Thursday, March 31, 2011

Game 77/Washington: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets took their show on the road to the Verizon Center in Washington...taking the Eastern Conference's second best team, the Washington Capitals, to overtime before succumbing, 4-3.

With this loss, the Columbus Blue Jackets are eliminated from 2011 Stanley Cup playoff contention.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


"A source on Tuesday told The Dispatch that the Blue Jackets -- fed up with losing and frustrated by yet another season out of the playoffs -- are planning to take a hard look at all aspects of the organization this off-season. Majority owner John P. McConnell confirmed as much to the Dispatch today..."
I cannot properly express how pleased I am about this development.

Sure, the Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on their second-best record ever, but that means that (having only gone to the playoffs once in ten years) that they have nine years of sub-standard performance against which to compare. After the team gave up on Ken Hitchcock, I said that the sub-playoff year of '09-10 had to happen. But implicit in that acceptance was a quick turnaround in '10-11, one that would take this young, talented core to the playoffs. It didn't happen. In fact, the team double-dipped back into the suck.

As a ticket-holder, as a loyal fan, I'm angry about how this season has gone. There is no worthy excuse for this season. The CBJ didn't lose Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger for half the season (a la playoff-qualifying Pittsburgh losing Crosby and Malkin for half the season).  There were no roster-crippling injuries - remember, they won quite a few games without Kristian Huselius.  There were no lengthy suspensions.  No, this team lost it the old-fashioned way...players, coaches and management together.  Guess what self-defeating behavior gets you?  Defeats.  And the CBJ had way too many of them this year.

Now, learning that McConnell is going on record to say that he wants the mess straightened out...that gives me a measure of hope.  That's something I haven't felt with this team since... oh... probably November.

[UPDATE: The full story, with a number of quotes from McConnell, is here.  Bring. It. On.]

Game 76/Florida: My Take

The host Columbus Blue Jackets bested the Florida Panthers, 3-2, in a shootout at Nationwide Arena.

Like so much in this "dead man walking" period of the season, there are two very distinct perspectives that one can take on this game.  I'll try to be fair to both.

Let's start with the negative.  Florida is the number 14 team in the woeful Eastern Conference.  They have a whopping 70 points after picking up the loser point last night.  This was not a good team, and the CBJ should have beaten them.  Thank God that they did.

But enough of that.  Everyone wants to hear good things about their favorite team, and there actually are a couple good things to report out of the game.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Off Season Cometh

A Hockey Junkie Stares Down Summer

Like many of you, I feel this has been a disappointing season.  The marathon of the NHL regular season started out with a brisk pace over the first few miles for the Columbus Blue Jackets, only to hit the wall at the one third point in the season.  The following slog to the finish line had many high points, and many low points.  We will take the off season to dissect a lot of those things, so no need to dive in now.  Better to look at those in the bright light of summer, when frustrations can be channeled in more concrete directions, such as the erratic flight of small white balls.

But with 7 games left in the season, I for one will take the time to enjoy them for what they are.  A hockey game is a good time.  We are blessed to have the opportunity to see hockey played at the highest level in the world.  And, on occasion, the home team holds up its end of the bargain.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Game 75/Vancouver: My Take

The host Columbus Blue Jackets avoided being the first team since the 1972-73 NHL season to endure three straight shutout losses at home by losing, 3-1, to the Vancouver Canucks at Nationwide Arena.

The tone for the late afternoon game was set in the pregame, where Fox Sports Ohio spent the first five minutes of their 30-minute show outlining how absolutely incredible the NHL standings point leaders were, including an interview of former Vancouver farm team coach Arniel on the awesomeness that is the Canucks.

The feelings of dread came early, and rightfully so.

Game 75/ Vancouver: Gallos' Take

So What DO Luke Richardson and Wade Redden Have to do With This??

Vancouver did not really come out and play hard against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.  They didn't really have to.  Realistically, I thought our boys gave it the old college try.  It was not one of those games where the effort was not there.  The CBJ skated hard, and crashed the net.  And every time they crashed the net, a Vancouver defender had their stick tied up or simply knocked them down.  I swear RJ shot the one goal through the pipe.  I was sitting up high on the side where he scored.  I've never heard a pipe so loud.

What we saw was a very balanced team, good on offense, good on defense, preparing itself to run for the cup.  Good luck to Vancouver.  They definitely have a shot.  On our side, there was a big contrast.  We do not have a balanced team.  Our forwards are ok, but they are not supported by adequate D.  The D can't jump up in the offensive zone because they are vulnerable to the breakaway.  When they do shoot from the point, it is usually blocked.  Vancouver blocked a lot of shots, because no one has a shot you are afraid to block.  A baseball analogy might be having a bullpen full of knuckle-ballers and junk ball artists.  After awhile the hitters start standing in and ripping away, because you won't get hurt if you get hit. 

The impact of this (back to hockey), is that the puck is unable to penetrate to where our forwards are, down low trying to generate offensive pressure.  The puck stays high in the O-zone, and forwards have to come out to retrieve it.  Once the puck does go through to the net, there is no support on the shot in the crease to pick up the rebounds. This is because the support is late due to the need to come out for the puck.

So what does this have to do with Luke Richardson and Wade Redden?  Or Adam Foote for that matter?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Game 74/Phoenix: My Take

In their last 10PM start of the 2010-2011 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets lost, 3-0, to the Phoenix Coyotes in front of 215 people at Arena.

Word is that Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger held a closed-door, players-only meeting after the game.  The DBJ blog had a mole in the room, and thus we offer:


1. Rivet, Moreau, Clark, Murray, Hejda, Stralman - Out.  You're not going to be here next year anyway.

2. Guys, the season isn't over yet.  It's really OK to keep scoring.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Last chance workout

Max Mayorov's been hanging around the AHL since bringing
his game to America from Russia.  Is he a legitimate NHL prospect
for the Blue Jackets, or might he be better as trade bait?
The Columbus Blue Jackets appear resigned to their fate as a playoff also-ran and have called forward Maxsim Mayorov up from AHL Springfield.

Mayorov has had a remarkably consistent career in his three AHL seasons, scoring 31, 32 and 30 points in each of those campaigns.  More importantly, he has one year left on his entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent.

Mayorov is only 21, something that can't be overlooked, but the numbers suggest that he's treading water in the CBJ's minor league system.  He's not "bad" per se, but he's clearly not lighting up the minor leagues. This, of course, leaves the Blue Jackets in a pickle.  Is this youngster on a trajectory that will have him wind up in the NHL?  Is he an AHL lifer?  If he's neither, where might he fit in?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beating the CBJ in One Easy Step

Goals against the CBJ in the last 5 games
Crash the Net!

Something that I observed in the Colorado game is that they crashed the net against the Jackets with gusto, and with no apparent consequences.  I had noticed this somewhat in the New Jersey game, and the Detroit game.  So I looked at where goals had been scored against the CBJ in the last 5 games.  The image does not include one blast from the point from Chara in the Boston game.  Other than that, it shows the goal locations for all goals except for shoot out goals.  So what does this mean for the CBJ?  Especially next year? 

Game 73/Colorado: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets visited the oft-silent Pepsi Center and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a 5-4 shootout loss to the host Colorado Avalanche.

Yeah, arguably the worst team right now in the West.  Yeah, the goalie who washed out of Ottawa.

And they once again proved that no lead is too safe when you're the Columbus Blue Jackets.  And don't get me started on the shootout.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The NHL's magic moment

It's official: I've hit the point in the season where I'm returning to GameCenter Live (and now Versus) to watch playoff contending hockey.  I find that I watch a ton of other teams early in the season out of sheer excitement that the season has started, but the novelty wears off as I settle in for the long haul with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Then, once the reality of April tee times for the Boys in Union Blue settles in, my eyes start wandering once again.  Don't get me wrong - I'll watch the CBJ through to the bitter end, but it's now clear that the end will indeed be bitter.

It started on Friday night, when I watched a Vancouver game just for the hell of it (and yes, they're still a very good team) and then hit hard last night when I caught the Detroit-Pittsburgh game.  Sure, the game itself was entertaining.  Pittsburgh - sans something like 40% of its payroll - went up 4-1 on Detroit entering the third period only to fall apart, let the game tie up, muddle through overtime and pull the game out in the shootout.  But one couldn't watch that game and not catch wind of the dialogue surrounding the suspension of Matt Cooke for the balance of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Game 72/New Jersey: Gallos' Take

Sometimes the Schedule Counts 

Marty Brodeur endures a boring hockey game.
The picture says it all.  Marty Broduer endured another boring hockey game to record his 115th total NHL shut out.  The picture is representative of the pressure that Brodeur faced, with the CBJ recorded a whopping 1 shot in the first period in the face of  the New Jersey neutral zone trap.  The CBJ were unable to respond to a rested team (relatively) in playing their 3rd game in less than 4 days, and following a 2 PM start in Minnesota yesterday that went to overtime.  In short, the home team did not show up.

New Jersey scored a goal in each period, and the CBJ were unable to generate any real heat on Brodeur.  NJ scored 3 times on rebounds, but the CBJ were unable to even touch those few rebounds that Brodeur gave up, even though he gave up some juicy ones up the slot in the third period.  The home boys were just unable to respond. 

This was not a real fun game to watch.  The Jacques LeMaire neutral zone trap (i.e. Hitch Hockey) is not entertaining to watch, and our boys did not have the legs or an answer to it.  All I can say at this point is that the 32 oz IPAs at Boston's removed the sting of enduring sanctimonious NJ fans sitting behind me.  I never leave games early, but this one I did, because it was clear that there was nothing to be seen. 

Now the boys take to the road to play a Colorado team that the ownership has foolishly decimated.  Captain Coward has announced his retirement, and who knows what we will see.  The CBJ is a tired team right now, and there is no rest in the next few weeks.  If they win the next 10, the might be in the conversation, but realistically, this is a tired team with no reserve.  Simply put, the back end is not sufficient to support a playoff run, and needs drastically retooled.  This will come as a shock to those CBJ fans that are residents of outer Siberia.  Need 3 wins to be the 2nd best team in CBJ history.  A worthy goal for this group.


Game 71/Minnesota: Campbell's take

[Many thanks to Campbell for also offering some thoughts on the Minnesota game in my absence.  Nice to get two perspectives on what sounds like a very satisfying win. - DBJ]

March Madness

In what amounted to a must-win game for both teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets took on the Minnesota Wild in a rare Saturday matinee. The Blue Jackets came into the game losers of two in a row and nine of their last eleven, including Thursday night's 2-0 home stinker against the hated Red Wings. The Wild were playing their first home game after an 0-4 road trip that saw them fall further out of the playoff picture. I'm not a huge fan of using the term March Madness to refer to anything other than the college basketball tournament. This game had the ebb and flow (and horrible officiating) of an NCAA basketball game though.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Game 71/Minnesota: Gallos' take

DVR Terror - the long walk to the internet

By now most readers know that the CBJ won in overtime tonight against the Minnesota Wild, setting a franchise record for most road wins at 17.  The winner came on a gaffe in overtime, when the Wild cleared the puck directly to Vermette, and he scored with 34 seconds remaining in overtime for the 5-4 OT win.  It was a see-saw affair, that saw the Wild putting on the goon in the second period to the extent that it would have even embarrassed the St. Louis Blues.  Grant Clitsome was put out of the game with a knee on knee hit behind the play, that I wasn't shown on the tube.  Presumably the league will review whether or not it was clean, no penalty was called on the play, not shock in this game.

Neither the Dark Blue Jacket or myself were able to watch the game, as he was called away unexpectedly, and I was at an all day seminar.  Fortunately upon receiving his text that I was on call, I remembered to call Mrs. G and tell her to fire up the DVR.  That's when the fun started.

Personal leave

I'm going to be away from the blog for the balance of the weekend in order to participate in memorial services for one of Mrs. DBJ's childhood friends.  (What a sad story...gone way too soon.)

Anyhoo, don't bet on any game recaps for Minnesota or New Jersey.  Gallos might decide to disrupt his weekend and jot some thoughts down, but he's under no pressure to do so.

I'll be back before you know it.

Ending Games that Matter (for now?)

Upon checking in on the Columbus Blue Jackets' playoff chances at Sports Club Stats this morning, I came across a strange sight.  Other than the games in which the CBJ are playing, the site suggests that there are literally no other NHL games that impact the Blue Jackets' fortunes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vote of Confidence

Today Puck Rakers published Mike Priest and John P. McConnell giving strong endorsements of Scott Howson.  That in spite of rumors, he is not going anywhere.  Given the decent likelihood that this will be the second best team in franchise history it seems as if progress is being made. 

Consider this: in the tough game last night against the Redwings, we were facing a franchise that oozes stability.  The CBJ history has been anything but stable, with this year being no exception.  So what has been accomplished in this season of change?

Games that matter, 3/18/11

In case you wondered, it's getting hard to put these together.  I honestly once thought that this would chronicle a really impressive playoff chase.  Now, it's not fun but rather something I suppose I need to finish more out a sense of obligation to complete the task.

YESTERDAY: Gallos said it best - Detroit went up 2-0 and shut the game down.  That did not help, not in the least.
  • Red Wings over Blue Jackets
  • Predators over Bruins in overtime
  • Flames over Avalanche
The CBJ's playoff hopes dropped by 1.9%, further dimming their chances to 0.7%.  In case you thought that was a typo, that's less than 1 percent.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Game 70/Detroit: My Take

The host Columbus Blue Jackets were shut out, 2-0, by the visiting Detroit Red Wings.

I've been saying for some time that if the Columbus Blue Jackets were to have a successful end to the season, they would need to find a way to beat the good teams.

I respectfully submit that giving up the game-winning goal a mere 33 seconds into the game is not one of those ways.

Enough about the game.  My one real point of joy in the evening (outside of spending it with my loving and sympathetic spouse) was the reaction that my new Jon Mirasty Blue Jackets jersey received on the concourse.  A couple guys saw the jersey and proceeded to talk to each other at length about the undeniable cool factor of a Mirasty jersey.  "Dude is a legend!" they said.  Couldn't help but smile.

NEXT UP: Saturday, 2PM in Minnesota.

Games that matter, 3/17/11

YESTERDAY: Feh.  Twas but one game.  
  • Ducks beat Blues
The CBJ's playoff hopes dimmed by 0.2%, dropping their chances to 2.6%.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Its not over 'til its over

Athletic competition breeds some interesting moments.  To me, there is something about the game of hockey that seems to magnify the intensity of these moments.  The joy of scoring a goal, the gloom of giving one up, all seem heightened by the relative importance of a goal in a hockey game.  The games themselves tend to be full of swirling momentum changes, and the speed and skill of the players makes any hockey game fun to watch. 

As the 2010-11 season for the Columbus Blue Jackets winds down, our playoff hopes seem dim.  According to our loyal blog master, the Dark Blue Jacket, we have a robust 2.8% chance of making the playoffs.  This doesn't bode well.  But in a topic that I am sure we will explore in more detail in the off season, the 2010-11 CBJ are a VERY streaky team.  Going on a run is in character for this team.  Of course predicting whether it will be a winning or losing streak is best left to Hockey Jobu.  On a more mundane level, one might wonder where this team will fall out in the history of the CBJ.

Games that matter, 3/16/11

YESTERDAY: The strangest of all nights.  The Blue Jackets can't pull their weight, but everyone else pitches in...and the CBJ playoff chances improve.
  • Bruins beat Blue Jackets via shootout
  • Kings beat Predators
  • Sharks beat Stars
  • Coyotes beat Flames
Yesterday's performances suggest to me that there's a degree of separation starting to happen in the West.  There are contenders...and there is the fodder for the first round.  Anyhoo, the CBJ's playoff hopes improved by 0.3%, raising their chances to 2.8%.

"A good non-call"

Nothing beats homer announcers, and the NESN team of Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley do their part to minimize the fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger took a pretty nasty elbow to the back of the head last night at of the Bruins' Brad Marchand.

I'm sure that the NHL will at least investigate this one. Of course, it had nothing to do with boarding or charging, so the NHL General Managers won't care.

"A good non-call."  RIGHT.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Game 69/Boston: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets, in dire need of two standings points to grow their slim playoff hopes, only grabbed one point in losing to the visiting Boston Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout.

The crux of the game was the David Krecji cross-checking penalty at 15:24 of the 3rd period.  The Jackets were up 2-1 and looking to put the Bruins away.  Instead, the Bruins made a reasonably fast conversion off an intercepted Derick Brassard pass and nailed home the dreaded short-handed goal to tie it up.  I won't say it was "game over" at that point, but the CBJ lost a lot of mojo.

CBJ love from The Hockey News

I received my copy of The Hockey News' "Future Watch" special issue in the mail.  It's the issue where they highlight the top prospects in the NHL (and in each team's respective systems).  Guess what I saw on the cover?

Does the font for "Future Watch" and the litte red "2011" in the middle look familiar to you, Columbus Blue Jackets fan?  They sure look like the CBJ jersey fonts to me...

Games that matter, 3/15/11

YESTERDAY: Two games cancelled each other out.  Sigh.
  • Canuck beat Wild
  • Blackhawks beat Sharks
The CBJ's playoff hopes stuck at 2.5%.  And the three magic numbers at the left didn't change tonight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My email from the CBJ ticket office

I just received my "Hey, haven't you renewed your ticket package yet?" email from the Columbus Blue Jackets.  It had some interesting tidbits, so I thought I'd share.  Read along, and note that I've removed names and phone numbers to protect the somewhat innocent while also adding my thoughts and comments in red.

March 14, 2011

We hope that you are enjoying the 2010-11 National Hockey League season. This year's Western Conference race is extremely competitive and the standings seem to change on a daily basis. There is no question that the remaining weeks of the regular season will be very exciting for hockey fans.  (Yet no mention of the playoffs.)

As we approach the final weeks of the regular season, we wanted to provide you with information regarding the renewal of your Six Game Pack for next season and Stanley Cup Playoff tickets for all games that may take place at Nationwide Arena this season. (THERE'S the playoff ticket mention.)

Games that matter, 3/14/11

YESTERDAY: Happy Pi Day, everyone!
  • Kings beat Stars
  • Coyotes beat Ducks
  • Capitals beat Blackhawks in overtime
The CBJ's playoff hopes improved by a whopping 0.1%, raising their chances to 2.5%.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Games that matter, 3/13/11

YESTERDAY: Off the schneid - finally!
  • Blue Jackets beat Hurricanes
  •  Predators beat Avalanche
  • Canucks over Flames
The CBJ's playoff hopes improved by 1.0%, raising their chances to 2.4%.  One game does not a season make, but it certainly does allow the more positive amongst us to keep hope alive for this season.