directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Pre-game thoughts and more...

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pre-game thoughts and more...

Everyone caught their breath after yesterday's events yet?

That was a fun and exciting one day race against the clock. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you look at) the NHL season is quite the marathon with plenty of work left to do...and it re-starts tonight against Nashville.

Its the 4th of 6 meetings against the Preds. The Jackets are 2-1 against them thus far this season with both wins coming at home. As we've heard, they haven't won in Nashville since 2006.

If the Jackets wanted a challenge after the deadline they've certainly got one.

This is the exact kind of game the Jackets have to find a way to win and grind out points to get in the dance. LA was a rollercoaster with some fugly moments but you know what, they found a way to get the points. We all love to see the Jackets dominate and crush opponents but that's not reality over an 82 NHL schedule.

I could break the keys to winning down into PPs, energy, forecheck, dig in, sacrifice, hard areas, Arnott, Rinne, Vermette, etc but today I'm going to keep it real simple:

Just. get. the. points.

The Predators have reeled off 5 straight wins and are 7-2-1 over their past 10. They know now is the time to charge. The Jackets have to answer. They can't come out like they did against Vancouver and expect to win.

Its gut-check time. The Jackets players need to look around the room and say this is it, this is our team. There is no more help coming (assuming Vermette makes it tonight). If we want to get in this thing then its up to us in this room to go out and take it.

The Jackets have been beaten to a pulp the past two years by this squad. The tide appears to be turning. A win tonight could send a strong message to those boys in music city.....your days of two-stepping on us are over. ranks the Vermette trade as the 2nd biggest of yesterday's deals:

2. Columbus acquires Antoine Vermette from Ottawa for Pascal Leclaire and a second round draft pick
This is a good deal for both teams, although since Columbus gives up a spare part in now-backup and oft-injured Leclaire, while adding depth at forward, we’ll give the decision to Columbus. Vermette will kill penalties and take a top-six position up front. Leclaire steps right into the No. 1 goaltending role in Ottawa and if he can stay healthy will be the best they’ve had in Canada’s capital since Dominik Hasek.

USAToday's Kevin Allen give the Jackets the "benefit of the doubt" in his winners/losers column:

Benefit of the doubt
Columbus Blue Jackets: Although I believe that Antoine Vermette might be a surprisingly nice fit for Rick Nash and the Columbus offense, I expected the Blue Jackets to be bolder. In fact, the entire league expected the Blue Jackets to do more in an effort to secure the first playoff berth in franchise history. And the Blue Jackets probably overpaid for Vermette. Pascal Leclaire is expendable because Steve Mason is the real deal, but Leclaire might have fetched a higher price.

Puck-daddy gives the Jackets a C+:

Columbus Blue Jackets: Acquired G Kevin Lalande from Calgary for a 2009 fourth-round pick; Traded G Pascal Leclaire and a 2009 second-round pick to Ottawa for F Antoine Vermette.

How to put this kindly ... does GM Scott Howson have a failure fetish?

The Blue Jackets had three missions at this deadline: Get a premiere center, get a premiere center, and then after they've done that, they get a premiere center. Vermette is a center who is better on the wing, despite playing more at center this season. (Hence the struggles?) He's also having a terrible season, and Howson traded his former starting goaltender and a second-rounder for him.

Howson said yesterday that "even if we went out and got a really good center right now, we'd still want Antoine ... we feel like he makes us better." Dandy. But you didn't get a really good center. Again. Eh, maybe Vermette is that guy; Bethany's happy about it. It's just not the splash we were expecting in a critical season for the franchise. GRADE: C+.

..and just a couple of friendly reminders to wear your union blue if you make the trip to Detroit and that the R Bar is having a Jackets viewing party tonight!



Max said...

Interesting observations from Puck Daddy. I wonder who he recommended for the Jackets. Since there were so many #1 centers on the market. I'm happy with the Vermette trade. I hope he can snap out of his funk.

Wally said...

Howsen does have a knack for dragging quality guys out of the woodwork, but that blockbuster deal Wysh has in mind (whoever that was for) just wasn't gonna happen and doesn't make sense. Howson & Co. have been pursuing Vermette for a long time and obviously see things we'll never know or understand...

I'll be happy to get a few wins in the postseason, but I'm not betting the farm until next year :-)

Paul said...

I don't know what these "experts" expect of Howson. By now, it's obvious that Howson is not a "make a big splash" kind of guy. He finds players who fit into Hitch's style of play and the CBJ system, then finds a way to acquire them. Frankly, I'm happy with yesterday's moves. Yeah, it's sad to see Pazzy go, but you have to give up something to get something and, really, Pazzy is extra with Mase around. So stuff the experts.

Jeffery said...

Finally the war room goes our way tonight!