All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Faith

Check out the league's new commercial:



Looks like ole Nasher is finally becoming a poster boy for the NHL.

Thanks to Skraut over on HF for the pointer.

Kevin points us to FoxSports.com Central Division preview (via THN):

Columbus Blue Jackets
THN Prediction: Eighth

Key additions: Mathieu Garon, G; Sammy Pahlsson, C; Anton Stralman, D Key departures: Christian Backman, D; Manny Malhotra, C; Michael Peca, C; Jason Williams, RW

Like the 'Hawks, Columbus' batch of young potential that broke through to the playoffs last year epitomizes a division that is quickly becoming the league's toughest.

For Columbus to build on the franchise's first playoff appearance, rookie of the year Steve Mason has to play up to a level approaching what he accomplished last season. Although asking or expecting him to post another 10 shutouts is unfair, the Jackets were third best in shots-against last season and coach Ken Hitchcock is renowned for his defense-first mentality.

To take some of the pressure off Mason, the Jackets absolutely have to improve on the league's worst power play. Since they failed to add a reliable man-advantage quarterback, the responsibility falls on Rick Nash and the cast of 20-something offensive weapons the Blue Jackets will go to battle with up front.

The Western Conference has improved around them, with non-playoff teams Dallas, Edmonton and Los Angeles all expected to be better, so adding full seasons from Nikita Filatov and Derick Brassard to the already-talented mix should help keep the young franchise in the postseason.


Finally Craig points us to Puck-Daddy's preview of the Toronto Maple Leafs and specifially calls out this line:

Warranty Expires (Prediction): This is not a playoff team.

We all sort of want it to be, because you're lying to yourself if you pretend that a competitive Toronto club doesn't make the NHL a more interesting place. Add in the fact that they're a physical bunch, and they're on everyone's radar.

But the kids aren't old enough yet. The depth isn't there. There are too many parts moving right now on this roster. The X-Factor is Gustavsson, who could have the type of impact on the Leafs that, say, Steve Mason(notes) had on the Jackets last season. But Phil Kessel isn't Rick Nash(notes), and Grabovski and Matt Stajan(notes) (15-40-55) aren't Antoine Vermette(notes) and Kristian Huselius(notes).



-LTL

Stat of the day



Anton Stralman will be wearing the #5 this season.

*insert Backman jokes here*

Here are some Stralman stats from last season:

NHL games played: 38
Goals: 1
Assists: 12
Points: 13
+/-: -2
PIM: 20

Powerplay Points: 0
Shots: 43

Total time on ice: 591:35
Time on ice per avg game: 15:34
Short handed ice per avg game: 0:41
Powerplay ice per avg game: 2:38
Shifts per game: 21.2

Hits: 37
Blocks: 37
Missed shots: 25
Give aways: 16
Take aways: 11

Just to give you an idea how far down the depth chart Stralman was in Toronto the 5 defensemen in front of him (Kaberle, Finger, Schenn, White & Kubina) all played 1337 minutes or more. Stralman only played 591 minutes.

For the most part these stats can all be tossed out the window because I see him playing a much bigger role here. I think he'll see a lot more PP time but will be used sparingly on the PK. That should translate into many more shots and puts something other than a '0' next to that points on the powerplay category.

The best thing about these stats are they show he's had some good NHL experience under his belt so he should be able to "hit the ice skating" when he gets here.

-LTL

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This and that

Rick from The Hockey Writers has a great piece on our favorite hockey home away from home the R Bar. Check it out here.

ESPN ranks the Jackets 24th in their first power rankings of the season:

Hard to believe Steve Mason will be able to replicate his extraordinary rookie-season success. If he can't, there will be trouble aplenty in Columbus.

Burnside really has no clue outside of the big market teams does he? Pathetic. Thanks to Chris for the heads up.

Check out this Rick Nash "couch session" over on ESPN:



Check out "Hockey Night in Blogdom" for a look at all 30 NHL teams. You may recognize a contributor!

Nikita Filatov checks in at Hockey's Future #3 overall prospect behind John Tavares and Victor Hedman:

With an uncanny knack for the net, Filatov continues to be one of the NHL’s most exciting up and coming players. The quick Russian forward is a pure goal scorer and uses his world-class wrist shot to wreak havoc on opposition netminders. He is also known for having a great set of hands and the ability to use them at while at high speed. What makes Filatov ever more dangerous is his unselfish play. He is a strong passer and doesn’t hesitate to dish the puck off to his linemates. Despite his tremendous talent, Filatov still has things to work on. He will need to add muscle to his frame if he is to excel at the NHL level. Despite putting up respectable numbers as a rookie in the AHL, his inability to cope with the tougher North American game was at times evident. Filatov will get every opportunity to crack the opening-night roster.

NBC Sports previews all 30 NHL teams. They pick the Jackets to return to the post season:

Outlook: No longer the only NHL team never to make the playoffs, the Blue Jackets still remain the only NHL team never to win a playoff game. That should change this spring with the continued maturation of their young stars, especially Nash and Mason.

Prediction: 95 points (3rd in Central, 6th seed in West)

Actually that is not true as Atlanta has also never won a playoff game.

How about some Crunch news? From Lindsay Krymer's blog:

You want changes on the Syracuse Crunch defense?

Ya got em.

Out: Andrei Plekhanov. He was pulled off the ice during the morning skate on Tuesday and told he's being loaned to a team in Russia.

In: Dylan Reese. He was signed to a two-way deal on Tuesday.

In (or at least a little more in): David Liffiton. He, too, was inked to a two-way deal Tuesday.

Reese was packing up his car Tuesday and heading here from Pittsburgh. He should be here for tonight's exhibition vs. Roch, though obviously not playing.

"I was nervous the last couple of days, for sure,'' he said. "As the weekend approached, I didn't hear much. I thought it was a process that would be over in a couple of days. It took a week. I always believed Columbus' intentions were to add me. It was just a matter of finding room.''

Liffiton skated Tuesday morning. He had been here on an AHL pact.

"They (Columbus) said if I had a good camp, that's what I would be rewarded with,'' Liffiton said. "It's nice to have that and be in their system.''


Good to see Liffiton get a contract but it looks like Plekanov's time in the Columbus system may be coming to a close..

..but probably the biggest news of the blog (also on Puck-rakers) was the following:

Also, Columbus has returned promising forward Matt Calvert to his junior team in Brandon.

Still I don't understand why they don't sign him regardless of if he plays in Brandon or not.

Speaking of looks like about 40% of you were right on the poll! FTR I chose the junior route as well.

Finally a little Ohio State hockey news for ya. Junior John Albert has been named to the preseason all CCHA second team. Albert had a team high 28 assists last season.

..but where is my boy Dalpe?

-LTL

Season preview: Part 2 of 5

Part 1 - Management & Coaching
Part 2 - Offfense
Part 3 - Defense
Part 4 - Goaltending
Part 5 - Special Teams


Part 2
OFFENSE

Collectively the Columbus Blue Jackets finished 21st overall in the league in "goals for" with 221 with an average of 2.68 goals per game.

That we know was good enough to get them into playoffs. The question is will it be good enough to propel them into a the post-season for the 2nd year in a row?

Expectations for the 2009-2010 season:I think it's very important for this group to finsih at least in the middle of the pack for goals scored next season. While it would be nice, the Jackets can't expect Steve Mason and the defense to play as air tight and error free as they did last year - they need the goal support.

Middle of the pack last year was 238 goals. That is a very manageable 17 goal increase.

Rick Nash will once again be expected to "Carry The Flag" offensively but it will be the supporting cast and super soph's that will need to increase their output.

It's the young guys that will ultimately need to step up their offensive output if the Jackets hope to increase off last year's numbers. Guys like Brassard and Voracek will need to make substantial contributions on the score sheet. The Jackets will need more offensive productivity from Kris Russell on the backend. Derek Dorsett will be expected to chip in a few and then of course there is the wildcard in Nikita Filatov -- how quickly can he make the adjustment and hold down a regular shift and contribute steadily at this level?

The veterans will also be counted on to elevate their game. The Jackets will need a full year of production from Antoine Vermette with a goal of 50-60 points. Umberger will need to match or exceed his career high of 26 goals last season. A now adjusted Kristian Huselius will be counted on to build off his 56 point season.

The Jackets blueline combined to score just 26 goals last year. Tyutin led all dmen with 9 goals. That isn't good enough. The Jackets need more offensive production from this group. They need to be quicker and more concise in their puck movement and get more hard low shots through from the point. All of the good offensive teams in the NHL get solid offensive contributions from their blueline.

Let's take a look at some of the more prominant names that will be counted on for offensive production this season:

RICK NASH
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Nash had a career year last season notching 40g and 39a for 79 points. The Jackets have clearly hitched their wagons to the Nash-train and will expect him to build off those numbers. He will also be expected to continue to round out his 2-way game and leadership skills which have been nothing short of shape shifting since Hitch got a hold of him.

Prediction: 48-43-91

DERICK BRASSARD
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Brassard was well on his way to the Calder Trophy notching 25 points in 31 games until an ill-advised but ballsy fight against the Stars' James Neal ended his season. Brassard is at 100% health and will be expected to anchor and excel as the Jackets #1 center. If last year's glimpse and this year's pre-season performance are any idication, that won't be a problem. He has world class ability and the competitive level to match it. If Brass stays healthy (which is a legit concern) Nash could find himself with the first 50 goal season of his career.

Prediction: 25-49-74

KRISTIAN HUSELIUS
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Kristian Huselius was brought in to replace the production lost when the Jackets traded Nik Zherdev away. Although he didn't quite have the season we all had hoped he was productive notching 21g, 35a for 56 and was a +1 (if only he could have buried half of those shots he rang off posts). It took he and Nash a little while to click which shouldn't be a problem this season. I look for a more productive year out of "Juice" again playing on that top line again with Nash but with a much more skilled center in Derick Brassard.

Prediction: 28-41-68

RJ UMBERGER
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: RJ Umberger really struggled out of the gate as he tried to leave Philly behind and adjust to life as a Columbus Blue Jacket. Once he found that adjustment Umberger really came on strong notching a career high in goals at 26 and being the most productive goal scorer in their short playoff run. RJ has quickly become the "conscience" of this team and will relied on to be more productive out of the gate this year. He will continue to set up shot in front of the cage on the PP and will be counted on to shoulder some of the leadership void left from Peca and Malhotra's departure.

Prediction: 30-22-52

ANTOINE VERMETTE
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Antoine Vermette was a trade deadline acquisition for the Jackets as they made their first push into the playoffs. He was very valuable down the stretch notching 13 points in 17 games. That production and his value at center earned him a 5 year extension this offseason. Vermette's biggest knock is his inconsitancy which the Jackets hope won't be a problem now that he has a clearly defined role in the top 6 here. He will be expected to lockdown that 2nd line hole and be a consistant point producer in that role.

Prediction: 20-28-48

JAKUB VORACEK
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Another one of the Jackets impressive rookies from a year ago. Voracek came within one point of matching Rick Nash's rookie total of 39 points. He was snake bitten in the goal scoring department in the 2nd half (he scored just 9 goals all year) so the Jackets will expect more production in that area and generally expect him (and his hockey hair) to take the next step in his development into becoming one of the best 2-way players in that game today.

Prediction: 17-38-55

NIKITA FILATOV
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: After paying his dues in the American Hockey League this young Russian dynamo was named the best prospect not playing in the NHL by The Hockey News last season. Those kind of accolades put Nikita Filatov firmly on the Calder Watch lists of most experts in hockey circles. The #1 expection for Filatov is that he'll make the team. From there it's anyone's guess as to where he'll play and how often. He's shown some tremendous improvement late in camp which gives everyone cautious optimism. He's a goal scorer though so I expect him to be used that way and approach that 20 goal mark. Remember though he is just a rookie who will have his ups/downs this season.

Prediction: 19-14-33

SAMMY PAHLSSON
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Acquired as an unrestricted free agent Pahlsson was brought in to replace Manny Malhotra and be the Jackets "shut down center". He's had a quiet preseason but will be expected to log big minutes in key situations against the other team's top lines and to shut them down. Offensively he isn't going to give you as much as he should so for me, I expect to see that +/- in the positive direction at season's end. More importanly I expect to see the other team's top players pointless more often than not.

Prediction: 6-15-21

JASON CHIMERA
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Chimera was off to a career season last year playing along side Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek. Through 48 games Chimera notched 8g, 14a for 22 points in 48 games. Unfortunately Chimera suffered a groin injury in January and was never really able to recover. This year Chimera will first and foremost need to stay healthy. His speed is his biggest weapon which doesn't work if his groin remains injured. He will most likely play on a checking line with Pahlsson so a defensively responsible game is a must. It wouldn't hurt to come up with a new breakaway move or two and use that big body of his while he's at it as well.

Prediction: 14-14-28

FREDRIK MODIN
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Last season was an absolute disaster for Modin. In fact the last two seasons were disasters for him. At this stage I don't think there are much of any expectations for this player. The Jackets would just like to see him healthy and contributing. When he is healthy he can be an effective player with this big body, puck shielding ability and knack for dirty goals. Unfortunately it appears after a long NHL career his body is breaking down. If he does make it into the lineup he should join Pahlsson on that 3rd line and be a dependable 2-way player capable of contributing some offense.


Prediction: 13-10-23

RAFFI TORRES
Expectations for the 2009-2010 season: Torres struggled for the first half of last season (his first as a Jacket) as he battled to recover both physically and mentally from a devastating knee injury he suffered in the 2008 season. By mid season though Torres showed signs of the 27 goal form that made him so successful in the 05-06 season and scored 12 goals down the stretch - many of the game winning variety. The Jackets will obvioulsy hope that play continues. They will expect Torres to not only change the momentum of games with his goal scoring but also with his ability to connect on the big hit. He'll need to watch taking himself out of the play trying to make those hits however. Torres will most likely shuttle between the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines depending on health in the lineup.

Prediction: 19-13-32

THE REST: BOLL, DORSETT, BLUNDEN & MURRAY
These players will all be expected to fill roles as energy/agitating players.

Boll will look to improve off his 4g, 10a 180PIM season last year. He never really could find his groove after suffering an offseason "shinny" injury (still don't believe that one) after getting his clocked clean a bit due to an extremely unneccesary (thanks stripes) fight that he got into just days after re-entering the lineup. His role will be similar to year's past and that is to provide a mix of grit, character and to drop the gloves for his teammates. He will need to show that he is still able to keep up to the NHL pace.

Dorsett is a player who really found his way in the NHL last year and probably played his best when the games mattered the most and that was in the postseason. Dorsett has really carved out a niche for himself in this lineup and plays a very valuable role. He's got a motor that doesn't stop. He will be counted to do some of those things a Boll does but with superior hockey skills will be expected to add something offensively as well.

Murray is Mr. Reliable. Although he's nothing flashy you know what your going to get game in and game out with this guy. He doesn't add a lot offensivley but he battles hard in all areas and never takes a shift off. He is always working hard and bangin potting the occasional goal and that is exactly what will be expected of him this season.

Blunden was acquired in a trade for Adam Pineault last season. Blunden spent the rest of that season in Syracuse and has made the Jackets out of camp with a great preseason. Blunden is another player who will be expected to provide energy and sandpaper to the Jackets lineup. He's also shown some offensive ability which is something the Jackets could use at the lower end of their lineup.

Predictions:

Boll: 6-9-15
Dorsett: 6-12-18
Murray: 5-5-10
Blunden: 3-5-8

DEFENSE
While keeping goals out is the primary job of the defense the Jackets will also need offensive production for this group.

As perviously stated last year the Jackets D only managed to score a combined 26 goals. That isn't good enough and this group led by Tyutin, Russell and newly acquired Stralman will need more production in the goal secoring department.

Stalman gives them a much needed right hand shot that should open up a lot of options, especially in man advantage situations. All d-man need to work on their lateral movement to manufacture lanes to get pucks through from the point. They'll gotten better at those first passes out of the zone but more improvement is needed in the transition game.

-LTL

Roster questions *Updated*

*Update*
Picard and Roy have been put on waivers. It's a pretty safe bet both will clear, but someone might take a chance on Picard.



With Stralman added we finally know what our D will look like for the season and the goaltending situation was never in question, but what about the Forwards ?? Though choices still have to be made.
On D it's curious to see that Roy is still listed on the roster but one has to assume Method will get the nod over Roy (unless there is a trade on table for Method and Roy is the 7th Dman). I listed Nikita in the extra's because I am not quite sure where he will fit in but it's safe to assume he will have a roster spot. So that leaves Blunden, Picard and Murray. I assumed Murray is safe because Hitch loves his heavy game, so who should we keep Picard or Blunden ?? Or do you think we should cut/trade someone else.. let me know your vision of the future CBJ roster in the comment section. Furthermore what will happen when Modin returns to the roster, should we buy him out or squeeze him in??
Here is our current roster..enjoy


Steve Mason

Mathieu Garon







Mike Commodore Jan Hejda
Fedor Tyutin Anton Stralman
Kris Russell Rostislav Klesla "A"












Kristian Huselius Derick Brassard Rick Nash "C"
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Jakub Voracek
Raffi Torres Samuel Pahlsson Jason Chimera
Derek Dorsett Andrew Murray Jared Boll



Michael Blunden

Alexandre Picard

Nikita Filatov




Marc Methot

Mathieu Roy







LTIR

Fredrik Modin "A"




SYR/JR

Matthew Calvert




Monday, September 28, 2009

Howson shoots... he scores!!


As you've probably heard by now Howson dealt a 2010 3rd rounder for 23 year old defensemen Anton Stralman.

So much for Babchuk or Van Ryn eh? Hey I can certainly live with this option.

Stralman is a 6-1 200lb right handed shooting defensemen. Forecaster's take:

ASSETS: Has plenty of puck poise and on-ice maturity. Owns a projectable frame and offensive upside. Is good on the power play point due to a hard shot.
FLAWS: Needs to add more bulk in order to better defend against big forwards in North America. Must adjust quickly to the faster pace of the NHL, and avoid big hits.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top four defenseman.


Strahlman has played parts of two NHL seasons with Toronto totaling 4g, 18a for 22 points and a -12 in 88 games.

He was drafted in the 7th round by the Leafs out of Sweden in 2005.

I really like this move by Howson. Sure he's not the seasoned NHL d-man we would all hoped for but that ship sailed when ownership wouldn't poney up the dough for Erhoff.

So now on to plan B. B as in "Bargain Bin".

Clearly ownership wouldn't anty up for a seasoned d-man so Howson had to bide his time. No doubt they have been closely monitoring every NHL team's depth chart to see who may come available at an affordable price as camp winded down and rosters had to be trimmed.

Calgary, with their glut of d-men on 1-way contracts, had to make a move and they deemed Stralman expendable. They didn't want to lose him for nothing via the wavier wire so they make a deal with Howson.

So Howson pounces and gives up a 3rd rounder. Certainly a fair price for what Stralman brings today but more importanly what his potential could be in the future. He only makes $731,666 before becoming an RFA after this season. A number that fits into the Jackets budget.

The thing I like most about Stralman is the guy has upside. He's got some NHL experience so he won't be a fish out of water out there and he's got a skill set this team can desperately use.

Don't believe me - check this out:



The thing I love about Howson is he identifies something we need and he doesn't waiver until he addresses that specific need.


One thing I do know and that is he's a helluva lot better option than Martin Skoula. Skoula would have just been an NHL body the Jackets could lean on for depth. With Stralman the Jackets still get that depth but they get a player that could also blossom into a dymanic offensive defensemen they desperately need as early as this season.

..and by all accounts from Calgary fans, Stalman's had a great training camp.

He's certainly not perfect - especially in his own end - but that's the beauty of having a coach like Ken Hitchcock. Hitch knows how to get the most of his players and protect them in the lineup until they are ready.

I hope Stralman embraces this trade because he's going to get a helluva an opportunity here. That right handed shot alone gives him a leg up on the competition. By all accounts he can launch bombs for the blueline as well. When he's in the lineup he should get loads of PP time

This move also puts the heat on the top 6.. especially on a guy like Russell. Competition is healthy and should only raise everybody's level of play.

It wouldn't surprise if there isn't another move around the corner as the Jackets still have a traffic jam at wing.

Can't wait to see where Stalman fits in and if he can help ease our concerns about puck moving right handed shooting dman. His skill set certainly lends itself to fill those needs.

Something else interesting to note is that this is the 2nd deal Howson has made with Calgary with both deals poaching on Calgary's depth. Remember he sent a 4th round pick to Calgary at the deadline for goaltender Lalande.

I'll leave you with this Stalman clip:



-LTL

Dispatch is reporting

The Blue Jackets have made seven roster cuts today.

C Derek MacKenzie and D Jonathan Sigalet have been placed on waivers as of noon today. If they aren't claimed by noon Tuesday, both players will be sent to minor-league Syracuse.

D Grant Clitsome, D Nick Holden, LW Tom Sestito and RW Maksim Mayorov have been sent to Syracuse, while D John Moore was sent back to his junior club, Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.

By sending Clitsome to the minors, the Blue Jackets have two options for a No. 7 defenseman -- sign Martin Skoula to a contract, or swing a trade. The former seems more likely than the latter, although the Blue Jackets have made a trade offer, and they're waiting to hear back from the other club.

GM Scott Howson said he expects to contact Skoula's agent, Jiri Crha, to talk about "their plans" later today.

-- Aaron Portzline
aportzline@dispatch.com
twitter: @aportzline


Let the speculation begin !!!!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Whelp... at least no one got hurt...


THUD!

That is the sound of the Jackets preseason concluding last night with a 4-2 loss to Vader.

Hey.. the good news is no one got hurt right?

Like every game.. win or loose.. there were some good things and not so good things.

STOPLIGHT GAME REVIEW
vs. Nashville
09.27.09
Preds 4 Jackets 3


GREEN
* The thing I was most impressed with last night was the Jackets ability to gain the zone on the PP consistently. Derick Brassard in particular is doing a wonderful job so far of making good decisions to find the open man and/or carrying the puck in under control. The powerplay as a whole last night looked very good in terms of possession, control and creating opportunities - let's hope that continues into the regular season (fingers fully crossed).

* Compared to previous viewings I thought Nikita Filatov played an outstanding game. He was hound dog on the puck and was using his speed and puck control to create opportunities for himself and his teammates. How about that one timer for the Jackets first goal? How many Jacket forwards can do that? That is a very valuable skill that the Jackets have lacked. I hope they set him up right there on future 5 on 3s - especially if they never find that puck moving one timing d-man.

* The Jackets were credited with 33 hits compared to the Preds 16 but I think there may have been a bit of homerism in those stas.. I mean Filatov with 4 hits..? Really?

* In preseason terms I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd of 13k+...

* I thought Methot and Kelsla played some good in your face physical games.

* Ellis was really solid in net for the Preds. He did a nice job tracking pucks through traffic and not giving up on plays.

* No injuries!!

YELLOW
* I watched Martin Skoula as closely as I could and I'll I can say is ho-hum. He had his moments both good and bad. His game definitely reminds me of Backman but keep in mind Backman was getting paid 3+ mil and was expected to play in the top 6 and be a powerplay quarterback -- of course he was none of that. If Skoula is signed it will be as a 7th dman with the expectations of being a seasoned NHL body the Jackets can lean on when the inevitable injuries pile up which is a completely different set of expectations compared to Backman. I think Clitsome is the better option but I also don't want him rotting in a press box when he should be playing and developing. Let a guy like Skoula (or someone line him) who you don't care about his development fill that role.

* Vermette's game was like a finger painting.. kind of all over the place. He'd have some nice plays and then flub pass or turn it over. He was awesome in the circle again though winning 72% of his draws.

* Brass was good but was kicking himself for not converting on some of those glorious opportunities. Liked him on the backcheck and loved him on the PP point.

* First time I've seen Tyutin... definitely had some rust.

* Nash had his moments but he's got a lot more gears we know that he can get too.

* Boys were getting a little too pass happy at times... if you have the lane with some traffic in front don't get cute and fire the biscuit.

* The Jackets outshot the Preds and had a lot of opportunities which is a good -- however they failed to convert on many of those which is bad.

* The Preds didn't have a lot of chances but the ones they had they seemed to convert on. I'd like to watch the goals again but seeing them live I can't remember thinkin "Damn Mase.. you should have had that one".. I'm sure there is one or two he would like another shot at. He also had a nice stop on a shorthanded breakaway.

* Game Ops was okay again.. I really liked some of the highlight vids -- especially the "hits" montage... I didn't see any Will Farell vids which is always a plus. I still think we need more replays -- for instance when there are breaks in the play and all I see on the jumbotron is a spinning Jackets logo I think, why not show some replays now? Music was good although they still need to work on their timing and selections to get the crowd rollin. It's getting there but still some work to be done.

* I liked the fourth line of Boll-McKenzie-Picard again. They had one very dominating shift in particular. Whenever they were out it just seemed like the pace of the game and emotion from the Jackets went to a new level. How about the play where Picard beat his man on the outside and took the puck straight to the paint -- that is yet another sign that Pic isn't afraid of the dirty areas of the ice -- love to see it!!

RED
* Gotta agree with Hitch that the veterans just don't see to have "it" yet. Yes its preseason and yes these are vets who you hope know how to crank it up a few notches when the games count but the danger is what if they don't? Last thing the Jackets need are for bad habits to carry over b/c that can equal a slow start and those are hard to recover from in this league.

* Raffi Torres' turnover on that first goal.. that is the kind of play Hitch is referring too when he said he's going to turn up the temperature on the veterans.

* Sammy Pahlsson... He's supposed to shut down the other team's top players right? Maybe I'm missign something or its just that preseason going through the motions thing but I haven't been particularly impressed with anything he's done yet. He was more physical that I have seen him to date (he had 4 hits).

* The PK allowed 3 powerplay goals.. that bird ain't gonna fly.

3 BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE NIGHT
1. No injuries
2. Filatov taking steps
3. Powerplay has some pop

Fire away - who/what did you like/dislike last night?

-LTL

One last chance

Just a quick post as I'm gearing up to head on down to the arena.

It's the final game of the presason (finally!) and the final chance for some players to make that last push to secure a spot in this lineup.

Here are the bubble guys expected to play tonight:

Alexandre Picard - he's had a solid camp. His motor has probably run the highest of any Jacket not name Dorsett and he has a couple of helpers. The thing is is that he's noticeable everytime he's on the ice and that is what you want out of your energy players.

Derek MacKenzie - you know what you get out of this 27 year center and that is a solid effort every single shift and a dependable 2-way game. He's one of those "tweeners" who just doesn't have that little extra to push him into an NHL lineup full time. That said MacKenzie has had a great camp notching a couple of goals and he'll get one final chance to make an impression tonight. Regardless of the outcome he's only an injury or two away from the NHL.

Nikita Filatov - lot's of chatter about folks not being happy with his preseason. I've even read some folks already wanting to trade him and to that I say patience grasshoppers. Nobody is untradeable but we have to give this 19 year old some time to adjust here.

For me I think the kid is trying a little too hard to be what Hitch wants which is hurting his game and confidence. This guy will never be a banger or gritty type player - that isn't his game. Think Paul Kariya when you think Filatov. He does need to be responsible defensively and positionally sound however but players like this also need room to be creative. I have a long leash for Filatov and am lookin forward to seeing if he can build off, from what Hitch has said, was his best game last night.

Jared Boll - judging by the poll a lot of people think his spot is in jeopardy. I'm not one of those. This team needs a mix of skill, grit and character. Boll does a necessary job in this league that a lot of players quite frankly won't do. Yes Dorsett adds some of that game but DD isn't enough. Look for Boll and Dorsett to bookend that 4th line and I'd like to see Boll end this preseason with a solid outing.

Mathieu Roy - he's been gritty... real gritty. I don't have a whole lot to say abbot Roy b/c I have yet to see him live in a preseason game. He has racked up the PIMs and I expect a physical game out of him for this one. I don't think Roy has hurt himself in this preseason and is another guy who could quickly see time when injuries stack up on that blueline.

Martin Skoula - he's probably got more riding on this game that anyone. He did play last night for the first time as a Jacket and Hitch called him a "methodical, smart player." Whatever that means.

He's at a bit of an unfair advantage in that he's got a real short window to prove his worth which is why this game is so important for him. I'll be watching him closely.

Also interesting to note who is not in the lineup:

Matt Calvert - a tremendous camp all the way around for this 20 year old winger. I'm a little confused as to why this guy isn't signed to an entry level contract yet. Signing a contract doesn't change any of his options (i.e. AHL or Junior) so what's the holdup? Money is the only reason.

Grant Clitsome - has shown that he's on the cusp. He had a solid preseason and made a damn good case for that 7th spot. If I'm him I'm watching Skoula as closely as anyone as barring a trade next week he's the only thing standing in the way of him making this team.

John Moore - a little surprised he isn't playing but then I think that this is the final "dress rehearsal" for the Jackets regulars and it makes sense. Moore had a whale of a preseason and is further ahead than anyone could have anticipated. He'll be returned to junior but being a full time NHLer this time next year is very real possibility. He'll need to take confidence he's gained here and build off it in junior.

Mike Blunden - going to be real hard to keep him off the squad but unless injuries pile up or trades are made who could be a victim of the waiver wire. He made a great case for himself this preseason both as a wing and as a center. A little surprised he's not getting one last look which could mean he's already got a spot sewn thus they are using it to evaluate other "bubble" guys.

If you really want to go conspiracy maybe he's on the block and they don't want him hurt. That is really reachin though.

Interesing to note that Nashville has only played in 5 preseason games and have gone 3-2 notching 18 goals for and 14 against.

The Jackets on the other hand have played 7 games and went 4-2-1 including 4 straight wins. They have scored a whopping 26 goals for and gave up 20 against.

Let's see if the Jackets can make it 5 in a row and really roll into the first regular season game!

See at the rink!

GO JACKETS!

-LTL

Saturday, September 26, 2009

R Bar to show Jackets game tonight!


For those lookin for a place to watch the game tonight -- the R Bar has NESN (New England Sports Network) and will be showing the Jackets game live tonight!

There is a slight chance the game could be blacked out but if so the R Bar will do everything they can to stream the game live to one of their big screens.

For Jacket fans there is nothing like having a real hockey bar in town!

Go R Bar and GO JACKETS!

-LTL

Stat of the day and more!

Here are some preseason stats for ya from NHL.com:

POINTS
NAME GP G A PTS
Comrie, Mike, Edm. 4 1 7 8
Fisher, Mike, Ott. 3 4 3 7
Glencross, Curtis, Cgy. 4 4 3 7
Jokinen, Olli, Cgy. 4 4 3 7
Brassard, Derick, ClBJ 4 2 4 6
Eriksson, Loui, Dal. 4 4 2 6
Gilbert, Tom, Edm. 4 2 4 6
O'Sullivan, Patrick, Edm. 4 4 2 6
Richards, Brad, Dal. 4 1 5 6
Voracek, Jakub, ClBJ 5 3 3 6

PENALTY MINUTES
NAME GP PIM

*Haley, Michael, NYI 4 51
*Neilson, Eric, Mtl. 3 46
Carcillo, Daniel, Phi. 4 43
*Keefe, Adam, Fla. 4 36
Dorsett, Derek, ClBJ 4 35
Ivanans, Raitis, L.A. 5 34
Janssen, Cam, St.L 3 34
Lessard, Francis, Pho. 2 30
Neil, Chris, Ott. 3 29
*Westgarth, Kevin, L.A. 3 28

SHORTHANDED GOALS
NAME GP G

*Anisimov, Artem, NYR 1 1
Backes, David, St.L 1 1
*Bozak, Tyler, Tor. 1 1
Dvorak, Radek, Fla. 1 1
Gaborik, Marian, NYR 1 1
Glencross, Curtis, Cgy. 1 1
Gomez, Scott, Mtl. 1 1
Johnson, Jack, L.A. 1 1
Kobasew, Chuck, Bos. 1 1
Kovalev, Alexei, Ott. 1 1
*Lewis, Trevor, L.A. 1 1
*Moore, Greg, NYI 1 1
Simmonds, Wayne, L.A. 1 1
Sutter, Brandon, Car. 1 1
Vermette, Antoine, ClBJ 1 1
Voracek, Jakub, ClBJ 1 1
Wisniewski, James, Ana. 1 1


Rick Nash was interviewed by Doug MacLean on the Fan 590 yesterday. You can listen to that interview here. Thanks to Nick for the heads up!

Have you seen this one yet?



-LTL

Randy Jones?

According to Delcotimes the Flyers are expected to release veteran defenseman Randy Jones today, according to a team source.

Jones is a four-year veteran who has been one of the team's rocks on the blue line. The 6-foot, 2-inch Jones played in 47 games for the Flyers last year. He tallied four goals and four assists and racked up22 penalty minutes. In his NHL career, he has 13 goals and 56 assists.

The source indicated the team was looking to clear space under the NHL salary cap. Jones is scheduled to count $2.75 million against the cap this year.

If Jones clears waivers, he likely will be assigned to the Phantoms, but he could be claimed by another team


We know the Jackets can't afford that 2.75 million hit but say he clears waivers on the way down... would the Jackets claim him at 50% of his salary if he were to be recalled?

The book on Jones according to Forecaster:

ASSETS: Has good size and solid puck-moving skills. Is capable of logging important minutes and will play the body. Can also chip in with some offense.
FLAWS: Is extremely inconsistent in the hitting department and could stand to play a more physical game. Must tighten up his defensive-zone coverage.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top six defenseman.


He didn't have a great year last year but put up 31 points the previous season. Hitch also has some experience with Jones.

At this point I'm keeping all options open.

John Moore's play is starting to make some waves throughout hockey circles which is evident by this article from Faceoff.com:

In the end, expect Jackets GM Scott Howson to proceed with caution with regards to Moore's development. After all, the club has been accused in the past of keeping top draft picks with the big club before they were ready for the rigors of the NHL. That said, Moore's performance this pre-season has given Columbus management plenty to think about leading up to the season opener against Minnesota on October 3.

Game 7 of 8 in the preseason tonight @ Boston. I'll start doing the Game Boxes more regularly once the season starts.

The Jackets have yet to win a preseason game on the road and tonight will mark Martin Skoula's debut in a Jackets uni as he looks to make a push for the big squad.

Nick points out that if you have Direct TV and you have the sports pack you can watch the Jackets take on the Bruins tonight!

..but wait a sec... teams actually televise preseason games? Who knew!

I'll check in with Mike from the R Bar today to see if they get NESN and report back.

-LTL

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jackets vs. Pens vids

More vids courtesy of CBJ vid maestro himself - David:

Liffitin vs Engelland


Dorsett vs McKee


Roy vs Rupp


Brass goal


Blunden goal


Roy vs Bissonnette


Thank gawd for David... without him I don't think we'd see any highlights from this pre-season!

How can you not love Dorsett? Great to see Roy sticking his nose in there and taking care of some of the dirty work as well.

I don't think anyone in union blue is going to forget Kennedy going after an 18 year at the end of October.

-LTL

Stat of the day



I found it interesting that Grant Clitsome led all Jackets in ice time last night with 24:36 of playing time.

Broken down:

PP: 5:03
SH: 5:06
EV: 14:27

I know the Jackets were thin on D but still those are some impressive minutes in all situations for him.

He also finished with 1 helper and a +2.

Grant was my horse in the previous poll about outside shots to make the squad. Skoula could change things for him in a hurry however.

-LTL

CBJ vs. Pens - open post


I was not able to attend last night so I wanted to open a post up to get some thoughts from the folks that were able to see the game it.

I was able to listen to most of it online and of course have checked the stat sheet - which of course never tells the whole story.

Lots of names on the scoresheet with Nash, Brass and Voracek leading the way.

Also seemed to be a very physical affair with the Pens gooning it up at the end with Dorsett and Roy each answering the bell with two fights a piece.

By all accounts Mase was solid and Filatov was pretty invisible.

Fire away - let's hear your Green/Yellow/Red lights! How was game ops?

-LTL

Thursday, September 24, 2009

John Moore


I know LTL will have more analysis on the game with the Pens, but I wanted to take a moment to share my views on John Moore.

First, let me say that this was probably not his best preseason showing. He did not record a point, and did not have any of the beautiful feeds that we have seen in the past few nights.

With that being said, the kid was one of, if not the best defender on the ice. Age and experience be damned, I couldn't help but think of another young American flying up the ice every time I saw #49 (wow, that's not Dan Fritsche anymore?!) moving the puck out of the zone... Brian Leetch.

Not lets not get ahead of ourselves. If this kid has 1/3 of the points that Brian had at the end of his career (1,028), he'll have become the greatest offensive defenseman in the history of the franchise and will be a perenial All-Star. Similarly, he has only played in 1 short series of preseason games.

But take a look at this simple evaluation and guess who this is:

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185
Shoots: L


ASSETS:
Has extraordinary vision from the back end, makes perfect passes out of his zone and can still act as a fourth forward on the attack. A fast learner and as always shown maturity beyond his years.

FLAWS: Has been prone to mental mistakes over the years, due to fatigue from logging too much ice time. Gets caught out of position frequently. Over aggressiveness in both ends has lead to increased fatigue at the end of seasons.
A pretty dead on evaluation from what we have heard about John Moore, right?

That is actually Brian Leetch's last scouting report from his final season in the NHL, '05-'06 (according to a Toronto newspaper website).

The young 6'2", 189lb. American dropped 'em tonight for the first time and held his own. He moved the puck out of the zone with flair and precision (most of the time). He was exciting at times, and impressively professional in his ability to clear the puck with aptitude that has been so rare on our blueline.

John Moore will not (okay, we're all 99% sure he will not) be in the NHL this year. But he will be next year. I can't wait...

And don't forget, Brian Leetch didn't crack the NHL fulltime until he was 20, either.

This and that

Saw this over on HF.

The following is an excerpt from Gare Joyce's excellent book Future Greats and Heartbreaks, and shows an interview between then-Columbus Blue Jackets G.M. Doug MacLean, executives Jim Clark and Don Boyd and prospect Phil Kessel.

Kessel's voice goes down to a whisper. "I'd say okay... yeah, a little bit... some of that stuff... it's a little hard... work on some of that stuff, I guess."

"It's over soon after that. Kessel looks a little disheartened as he leaves the suite. He doesn't see that the Blue Jackets were actually trying to make him feel comfortable, to put his "issues" in a soft focus. He doesn't see that Columbus will almost certainly take him at No. 6 if he falls there. MacLean appears to feel sorry for him. "If what they're saying about this kid isn't true, it's criminal," MacLean says. "Because I don't know if I've ever heard the negative stuff like I have with this kid."

"It would be a tragedy," Boyd says.

Check out more of the interview here.

An old friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this book a few years back. A great read for those that are fascinated with this stuff.

If you recall the Bruins gobbled up Kessel at #5 which left the Jackets with one Derick Brassard. I think things worked out just fine for the CBJ.

ESPN has their Jackets preview up which can be found here.

"It was important. I didn't want to negotiate at all during the season, for it to be a distraction," Nash said. "Unrestricted free agency is pretty appetizing, especially when you hear from some of the teams, what they're looking for, what they want.

"At the end of the day, I weighed my options from both sides and Columbus was just the right fit. I feel like I had an obligation in Columbus as the captain, and I love it. I love the pressure, love the city, love the fans, love the ownership. I'm 110 percent behind the decision."

Of course Burnside then predicts the Jackets to miss the playoffs this season:

Sorry, Buckeye State residents. The playoff train stops at just one station as the Blue Jackets become victims to post-playoff letdown and slide back to the bottom of the ultracompetitive Central Division and out of the playoff picture.

Fox Sports Ohio apparently will be broadcasting 50 of their 75 games in HD.

Look 50 games is better than nothing but at this point there is no excuse that all of these games aren't broadcast in high definition. Fox Sports will roll out the excuse that they don't have enough HD trucks and to that I say -- buy more!

When the Jackets TV contract comes up for renewal I hope they make it mandatory for whomever lands it that all games are covered in HD.

Thanks to Jeff for the heads up on ESPN preview and HD news.

-LTL

Traffic Jam at Forward..


Now with the start of the season within sight I think we should open a discussion about the traffic jam at forward. I believe everyone is in agreement on the following 2 lines...


Nash - Brassard -- Huselius
Umberger -- Vermette -- Voracek

The third and fourth lines is where it becomes interesting.. Pahlsson is a lock for 3rd line Center, but now the choices have to be made... 5 spots remaining and the following players battling for positions.

Chimera, Torres and Modin are proven NHL veterans with salaries/contracts attached so we could for the sake of simplicity pencil them in on the third line.. (Modin on the LTIR, I really love Torres (timelely goals/big hits, but a so-so injury history) and I believe Chimera will be trade bait and his days with the CBJ are numbered, as are Modin's)

That leaves 3 spots on the fourth line:

Filatov, Murray, Dorsett, Boll, Picard, Blunden, MacKenzie and Calvert are battling for a spot.


I will break them down one by one:


Filatov
Nobody doubts his skill set but he's been inconsistent. Furthermore showing up as the last member for camp and the KHL comments don't help. So far I have been a bit disappointed with his up and down play, it almost appears he showed up knowing he had a spot on the big club reserved for him. Is he becoming Zherdev Jr ?? Furthermore Hitch doesn't appear to be that impressed with his play so far.

Murray
Heavy, dependable and will get the job done with a very low defensive risk factor. However virtually no offensive upside.

Dorsett
Scrappy, competitive and not afraid to take on guys twice his twice. I really like his scrappy game and he has shown to have a little bit of an offensive upside.

Boll
Dorsett in my opinion has surpassed Boll as of late. It appears Boll has never been the same since that fight early last year.In fact I think he has plateau and is now on somewhat of a slow decline. I hate to say this but I think the competition is starting to pass Boll by.

Picard
Scrappy, irritating and now a proven offensive upside in the AHL. He has taken his game to the next level and I believe with his offensive touch he could be a solid 4th liner for the Jackets. Also being given a 1 year extension should help Picard's desire to excel.

Blunden
Good combination of skill set and grit, furthermore he's a center. This kid could have a good shot a the 4th line center slot if he proves his defensive worth.

MacKenzie
The always safe AHL veteran who in my opinion is just a bit better then the AHL but doesn't have
enough to stick in the NHL..

Calvert
Future NHL-er in my opinion but still needs a few more years of seasoning to make the big club.. 2 years should be about right..


Who would you pick ?? Let the discussion begin in the comment section.. because personally I can't make a choice. (for the first time in CBJ history)

Another option


Puck-rakers has just posted the following:

The Dispatch has learned that defenseman Martin Skoula has signed a tryout agreement with the Blue Jackets.

Skoula, 29, is a big man (6-3, 225) who plays like a smaller man. He possesses decent offensive skill, but had a hard last few seasons with the Minnesota Wild. Skoula was in camp with Florida on a tryout agreement, but was released from that deal recently when the Panthers signed Dennis Seidenberg.

Forecaster's take on Skoula:

ASSETS: Is a solid two-way defenseman with excellent offensive potential. Owns a very projectable frame.
FLAWS: Still gets himself caught out of position too often, or makes the wrong play at the wrong time. Needs to use better judgment in the defensive zone and boost his production level.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top four defenseman.


He also shoots left.

He also rang up 4g, 12a and a -12 in 81 games for the Wild last season. His career high in points came back in the 2001-2002 season when he posted 31 points with the Avalanche. The last four seasons however he has failed to crack that 20 point barrier.

My reaction? Well if nothing else it's another option.

Clearly Howson and Hitch remain concerned about our blueline and are staying active out there. This also tells me that after two weeks of camp nobody within the system has really jumped out and grabbed a spot.

While Skoula is certainly not the answer to our puck moving problem he would provide depth as an legit NHL body which is a plus.

For Skoula he has a real shot comin here. He's got 9 seasons worth of NHL experience behind him and a bunch of injuries already piling up on the Jackets blueline working in his favor.

That -12 and -16 in the defensive responsible Wild system is a huge red light however. Skoula will need to show quickly he can be responsible in his own end if he hopes to get a contract offer.

He certainly won't want to repeat this performance:



Not sure what his chances will be coming into camp this late in the game and if he were to get offered a contract no doubt it would be a 1 year deal under the 1 mil dollar range.

This is a classic low risk high reward Howson move. We'll see where it goes.

Thanks to Max for the heads up on the news!

Fire away - thoughts on Skoula?

-LTL

Sestito



What else can you say besides glad the big guy is alright as that was just vicious lookin.

..and as a reader pointed out in a previous post here is a article from CNNSI.com about it.

-LTL