Some good reads as we await the drop of the puck tonight.. or in some of our cases... pass the time at work until we can go suit up in our Jackets gear for the game tonight!
This one came courtesy of Jeff. It's from TSN's story titled WITH SIX GAMES LEFT, BLUE JACKETS CLOSING IN ON PLAYOFFS:
Things are so tight and every point so critical that everybody studies the standings, listens for the late scores and ponders every injury and personnel move.
For instance, the Predators lost forward Martin Erat to a broken left leg Sunday in Detroit, felled by teammate Shea Weber's slapshot. Erat will likely be gone for a month.
"That's a tough loss. Good player," Columbus captain Rick Nash said. But he said this is no time to express sympathy.
"Everybody has injuries."
The Blue Jackets are without several mainstays -- Fredrik Modin, Jason Chimera, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Derick Brassard -- and nobody is feeling sorry for them.
Miss the playoffs and no one remembers that a team was down an important player or two.
"It's tough when any player goes down, but we need points," Nash said. "We have to worry about what we have to do here."
EJ Hradek lists the Jackets-Preds tilt as one of the games "with the most playoff implications":
2. Predators at Blue Jackets: Remember when the Central Division was the Red Wings and four other clubs? That's no longer the case. Heading into Tuesday's games, all five Central teams held down playoff spots. The injury-riddled Preds roll into Columbus off a come-from-behind win in Detroit. If they can beat the Jackets in regulation time, the teams will have identical records. On the flip side, if the Blue Jackets earn a regulation victory, they'll solidify themselves as the sixth seed and move one step closer to their first playoff appearance.
Pierre LeBron of ESPN states "Columbus will have to work to keep playoff position". Its a good read but I like this line the most at the end:
We agree with Hitchcock: This is the playoffs to get into the playoffs.
I agree in their agreement with Hitchcock.
Good read here from NHL.com called "Vermette excels in fresh start with Blue Jackets":
"I have to give credit to the guys that are here," Vermette said. "They're playing well, although we'd like to get that (March 15) game back against Detroit (a 4-0 defeat in Columbus). We're just playing hard, playing together and that's making my adjustment easier. They made me welcome right from the start."
One reason Vermette is doing better is that Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock switched him back to center, his natural position, after he played left wing for the Senators. Vermette is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, and the Blue Jackets are taking advantage of those skills.
"I always said I feel more comfortable in the middle," Vermette said. "It's my natural position. When I came into the League Ottawa made me a winger. On the whole it's good to have different options, but I feel more comfortable here."
Vermette has played with stars like Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, and now he's playing with former goal-scoring champion Rick Nash. He's impressed mostly with Nash's work ethic.
"Rick Nash is a naturally gifted player offensively," Vermette said. "He can make plays and he's a big guy that's strong on the puck. He gets a turnover and he makes you pay. I was talking about details and how important they will be coming down the stretch. Nash works hard in many areas of the game that you don't see on the scoring sheet. He's very good in his attention to details. He's putting in that extra effort to get the puck out of our end. Coming from the captain, that's a good influence on the rest of the group."
Vermette said he was given clear instructions on his role with the Blue Jackets by General Manager Scott Howson and Hitchcock.
"They both called me after the trade to wish me welcome and they were excited," Vermette said. "We're looking forward to a good playoff push. They talked to me about putting me in the middle where I would be more comfortable. They didn't go into too many details. They said they made the move for a reason and for me to do my thing and work hard and try to fit in.
Less than 3 hours til the puck drops!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Some good reads as we await the drop of the puck tonight.. or in some of our cases... pass the time at work until we can go suit up in our Jackets gear for the game tonight!
For the Jackets the road to the playoffs has to go through their old nemesis...some call em Nashville... to others they are simply known as Darth Vader.
If my calculations are correct the Jackets have beat Nashville just 3 times over the past 3 seasons..... two of those have come this season over 4 contests. Out of those games both teams have won their two games at home.
With 6 games left.. this game is of monumental importance for this Jackets franchise. I'm getting both dizzy and excited just thinking about it.
KEYS TO LIGHTING EM UP
* Play the way that got the Jackets to this point and they win the game. That is hard checking mistake free hockey from the 1st line to 4th from the top pair to the bottom... winning battles, taking advantage of your opportunities and exceptional goaltending.
* Mason has to be better than Rinne... it must happen.
* Take advantage of the home ice advantage. Clearly it's made a difference so far in this series.
* Jackets need the 7th man tonight. No sitting on your hands fans... it's go-time. The LTL hat and jacket are comin out of the closet for this tilt. Wear your Jackets best baby and get LOOOOUUUUDDD!
* Don't think for one second that because Nashville is without Arnott/Legwand/Erat that the Jackets have a favorable matchup. Remember when we were down all those players earlier this season and nobody thought we had a shot? The Jackets rallied around that and so will a team like Nashville.
* There are no shortcuts to beating this team.... Nashville works hard and smart every shift and so must we.
* Tootoo is just another player out there....
* Watch for that stretch pass up the middle to Sullivan...
* Need new heroes... it doesn't have to be just Nasher or Juice scoring the big goals.. lets get one from the 3rd line tonight.. how about the 4th popping one in? Or what about the defense? When is the last time Methot/Commodore/Russell have score a goal?
* Energy guys have to bring the energy.. the last time we played Nashville our 3rd/4th line guys where out played by a large margin.. that cannot happen tonight.
* Must contain Shea Weber... this guy has 21 goals.. he and Ryan Suter are deadly from the points and that is how they generate a lot of their offense... guys have to limit their time/space and sacrifice bodies.... we cannot let them unload bombs..which leads me to....
* STAY OUT OF THE BOX!!!! Nashville PPs give those guys prime time chances to crank em.
* Win ugly... I really don't care how they do it but win... and win in regulation.
* Believe in this team.. we fans believe.. and I know the guys in that room believe.. this squad can win this game.
* Do it for Yoda!!
This is going to be one intense game. I get goosebumps thinkin about it. I'm watching the fans tonight as this is the type of game we been waiting 7 years to watch this team play... if your reading this blog I know your a die hard so let's get real loud and real vocal and let this squad know we are behind them!!!
I read an article today about the Edmonton Oilers and how everyone on their team has to share the burden. I think that line of thinking fits in perfectly with what the Jackets have to accomplish in this game. Every player has a job to do and every player must contribute.
It's time to blow up the death star Columbus.
Not sure about the rest of ya but I"m ready for a beer now as I'm sure worked up for this one.
See you at the R Bar!!
I wonder if the Jackets would consider calling up Nikita Filatov or Alexandre Picard for a spark over this last 6 game stretch?
According to this site the Jackets have a 91.6% chance of making this playoffs. If they would have won against the Blues that percentage would have increased to 99%.
For those that didn't catch the line brawl between the Blackhawks and Canucks on Sunday night watch below:
Since the Blue Jackets got completely snubbed this year on US national television I wonder if they'll get any games next season?
Looks like Backman will be back in the lineup tomorrow. They must have absolutely no faith in Rome. I cringe at that thought of Backman against a Preds team tonight.
Congrats to Miami of OH for making the Frozen Four!
Erat, Arnott and Legwand will all be out of the lineup for Nashville tonight. Even without all of those impact players Nashville still scares the crap out of me.
The Jackets have 6 games left. 3 at home, 3 on the road and 5 of 6 against Central division opponents.
My opinion - if the Jackets take 3 of 6 they make it in.
Anyone else get the feeling that there are some out there, like Bruce Hooley from 1460thefan, who deep down are actually rooting against the Jackets to make the playoffs for some twisted fear that the Jackets will threaten their "traditional" sports coverage?
The fact that the Jackets are still in the running for Denver center Tyler Bozak is another sign that the perception of Columbus around the league has changed from one of "perennial bottom feeder" to a team "on the rise". The Jackets really have zero depth at center in their system so a guy like Bozak makes sense in a lot of ways and he could find himself on the big team in a hurry. Here is a highlight reel of Bozak:
St. Louis has 5 of 6 left on the road. With the way they are playing I don't think they are the least bit phased. Their remaining home game? You guessed it, it's against the Jackets.
Nashville plays 4 of their final 6 on the road. Like the Blues, I don't think they care either way. They get Chicago twice, Detroit once and the Jackets twice.
The Preds highest scorer is JP Dumont with 59 points. However they have 6 players with 40 or more points. The Jackets have 4.
Kris Russell has the worst +/- on the squad coming in at a -10.
Jared Boll leads the NHL in fighting majors with 23. There are 3 players right behind him with 22 a piece.
Is Chris Gratton still a Blue Jacket?
The Jackets are 10th overall in fighting majors with 52.
Finally some fun with the Dispatch guys (courtesy of a poster named kidacbj on HF):
More on the game with Darth later today!
Monday, March 30, 2009
The St. Louis Blues were the more desperate team and it showed in both games over the weekend concluded by a 5-2 loss last night at Nationwide.
The Jackets looked pretty good for the first half of the game but a critical mistake by Steve Mason with the score knotted at 1 a piece sucked the life right out of the team and the building and the Jackets weren't able to recover.
I know Mase is taking the blame for the loss but it's not all on him. This kid is the reason the Jackets are where they are. Sure, he made a big mistake but that is the time when the team has to step up for him like he's done all season for them. The fact that they couldn't get it done for him was the most dissapointing part of this game for me.
STOPLIGHT GAME REVIEW
* I liked Nash's game a lot...especially over the first half of that game. He had great jump, was driving the net well... he was trying to carry this squad. He finished the night with a goal and a helper.
* I thought Umberger and Commodore were really into this game as well.. Commodore was real physical (credited with a team high 6 hits) and RJ once again was showing some great outside speed and created scoring chances. Although like the team, they kind of faded after that Mason mis-hap.
* Great crowd at over 17k on a Sunday.
* Fans know... was good to see the fans give Mase an applause after his flub.. they know how important this kid has been to this squad.
* Great hit by Russell along the boards on whom I think was McClement. He was giving up a lot of size but still took him out.
* Dude who yelled "Keep your head up Oshie".
* Hey, they got a PP goal...
* First half of the game was pretty even... there was some solid play in there but then the wheels completely fell off after..well, you all know..
* Just way too many mistakes. Bad decisions, costly turnovers, too many penalties.. The Jackets were the first to blink and they got burned.
* Off night for Mase... rookie mistake on that clearing attempt.. couple of goals he'd like another shot at... he was also hung out to dry a few times as well. Need to put it behind him and and focus on Nashville tomorrow.
* Jackets just couldn't match the Blues will and want from shift to shift.... they wanted it more and had the will to take em there.
* The Blues younger players were better than ours... Oshie, Perron, Berglund (he was real impressive) > Mase, Voracek, Russell
* Oshie is a solid young player but if he's gonna run another team's star players he better man up. Nash, Dorsett and Boll all wanted a piece of him. That said Oshie got the last laugh last night with a goal, assist and being a big distration.
* Tyutin's turnover... just can't happen if you expect to win.
* Why o'why do they continue to play Backman... this guy just doesn't belong in the NHL.. he's slow, makes horrible decisions with the puck, pinch's when he shouldn't, can't get a shot through.. there is absolutely nothing to like about this guy's game.. nada... zip..zilch.. Rome is the lesser of the two evils.
3 BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE NIGHT
1. Nash was good.
2. Crowd was good.
3. The Crunch won 4-3 to put them back into a playoff position. Filatov with 2 goals and a tally in the shootout.
Jacket nation (myself included) is understandably uneasy out there. The Jackets were in the drivers seat headed into this weekend and really "blue" an opportunity to solidfy their playoff spot.
Although they still hold onto the 6th playoff spot they are only 2 points out of 7th, 3 points out of 8th and just 4 points out of a playoff position all together.
They may have blown the weekend but the good news is that they certainly haven't blown their season. There are still 6 games to go and the Jackets still control their own destiny. If they aren't a desperate team now, they should be.
The Jackets have quickly put games like this behind them and have responded well in the next one. So as fans let's get out there tomorrow night and show these guys we are behind them 110%!!
The road to the playoffs is going to have to go through Darth Vader. Heck, to hell with Vader -- let's blow up the death star tomorrow night boys.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Some comments from Jacket players on the Blues' playoff push from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Before the season," Commodore said, "if you would have looked at their roster and said, 'OK, this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy are going to be done for the year ... how do you think they're going to do?' With seven games left, I don't think anybody would have guessed they'd be one point out of the playoff race.
"They just never went away. It's been very impressive."
"They've been all over us," Commodore said. "As defensemen, we haven't had very much time to make plays. That makes the game a lot harder for the whole team, especially defensively."
"If he's seeing the puck, he's going to make the save," Williams said. "For us, we've got to make sure we're getting guys in front of him. But he's a goaltender that battles real hard. He's really starting to come into his own right now."
"I think everybody did count them out," Nash said. "I don't think anyone saw it coming. I played for Andy Murray at the World Championships (with Team Canada) and know how good of a coach he is. Plus, they've got great players, so it was surprising to see where they were at the bottom. But they've been great lately, and they've got a shot at it."
When was the last time you heard Jacket players asked for their comments on another team's playoff chances?
From the Edmonton Sun:
The two best NHL goalies in the second half of the season are named Mason: Chris in St. Louis. Steve in Columbus ...
So what's less fun? Playing for a Ken Hitchcock-coached team or playing against one?
I'd certainly say "against one" as bottom line, Hitch's system produces wins.. and winning is fun.
This guy gets the "idiot of the day award" -- from the Dispatch "letters to the editor":
Mr. Stein: I have no particular ax to grind, but you were off base when you said some sports at OSU don't deserve as much attention as others (Mailbox, last Sunday). You have a mistaken assumption about fans. I like OSU football, but that's because it wins and plays with excellence. When it doesn't play well, I (and thousands of others) don't care.
We readers want to read about excellence at OSU. If wrestling is in the hunt for the NCAA title, we want it on Page 1. If the men's basketball team plays below expectations, they deserve to be on Page 3. I would rather read about any of the 36 OSU sports making a mark in the NCAA. I might not know anything about field hockey, but if OSU is doing well, then I demand to see it up front. I don't want it buried.
I can't help but add that most Ohio fans hate hockey. Typical hockey fans only talk about the fights, just like many NASCAR fans only talk about wrecks. They are vicarious wannabes. Why did The Dispatch buy into a team sport that normally loses money? If you divested yourself, you could probably afford to hire some female sports writers, which would please many Mailbox complainers.
Obviously Stein is trying to stir the pot by publishing such a ludicrous email. Maybe one day dolts like Ralph Marinello will wake up from the stone age and discover that man produced fire, cured polo, invented the automoblie, walked on the moon and yes, can actually enjoy more than one sport at a time.
I shouldn't be astonished when I read that folks out there actually think this way but regardless I still am.
I just hope to god this dude hasn't reproduced... what a shining example. Life lesson #1 kids -- your only worth a damn if you win. Wow, the fabrics of life being laid there.
Go play in traffic Ralph. The world would be a better place.
Feel free to respond to this trash-bag by emailing Ray Stein here @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
With every Central Division team still in the playoff hunt I think this division can finally kiss a top 5 lottery pick goodbye. A trend that has occured in 6 of the past 7 seasons with that off season being the 30 team "Crosby lottery" during the lockout year.
Ohio State men's hockey fell to #1 overall seed Boston University by a final score of 8-3. The game wasn't pretty as BU clearly was the better team.
Still the Buckeye's must consider the season a success as they finished with an overall record of 23-15-4. Coming into the season loaded with 20 freshmen and sophmores nobody expected them to compete in the CCHA let alone make the tournament.
The next couple of years look very bright for this young squad and the experience this group obtained this year will only benefit them as they look to build and mature for furture seasons.
They get their PP struggles worked out (sound familiar?) then look out for next year.
Labels: Ohio State Men's hockey
Things looked ugly... real ugly, especially in that second period.
...but these Jackets, with an assist from Blue TJ Oshie, found a way to scratch and claw their way back into this game and steal a point in a game that went into a 4 round shootout -- one in which they probably had no business getting anything.
Of course that assist I'm referring to was the hit (or was it a charge?) that Oshie landed on Jackets Captain Rick Nash. As Nash stated in the paper that hit woke the team up and the big man. In fact, Nash went as far to say that he was "glad he did it".
STOPLIGHT GAME REVIEW
* Pretty much owned over the fist 40, the Jackets down 3-1 playing in a hostile environment stormed back with two goals in 93 seconds to steal a point... a point, as mentioned, they probably had no business getting but that is what good teams do, and that is what I love about this year's edition of the Jackets. They have a way of generating points in unlikely situations.
* Steve Mason. He certainly had at least one goal he'd like back but the Jackets don't grab a point without his play after the Blues' 3rd goal. This kid's composure after giving up goals is uncanny and to me is one of his best assets. Nothing rattles him.
* Nash and Juice. The Jackets best offensive players delivered when their team needed them the most. We'll need more of the same down the stretch.
* Team response to Oshie hit. Love to see Russell jumping in there... the best response was putting the two up on the scoreboard. Oshie btw was a -1 and missed his shootout goal.
* Umberger to Vermette for that shorthanded goal... key goal that stopped the bleeding and turned momentum for a bit.
* Got to give the coach a nod here... the lines weren't clicking last night and he made the necessary changes. Always hard to tell if that contributes to the comeback but from where I was sitting it was definitely the right time in that game to hit the shuffle-o-matic.
* Jackets PK killed off all 6 penalties against the league's 7th best PP including a brief 5 on 3 man advantage.
* Really liked the energy from the Dorsett-Peca-Murray line.
* Jackets Backers representin in St. Louis. Well done folks!
* I didn't think the first period was all that bad. You just knew the Blues would come out on fire but the Jackets hung in there for the most part. It certainly could have been better though.
* The 2nd period was a train wreck and the Jackets were damn lucky to only be down by 2 heading into the final frame.
* Just waaay to many penalties.
* I hope Klesla is okay as he was just starting to find his game.
* The St. Blues usher who threatened to toss a Jacket Backer for waiving his flag.
3 BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE NIGHT
1. Point rescued.
2. Nash/Juice delivering clutch goals in the 3rd.
3. Jacket Backers representin on the road.
The win keeps the Jackets in 6th place with a 4 point cushion on Nashville (who plays Detroit tonight on the road).
No time to dwell for the good guys as they get the Blues again in their house tonight at 5 p.m. I expect another spirited affair with the hope that the Jackets will turn the tables on the Blues.
We really need to give these boys a home ice boost so if your on the fence, get on down to Nationwide and pick up some tickets.
My plan is to hit the R Bar no later than 1500 (that's 3 p.m.!).... I've missed my home away from home :)
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Saw this over on HF but wanted to post here for those that don't go over there. Check out this playoff promo out of the Dispatch today:
Well, well done!
Just quick programming alert for those waiting on the Jackets/Blues game at 8:30.
The Ohio State Men's hockey team's NCAA Frozen Four tournament game will be televised live at 5:30 tonight on ESPN2. Barry Melrose and Ohio's own John Buccigross will be on the call.
They'll battle #1 overall seed Boston University.
The overall bracket is here.
Audio/video game preview is up here.
Lots of team pics here.
There have been lots of upsets in the first day, let's hope the Buckeyes can add to that against BU on the 2nd.
What's workin against them? No #1 seed has won thus far in this tournament.
Go hockey Buckeyes!
2-0-1 in my absence. Perhaps I should take a vacation more often!
First off -- thanks for the comments everyone!!
I had a great time at the Florida game and couldn't believe, still can't believe really, they rallied like they did so late in the game to pull out a victory. I took lots of pics which I'll post in the next day or two.
I'm actually watching the replay of the Jackets/Calgary game now. I'm through the first period and man were the Jackets dialed in or what? That 5 on 3 kill open the flood gates.
Just saw the Torres goal... Nash with his best impersonation of Gretzky... wow was he really seeing the ice... and who in the hell did Jokinen think he was throwing some punches..give me a break.
Okay... so enough about the past and lets talk about the future. That future being the St. Louis Blues.
This Blues team currently sits in 10th place with 79 points. They are just 1 point out of a playoff spot. Including this one, they've only got two home games remaining out of their 8 games. They are all important games as they are for every team still in the playoff mix but no doubt they are looking at this as a must win.
The Jackets have a big challenge in front of them tonight but as we've seen thus far this season, they have the ability to rise up and overcome those challenges.
KEYS TO LIGHTING EM UP
* Its no secret that the Jackets are gonna get the Blues A-game. They are fighting for their playoff lives and as mentioned, there is no doubt they are lookin at this game as a must win to stay in the hunt. The Jackets will need to weather the first 10 and if they can get that early goal they are in business.
* The Blues are rolling.. they are on a 3 game winning streak and are getting contributions from everyone.... Jackets can't key on a couple of particular threats.. this entire Blues team is bringin it which means this entire Jackets team will need to match it.
* This game will be intense..it will be high tempo, high energy, high intensity. The Blues are strong at home going 21-13-5... the Jackets cannot come out flat or they will look like Calgary from Thursday night.
* This will be a game won in the trenches.. Jackets need to win the board battles and races to loose pucks..
* Mase vs. Mase... may the best Mase win
(wow.. just caught the Boll and Klesla fights -- well done boys!!)..
* Special teams are always key... can the Jackets build off their PP success against Calgary? I like their chances if they can.
I'll be watching the battles as I expect to see them all over the ice. The team that wins trench battles wins the game.
The kicker with this game is the home at home. If the Blues win both they pull within 2 points of the Jackets. These are huge games for both squads. Who will be more desperate? If I were to guess I think both home teams win.
Couple more thoughts.
* I hear the game ops was much better Thursday night against Calgary. That is encouraging news.
* This Peter Stenzel freak. You know I was once told you could attach the word "bag" to any word (wow.. what a pass from Juice to Nash who almost put that Forsberg move home) and its funny.. well there is nothing funny about what Stenzel did but I think any number of words + "bag" would fit in well here... nutbag, flamebag, assbag, freakbag, enjoy-your-time-in-the-clink-bag...etc, etc.
* My JHM hat is completely off to Scott Howson and the entire Blue Jackets organization for what they've done for Ryan Salmons.... honestly what a classy thing to do from what sounds like a very classy and courageous young man. The entire Blue Jackets family is behind you Ryan!
* How about those hockey Buckeyes? I was absolutely shocked to hear they made the tournament and of course enjoyed a few adult beverages in their honor. They try to advance to the final 8 at 5:30 tonight vs. #1 overall seed Boston University. The game will be televised live on ESPN2. You can see the overall bracket here.
* I'll have a live blog tonight so stop on in!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
While I"m away please feel free to post your thoughts on this game in the comments below!
Yet another game that I probably won't be able to catch any live feeds of so I will look forward to reading your comments from my handy dandy iPhone.
My DVR will definitely be working OT this week.
This is a classic Western Conference matchup where both teams really go at one another hard. Both teams also have a very hard time winning at each other's house. The Jackets need to take advantage of this particular game being at home.
Just one favor to ask for this one - somebody please plant Phaneuf through the Nationwide Arena boards to the point where all I should be able to see are his skates dangling above the ice.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
While I"m away please feel free to post your thoughts on this game in the comments below!
This game has the classic "let down" feeling surrounding it. The old Jackets would lose games like this to teams bleow them in the standings.
However these are the new Blue Jackets who don't look anything like those teams of old. They need take care of a Tampa with a solid hard working effort (you take short cuts you get beat) and get out of town with two big ones.
Chances are I won't be able to catch any live feeds of this game so I will look forward to reading your comments from my handy dandy iPhone.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This post is meant for any and all Jackets or general hockey news that you would like to share. Photos, links, videos, stories, rants, raves... throw em all in here and I'll be checking it throughout the week.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
While I"m away please feel free to post your thoughts on the game in the comments below!
Hard to get a read on how this one may play out. The Jackets have been decent on the road of late (winning their past two) but the Panthers are good at home (18-10-6 at the time of this writing) and are desperate group fighting for their playoff lives.
Keep an eye on the Twitter as I'll be posting some thoughts (rants/celebrations/you name it) as well as photos from the Bank Atlantic Center throughout the game.
I'll also be keeping an eye on the Florida crowd as I hear they can be an entertaining bunch.
Just wanted to give you a heads up that I'll be taking a break blogging this week. I'm Florida bound with the first stop being the Bank Atlantic center to watch our Jackets battle the Panthers!
I do have some open posts scheduled so please feel free to drop by and post your comments on the games and whatever other hockey related news you'd like.
I'll be checking the comments regularly via my iPhone but besides twitters, I will not be posting or updating the blog regularly again until I return next Saturday.
Now please join me and raise your glasses in a virtual toast to a great week of Jackets hockey!!
Friday, March 20, 2009
Evening Jacket fans!
I just wanted to post a quick shout out to Rick and his new article over on TheHockeyWriters.com.
He had a chance to interview Hitch and some players today after practice and has a fantastic read with some exclusive quotes here.
Wonderul job Rick! Thanks for sharing with us!
In case you missed it:
Remember when Tootoo was celebrating after he fought Jan Hejda last season like he won the heavy weight title? Where is the celebrating and post fight antics now Jordan?
Best comment I've read about this fight:
Labels: Jordan Tootoo
Rank: 12 (unchanged)
Four wins in five games gives the Jackets a slight cushion in their quest for a playoff position and they're doing it despite owning the league's worst power play.
Rank: 11 (+5)
Columbus had a big week and created a little space in its playoff race but had wakeup calls in games against Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Rank: 10 (+3)
After upending the Red Wings on March 7, the Blue Jackets were shut out by Detroit 4-0 on Sunday. But Columbus beat Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago in that stretch, and Sunday's shutout was the first against the team since Jan. 6.
Rank: 14 (unchanged)
(.557) Columbus picked up three wins in four games last week. If the club continues to play this well down the stretch it will qualify for the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Rank: 7 (+6)
Antoine Vermette has three goals and six points in five games with Columbus
Rank: 9 (+4)
Imagine looking at the schedule at the beginning of the season and seeing the Jackets had a March stretch that included games against the Bruins, Penguins, Hawks and Wings. Now imagine trying to argue that they would take eight points out of that death march. This team just keeps finding ways to exceed expectations.
Rank: 14 (+2)
Antoine Vermette has three goals and six points in five games since joining the Blue Jackets from Ottawa at the trade deadline.
Rank: 10 (+4)
What a week. Wins over Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago has to make it the best week in franchise history.
Rank: 12 (+1)
Antoine Vermette has been a nice addition. The versatile forward has scored three goals and six points while logging a whopping 19:32 of ice time in his five games since arriving from Ottawa.
META-SCORE: 9.9 (last week 13.8)
"Death march"... pretty good line by Muir on CNNSI.com.
Vermette is certainly grabbing the attention of the national hockey media this week -- and rightfully so!
MacLean/Sportsnet and FoxSports will catch up to the rest of em eventually.
Labels: Power rankings
This link was posted by eplagge and its a great look at the race in the West for the final playoff spots:
I had to shrink the table quite a bit to get it to fit here but follow this link to see it in full.
I agree with those who commented in the post below that this is definitely something the Dispatch or Jackets official site should replicate.
This site now gives the Jackets a 91% chance at making the playoffs.
Of course you can bet your Tim Horton's Stinger donut on the fact that Hitch is keeping this squad fully focused on one thing -- and that's winning the next game against Florida.
The Jackets got a little help last night but not much.
In the "help" category the red hot Canucks were able to knock off the St. Louis Blues by a final of 3-0. San Jose was able to take care of Nashville but it took a shootout... hey, 1 point is better than two right?
As much as it pains me to do so, I've got to hand it a little Nashville.. they had a 4 game road trip and just took points out of every single game to keep their season alive.
LA, Edmonton and Anaheim all collected two points in their match ups which clearly puts them in the "non-help" category.
Here is how the West looks after last night's games:
As you can see the gap from 6th to 8th is only 3 points. The cushion grows a little bigger to 6 points when you look at that 9th spot.
Jackets just got to keep winning.
Obviously I'd love to see the Jackets win at both Florida and Tampa but if they can grab at least two points I think they'll be in decent shape.
Speaking of Florida.. they knocked off Toronto by a final of 3-1. I hope they got their win out of their system! If you recall the last time we played Florida they whipped our butt at Nationwide -- what I remember most from that game was how fast they were...especially David Booth who can absolutely scoot.
The best part of last night's games though was seeing the Sharks' Brad Staubitz absolutely wreck Jordan Tootoo's face to a bloody pulp. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!
Power rankings coming up later today!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Follow this link to see what the playoffs would look like if they started today. Here is the CBJ matchup:
3) Calgary (40-23-6, 86 pts)
Games remaining: 13 (7 Home, 6 Away)
vs. +.500: 12 vs. West: 12
6) Columbus (36-28-6, 78 pts)
Games remaining: 12 (6 Home, 6 Away)
vs. +.500: 11 vs. West: 10
REGULAR SEASON SERIES
Flames lead 2-1
Nov 8: at Blue Jackets 3, Flames 1
Jan 21: at Flames 5, Blue Jackets 4 (SO)
Feb 24: at Flames 4, Blue Jackets 1
March 26: Calgary at Columbus
Thanks to Kevin for sending that in!
According to USCHO.com they have Ohio State narrowly missing out on the Frozen Four tournament.
Did you catch this yet over on BlueJackets.nhl.com?
Columbus Blue Jackets and Tim Hortons Introduce Stinger Donut
As the Blue Jackets "March to the Playoffs," team partner Tim Hortons March 18 introduced the Stinger Donut, a specially-themed vanilla dip donut adorned with colorful sprinkles. Starting today, the Stinger Donut is available in all central Ohio Tim Hortons stores through the end of the Blue Jackets current season. The Stinger Donut will be back on shelves at the start of the 2009-2010 campaign.
In addition, the Blue Jackets and Tim Hortons invite fans to celebrate a Jackets victory at home with a free donut. The day following a win at Nationwide Arena, fans may show their game ticket at participating central Ohio Tim Hortons stores to receive one free donut with the purchase of a coffee. Tim Hortons is the official coffee of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I really like the way the Jackets are utilizing their partners the second half of the season. From Giant Eagle, Pepsi, Time Warner, Donatos and now Tim Hortons.
Looks like I have a couple of donuts in my future!
Puck-daddy named Antoinne Vermette his #1 star from yesterday's set of games:
No. 1 Star: Antoine Vermette, Columbus Blue Jackets
OK, so we may have dogged the BJs a bit at the deadline for picking up Vermette. All he's done is score points in five of his first six games with Columbus, including the game-winner at 2:38 of overtime for a playoff-intense 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. R.J. Umberger sent him a pass and Vermette did the rest: Fending off a hapless Brian Campbell and then chipping the puck past Cristobal Huet (24 saves). Tremendous game, and a tremendous win for the Jackets.
Here is an interesting read from Pierre LeBrun over at ESPN.com. He compiled the overall standings from the 2nd half of the season. Where do your Columbus Blue Jackets rank?
How about 6th best out of the 30 teams with a .633 winning percentage!
TEAM GP W L OTL PTS PTS %
New Jersey Devils 29 22 7 0 44 .759
Detroit Red Wings 30 18 8 4 40 .667
St. Louis Blues 29 16 7 6 38 .655
Pittsburgh Penguins 31 18 9 4 40 .645
Vancouver Canucks 28 16 8 4 36 .643
Columbus Blue Jackets 30 18 10 2 38 .633
While Edmonton battles for its playoff life, Vancouver and Columbus (see table above) so far have used huge second halves to put themselves closer to safety. The sixth-place Jackets have a six-point gap on the danger zone. The fifth-place Canucks are just a point behind struggling Chicago for fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round. The young Blackhawks have picked up only 29 points in 28 second-half games, basically .500 hockey. You can guess where our money will be if the Canucks and Hawks face off in the first round.
Actually the entire thing is an interesting read which I highly recommend.
CBC takes a look at 4 teams to "beware of" if they make the post season:
Columbus Blue Jackets
Let’s see. In the space of a week, the Blue Jackets beat the best team in the West (Detroit), putting up an eight spot against them in Joe Louis Arena. They shut out the best team in the East (Boston), then beat the hottest team in the league (Pittsburgh) and for good measure went into one of the toughest buildings in the league (Chicago) and topped the Blackhawks. Pretty good playoff entry resume.
Largely it’s about the goaltender in Columbus and even coach Ken Hitchcock would have trouble arguing that’s not the case.
The rise of Steve Mason should scare any team the Jackets come up against because he could shut out the lot of them and pretty much has. But besides stopping the puck, Mason has given the rest of the team confidence to play the game without fear of tragedy in the net. Yes, the Blue Jackets can finally trust their goalie.
Hitchcock has a playoff-ready style, which means the Jackets don’t give their opponents many chances to score. Rick Nash is a star game breaker, Antoine Vermette gives the team a big lift at centre and the anonymous defence - featuring dependable Fedor Tyutin and Jan Hejda - has the Jackets among the top 10 teams in goals against.
And that takes us right back to the goalie!
Wait.. am I hearing what I think I'm hearing..? By god I think I am.... the Jackets are getting a little:
The CBJ certainly like the drama don't they? Yet another 1 goal win in OT no less (I need to look up their record in OT this year b/c I think it's pretty damn good).
The hero for this one was newly acquired Antoine Vermette who continues to make Scott Howson look like a genius. That OT winner was Vermette's 4 goal and 7th point as a Blue Jacket in 5 games since being acquired at the trade deadline.
The game as a whole certainly wasn't textbook Hitchockey. There were breakdowns all over the ice from both squads... there were moments of great goaltending to not so great goaltending moments.... a defensive chess match this was not.
It wasn't pretty but two points are two points. At this stage of the game it doesn't matter how you go about getting em.. just get them!
STOPLIGHT GAME REVIEW
* The fact that they found a way to grab two points when they clearly weren't at their best is the biggest story of this game.
* The Jackets PK really came up large and besides the two points, was the biggest story of this game. They did give up a PP goal but considering the amount of penalties the Jackets took (which was 18 all together) against the 7th best PP in the league -- the PK was exceptional.
* Jason Williams. Although the stats don't show it (only 1 assist) I thought he was the Jackets best forward and it was bar none the best complete game I've seen him play in a Jackets uni. He was very good in all 3 zones and really sparked that 3rd line.
* RJ Umberger.. he is right up there with Williams. How good is this dude in front of the net? That redirect off Voracek's pass was a thing of beauty. What is the most underrated part of RJ's game is his outside speed with the puck.. he blew past the 'hawks D multiple times with that speed... and of course what a touch pass to Vermette at the end.
* Vermette comes though once again. 22+ minutes of ice time in all situations.. guy is really contributing... only flaw in this game for him was his performance in the circle.. only won 8 of 21 good for 38 percent.
* How about that Methot hip check!
* Voracek continues to perform well.. he grabbed an assist but could have had more.. he is really skating and see the ice well of late. Great signs.
* I LOVE to see guys like Dorsett get rewarded with goals. He played a good hard nosed north/south game.
* My buddy for hooking me up with a suite seat. We both agreed though that it's okay once in a while but we'd much rather be up or down in the thick of it with our CBJ brethren. Pretty good wings up there though..!
* "Jason" getting it done in section 121... and if you haven't seen the pic of he and the ref from the R Bar be sure to check the twitter on this blog titled "two for slashing".
* Chimmer and OKT making the rounds on the suite level and pausing for a quick pic. Thanks guys.
* It's a strange game this hockey.. Nash gets multiple breakaways and nothing... then throws a rainbow flutter from a ridiculous angle and it finds it's way in... solid game from the captain and a very timely goal.
* Game ops was a mixed bag. The music seemed a little better.. they played a video without sound which was a step in the right direction.. you knew it couldn't last though -- they were late on replays and then the dreaded video with sound reared its ugly head.
* Mase had his moments both good and bad. I think he'd like that 1st goal back but he made some game-saving stops in the 3rd to keep the Jackets in it..... The thing I love about him is he seems to make the big saves at the most critical stages of the game.
* Crowd was okay at 15k.. and those that were there were LOUD...but....we can do better Cbus!!
* Gave up that early first goal but love the way the Jackets responded just minutes later.
*Tyutin and Klesla. These guys were both brutal. Tyutin with 8 minutes alone in penalties -- that just can't happen. Klesla continues to bumble and stumble his way around the ice... although I give him credit for somehow moving that puck up to RJ that lead to the OT winner.
* It was pointed out to me (thx Kevin) that the refs are not listed in the game day programs. This was brought up b/c everyone wanted to know who those refs were who made some of those atrocious calls last night.
* No Vermette appearance on the 1st star of the game... got to think there was a communication mix up somewhere along the way there..... or *gasp* he got injured in the past game celebration..
* Waaaay too many penalties.
* Me for thinking the first goal that was scored would win this game. Happy to be dead wrong!
3 BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE NIGHT
1. Two points is two points.
2. Jason Williams... great all around effort.
3. RJ/Vermette - love the chemistry between these two and they are both piling up the points.
This win was key.
The obvious is that it keeps the Jackets solidly in 6th place in the West 4 points head of Nashville. It showed us again the Jackets ability to bounce back after a bad loss. It also matches a franchise record of 80 points set last season with 11 games still to go.
Next up are two important road games in Florida.
First is a date with the Panthers on Saturday (which yours truly will be attending!) and then a couple of days later its a matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Keep an eye on that Panthers game as they are also in a fight for their playoff lives as they currently sit 9th in the East just three points out 8th.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
97.1 The Fan is running a poll today about what you would like to see more:
1. OSU men in the sweet 16?
2. CBJ playoff appearance?
3. OSU women win the championship
Currently the Jackets are kicking some butt in the poll with 58% of the vote. Get on over there and cast your vote here if you haven't already!
Speaking of 97.1 the Fan. Alot more CBJ chatter these days.. especially on the Midday Show. I didn't get to listen today but apparently they were baggin on Backman, Klesla and Manny.
What does that tell me?
This tells me these guys are actually watching the games now. No more bland generalizations, no more "going through the motions" and treating it as a side show. The fact they are actually singling out players is a good thing (well except for those players) as they are paying attention and are taking it a little more seriously, they are breaking it down, perhaps some are finally seeing what makes this game so great... its what winning does and its great for the Jackets and its fans to rope more folks in for the ride.
Now that said, guys like Bruce Hooley on The Big Show still have a long way to go before I'll be convinced they give a hootey.
Couple of interviews for your listening/viewing pleasure:
Steve Mason interview on Toronto AM640.
Wall to wall behind the scenes with the CBJ coaches this past weekend.
Just got this text from Matt (a.k.a. "Jason"):
There are people down here literally camping out for tix tonight. I just saw an entire family sitting in lawn chairs waiting to grab Huntington green seats!
Oh yeah -- playoff fever baby!!!
Labels: 97.1 the fan
This game has "danger" written all over it.
The Blackhawks have lost 3 in a row, including dropping a 3-2 decision to Brodeur (congrats!) and the Devils last night, and are 3-6-1 in their past 10. Heck they have only won once in their past 6 games.
Their lead on 5th place Vancouver has all but evaporated. In terms of points they are both tied at 83... however, Chicago has 1 game at hand thus still remain in 4th place.
The Jackets are a team coming off a humbling loss to the Detroit Red Wings. They've had a couple days off to refocus and recharge. They've responded well this season to bad losses and they will need to duplicate that tonight.
I worry that they will not be prepared for what I think is going to be an extremely motivated 'hawks squad who is certainly viewing this game as a must win to get back on the playoff track.
KEYS TO LIGHTING EM UP
* It sounds easy and I know I'm be repetitve here but you cannot give this 'hawks teams multiple chances on the PP... its how they stayed in the game last time they've met and its certainly how they'll stay in this one if given the opportunity.
* Don't take half a period to find your legs. Be ready to take advantage of a squad that played last night and hit the ice ready to roll from the first whistle.
* I really believe this game is going to have a playoff like intensity. There is just so much riding on each of these games down the stretch-- especially when its division teams jockeying for playoff positions.
* Everyone needs to be sharper and tighter than they were in Detroit.
* Get that first goal!! A quick score would do a lot towards deciding this game.
* Thankfully Methot is back in the lineup. Hopefully that is the last we hear Backman's name in a Jackets' jersey.
* Chicago is dangerous from the points. Limit time and space. Take advantage of guys like Campell trying to jump into plays and get quick counters.
* Nash/Vermette/Huselius/Voracek/Umberger need to be > Kane/Toews/Havlat/Versteeg/Campbell
* Be the agressor and dictate the pace. A wide open game plays right into Chicago's strengths. The energy guys in Boll/Murray/Dorsett/Gratton need to win ever physical battle when they are on the ice.
* Mase has to be the Jackets ace.
* Now you didn't think I'd get through one of these without mentioning the PP did you?? We've all read this story cover to cover so I won't rehash.
For me whoever controls the early tempo is going to win this game. I'll be watching that closely.
I'll be honest. This game scares the crap out of me. The Blackhawks are primed for an explosion while the Jackets may be ripe for a slump.
If the Jackets can keep the game at their tempo and style I love their chances. If the 'hawks come out flying and open things up early it could be a long night.
My "Captain Obvious" statement of the day -- whatever the Jackets do, they cannot take this game lightly.
See at the R Bar!
What if they televised the games on the big screen outside the arena down the stretch as long as the games are sold out? Could you imagine how fun that scene could be?
What if we do make it in can we tailgate outside the arena? When, where and how do I make reservations? Or can I just show up, pay my $20 bucks and tailgate away?
What about replica Stanley Cups? One of the funnest traditions in all of playoff hockey is the construction of homemade cups. Have you started brainstorming how to build your own personal cup? Something I just read off a message board:
Be creative... lots of foil, cardboard and glue gun. Some people use bowls and a bucket botton. One guy at the "party in the plaza" today used a beer funnel as the top going through the stanley cup and you could funnel a beer...awesome! Google images of the cup and have fun!
A radio station needs to start a contest!What if we do make it and do face the Detroit Red Wings...no doubt I'll make every home game but how about every away game as well?
What will the atmosphere outside of the arena be like? I'm talkin beer gardens, I'm talkin games televised on the big screen with overflow crowds lighting up the Arena District, I'm talkin tailgates, I'm talkin live bands, I'm talkin a festive atmosphere, I'm talkin live Civil War fife.. the works baby! The plans need to start now if they haven't yet. This could be a heck of an opportunity for the AD both locally and nationally.
What if I can't get playoff tickets? That ain't happenin but the question still goes through my mind.
What will the cannon be like in the playoffs?
Will the arena staff allow flags into the stands... fans waiving flags adds so much to the atmosphere.. I really hope the powers to be let the fans show their fandom. Remember this is our home ice.
What will the R Bar have in store for us all? I think they'll need to expand their bar over to the building across the street to fit everyone in!
What if the Jackets don't make it? I don't even want to consider it.
That doesn't stop my mind from running wild during this stretch run!
Fire away - what is going through your minds as the Jackets play the most important games in their 8 year on-ice history?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Pretty quite on the Jackets front today so let's take a look at the West and see how things are shaping up.
Last night there was only 1 key Western Conference game as that was the Nashville Predators vs. L.A. Kings. As much as I want Nashville to go away they just won't. They won their second straight on the road knocking off those Kings 4-3.
Here are the current standings:
Which leads us to tonight. There are lots of key Western Conference games.
Let's start with the Jackets opponent tomorrow night in the Chicago Blackhawks.
* Blackhawks @ Devils - the 'hawks are struggling having gone just 3-6-1 in their past 10 games. Right now they are endanger of getting passed up by the Vancouver Canucks who sit just 2 points behind them in 5th spot - the 'hawks do have a game in hand however. They'll try to get back on track against New Jersey which is a place where the Devils have lost just 10 times (24-10-1) this season.
The Jackets do have the advantage of the Blackhawks playing a back to back tomorrow but make no mistake about it -- win or lose in NJ -- the Jackets will get the 'hawks best game come Wednesday night as they will be looking at that game not only as payback for the Jackets win at the United Center this past Friday but also as a must win to solidfy their playoff position and get back on track.... The Jackets will need to be at the top of their game.
Other games include:
* Avalanche @ Wild - the Avs could do the Jackets a big favor by winning this one as the Wild sit just 6 points behind the Jackets in 10th place with 72 points. The Avalanche are a non playoff factor sitting in 14th place with 63 points (insert Foote joke here). The bad news is that the Avs are doing their best Tavares tank job down the stretch as they've gone just 3-7 over their past 10.
* Blues @ Oilers - the Blues have 72 points and sit in 11th while the Oil are 9th with 73 points. The last thing the Jackets need is a 3 point game in this matchup.
* Stars @ Canucks - similar to the game above the last thing the Jackets need is a 3 point game. I think we want the Canucks to win here as IMO win, lose or draw (wait.. no more draws in the NHL) they will make the playoffs... the Stars are still hanging around in 8th place with 74 points and with a win could close the gap on the Jackets within 2 points.
With 12 games to go the Jackets schedule shapes up as the following:
vs. Conference: 10
vs. Division: 8
vs. East: 2
Back to backs remaining: 3
Projected point total to make playoffs: 90
Projected record of remaining games for Jackets to make playoffs: 6-6; 6-5-1, etc.
Bottom line is the Jackets have to keep winning...especially at home in this last half dozen games...and they are going to have to do it against teams directly in competition with them. Keep winning and the playoffs and positioning takes care of itself.
This race should make for some fantastic Jackets hockey down the stretch. The kind of hockey this market has never seen.
In the meantime we need to continue to pack Masonwide and support these guys! If you don't have your tickets, get out there and get em!!
Have a green beer today and GO JACKETS..... (and Devils/Canucks/Avs..and no 3 point games)!!
Labels: West watch
Monday, March 16, 2009
Step right up Jacket fans! The Jacket Backers have a couple of more road trips in the works -- the first one is off St. Louis on March 28th to battle the Blues:
ROAD TRIP! Blue Jackets in St. Louis
All 21+ Fans Are Invited to Join the Official Booster Club of the Columbus Blue Jackets
On their Road Trip to Cheer on the Jackets in St. Louis for only $285.00! (Members $260.00)
Departs early am March 28th –
Return trip departing early am March 29th in time for home back-to-back St. Louis game at 5 pm
ROAD TRIP INCLUDES:
- MOTORCOACH luxury round trip from Columbus to St. Louis
- EXCLUSIVE giveaways and raffle items – the chance to win a team-autographed sign limited to those on bus.
- HOTEL ROOM double-occupancy Suite at the Sheraton City Center Hotel & Suites
- NHL HOCKEY GAME TICKET Sat, Mar 28th at 8:30 pm
- EXCLUSIVE PREGAME PARTY one hour prior to game includes appetizers, draft beer, wine and soft drinks with personal bartender
Contact Anne and Jeff Little at email@example.com to reserve your seat! Also, please indicate who you will be sharing a room with. Single travelers may request to be matched with a roommate.
Hurry – only 30 seats available, buy yours today!
The Jacket Backers have reserved a block of 30 tickets for this game in Nashville. We have to act quickly to guarantee these tickets. The tickets will be in Club Section 223 in the Blue Jackets attack twice zone. This is a ticket only event and the tickets are $55 for members or $75 for non-members. We need at least 15 people to guarantee these prices. So sign up now by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Jacket Backers are certainly doing their part to organize and support this squad. If your interested be sure to contact them!!
You can see all of their events, past & present, over on their official site.