these are indeed unchartered waters Jacket fans!


CBJ Buzz

Think folks in Columbus aren't paying attention to the Jackets run this year? We've heard ratings are rocketing but also check out the results thus far on this 97.1 The Fan poll:

The better the CBJ do the more coverage/exposure they get so its a great sign when you see the results in polls like this that folks out there are indeed getting excited about this squad.

Many people have stated that just watch this town blow up when the team finally makes a run. We are starting to see strong signs of that.

If your interested in voting just click this link.


Week 19 Power Rankings: Get ready!
Rank: 11 (+9)
The return of Steve Mason jumps the Jackets back into more familiar Rankings territory, though it's worth noting that Dan LaCosta was very impressive in his couple starts, stopping 59 of 61 shots to earn a pair of wins. Key Injuries: D Rostislav Klesla (shoulder), LW Fredrik Modin (knee).
Rank: 19 (+1)
Goalie Steve Mason is 8-1-0 against Eastern Conference competition.
Rank: 16 (+1)
Better hope Mason can keep playing through the mono.
Rank: 14 (+4)
A big week lies ahead. Four winnable games, followed by the last long road trip of the season.
Rank: 16 (+4)
Even mono can't (completely) keep Steve Mason down!
Rank: 16 (+4)
The Blue Jackets won three straight in Week 19, extending their winning streak to four games. Jason Williams and Kristian Huselius each picked up two goals and a game-winner for Columbus.
Rank: 9 (+1)
Tough break for rookie Dan LaCosta, who was returned to the minors despite going 2-0 with a 1.54 GAA during his recent call-up. But this is Steve Mason's team now, and the rookie re-established his claim on the job -- and his Vezina Trophy candidacy -- with faith-restoring wins over the Wings and Canes.
Rank: 9 (+10)
Get ready for a March with meaningful games, Jackets fans
Rank: 12 (+4)
Goaltending continues to be outstanding for the Jackets, who allowed only five goals in a four-game winning streak last week.
Rank: 18 (+3)
Ken Hitchcock has nothing to worry about, an odd statement considering the Blue Jackets could still remain the only team to never appear in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hitchcock is an excellent coach who will turn a team into a winner if players buy into his defense-first, two-way system.


Keep in mind that these scores do not include the back to back wins against St. Louis and Toronto.

That said comes in the highest at 9 while has us at 20.... what possible explanation they have for ranking us that low at this stage I don't know. had us on the move the most jumping us 10 spots up in the standings.

My favorite blood pumping comment out of the bunch:

Get ready for a March with meaningful games, Jackets fans

TV Alert

Just a quick heads up that the #16th ranked hockey Buckeyes will be taking on the #3 ranked Wolverines in two home games starting tonight at Value City Arena.

If you can't make it out to the arena, tonight's game will be televised in HD on the Big Ten Network.

A couple of the OSU players preview the series here.


Jackets pull rabbit from hat as Hitch notches milestone win!

I'm not sure if David Copperfield is throwing on the Union Blue jersey lately or what but these Jackets are finding some magic of their own in coming up with improbable points.

Last night was a game the Jackest used to lose. They were outplayed.. sloppy... energy was zapped.. unforced turnovers everywhere.. but somehow, someway this group hung in there and....PRESTO...two more big points!

The Jackets are 6-0-1 over their past 7... that is remarkable.


* Congrats to Hitch on his 500th!

* It wasn't pretty but the Jackets are making key plays to keep them in games even when overall they get outplayed... think about some of the key goals.. the key defensive plays.. the block and clutch saves. There were mistakes to go around but when a big play was needed somebody stepped up. Good teams do this.

* Nash and Juice... they found a way to lift this tired Jackets to this win with timely scoring. The each also had fantastic dishes to each other for goals.

* Manny is heating up again.. he notched a couple of assists but how about his defensive play in OT!!

* Just another night for RJ Umberger.. he notched his 20th to match his career high in goals.. he could certainly reach the 30 mark by the time this thing concludes... and how about that defensive play he made to basically save the game?

* Jan Hejda with 6 blocks... Mike Commodore also got into the action with a couple... remember that shot he took right in the stomach? The Jackets as a whole continue to get in front of those shots. The team as a whole combined to block 25 shots... the Leafs had just 11. This is an area of the game I don't think the Jackets get near enough credit.

* Mase would probably like to have that first goal back but he stopped a number of quality chances.... that save late in the 3rd on Blake was a game saver.

* SHOOTOUT BABY! Okay.. who believe Jason Williams that his attempt was intentional? I'm glad it went in but that sure looked accidental to me. Nash buried his attempt and Mase with two saves. Its nice to come out on the positive side of one of those after Dallas stole a point from us last week.

* The Jackets were only on the man advantage twice... they did get 3 even strength goals.. so it goes.

* Ugly first period.

* The Jackets had 12 give-aways and some very bad ones in the defensive zone.

* Somebody grab a rag and wipe the brown off Rimer's nose.. and the drool off his mouth. We get the message loud and clear Rims.. you love Toronto.

* Some cute shots of Nash's grandma throughout the game but what's up with the old CBJ logo jacket she was sporting....? The big man is stepping up on the ice but he needs to step up off it and open the wallet and spring for some updated CBJ digs for Grammy!!

* Too many penalties..5 to be exact.. They only allowed one PP goal but your playing with fire there. I'll admit that those refs seemed very "interference" happy last night.

* Thanks for joining the live blog and sorry I had to cut out early. I'll do a better job of scheduling next time around. Thanks to Rick for helping me out.

* It was just one game in Toronto but I'm already sick of reading the Nash to Toronto speculation.

1. Hitch's 500th!
2. Jackets find a way to win despite getting outplayed.
3. Nash's grandma.

The win moves bumps the Jackets into a tie with Vancouver for 5th place. They are now 7 games over .500 in the month of February -- that is not a misprint. The Canucks have played one less game so they retain that position. Its also provides a temporary 4 point cushion between themselves and 8th place Edmonton.

The great battles just keep on coming though as 9th placed Anaheim rolls into town tomorrow night.... they will undoubtably be looking at this game as a must win. The Jackets will look to rest up and re-energize.

The game looks like its going to be a sell out so if you don't have your tix better grab some while you can!! There is nothing like hockey on a Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd!!

Also I just put a poll up regarding the rumored Leafs players to be on the block. I was personally impressed with both Moore and Antropov last night. Moore's has some wheels and played a solid north/south game... Its hard not to like the size an Antropov brings down the middle -- really made me think that is what Svitov could have developed into if he hung around under Hitch. He showed some nice quick hands around the cage as well.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Live bloggin: Jackets @ Leafs

Toronto pours it on

Maybe we should try to play Toronto more often. All kinds of media coverage on the Jackets today from the center of the hockey universe.

To get you started check out these articles that a Toronto fan posted over on HF:

Pogge vs. Mason: No contest

Wilson a Hitchcock fan

Mason glad to be home

How long until Mason to Toronto rumors start? Not to worry Jacket fans.. this kid is an RFA for 6 more years which means he's Jackets property. Not that they would let this kind of talent get away.

Also here is a link to an interview with Scott Howson today on the Fan 590.

I wanted to comment on the following thoughts from that Howson interview which I've also grabbed from HF. Quotes in blue and comments below in black.

* If he was in Florida's position with Jay Bouwmeester he would deal him
I was talking this situation over with a buddy last night... its a tough call considering Florida hasn't make the playoffs in 7 years just like that Jackets. If I got the right offer I'd probably deal him as well -- you just can't afford to get nothing back these kinds of talents you've spent years developing. Its about today but also tomorrow.

This Bouwmeester situation is going to be an interesting one to follow. Don't expect Howson to be a player for this centerfold however.

What's also interesting is that Howson tips his hand a bit here about how he might deal with Rick Nash if he couldn't get him re-signed by the time next year's deadline rolls around. Again with the way this team is playing I can't see the Captain wanting to jump ship just as its setting sail and I can't see money being an issue as Howson will pay him.

* Is looking for a centerman that can play 15 minutes a night, may add a winger but definitely looking for a centerman.
No surprise here. I look for Howson to ultimately acquire a cougar although a co-ed would certainly be nice. I think Antropov is #1 on Howson's list but according to this article Brian Burke is looking for a 1st round pick in return. I don't see Howson paying that price.

* Trade talk is at a moderate level with other GM's right now throughout the league
With less than two weeks until the deadline expect talk to heat up real quick.

* Has called some teams and let them know that he is interested in one of their players
Again no surprise but if there were any lingering questions that Howson may not be a buyer should be answered with that statement. He's laying the seeds... don't expect a move until the deadline though.

* Not worried about getting Nash under contract. Will be talking contract on July 1st. Nash has given no indication that he doesn't want to return to Columbus
See my above ramble on the Bouwmeester situation. I expect a Nash extension to be the big news for the Jackets the first day of free agency this offseason.

* Says Mason has turned Columbus around. Gives the Jackets hope. Says he is the reason that Columbus is competing for the playoffs.
Absolutely right. The turnaround started when this kid took over the pipes. Amazing story when you think about it.

* Williams has brought some skill, versatility and helped the pp since his arrival. Nice addition to the team.
A classic low risk high reward move. Since becoming a Blue Jacket he's got 5g, 4a in 15g.

Honestly I had my doubts with this move as the knocks on Williams have been his unwillingness to play a physical game and his skating.

He's been a solid addition for us though who has scored some big goals (see Detroit!). I'm not sure I'd resign the guy but he's plugged a void vacated by Brassard. The best part is Howson added him for basically nothing.

* Torres will be playing tonight
This guy just can't seem to stay healthy. He looked to be rounding into form during this last stretch. Glad he's back in the lineup -- I assume Novotny will be out.

* Expects less than 24 trades on deadline day throughtout the entire NHL.
Last year there were 24 trades on deadline day. With less sellers this year than last I think Howson is pretty dead on here.

Here are some stats via Kuklas Korner on trades made at the deadline since 1980.

As far as the game tonight.

Toronto is a team the Jackets must get two points from. As the articles above stated the Jackets have only beaten the Leafs once in their six tries and that was at home in OT.

Its the 2nd game of a back to back on the road.

The Leafs give up a lot of goals (their 210 goals against is worst in the league) but they can also score having notched 172 goals (compare that to the Jackets 159).

Bottom line is the boys need to dig deep and find the energy. They need to take advantage of the Leafs' suspect goaltending put goals in often and early. Don't get caught up in all the media attention boys and come to work with your hard hats on.

Keep your eyes on Antropov and Moore. Two potential Leaf trade targets that could fill a center role.



Jackets hang on

There aren't many nights I walk out of the Nat after a win feeling like we lost...but hey, two points is two points and at this stage of the season I'll take them any way we can get em!

Game sums up pretty simple. Great first 40... horrendous last 20. Thankfully the Jackets did enough damage on the scoreboard in that first 40 minutes to hang on in the final 20.


* I'm giving the first green light to Andrew Murray. His goal was great but this guy was just all over the ice plugging away last night. No stride was wasted. He played worth purpose and controlled desperation.. LOVED this guy's game.

* Fedor Tyutin is right up there. He has been unbelievable in his own zone and how about the offensive production? 1g, 1a last night for a career best 27 points.... and we still have 24 more games to play!! He is now tied for 5th in team scoring. Most impressive for me though is his ability to collect pucks and make plays under pressure for breakouts... Anyone still regret moving Z for this guy? Not this fan...then again I never did in the first place but I didn't expect this kind of production.

* Great first 40! Boys did everything right over those first two periods and were very opportunistic in scoring.

* Boys were excellent in the dot winning 62% of their faceoffs. Peca the best winning 8 of 10.

* Game ops doing a better job at showing replays. Still some areas to improve but baby steps are being taken.

* After giving up that goal in the 2nd it was great to see the team respond with a quick 4th goal... which ultimately ended up being a HUGE goal as it was the game winner.

* Credit to Malhotra... he's been just okay recently but he really made a difference last night w/ a good forecheck... timely goal (thanks Wagner!) and great dish to Nash for his goal.

* Great start.

* Jan Hejda with 6 hits to lead the team.. including a beauty on Backes.... What...? No complaints from the Blues this time? A little surprised we didn't see more of a dust up between those two.

* Message received. The forwards played a much more north/south game.

* I thought Juice was terrific on his back check and defensive play. He broke up a couple of keys plays with his hustle.

* RJ Umberger continues his strong play. Great screen on Tyutin goal and again he's showing fast feet and is really aggressively taking the bone to the doghouse!

* They hung on to snap their 5 game losing streak to the Blues.

* Special teams were definitely a mixed bag. The PP scored a key early goal but fell apart in the 3rd and gave up a goal. The PK gave up a goal but had some solid kills throughout the game... in fact they killed 4 of 5.

* Decent game for Nash.. was good to see him get on the board. Something about his energy level lately though keeps nagging me. Is he just getting worn down? Is he fighting the flu? A tale tale sign to me is he just isn't take the puck to the net like we know he can.

* I thought Backman was atrocious early in this game.. then he made a couple of decent plays so he certainly made up for it. He ended up a +2 but this guy needs to get more physical in his own end.. waaay to soft for me.. he loses to many battles. Just watch him along the boards and then watch a guy like Tyutin or Hejda.

* So is the word out on Mase? Go glove high? Every goal beat him there. Got to work on that. He made some big saves and I didn't think there was a whole lot he could do an any of those 3 goals.

* Crowd was okay at 14k... but not nearly the atmosphere from Monday. Lets sell that joint out this Saturday -- which is the last "regular season" Saturday home game of the year.

* Can we just forget about that 3rd period? I don't think this team knew what to do with itself taking a 3 goal lead into the 3rd period and it certainly showed.

* We know Hitch won't be trying Jason Williams on defense anytime soon.

* I love Dorsett but he took a hard shot in this one. Glad he's okay.

* I have absolutely NO IDEA what that train wreck of a song game ops played with 5 minutes to go to try to pump up the crowd.... uggh... talk about your backfire... man that was ugly. I think even the casio organist ran for cover during that mess.

1. Andrew Murray. Should have gotten a star.
2. Fedor Tyutin. Could easily be the #1 star.. another great game for him.
3. First 40.

5-0-1 in the last 6. You know expectations are rising when we are still looking at all the areas this team can improve on.

Taking a step back though... damn... that is a great run.. a run that has taken the Jackets to 6 games over .500 which is a first in their history. A run that has bumped them to a tie for 5th in the conference!!!

The Jackets are 6-2-1 at home since the All Star Break. That is exactly what the Dr. ordered to stay in this chase.

Toronto up next. Remember the Jacket Backers / R Bar are having a viewing party and I'll also be "live bloggin" most of the game (I have my own hockey game a little later).