directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, October 23, 2009

A New Lamp Has Been Lit!!

Light the Lamp has moved! Just type in in your browser of choice to find us!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jacket Backers viewing party tonight!

The Jacket Backers will also have a viewing party tonight. From their website:

Announcing our next Game Watching Party -
Join us for our first time at
The Bier Stube North to watch
the Jackets Trounce the Edmonton Oilers!
Thursday, 10/22 @ 9:30 pm

The Jacket Backers want to share their enthusiasm for Jackets hockey with fans all over Central Ohio. Join us in the Worthington - Linworth area at this laid-back neighborhood classic, the Bier Stube North, to enjoy big-screen hockey with a casual atmosphere.

The Bier Stube North is located at 2382 W. Dublin Granville Rd., Columbus, OH 43235, (614) 932-0214 next door to Valvoline. If the parking lot in front of the pub is full, per the owner it is ok to park in the parking lots of any of the businesses next door or nearby.

The Bier Stube will be projecting the game on the big screen, hopefully in HD if possible - and game sound throughout the game. The Jacket Backers will be providing door prizes and raffles throughout the game, including a chance to win a team-signed practice jersey from last year's playoff-bound team, which will be given away the evening of the event. The puck drops at 9:30 but we'll be getting there early to enjoy delicious appetizers, wings, subs/sandwiches, salads, calzones and/or pizzas for our late dinner or game-time snack, from the Bier Stube Pizza & Grill next door.

We will also be accepting contributions towards our Virtual Food Drive for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. See you there!


Stat of the day

Rick Nash is currently tied with a bunch of other players for 8th in league scoring with 11 points:

Let's hope I didn't just put the jinx on the monster!


Jackets Gamebox: @ Edmonton

@ Edmonton
9:30 PM EST

The Jackets bounced back well after losing an ugly one to San Jose with victories over Phoenix, Calgary and LA.

How will they respond tonight after losing ugly to Calgary when the face off against an Edmonton team who is 5-2-1 and winners of their past 2?

Dustin Penner of all players is leading the Oil in offense racking up 5g, 4a for 9p in 8 games. Then who is next on their scoring chart? This may be a surprise but it's Gilbert Brule who is off to a great start with 4g, 3a in 7. Of course there is Alex Hemsky who always seems to come alive vs the Jackets.

The Oil have some firepower but up front and on their blueline even without Souray. They aren't the most rugged bunch but with 30 goals in 8 games they are burning some holes in nets. They have 8 players with 5 points or more.

Contrast that to the Jackets who have just 4 players with 5 or more points, albeit it one less game, you can see who has the advantage here.

Brass and Voracek got it going a bit in Calgary and the Jackets will that to continue but guys like Huselius, Vermette and Umberger have to be more consistent offensive threats than they've shown recently. I'd also like to see more shots getting through from the blueline on net.

Edge: Edmonton

Now either it's the team defense or the goaltending or a combo but Edmonton has only give up 22 goals so far. That is good for 10th overall in the league. Just cruising the player stats they only have three minus players on the entire team.

For the Jackets it's fairly simple.. they have to right the ship at even strength. The balance of course is to know when to dump pucks out and knowing when to hang onto it and try to transition up the ice. The Jackets have been guilty of some bad judgement calls of late - especially in their own end.

Even with the 6 they gave up they are allowing slightly less goals than Edmonton and come in 9th overall in the league.

Personally I think this team is already missing Hejda and Commodore can't get back soon enough. Boys need to step up and they cannot allow the breakdowns they did against Calgary and expect to win.

Edge: Push

Edmonton has been getting solid starts from offseason acquisition Nikolai Khabibulin as well as a solid start from backup Jeff Deslauriers.

Bulin figures to get the nod tonight and both he and the Jackets have plenty of experience with one another.

Garon get's his 2nd start for the Jackets and will face his former squad. Garon was very sharp in Phoenix and will look to pick up where he left off... and besides, I can't pick against the the league leader in GAA and Save% according to can I?

Edge: Push (yeah, I copped out)

Believe it or not but it's been the Jackets special teams that have been keeping them in games. Believe it or not the Jackets PP is ranked 10th in the league while the PK is 1st.

The Oil meanwhile have the 20th ranked PP with the 13th ranked PK.

This is all fine a good but we saw even with top ranked special teams if the Jackets can't prevent even strength goals then it doesn't matter.

Edge: Jackets

The buzz words of this game are "even strength"! The Oil currently lead the league in even strength goals with 24.

The Jackets? They sit 21st with 10.

The problem is two fold. The Jackets haven't been able to score much even strength and they haven't been able to stop teams from scoring at even strength either.

As Hitch has alluded to the Jackets are getting too cute with the puck. They want to play with more puck possession but I think that has backfired a bit on them early in this campaign. They need to shore up their decisions and make the safe play if there isn't a play to make.

I'm also interested in seeing what Filatov looks like after a few weeks off. Although I'm not getting my hopes up that his leash will be much longer.

Edmonton has been a very tough team to beat at home as they are 4-1-1 there. The Jackets have another big challenge on their hands and they most certainly need a better start than the disaster in Calgary. Garon will need to stand tall and make some big game saves.

No live blog tonight as I am putting the finishing touches on the new lamp which will finally be lit tomorrow!



R Bar viewing party tonight!


Thursday, October 22nd

Bud Light CBJ

Hockey Helmet Beer Holders

& a big 24oz Bud Select can...

only $4 for the mug and first beer & $3 per can after that!!!


The Leafs are screwed and Hitler knows it . . .

Hey MTM here. Toronto is still winless . . . Think Rick Nash is happy he re-signed with the Jackets? Well I came across this video, and Hitler is still ticked off about it. Apparently he is a Leafs fan and is coming to grips with his team in turmoil. As you can tell, he is not a happy camper.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


That wasn't exactly the kind of 6 pack I was hoping for last night. Let's jump into it.

@ Calgary
Score: Flames 6 Jackets 3

* Rick "The Monster" Nash (somebody needs to make a vid to the Monster Mash with Nash highlights...someone? anyone?) with this second career 5 on 3 goal. That goal single handily at least made this a game through the first 40 mins.

* The PP looked good for the most part. It converted on 2 opportunities including another 5 on 3 and did a real nice job on entries and quick puck movement. The only downside is with how crappy this team was 5 on 5 they needed even more production from it.

* Great to see Brass get a goal and another helper. Even better was that he had some of the best shifts I've seen from him thus far this season.

* Sammy Pahlsson.. the lone plus player for the good guys.

* He didn't show up on the score sheet but Kris Russel played one of his finest games of the season. Had a beautiful breakup on that 2 on 1... some nice puck movement.. and really it was he who created the first PP goal (I think it was the first one) with his hit in the offensive zone which caused the turnover.

* Another fun night on the live blog... thanks to the 70 or so of ya who joined in!

* Jackets PK did it's part again.

* Voracek wasn't bad.. another guy that was good to see get a non-empty net goal... he was buzzing around fairly well out there.. unfortunately he was about the only one on his line doing so.

* I give Dorsett some credit by trying to send a message late in the 3rd with the game clearly out of hand.

* The Jackets hung in there twice battling back from 2 goal deficits... the Flames were just too much and the Jackets too little in the 3rd.

* Stralman with his first helper as a Jacket. I continue to like where this kid's game is heading.

* Where to start... I guess with Mase... an off night for the sophomore (understatement). Had a bad bounce on the first goal.. didn't control the rebounds well (Bouwmeester).... wasn't ready for shots (Phaneuf)... no big game saves (Iginla)... overplayed pucks (Sjostrom)... need to quickly erase this game from all short term memories and press on.

* Even strength used to be the Jackets strength... not any longer... all 6 Flames goals came at even strength.... the Jackets collectively payed for it by going a combined -26.... you know this more than anything is just gnawing at Hitch today.

* Sloppy is good word... way to many turnovers.. too many odd man rushes.. too many players coasting... Jackets let guys like Phaneuf go coast to coast without even putting a stick on him... they had about as bad of a start as you could possibly imagine... just a bad night.

* Kristian Huselius might as well have taken the night off... the Jackets would have been better off for it.

* Tyutin has some bright spots but he had a bad gaffe that lead directly to Iginla's goal..

* Vermette was caught being a passenger as he watched Langkow score..

* Not containing Iginla who had a 3 point night.

* Surprising to me was that there wasn't a whole lot of rough stuff in this game... a lot of special teams play however.

* Umberger was quiet minus his work on the PP.

* I don't recall Boll playing.

* I'm sure there is a helluva lot more that belongs here but time to move on!

* Nasher's shorty
* Brassard gets on the board... so does Voracek
* PP & PK

It's very hard to win in the Saddledome but the Jackets did a lot to beat themselves in this game.
There is a a lot of mess to clean up and I have no doubt Hitch has the mop out as we speak.

I expect Garon to get the start in Edmonton and we've heard Filatov will be in the lineup... my guess its in place of Boll.

Clean it up and move on boys. You're still sitting pretty with a 5-2 record but need to bounce back strong in Oil town.


Mike Ratchuck highlights

I'll have some comments on the deal that was made Tuesday to bring Mike Ratchuck into the Blue Jackets system but for now here are some highlights via youtube:


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Live Blog Tonight!

Time for a Change

At the end of July, 2006, the Blue Jackets and the Syracuse Crunch extended their affiliation agreement for a minimum of four years (starting in 2006-’07). In the joint statement announcing the deal, issued by Crunch owner Howard Dolgon and former CBJ Executive Vice-President Jim Clark, both spoke highly of each other and of a mutually beneficial relationship moving forward.

As we prepare to enter the second month of the young ’09-’10 season, four years since the big announcement between the CBJ and the Crunch, we have come to the point where the agreement must be reexamined. Much has changed in the status of the relationship between the two organizations. In that light, it may be time for a change.

First, let’s look at the status of the relationship before the ’06-’07 agreement. Between 2000, when the Crunch disassociated with the Canucks and joined up with Columbus, and 2006, the Crunch had a .545 winning percentage (220-177-43-33-7 record in 480 games). The six seasons prior to the affiliation with Columbus saw Syracuse putting up a .444 winning percentage (180-234-53-13 record).

Meanwhile, we all know the turmoil that encompassed the Columbus Blue Jackets during this time. The on ice produce was somewhere between terrible and abominable, and the franchise was often run like a fantasy team owner on crazy pills. Frankly, the best thing the franchise had going was a strong relationship with its AHL affiliate and its beautiful arena . . . and a young kid named Nash.

The 2006-’07 season stands as the crossroads of the franchise in Columbus. Gerard Gallant was fired on November 13, 2006 and Ken Hitchcock was hired by the late, great John H. McConnell on November 22 of the same year. At the conclusion of the season, Doug MacLean was canned, Mike Priest was brought on as the Jackets’ President, and Scott Howson was chosen to serve as the team’s General Manager. Jim Clark was phased out and eventually not retained, and Chris MacFarland became the Assistant General Manager in 2008.

It is somewhere during this transition that the apparent relationship between the Crunch and Blue Jackets changed. It has become apparent that the Blue Jackets organization, from Scott Howson through Chris MacFarland, has a much different (better) feel for how to internally develop players. The problem is, this development has often seemed to be at the expense of the Crunch (especially in the eyes of their fans and one particular Syracuse newspaper columnist).

To be frank, I understand the frustration of many of the Crunch fans. Syracuse is an excellent hockey market. The city has a deep history in the sport. War Memorial is a special place to watch the game of hockey, and the city itself has roots in the AHL and around the Calder Cup dating back to the Syracuse Stars in the ‘30s. As a matter of fact, Syracuse was the first Calder Cup champion in 1937. How frustrating must it be, in the eyes of Crunch fans, to have a historically inept franchise dictate how the Crunch players must be coached and used only to then see these very same guys removed from the roster without equal replacement (see Nikita Filatov, Dan Smith, Steve Mason, and most recently, Stefan Legein)?

With that being said, I find little to no fault in the inner workings of the Blue Jackets (with the exception of the Filatov situation), and am gracious to actually have a front office that knows what the heck they are doing when developing talent. There have been more up-and-coming success stories in the Howson and Hitchcock years than we saw during the entire PEI-MacClean-Clark era.

So what is there do? The Blue Jackets will not stop swinging trades like they did this afternoon, shipping off “damaged goods Legein” for a prospect they believe in at the expense of the Crunch. They will not resign the Dan Smith’s of the world if they feel it will take ice time from their younger prospects with “more upside.” And they will not hesitate to recall a blue chip prospect like Filatov if they feel it will keep him in the States and will help him to absorb anything that will help the Big Club in the future. These are the facts, and the facts are incredibly and understandably frustrating for Crunch fans.

Thus, I think it is time to sever the link between the two organizations. Frankly, the Syracuse market wants more autonomy and success and the Blue Jackets franchise is missing a tremendous opportunity to develop its own brand elsewhere.

The Blue Jackets must find a way to affiliate with the Lake Eire Monsters. From a business perspective, it is a no brainer. Cleveland is an untapped hockey hotbed, and the Jackets need to do whatever they can to bring more of the Cleveland marketplace under the Columbus umbrella. A perfect counterpart to the Indians-Clippers relationship, the further joining of the sports communities in Central and Northern Ohio can only stand to benefit the CBJ.

The Monsters do not have the passionate, respectable, and knowledgeable fans like are found in Crunch. This is a shame. The city knows the game, and Cleveland has all the makings of a great hockey city (as it was before Columbus even came on to the hockey map). The only way to further cultivate this relationship and passion is to grow the Jackets market through the eyes of the Monsters fans.

On the flip side, Syracuse is a market that deserves something different than what the CBJ will provide. It is obvious that many fans are disgruntled. They are likely to be better served through an affiliation with an NHL franchise that will allow the Crunch to be more autonomous. Similarly, a larger-market team who could afford to pay established AHL veterans without hindering the future seems like a much better fit than anything that could be provided by the CBJ.

Only time will tell if the great handshake between Syracuse and Columbus will finally end. Let’s hope so, for the sake of both organizations.

Pic of the day

BAM! That's gotta hurt.

This pic of TJ Oshie getting his ass handed to him by George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks was sent in from Chris via Dallas Texas.

Hey LTL, carrying the flag down in the Dallas area, I'm unfortunately out of touch with most of Jacket Nation. So I'm not sure if everyone up there shares my hatred of TJ Oshie (and all the Blues for that matter) however many months after the fact, but I stumbled upon this picture that brightened my day.

I couldn't stand everyone picking St. Louis as the up and coming team in the Central before the season, and hope to see a lot more of that ^...and a lot more points separating us from them.

This email made my day. Not only is Chris representin the Jackets in the lonestar state but that my friends is passion...

That email had me "good gaming" and "GO JACKETS-ing" anyone who walked by my cube... (let's hope HR understands).

You can bet ole Captain Columbus hasn't forgotten about TJ Oshie and it makes for a nice little subplot between these two squads. Mark your calendars for November 30th which is the first time the Jackets will play the Blues this season...

...and yep.. it's a home game!

Thanks for the pic Chris!!


Jackets Gamebox: @ Calgary

@ Calgary
9:30 PM EST

The Jackets kick off another 4 game West coast swing tonight in Calgary.

The bad news? The Jackets have lost 3 of their past 4 in Calgary including both game last season.

The good news? At least one of those losses last season was in OT.

The Pengrowth Saddledome is a tough place to play. The Flames only lost there 10 times last season which was tied for the 6th best home record in the NHL.

As a fan, I enjoy the helluva out these games as they are so damn confrontational... I'm not sure if it's because their styles are so similar or it's just as simple as they just don't like each other but the players on both sides are like bulls locking horns.

Same ole same ole.. Iginla leads the Flames and Nash leads the Jackets. The offense the Flames can generate on the backend really seperates these two squads.

Iginla though is off to a very slow start. In fact he is tied for 6th on the team in scoring with only 4 points. Pahlsson and co. will need to make sure he's stays bottled up and the entire team needs to make sure they limit the chances from the Flames blueline. They were successfull in their pervious meeting but can they do it again..... this time on the road?

As far as the Jackets O they need the rest of the top 6 to start playing to the level of Nash. If they can get some production out of guys like Voracek, Brassard, Juice, Umberger and Vermette I like their chances.

This Flames team can score.. they've thrown up 30 goals in 8 games... they'll have the last line change and a very good home crowd behind. They get the edge.

Edge: Flames

As I stated the last time these two teams met on paper you'd think the Flames were the better defensive squad. However defense isn't just the names on the blueline.. it's the buy in from the goalie on out and I have no doubt the Jackets are much tighter in this area right now than the Flames.

To illustrate this look no further than the goals against. Through 8 games the Flames have given up 28 goals while the Jackets have given up just 12 through 6.

Hitch and Murphy will need to work the matchups and guys are gonna need to get out on those points and sacrafice their bodies. Don't give up the odd man rushes.. get sticks in the lanes and everybody needs to be responsible in all 3 zones. No breakdowns or unforced turnovers.

The d corps played well against LA with each guy picking up a share of the minutes lost when Hejda went down. The battles will be much more physical for this one and this corps is going to have to elevate their games even further.

Basically the Jackets just need to keep doing what they've done thus far and they'll be fine.

Edge: Jackets

Mase got the better of Kiprusoff the last time they met but both played well.

Mase is sitting on a .925 Save% and a 2.35 GAA.

Kiprusoff has a .902 and a 3.26 GAA.

The Flames have been giving up a lot of goals but how much of those have been on Kipper? Judging by the Tuesday loss I couldn't fault him for either Jacket goals.

This will be an interesting matchup and Mase has turned in two steady games in a row and I like where his game is currently at. He is going to have to be sharp at tracking those shots from the points and not giving up juicy rebounds.

Edge: Jackets

Not that this is much of a stretch but for me this game will be decided on special teams.

The Flames have the #2 PP in the league vs. the Jackets #1 PK.

The Jackets PK won round 1 by blocking shots, getting sticks in lanes, winning board balttes, clearing the crease and forcing shots wide...but are they up for round 2? This time without a Jan Hejda?

Edge: Push

Jacket need to be ready for some IN YOUR FACE HOCKEY!

Jackets cannot allow themselves to get pushed out of this game. This is not LA which was a tennis match compared to playing Calgary.

The Flames loss in Columbus is still fresh and they are going to want some payback. Don't give them any early momentum that get's their crowd behind them.

This will be a 60 minute battle and anything less from the boys in union blue will equal a road loss.

Just a reminder that I'll have a Live Blog tonight! Stop on by!!



Legein... .gone.... in a trade.

Jackets Acquire Ratchuk For Legein

The Blue Jackets have acquired defenseman Michael Ratchuk from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for winger Stefan Legein. Ratchuk, 21, has been assigned to minor-league Syracuse.

Ratchuk (5-foot-11, 186 pounds) has one assist in five games this season for the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL. A second-round pick in the 2006 NHL draft, Ratchuk has 6 goals and 15 assists in 85 career AHL games.

Legein, 22, has 2 goals and an assist this season in six games with the Crunch. His time with the Blue Jackets will best be remembered for his decision to sit out the first half of last season, saying he had lost his passion for the game. The Blue Jackets second-round pick in 2007, Legein has 3 goals and an assist in 32 career AHL games.

Aaron Portzline will have more on this story later this afternoon.

-- Tom Reed

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pic of the day

Here is a speical note from Coryn's (Coryn is the little girl in the picture above) mom Cathy:

We had a great night and a thanks goes out to everyone who supported the Hats For Heroes program; bought a hat or t-shirt, made a donation or were just wearing a purple ribbon in honor of the fight. (and a special thanks to those that visited the 110/Front St entrance kiosk where the Lord family was stationed ;-) )

Coryn had a great night as you can see...

This was at the reception after the game for the Heroes and families. Kris, Jared and Jason stopped by and she got in lots of hugs and to spent some quality time with her favorite guys.

Of course another slash in the win column was icing on the cake!

That's what it's all about!!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Random thoughts

Toronto is 0-6-1. Jackets 5-1. Think Rick Nash is regretting signing with the Jackets right about now?

Meant to comment about this a while ago... but anyone else notice that the NHL Network's "On The Fly" show has upgraded from their set that was straight out of Fast Times at Ridgemont High to a more professional looking one this season? This was long overdue.

Anthony has a new CBJ blog I wanted to point out. It's called Tea With Ms. McGill which is an obscure hockey movie reference. If you get a chance, give it a look here.

Have you see that will now have a Thusday night online "game of the week"? They are even using the CoverItLive software.

Gotta wonder how bad ESPN wants back in the NHL television picture. I may be in the minority but I'm perfectly happy with Versus and haven't forgotten the days when ESPN would use the NHL to wipe their feet with.

That said if Comcast can close the deal with NBC Universe Versus will become a major player overnight. That would be a tremendous boost to the NHL.

Ohio State Men's hockey scored a must have win on Friday night versus #3 ranked Denver with a 4-0 shutout. My boy Dalpe finally got on the scoreboard and sophmore goalie Cal Heeter stopped 39 shots to preserve the shutout.

This win could very well be looked back upon a season saver for this squad.

They hit the road next week with back to back games against Lake Superior State.

The Crunch went 1-0-1 this weekend.

They beat Norfolk on Friday by a final of 5-4. Mayorov, Aulin, Picard, Sestito & Legein with goals. Mayorov and Legein also had helpers. LaCosta with the win.

On Saturday they lost in a shootout 4-3. Sigalet, Sestito & MacKenzie with the goals. Clitsome with two helpers and LaCosta with the SO loss.

Through 6 games the Crunch are 2-3-1 for 5 points and 6th in the East division.

So much for my thoughts about the Jackets trading for Mike Van Ryn. It was reported last week that he is out for the season.

Now that Mike Van Ryn’s season is officially over, the hard-luck defenceman hopes to be able to salvage his NHL career.

Van Ryn said today that he will go under the knife next week at the Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic in his home town of London, Ont. to have osteotomy surgery on his left knee.

In the final year of his contract with the Leafs, Van Ryn will have to have a lengthy rehab of at least six months before he even can consider a comeback.

“You are hoping that a team will give you a shot, but that’s the tough part of the decision, not knowing the future,” Van Ryn said this morning as his teammates practised behind him at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.

“I realize the spot I’m in is tough. You want to play, but at the same time, it’s also about quality of life down the road. (Walking) up stairs are starting to get tough.”

Van Ryn's a good player when healthy. What a shame he can't manage to stay that way. Gotta think Howson knew about this thus scratched his name off the list of possibles. Nice to have a GM who does his homework.


Thank you, sir! May I have another?

The Jackets delivered yet another win last night. That puts them at an eye popping 5-1 record.

Staggering really.

..and if you listen to Hitch they aren't even close to playing at their best yet.

That's incredible news if you're a Jackets fan!

Could the Jackets be flirting with being one of the NHL's elite teams this season? It's still early and there is a ton of hockey left to be played, but it's lookin good so far!!

vs. LA
Score: Jackets 4 Kings 1

* Chimera with another barn burner of a rip bellowing down that left wing. That was a big goal late in the period that turned the tide in this game. Nice all around game from him. Pretty cool he go one on a big night for the Ryan Salmon's family. Funny how these things work out eh?

* Want to know what it looks like when a player is reaching his prime? Just watch Rick Nash. Guy is playing phenomenal hockey and once again carrying this team offensively. That goal was a beauty but he's just been unbelievable, especially short handed.

* Jackets give up the first goal... doesn't matter.... as this team no longer get's rattled by such happenings.

* A clean shaven Rick Nash looked like he's 17.

* Tyutin did a nice job absorbing some of those Hejda minutes logging 24+ in all situations... Roy, Stralman and Methot did as well. Really just a solid outing by everyone on the blueline.

* I grow more impressed with Stralman by the game... he really does a nice job skating pucks out of trouble.

* PK picture perfect again.

* If this is the kind of production we can expect healthy Raffi Torres then we are all in for a helluva season by 14. The guy just changes games.. be it by hits (how bout that one on Moller), timely goals or drawing penalties. Gonna be hard not to give this guy a hard look at re-signing if he keeps this pace up.

* Salmon's jersey behind the bench - nice touch!

* To all the little kids out there who are either fighting or have beaten cancer -- this win is for you!

* Another timely PP goal to give the Jackets the lead for good.. enough can't be said about getting those.

* Jackets managed the game really well in the 3rd... they took advantage of a tired LA squad who was playing their 3rd game in 4 nights.

* Jackets 60% in the dot let by Vermette (79%) and Pahlsson (62%).

* Wings lose again in a shootout...

* Bad first goal by Mase... but he rebounded to have a good game.. especially in that 3rd period.

* Just over 15k in attendance on the Sat night. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be one of those. By all accounts the upper bowl was full but it's those lower bowl seats at $70 a pop that are the problem.

* Jackets got another PP goal but they really had problems penetrating the o-zone with puck possession. We are talkin about the 29th worst PK in the league.

* Russ with a helper, 18+ minutes, 2 hits, 2 shots.... Howson needs to announce these signings more often before games.

* Nice to see Voracek get an empty net goal and I hope that get's him going but I tend to agree with Hitch... the Jackets need a lot more offensive production out of everyone not named Nash in that top 6. Defensively they've been solid but that's not enough. Brass, Vermette, Voracek, Juice and Umberger all had quiet nights.

* Brass has yet to find that gear that made him so successful last season.

* Matt the Mask was so under the weather that a trip to the ER was made so he couldn't make it. LTL had previous family commitments. When the only red lights that I can think of are this it was a great night for the good guys!

* Jackets make it 3 in a row!
* Chimera and Torres turn tide
* Hat for Heroes!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jackets Gamebox: vs. LA

vs. LA
7:00 PM EST

Don't look now but here come the Kings!

The Kings remind me a lot of the Blue Jackets last season. They are a team who has a tremendous collection of yount talent with some solid veterans mixed in.

They are 4-3 so far this season and appear, at least early on, to be a dangerous team on the rise.

The Kings haven't had much of a problem scoring goals. In fact they've potted 23 of em so far which is an average of 3.29 per game - that is good for 10th in the league. Andre Kopitar leads the way with 11 points and new acquisition Ryan Smyth is meshing well out of the gate with 9. Keep an eye on second year defensive dynamo Drew Doughty whose already racked up 6 big ones.

Other than Rick Nash, the Jackets offense hasn't done a whole lot of scoring of late. In fact they have just 7 goals over their past 3 games -- fortunately that was enough to get em 2 wins. The good news is they are creating chances, especially the Umberger-Vermette-Voracek line, now they just need to get to em to fall (and not prematurely blown dead).

This is a tough one to call. The Kings can roll 3 lines that can score but so can the Jackets. Doughty gives them a nice dynamic on the blueline but I don't think it's enough to give them the edge on the road.

Edge: Push

The Jackets continue to butter their bread by being responsible defensively in all 3 zones. They are 4th in the league in goal against only giving up on average 2.20 goals a game. Everybody has bought in to Hitch's system and they are piling up the wins early.

The question of the game is how does this squad respond without their bedrock defensemen in Jan Hejda? How do the new pairing gel?

The Kings on the hand are suspect in this area. They've given up on average 3.43 goals per game -- good for 20th overall in the league. They are venerable and my guess is that this has a lot to do with their inexperience on the blueline.

Even withtout bacon (i.e. Hejda) on their cheeseburger this is an area the Jackets clearly have an advantage and will need to exploit.

Edge: Jackets

Quick vs. Mase.

I haven't watched much of Quick so I'll have to go off stats. He's backstopped the Kings to 4 wins but has a 3.18 GAA and .893 save %. Not exactly great numbers for a goaltender.

Mase bounced back well against Calgary after a tough night in Vancouver. Goaltenders need to have a short memory in this league to be successful and Mase has shown the ability to do that. He's got 3 wins a 2.71 GAA and .916 save %. Need to tighten up those rebounds.

I like Mase over Quick at this point as Quick hasn't shown enough. The Kings have a lot of skill on their forwards line who can break a game quickly so Mase will need to be sharp.

Edge: Jackets

Kings have the 13th ranked PP and 29th ranked PK.

The Jackets have the 18th ranked PP and #1 PK.

Clearly the Jackets PP will need to take advantage of a very suspect LA PK. Who else is up for another Stralman one time goal? I think Umberger is due to cash in as well with his work in front of the cage. The Jackets have been really good entering the zone with puck possession. That will need to continue.

The Jackets will need to contain Ryan Smyth who is a major pest around that net. Drew Doughty also has a nice bomb from the point.

Edge: Jackets

The Kings are on the 5th game of a 6 game road trip. So far they are 2-2 having dropped their past 2. They'll be a motivated bunch as they look to get back on the winning track.

This is the Jackets last home game before they depart on a challenging 4 game west coast trip of their own. They need to take advantage of that and pad their spot in the standings. They also need to take advantage of what should be a good crowd at Nationwide Arena on a Saturday night.

Then there is Jan "bacon" Hejda situation. It will be very interesting to watch how the defense plays without him eating up those major minutes against the other team's top players. Everybody will need to elevate their games to make up for his absence.

No word yet if Nikita is Filatin or Filatout of the lineup tonight.

For those attending the game don't forget to show your support for Hats For Heroes!



Friday, October 16, 2009

This and that

Got an email from some fellow D leaugers and CBJ fans that they have started a new blog. It's called Jackets Required. Be sure to check it out here.

Rick Gethin of The Hockey Writers discusses Unfamiliar Territory. A good read you can find here.

Peter points us to the Sharks web site and Jody Shelley's blog.

Last Friday, sitting in my stall, fresh off the ice from a high paced practice, I scanned the room to see who I could converse with. Me, at the ripe age of 33, was in the locker room with Staubitz, Demers, Ferriero, Greiss and McGinn, the young lads. These guys are all staying at the hotel and have mentioned on a few occasions how they have a tough time staying busy throughout the day and how they can even become a bit bored.

Aha! I could help them out!! With an 11 month old at home who goes to bed at 8 and wakes up 10 to 12 hours later, I figured what a gig . . . babysitting for the Shelleys while we (myself and my wife Mandy) went to see Couples Retreat. Genius!!

We could put junior to bed, head to the theater for the 8:45 showing, be back by 11:00 and the "sitter" was done. The lucky winner could watch TV, surf the net, raid the fridge, talk on the phone, whatever they want. Plus the offer of 12 bucks an hour was on the table. What a proposal!

Gotta love Jody.. even as a Shark.

Here's one for ya. Did you know that hockey is making a comeback in the Hallmark X-mas ornanment lineup?

The lucky player.....? Sidney Crosby.

Hallmark used to release a new hockey player every year.. but they stopped making them a few year's back... I assume due to the fact they weren't selling. Perhaps this is another subtle little sign that the NHL is finding its way back into the American mainstream.

Regardless I'll break down and buy one to add to the ole man-tree (complete with the Stanley Cup topper...c'mon -- every man needs one!)... Not a big fan of the Penguins but the Wings they ain't...

Now just get me one with 61 on the back.

This was sent in by Chris and it's a Globe & Mail article called "Blue Jackets Sold On Hitch".

As Chris says there isn't a whole lot new but always great to see the Jackets getting some positive press.

The Men's Hockey Buckeye's dropped their 3rd game in a row to #3 ranked Denver last night by a final of 2-0. They'll get one more crack at Denver tonight at Nationwide.

What a nightmare opening to their season. This game is a must win if they hope to salvage something this year.

Check out this new article from Ed over at It's all about the glut of fowards in Columbus.

Did you know the central division used to be referred to as "Comedy Central'? Hadn't heard that before the boys mentioned it on Jackets post game show on Tuesday.

That certainly isn't surprising considering how bad that division was for a long time... but damn, why couldn't I think of that!

As I stated earlier... bare with me on the posts over the next few days. Working away on the new and (hopefully) improved home for LTL.


Please support Hats For Heroes tomorrow night!

Tomorrow night is a special night for the Jackets and their Hats for Heroes program.


Blue Jackets Foundation to honor heroes and raise awareness for fight against pediatric and other cancers during game against Los Angeles Kings

The Columbus Blue Jackets and the team’s charitable foundation recognize the National Hockey League’s Hockey Fights Cancer™ Awareness Month with a special Hockey Fights Cancer Night in partnership with OhioHealth on Saturday, Oct. 17 when the Jackets host the Los Angeles Kings at Nationwide Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

In support of the Blue Jackets Foundation’s signature program, Hats For Heroes, and its mission to fight pediatric cancer, the Foundation will host more than 20 pediatric cancer heroes and their families during Saturday’s game.

The heroes and their families will also be involved by selling Hats For Heroes hats and t-shirts at several locations throughout Nationwide Arena. Thanks to a generous donation by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 and Relay Gear, 100% of the hat sales will directly benefit the Foundation’s pediatric cancer research initiatives. also has a story titled "Ryan Salmons' spirit lives on in Columbus".

"Even today, I cannot even comprehend the magnitude of Ryan and what he meant to the community and the Blue Jackets," Ryan's father, Brad Salmons, told "I was so busy helping Ryan that I just never saw the impact he was having. I mean, I tell people who want to help that sometimes I just want to sit in the corner and grieve, but I can't because that's not want Ryan would want."

He's right. When was on the scene for the historic opening two playoff games in Columbus last spring, the Salmons family graciously opened their home to us for an exclusive interview with Ryan.

"When the doctors diagnosed me, my first thoughts were, 'I can't have cancer, I'm an 18-year-old kid who is physically fit,' " Salmons told in a one-on-one interview last April at his Grove City home. "I've been lifting weights for a year and a half. I've been staying on top of my physical stuff so there's no way I can have cancer."

Cathy, who's daughter Coryn has battled cancer, via email encourages everyone who can to get out to the game tomorrow and support this great cause:

"Please remind everyone to come out tomorrow night and support not only our great guys on the ice - but also the kids who's lives they have touched..Ryan, Sam, Coryn, Noah, Hannah, Seth..... I could go on and on...."

In some sad news Cathy also went on to share...

Some additional sad and somewhat related news to pass along - one of the kids from the "Dude Where's My Hair" cast passed away last night. Samantha McCarthy was a courageous 12 year old girl who has been fighting cancer for the last five years.

You can learn more about Samantha's story by visiting her Caringbridge web site here.

I have a daughter of my own and just can't imagine going through something like this but this is reality for a lot of families out there.

This is a great chance for folks to make a difference. If you have the means to donate a few dollars or to buy a Hats For Heroes hat it all makes a difference for these families and especially the kids who battle this disease every day of their young lives.

My hat is off to these families and to the Blue Jackets for such a great program and my heart goes out to all the young kids fighting this fight. Stay strong and let's see if the Jackets can get a big win for all of ya tomorrow night!

For more information on Hats For Heroes and all that the Columbus Blue Jackets foundation does please visit their official web site.

For those that can't make it to the game and would like to make a contribution you can visit the official CBJ Hats For Heroes to do so.

A small note to share from that web site:

Thanks to the generous donation of the Capital City Lodge #9 Foundation, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the Hats For Heroes hats are dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Fan's Revenge

We all talk about our displeasure with the game-ops folks. Unfortunately, they are not the one's catching shrapnel in here. Maybe if they put their pictures on the website...

Anyway, this is totally in fun. We love (almost) everyone below! And, for the record, game-ops is MUCH improved so far this year.

Here is a fan's version of the CBJ Celebrity Look-Alike game. Play with your friends at the R Bar. It is a great time.

Scott Howson (GM) = Niles Crane

Larry Hoepfner (Senior VP) = John Gotti

TJ LaMendola (CFO) = Jared the Subway Guy

Ken Hitchcock = Captain Kangaroo

Steve Mason = A Player in the Movie Hoosiers

Nikita Filatov = Twiggy

Sammy Pahlsson = Vladamir Putin

Anton Stralman = Beeker

Jeff Rimer = Satan

Week 3 Power Rankings: All time high?
Rank: 9 (+13)
The Blue Jackets were pummeled by San Jose earlier in the week but bounced back for a strong win in Phoenix on Saturday, led by backup netminder Mathieu Garon.
Rank: 6
Funny how free-agent signings like Sammy Pahlsson and Mathieu Garon don't get much attention, when they've been key to the Blue Jackets' fast start.
Rank: 5 (+2)
Rick Nash's six-point week helped Columbus take two of the three games it played. Nash collected one game-winner and three assists in the two Blue Jacket wins.
Rank: 8 (+5)
Surprisingly loose defensively, the Jackets have allowed 140 shots in four games, even with checking centre Samuel Pahlsson getting better than 18 minutes per game and shutdown defencer Jan Hejda leading the team with a plus-7.
Rank: 13 (-5)
Off to a good start on the road.
Rank: 10 (unchanged)
Columbus has spent too much time killing penalties so far. But the Jackets aren't suffering from it, shutting down opponents in 17 of their first 18 tries.
Rank: 5 (+6)
Ken Hitchcock has the Blue Jackets hitting on all cylinders defensively which you just know leaves him smiling.
Rank: 5 (+10)
It says something about improving conditions in Columbus that Steve Mason is doing nothing to enhance his Team Canada chances but the Jackets are still finding ways to win. The NHL's most smothering penalty kill has scored as many goals (one) as it has allowed and a disciplined approach with the puck (league-low 19 giveaways) means these Jackets won't beat themselves.
Rank: 8 (+3)
Random thought here, but when was the last time a team's starter and backup were both lefties?
Not published

Meta-score: 7.6 (Last week: 12.2)

High: 5 (FoxSports, Sportsnet & CNNSI)
Low: 13 (CBC)

I think this may be an all time high in the Power Rankings meta-score. Heck it could be higher as a lot of these were published even before the win against Calgary.

Not sure what the Jackets did to drop 5 spots in CBC's eyes but that's how it goes. As you can see most have the Jackets in the top 8 which is exactly where they should be based on how and where they've played.


Stat of the day

Just catching you up on some of the more prominent prospects throughout the CBJ organization and how they are progressing statistically so far this year:

John Moore(OHL): 2g 2a in 5g
Matt Calvert(WHL): 4g 0a in 6g
Kevin Lynch(NCAA): 0g 0a in 2g
David Savard(QMJHL): 1g 10a in 11g
Steven Delisle(QMJHL): 2g 4a in 10g
Tomas Kubalik(QMJHL): 3g 4a in 10g
Brent Regner(AHL): 1g 2a in 4g
Stefan Legein(AHL): 1g 0a in 4g
Will Weber(NCAA): 0g 0a in 1g
Maksim Mayorov(AHL): 0g 2a in 4g
Tom Sestito(AHL): 1g 1a in 4g
Alex Picard (AHL): 2g 3a in 5g

Also not really a prospect but Pascal Pelletier is leading the Crunch in scoring with 2g 4a in 6g.

Jake Hanson, Ted Ruth and Cody Goloubef NCAA seasons have yet to kick off so no stats to report.

As we know stats don't always paint the entire picture - especially for defending d-men like a Will Weber - but for offensive guys it can give you an indication as to how well they are playing.

The numbers for David Savard (11p in 10g for a d-man) and Tomas Kubalik (7p in 10g for his first season in Major Junior) are certainly promising.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vid of the day

If you haven't made it over to or PuckDaddy yet you have to check out this 9 year old's goal:

Thansk to Ryan and Jeff for the heads up!


Pic of the day

The Buckeyes, fresh off a NCAA birth last season, are off to a rocky start thus far this season. They have dropped their first 2 games at home versus Quinnipac thus dropping out of any major rankings.

They have a chance to quickly redeem themselves as #3 Denver is in town. They'll face off against them tomorrow night at the Schott and then again on Friday night at Nationwide.

As I've stated in this space numerous times if you have never seen NCAA D1 hockey not only is it a great brand of hockey, it's extremely affordable.

The Buckeye's official web site has a great video previewing this 2 game series. Check it out here.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On my signal, unleash hell!

What a battle. I don't know what it is about these two teams but whenever they play it's like two trains colliding. I can't imagine what a 7 game playoff series would be like.

There were just so many good things about last night's win over Calgary that I'm sure I missed a bunch. Let's dive into it.

vs. Calgary
Score: Jackets 2 Flames 1

* Right handed shot.. WE HAVE A RIGHT HANDED SHOT!! Awesome 1 time slapper by Stralman in a critical part of the game with the Jackets up by 2 men... Imagine if we could have converted on 5 on 3 like that last season... I digress.

* I bitched and moaned all last year about the PP not cashing in when the team needed it most... well, the PP did just that tonight! In fact for the most part the PP looked good.. solid entries... good puck movement... some good rubber on net from the points...

* Ladies and gentlemen we have REPLAYS!!! Lots of beautiful REPLAYS!! They showed the goals scored of course but also good scoring chances and penalty calls... and the crowd's energy absolutely fed off them...! Last year they would have never shown the Vermette waive off and the energy from the crowd wouldn't have been anything like it was in this game. Please keep it goin game ops as it makes a HUGE difference in the atmosphere!

* Jan Hejda was just a monster again in his own end... he won so many battles that I lost track.. looks like he may have tweaked his leg late in the 3rd - hopefully it's nothing. I've read that some people started calling this guy "bacon" -- as in everything tastes better with bacon.... Love it! Oh and guess who was a +1 on the night?

UPDATE: Hedja indeed tweaked his knee according to the Dispatch. That one is gonna hurt. Hopefully Commodore isn't too far away.

* The way this team competed was just outstanding... once again everyone was on board the bus doing their part to win this game....

* Umberger-Vermette-Voracek line was excellent... I particularly liked Voracek's jump and hustle.

* Umberger won a huge faceoff on that 5 on 3 in the offensive zone that led directly to the Stralman goal... a big play that won't show up on the stat sheet. He also had a big play when he screened Kipper on that same Stralman goal.

* Boll did a great job playing his role... he connected on a lot of "heavy" checks. He was credited with a team high 7 of em... Hitch said in the post game that Boll is back to playing like he did the first year... that they have turned him loose and they made a mistake trying to make him something he's not.

* The Jackets as a whole came to play this one physically.. they had 40 checks with guys like Chimera (5), Torres (4) and Chimera (4) all playing the body.

* Jackets hung in there after going down 1-0... the hung in there after Vermette's non-goal... they hung right in there the entire 3rd period and unlike Phoenix, actually took it to Calgary on many occasions...

* I think it's safe to say Mase bounced back... couple of scary rebounds that he needs to tighten up but overall the kid had a solid outing... he made the saves he should and I really liked the way he played the puck.

* Rick "the playmaker" Nash was an engaged player. Oh so close on that empty netter. Sweet dish to Juice on his goal.

* Regardless of Stralman's goal which was awesome.. I was really impressed with this soft hands, his skating the puck out of trouble and his outlet passes... very strong game for him and we definitely saw the flashes of what he could be for the Jackets.

* Chimera was skating well... even got into a little scrap. That line of Chimera-Pahlsson-Dorsett was really competitive.

* Brass started a little slow but came on as the game went on. Was it me or did he look winded early? Nash mentioned in his post game that he's still getting into game shape after having so much time off last season. Good to see him get another helper. He also rang one off the post off a sweet pass by Russell.

* Lady with the Russell Medicine Hat Tigers jersey on who sat a few seats down from me... nice touch!

* Jackets only took one minor penalty against.... of which the #1 PK in the league killed off.

* Great call by Hitch on the TO during that 5 on 3.

* Matt the Mask representin like a champ at club level!

* Some crisp passing and breakouts by this Jackets bunch... everybody trusts everybody out there..

* I have to say that listening to the new entrance song sober it's really not too bad. Like it better than woman.

* Ironic that both Jackets goal scorers (Stralman & Juice) were Flames at one point and that the Flames goal scorer (Glencross) was formerly a Jacket.

* RDS rockin the R Bar.

* Detroit 2-3 and at the bottom of the Central.... that's almost as nice as the Jackets being on top...almost.

* It happened so early in the game but we can't forget the Methot goal that could-have-been... very unlucky to have that Boll fight start as that shot from Methot was wired to the upper corner.

* Juice had a goal but had some unforced turnovers as well.

* The attendance wasn't nearly good enough (13k+) but for those that did come they were loud and really into it.

* Glad Dorsett didn't drop them with McGratton.... no need for him to do that. Dorsett had some great jump.

* The waive off on Vermette's goal was obviously a horrendous call. I give the ref credit for owning up to his mistake though - you don't see that very often in pro sports.

* That pass Russell made up the middle of the ice late in the game was heart stopping. Got to be smarter than that. Russ also needs to work on finishing off plays... he had some good reads to jump up into the play but then couldn't finish them off with good passes or shots on net.

* Frog Bear & Wild Boar advertising that they are the #1 hockey bar in Columbus... you're a little late to that party guys... some of us haven't forgotten the days before the R Bar when we'd walk into that place and not only wasn't there any hockey memorabilia anywhere to be found -- you had to ask to turn on the Jackets game...

* Doug MacLean's glasses on the Sportsnet intermission... I don' think a chainsaw could dent those suckers. He didn't miss his chance to take credit for Nash, Mase or Brass though.

* Physical and engaged Jackets team rattles off 4th win
* Right handed shot scores key goal!
* Game ops is gettin it!!

4-1.... I'm just gonna sit back and stare at the standings for a while and enjoy it.


Jackets Gamebox: vs. Calgary

vs. Calgary
7:00 PM EST

No way I can kick off any preview of this game without mentioning the barn burner the Calgary Flames played against the Chicago Blackhawks last night.

If you missed it.. if you haven't already heard about it... the Flames jumped out to a 5-0 lead mid-way through the first period...

Game over right?

I mean the Blackhawks have never came back from a 5-0 deficit in their history.. and this history dates back to 1926!!

Whelp history was made last night as they stormed back in the 2nd with 4 goals and then notched another in the 3rd to tie it up. Brent Seabrook re-wrote the Chicago history books when he scored the OT winner.

What a game.... unless you're a Flames fan.

The question now is what kind of team will the Jackets face tonight? A pissed off and embarrassed Flame's squad or a deflated and tired one?

Through 5 games the Flames haven't had trouble scoring. In fact they are tied with the Rangers for most goals scored in the entire league with 24. Jarome Iginla is the engine but he has a nice supporting cast -- especially from their blueline with guys like Phaneuf and Bouwmeester launching bombs from the blueline. Oddly enough though it's Rene Bourque, not Iginla, that leads this team in points with 8 (4 & 4). Let's hope Iginla doesn't get hot tonight.

No surprise but Rick Nash. He's got 2 & 4 for 6. The Jackets are in the bottom half of the league tied with a whole bunch of squads with 12 goals for. Not a whole lot generated the past couple of games despite getting a win against Phoenix. A lot of guys need to get it goin.

I like the Jackets forwards better than the Flames but it's the offense the Flames generate from their blueline that separate these two teams.

Edge: Flames

On paper you'd think the Calgary blueline would blow the Jackets out of the water. The problem is they've given up 23 goals which is good for 1st in the West and 2nd in the entire league and defense in this league isn't just about the defensemen.

The Jackets on the other hand have only given up 10 goals which is 2nd best in the West and 4th best in the entire league.

Bottom line here is the Jackets are getting great team defensive play. Everyone is contributing from the goalie on out.

Edge: Jackets

Mase back between the pipes after getting pulled in a tough night against San Jose. It looks like Kiprusoff will go again for the Flames.

What's interesting about these two goalies is that both are coming off rocky starts. I'm throwing the stats out as this one as both took major hits sadistically lately... This one is all about who can/will bounce back the best?

Edge: Push

The matchup of the night. The league's best PP (Flames) versus the league's best PK (Jackets).

May the best man (up or down) win.

Edge: Push

This is the Jackets first game at home in over a week. Can they take advantage of it?

Also as mentioned earlier, how will the Flames bounce back after such a deflating loss? Will they look to take it out on the Jackets? If so, will the Jackets be ready?

Couple of notes.

If you're down in the AD be sure to stop by the R and represent Columbus to our friends up north on RDS.

If you can't make it down the Jackets have lifted the blackout on CI (HUGE GREEN LIGHT!) and it's a free preview -- so check out the Flames broadcast.

No surprise but Nikita Filatov has been healthy scratched from this game.



REMINDER: RDS @ R Bar tonight!

Just a quick heads up on the following:

Join us for another Blue Jackets' Pre-Game Party on Tuesday, at your #1 Hockey Bar, R Bar Arena. Molson Game Day Specials all day and a Budweiser Promo from 6-8pm with great Giveaways. The Canadian Sports Channel RDS will be on site for pre-game interviews with fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets so get your game day faces on and get here early.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday October 14th - The Charity Newsies will be working the bar to raise money for a great charity from 4-8pm. All Tips go the the Charity Newsies

Friday, October 16th - Miller Lite will be here with the Miller Lite Girls from 11pm to Midnight.

Saturday, October 17th - Absolute Pepar, Bloody Mary Promo at 3:30, Great way to start a Jackets Game Day


Monday, October 12, 2009

It get's tricky with Niki

The Jackets are riding high right now. They've matched their best start in franchise history (2003-2004) going 3-1 in their first 4 games. Back in those days the Jackets were pretending as they dropped their next 6 games... Now-a-days it's all about contending as the Jackets look to make a repeat trip into the playoffs.

This post however isn't about terrific start for the team, but the slow start for an individual. That individual being rookie blue chip sniper Nikita Filatov.

No individual should be bigger than the team and the most important thing are notches in the win column. Of course there is the rub.

The Jackets find themselves in an interesting position really for the first time in their 9 year history. How do you balance winning with grooming young blue chip talent?

It's tricky.

It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr-tr-tr-tricky (Tricky) Trrrrrrrrrrricky

We knew from last year's rookie crop of fellow blue chippers Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek that earning ice early in the season was going to be difficult for Filatov.

This team no longer hands out ice time like candy on Halloween to high draft picks. Players have to earn it regardless of their draft standing.

On top of that this is the deepest Jackets roster to date.

Still, even with that in mind, you look at Filatov's ice time through 4 games and regardless of the wins one has to ask themselves, what gives?

Game 1: 9:18
Game 2: 7:41
Game 3: 6:14
Game 4: 4:49

Compare that to the first 4 games from Brassard and Voracek last season:

Game 1: 12:23
Game 2: 15:39
Game 3: 16:46
Game 4: 11:36

Game 1: 9:09
Game 2: 12:03
Game 3: 14:05
Game 4: 8:54

Voracek is probably the better comparable as he is closer to Filatov in age but even he saw his ice time increase before decreasing in his first 4 games. Filatov has seen his ice time dwindle to a minuscule 4:49 seconds.

What's more interesting than that is when you take a look at the TOI in the 8 games Filatov played last season:

Game 1: 9:10
Game 2: 8:38
Game 3: 4:51
Game 4: 2:54
Game 5: 8:53
Game 6: 9:59
Game 7: 7:42
Game 8: 12:53

When Filatov played last year he got more ice time than he did so far this season. Now how can that be when he's a year older with more development time under his belt?

It's tricky.

It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr-tr-tr-tricky (Tricky) Trrrrrrrrrrricky

Last year injuries played a big part in his ice time, especially when he was recalled in January.

This year circumstance has played a big factor. The 4 games that have been played sans the San Jose game were tightly contested affairs. Filatov's playing time has been dictated by the sheer intensity of these games.

I also don't think it's a huge coincidence that Filatov saw the most ice during the Jackets home opener as Hitch had more control over who to line the young Russian up against. He also came off his strongest pre-season games leading up to that game which gave the coach more confidence in him. Once they hit the road the games were close and Hitch road the veterans.

Result: 3-1

Still though... 4:59? Hey, it's tricky!

It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr-tr-tr-tricky (Tricky) Trrrrrrrrrrricky

Howson has stated that Steve Stamkos started off similar to Filatov last season. Let's take a look:

Game 1: 8:25
Game 2: 14:53
Game 3: 6:05
Game 4: 9:22

Indeed Stamkos didn't storm out of the NHL gates with guns'a blazin (in fact he went scoreless through his first 7 games) but he certainly saw more time than Filatov thus far. Also keep in mind it took a coaching change before he saw his time ratchet up.

To me Filatov's leash seems unfairly short at this point. That was evident the moment Hitch benched him after a penalty in the 3rd period of opening night. Yes it was a bad penalty to take at a key point of the game but if a veteran commits that penalty he doesn't miss a shift. Filatov, on the other hand, didn't see the ice after his.

To that point I ask myself aren't rookies expected to make mistakes and shouldn't veterans be held accountable for the same ones? Shouldn't their leashes be shorter as they are the experienced players who should know better?

Klesla has had his share of bad penalties and in fact leads the team in that category with 5 minors. Brassard's 4 minute minor could have cost the Jackets the game in Phoenix.

Yet back on the ice they went.

You guessed it.. it's tricky.

It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr-tr-tr-tricky (Tricky) Trrrrrrrrrrricky

Hitch leans heavily on his veterans. Especially in situations where games are tight and mistakes have to be few. I guess it's kind of like eating out.. do you pick the brand new flashy restaurant that has the potential to blow your sucks off but could underperform or do you go with what's familiar and minimize the unknown?

Win, lose or draw Filatov's situation is shaping up to be an interesting one to watch. This isn't just an average rookie here. He was voted the #1 prospect not in the NHL last season. He's a skill player... he's not a banger and shouldn't be judged as one. Think Paul Kariya when you think Nikita Filatov.

Yes, he needs to be responsible defensively.. Yes, he needs to compete for the puck.. but he is also a rookie and there will be mistakes and there will be a learning curve.

At some point he's going to have to learn how to play in these tough games right? If not now then when? If not now then why is he here? If you aren't going to dress him only to bench him then that also means you're running the risk of overplaying someone else.

There are already rumblings that Filatov may be scratched tomorrow against Calgary because they are a "heavy team".

At some point he's either good enough to play in the NHL or he's not. Enough with the excuses.

Honestly, has he been that bad to warrant riding the pine this much? If so then I haven't seen it. I don't think he needs to be playing 12 mins a game but certainly more than 5. a minimum why isn't he out on he PP more often? He is 12th on the team in PP time averaging 44 seconds a game. This is an area he can be protected and he can contribute. I would argue he has the best one time shot on the team right now -- why not utilize it in these situations?

I've watched him closely and I don't think he's been much worse defensively or competitively than say a guy like Huselius. True he doesn't have the experience that Juice brings but if the team can compete with him they can certainly make room for Filatov.

It's only 4 games but from my cheap seats I'm not convinced they really know what to do with him or where he fits.

Perhaps Howson and Hitch are finding this.....dare I say...... tricky?

It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr-tr-tr-tricky (Tricky) Trrrrrrrrrrricky

My biggest issue in this whole thing is his confidence and how it is fairing early on. No way to know that answer unless your in Filatov's head.

After considering all of this I find myself falling back on this point. Hitch has shown he knows what he's doing with these young players. I remember questioning why he wasn't playing Brassard and Voracek much early last season and both went on to have very successful rookie years. Brassard scored 25 points in 31 games before going down with a season ending shoulder injury and Voracek went on to score one less point (38) than Rick Nash did in his rookie season.

So perhaps we just need to sit back and let the experts who get paid a lot of money sort this thing out. Perhaps there is more to this lack of ice time than we are privy too?

Filatov is playing the good solider for now. I give it about 20 games and if his ice time hasn't increased to at/near double digits things could get.....all together now...tricky.

So tricky in fact that words like KHL and trade might start popping up in conversations.

Thanks for the assist Run DMC (and whoever that kid is in this clip).