Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The (semi-)return of Ken Hitchcock

Just thinking things through after a long Easter weekend...

The World Championships isn't just about getting Ken Hitchcock back
behind an NHL bench...it might just be his last chance to help
the Columbus Blue Jackets become the team he hoped it would be.
So Ken Hitchcock, still under contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets (I believe?) gets the job as head coach of Team Canada for the World Championships.

He brings in Scott Arniel as an associate coach under the pretense of stocking the talent pool for Hockey Canada with young coaches.  An "investment in the future" or something like that.

In the post-season interviews, Arniel lets slip that he and Hitch have not spoken since Arniel was hired as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He then says that he and Hitch have already agreed to have "a couple cups of coffee."  Surely, they'll be restricting the conversation to Team Canada.

Then it's announced that former NHL winger Arniel will be coaching defense for Team Canada.  Under defensively-minded Hitchcock.  You know, the one who took the same CBJ defensive squad that Arniel had last season and...well...got to the playoffs.  Arniel lets slip that he's pumping Brad Berry for coaching tips because, well, he hasn't coached defense before.

And then the team is announced.  Blue Jackets Rick Nash, Antoine Vermette and Marc Methot all accept invitations to join the squad.  (Steve Mason was invited but turned it down.)  Nash throws out a line about how interesting it'll be to have his current and former coaches on the same staff.  Then Nash is appointed team captain.

And then, Arniel suggests that the CBJ might want to have a second "system" to fall back upon because, well, playing with your hair on fire every night tends to wear the team down.  Especially on back-to-backs.  More or less, he says, "I made a rookie mistake."  And a rather large one at that.

That's a lot to digest, isn't it?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

LOFT - The Forwards, Could we really pay too much for Brad Richards?

Continuing a thread we have been following, we are evaluating available free agent talent that could really help the CBJ in the off season.  We are following up on a talent evaluation system, originated over on Light the Lamp and discussed in this previous post here on Dark Blue Jacket, that is affectionately called the LOFT Tiers (Lack of Flippin' Talent).

Working off of the Tiering system suggested in our previous post, the following are the available free agent forwards who would have an impact on the cumulative Columbus Blue Jacket LOFT Tiers:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Crowdsourced 2011 NHL Awards

I described the Crowdsourced 2011 NHL Awards here, but here's the skinny:

I submit that if the Professional Hockey Writers don't want to do it, then the ticket-buying public should.

And we did.  With no further ado, here are the winners of the Crowdsourced 2011 NHL Awards...

"...awarded annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game..."

Nominees: Ryan Callahan (NY Rangers), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Michael Grabner (NY Islanders), Nathan Horton (Boston)

Winner: Ryan Kesler (Vancouver)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Out of Time (literally?): The CBJ-Fox Sports Ohio rights deal

It's interesting to see how this postseason recap series keeps evolving.  I still want to get to the on-ice performance of the CBJ (Yeah, I'm a masochist like that), but the world of the blogger means you go where the information takes you.

How fitting that today's winds are blowing in the world of television broadcasting, seeing as the NHL and Comcast/NBC just sealed a deal for the new media conglomerate to broadcast (at least?) 100 NHL games per season across its many platforms for the next 10 years...for the cool price of $200 million per year (with all sorts of new money flowing to the franchises).  Among the highlights are an NBC-broadcast NHL game on "Black Friday" following Thanksgiving - the earliest nationwide broadcast NHL game in memory - and national distribution of every single Stanley Cup playoff game.  The deal also gives Comcast/NBC total control of the digital rights to all of the games that they broadcast over every possible device, leaving me to wonder what's going to happen to the 110% awesome GameCenter Live online package or the slightly less awesome Center Ice television package, but that's another issue for another day.

Point is, today's about hockey on television.  And wouldn't you know, I stumbled upon an article today that opened my eyes real wide.  It should do the same for you, too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

LOFT and the Forwards; Audience Participation Please

Again I want to turn my attention to a great post over on Light the Lamp about LOFT or Lack of Flippin' Talent, although LTL pronounces it a little bit differently.  To recreate their Tier system:

Tier   Type of Player      Pts
  I      Generational         5
 II      Elite                        4
III      All Star                   3
IV      Star                        2
 V      Above Average    1

The total points of the CBJ core is about 6 while for the Redwings it is about 16.  Until we get our Tier scoring above 10, we simply don't have the talent to compete in the NHL. 

In our 'Demolition Experts' post we looked at Defensemen who might seriously move our LOFT ranking.  No shocks in that list of free agents.  But we need at least two of them to radically change our cumulative LOFT rating.  Forwards are not so easy.

So I propose that the only thing that really matters to the CBJ is goals.  You can accumulate a bunch of points, i.e. Juice, but what this team needs is the biscuit in the basket.  So I propose:
Generational = Crosby
Elite = 35+ goals
All Star = on the all star team
Star = 25 + goals
Above Average = 20 goals.

Audience participation time.  What do you think of these rankings?  Once I get some feedback, I'll go through the free agent forwards.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Ten Years Isn't a Very Long Time; We Draft as Well as Quebec!

My buddy Bill was playing around with numbers before the 2010-11 season started, mainly for fantasy hockey purposes, and he looked at all forwards who had scored 25 or more goals during the 2007-08, 2008-09, or 2009-10 seasons.  In other words, the player had to score 25 goals or more in one of those three seasons.  This exercise brought out some very interesting facts.

In the data set he looked at:
  • The Winnipeg Jets drafted more 25 goal scorers than the CBJ.
  • The Quebec Nordiques drafted as many as the CBJ.
  • If you want a 25 goal scorer, your best odds for that are to draft in the top 5.
  • 47 of the 108 players who scored 25 goals in one of those three years were drafted before the CBJ existed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Out of Time: Fire up the (assistant) coaching carousel

The pace of news is getting out ahead of me...I want to write my opinion pieces on the different aspects of the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, but things keep happening...forcing me to write more reactive pieces.  And as it relates to the coaching, I actually wanted to target my attention to the two people that I'll discuss today, but there's a lot more that I want to say about the coaches in the days ahead.  So forgive me while I jump to the back of the book and offer up some thoughts that are a tad out of sequence with my intended plan.


It is with no small measure of joy that I share with DBJ blog readers a link from the Dispatch informing the world that goalie consultant Dave Rook has resigned from the Columbus Blue Jackets coaching staff.  The public reason is that he now recognizes that the CBJ want him in Columbus more than he wants to be, and he won't move his family down from Canada.

Living in envy of Nashville

I just caught this snip from the CBC's Jeff Marek, host of Hockey Night in Canada Radio and the HNIC iDesk, relative to the Preds' first round, game one, 4-1 spanking of the Anaheim Ducks:
** Have to respect the Preds for exactly what they did last night against the Ducks: Stifled them at every turn. I won't bother to go over all the injuries and adversities that team has been through (we al know the drill) rather just focus on what it is they do with who they have. I spoke to former Pred Dan Hamhuis on our radio show the other day and he talked about how the Preds play systems in all areas of the ice. No matter where the puck is or who has it Nashville knows how to play. Also, next time you watch the Preds count how many players you see in your screen at any given time. In most situations you'll see at least 4 and often 5. They move as a 5 man unit and support each other all the way up and back down the ice. It helps, of course, when you have an all world netminder like Pekka Rinne and a defenseman like Shea Weber who hits like Scott Stevens and shoots like Al MacInnis.
I'll grant that Barry Trotz has had over 10 years to implement his system, and David Poile has had the same amount of time to get the people he needs to implement that system onto the Preds' roster. But gosh, wouldn't it be nice to be able to easily identify with a "Columbus system"? Not to deify Ken Hitchcock, but I think it was a lot easier to identify the Hitch system than the Arniel system.

Even after 82 games (and having watched easily 2/3 of them very, very closely), I'm still not sure I can explain what Arniel's system is all about. There are identifiable pieces, like defensemen who gamble by jumping into (or even leading) the offensive rush, or forwards who have to pass 12 times before shooting on a given rush. But I'm not sure what else there is, which is why I started to refer to the CBJ on-ice play as "Romper Room". Just a bunch of guys skating around, waiting for a random act of a puck going past a goalie.

Perhaps the real Arniel system (and Arniel-style players) will come with time. Until then, I'll just keep living in envy of what Poile and Trotz have created in Nashville.  With fewer salary dollars.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Calling all Blue Jackets fans

No, I'm not soliciting again for the 2011 Crowdsourced NHL Awards with this post.  But you're welcome to go vote, as voting is closed on Saturday night.

Nope, this time it's to solicit you to get involved with the NHL's feedback loop - the NHL Fan Face Off panel.

Should you choose to join this panel, you get access and influence with the NHL's decision-making.  Every now and then, you get an email from the league asking for your opinion about the topic du jour.  I've participated in surveys about the Winter Classic, television packages, Patrick Kane's mullet...OK, not that last one.  But I have been asked about matters of substance related to the NHL.

Apparently, the Columbus Blue Jackets fan representation on this panel is one of the lowest in the league.  They want to hear from you.  Go sign up and have your voice heard!

Out of Time: Thoughts on the talent pipeline

I intend to get to the Columbus Blue Jackets position analyses for the 2010-2011 season soon, but I thought that the next post in this series should address what I consider to be a critical strategic issue for the team.

Despite the suggestions that they have addressed a main problem of the Doug MacLean era, that of rushing young players into the NHL too quickly with too little preparation, the roster doesn't lie:
  • Derick Brassard, 23 - 3rd "full" season with Columbus (1 of the 3 cut short due to injury)
  • Matt Calvert, 21 - 1st season in Columbus  (I don't think anyone sees him returning to Springfield)
  • Jakub Voracek, 21 - 3rd season in Columbus
  • Kris Russell, 23 - 4th season in Columbus
  • Steve Mason, 22 - 3rd season in Columbus
Has experience not been instructive?  Of the many CBJ draftees since the inception of the franchise, it can be argued that only Rick Nash was able to handle the jump from the draft (and juniors) to the NHL without meaningful time in the minors.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Demolition Experts

Well folks, the DBJ has dropped the gloves, calling for blowing up the CBJ roster.  In my role as executive optimist, I am supposed to provide counterpoint to this opinion.  But putting lipstick on this pig won't make it any more attractive, it's still a pig. 

So some things to consider in this discussion.

When we look at the Nashville Predators (congrats to the folks in Nashville) the stark difference between the two franchises is stability.  Same coach, same general manager since day one.  They are on Vision Version 1.  We are on at least Vision 3, realistically probably Vision 3.2.2.  You can't retool overnight to reach these conflicting/contradictory visions.  At some point in the life of this franchise, you need some stability.  Especially to attract the top notch free agents.  Howson's approach to providing a modicum of stability did not turn out well.  In fact, it turned out to be surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) similar. 

Out of Time: DBJ's 2010-2011 Columbus Blue Jackets review

"What have you guys been doing for 10 years?"
- Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel
after coaching the CBJ to their first-ever regulation win in San Jose
November 21, 2010

That's a very, very good question.  Sadly, the answer is: One brief playoff appearance.

I observed way back at the beginning of the season that general manager Scott Howson cleared out so many able veterans from that 2009 Blue Jackets playoff team to make room on the CBJ roster for his vaunted young core.  This team has had 82 games to prove their worthiness as an NHL-caliber roster.  Here's what we got:
  • They gave new head coach Scott Arniel an incredible 20-game honeymoon with a 14-6-0 record.  Who can forget perhaps one of the greatest CBJ games ever, the 8-1 shellacking of the St. Louis Blues in Game 14 on November 10th?  This team was challenging for first place in the Western Conference over Thanksgiving weekend.  
  • They then fell flat on their faces from Thanksgiving through mid-January with a 6-14-3 record.
  • Howson made roster improvements by subtraction in sending $3.75 million veteran defenseman Mike Commodore down to AHL Springfield, but the subsequent rebound (11-4-3) only could take the team to the trade deadline.  
  • The team maxxed out, and the wheels flew off throughout March and April, highlighted by a 3-11-7 record (and 1-6-3 at home!) to close out the season.
That, my friends, was the second-best season in team's ten-year history.  Wow.

The questions that never get asked

The Dispatch takes a swing at a season-wrapup interview with Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, and it goes about as well as could be expected for a team that underachieved and a general manager who graduated from law school.

Interviews like this are somewhat tough.  It was conducted by a beat writer in between periods of the final game of the season against Buffalo.  Not exactly ideal conditions to probe the many "WTF?" questions facing this franchise.  There was lots of other activity going on, deadlines to meet, etc.  So I'll give the Dispatch a pass on this one.

For my money, the softballs tossed at Howson by Fox Sports Ohio revealed more interesting responses.  (And wouldn't you know, FSO didn't post the interview on their website.  Come on, FSO - you have good content on your broadcasts...post it for people to watch after the game is over!)

Regardless,  I still have yet to hear anyone ask Howson two simple, open-ended questions that could provide context and insight to everything that Howson does as the personnel "ninja" for the team:
  1. Describe your ideal NHL team, specifically with regards to style of play and roster composition.
  2. Assess the current Blue Jackets roster against that ideal.
It's not rocket science.  I want to know Howson's vision.  To date, no one has asked him what that vision is.  Without that understanding, how can we appreciate anything that he's doing to improve the club?

Heck, I'll even take just the first question.  Get me a straight answer to that, and I'll do the math on the CBJ roster side of things.

It's moments like these that I almost wish I had media credentials...just to ask the questions that are crying out to be asked.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Crowdsourced NHL Awards - Voting is Open!

The nominations are closed, and the voting for the 2011 Crowdsourced NHL Awards are open!

Swing on over to the Facebook page and make your selections for Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder, Selke and Lady Byng trophies.  (Maybe another?  I can't remember...)

It's all in fun, so make sure to vote and tell your friends to do so, too!

Boston Globe assessment of the CBJ season

With a hat tip to Kukla's Corner for pointing this article out, here's Boston Globe writer Kevin Paul Dupont's take on the Columbus Blue Jackets as they currently stand:
Columbus — The Blue Jackets [did not qualify for the playoffs] for a second straight season, not so bad in itself, at least outside of Canada. But that quick visit to the postseason in ’09 (a sweep by the Red Wings) stands as their only playoff time in 10 seasons. General manager Scott Howson has been on the job four seasons and really hasn’t moved the meter much beyond where Doug MacLean had it when sacked after the 2006-07 season. Hockey can work in Columbus, and the Jackets have one of the league’s best buildings (with accompanying practice facility), but after 824 games and only one season with more wins than losses, it has turned into a hockey horror flick.
We can quibble about how the talent pipeline is a little better, and how MacLean left such a mess, but I'm not sure I can argue with the conclusions.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Game 82/Buffalo: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets closed out the 2010-2011 NHL season, their 10th in the league, with a 5-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in regulation at Nationwide Arena.

No more cannons firing.  No more "No way but the hard way."  No more Leo.  No more "Goal scorers goals."  No more "Gotta See It Live!"  That's it until the 2011-2012 preseason starts up in September.

One year ago

Roughly one year ago, Rick Nash took out an ad in the Columbus Dispatch and gave us this:

As we stand of the cusp of the offseason, it might be worth asking: What's he going to say this time around?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Game 81 Post Mortem: Columbus at Nashville - Fun With Links Edition

The Blue Jackets traveled to Nashville to play the Predators on fan appreciation night at Bridgestone Arena. At least I think that's what it's called nowadays. The home team, and most notably Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne put on quite the show, and the capacity 17,113 fans showed their appreciation. Often. Tomorrow night is fan appreciation night in Columbus, and it should be interesting to see how many fans show up, and just how appreciative they are.

Should I stay or should I go? Part I: The Forwards

[Campbell's brand-new series, getting a jump-start on the looming offseason...I'm posting while he gets up to speed with the Blogger interface. - DBJ]

Over the next couple weeks I will be doing an in depth examination of the upcoming free agents of the Columbus Blue Jackets and whether they should return or not.


Chris Clark
RW #71
Age: 35 Ht: 6'0” Wt: 196 lbs.
Acquired: Via trade with Washington Capitals
Current Salary: $2,633,333
Status After Season: Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA)

The former captain of the Washington Capitals was acquired in the 2009/10 season along with defenseman Milan Jurcina in exchange for perpetually off-side left wing Jason Chimera. Clark was mainly acquired to add leadership to the locker room, something the team was deemed to be missing after the retirement of Michael Peca following the 2008/09 season. While Clark started off the year extremely well, nagging injuries and age seem to have caught up with him and he seems unable to stay healthy enough to play a bottom six role. It is impossible to determine the effect Clark has had in a leadership role, however it seems that Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger are the leaders of this team.

I can't see Howson offering Clark a contract, and if he did it certainly would have to be one that included a substantial pay cut. His numbers and injuries just have not allowed Scott Arniel to find a solid role for him, and even when not hurt he has often been a healthy scratch. Springfield is teeming with gritty wingers that can pitch in points every now and then, so my guess would be Clark is allowed to walk.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Frozen Four begins tonight!

(Can you tell the Columbus Blue Jackets are out of the playoff hunt?  Yet another digression before the season is done...)

One of the unique aspects of hockey as compared to my other favorite sport, football, is the talent development system.  In football there is NCAA team sport and then the National Football League (with unaffiliated "minor leagues" like the United Football League as well).  Hockey, on the other hand, has a whole sequence of minor and junior hockey levels, which can take a youngster from ages 1 (yes, ONE) through 20.  Above and beyond that, you have minor professional hockey like the ECHL, the CHL and the AHL.

Then there's college hockey.  College hockey apparently is not as big a deal in Canada, where Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) hockey seems to be treated more like a club-level activity.  You can't make that statement about the 58 schools fielding teams in NCAA Division I Men's Hockey, though, as these kids are pretty darned serious about their games...and their grades.  The back and forth recruiting (poaching?) between the major junior leagues and the NCAA is really something, which should give readers a level of understanding of the quality of some NCAA programs.

There are some legit players coming out of the NCAA.  Columbus and Blue Jackets fans only have to look up the street from Nationwide Arena to see the Ohio State hockey program, which was the home of the CBJ's R.J. Umberger and the Canucks' Ryan Kessler for a spell.  In addition, D-1 programs based in Ohio can be found at Miami University and Bowling Green State University.  Beyond that, CBJ fans also probably have noticed that Boston College's Can Atkinson (nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, the NCAA's "hockey Heisman") and RPI's Allen York both just signed contracts with the Blue Jackets within the past couple of weeks and are already playing big minutes with the AHL Springfield Falcons.

And whereas the Major Junior leagues have their Memorial Cup tournament to crown a champion, the NCAA has The Frozen Four.  And The Frozen Four starts tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Game 80/Dallas: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets opened up their final road trip of the season with a 3-0 loss against the Dallas Stars.

Disclosure: I didn't watch the game.  The Notre Dame (my alma mater) women's hoops team was playing for the NCAA national championship, and Mrs. DBJ and I watched that instead.  While the outcome was not that for which I had hoped, I gather it was a much more competitive game than the CBJ-Stars game.

As for the Blue Jackets, I DID follow the game on Twitter...and here's my take from what I observed...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Someone's gotta do it: DBJ's crowdsourced ballot for the 2011 NHL Awards

Click on the shield to nominate NHL players for
end of the season awards
If you haven't gathered, there's been a bit of a flareup in the hockey writing community.  The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA), the group of media types who get to cover the beats for their respective NHL teams, has seen a number of members and "chapters" (presumably a chapter is geographically-related, meaning that a given chapter will cluster around a given team), boycotting their NHL-granted privilege of voting for the 2011 NHL awards.

This all stems out of the excommunication of blogger Chris Botta by the New York Islanders.  I could write a whole other post on the Botta expulsion from the Islanders' locker room, but instead I'll just let you click on the above link and Google around.  Suffice to say that it's never a good idea to go to war with those who buy ink by the barrel...even worse when those with whom you are warring are sports writers.

So the PHWA has their knickers in a knot over Botta, and some chapters (largely in/around New York, as the media guys circle the wagon to protect their own) are unilaterally withdrawing from the NHL Awards balloting.  As we learned this morning, the boycott now includes the PHWA's Columbus chapter...which essentially means that the Dispatch writing team joined in.

But who will speak for Columbus with these all-important (tongue firmly in cheek) awards?  I submit that if the Professional Hockey Writers don't want to do it, then the ticket-buying public should.

So let's get started.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How bad was it - really?

The time for post-season reviews is close upon us, and it's time to put this season in perspective. You can bet that the Columbus Blue Jackets management has already started this, seeing as the likes of AHLers Kubalik, Mayorov and Leneveu are now getting playing time in Columbus. It's all about post-mortems, player evaluations and trying to ascertain what assets are worth keeping and which can be moved out in the hoped for offseason improvements in Columbus.

A graphic that, sadly, I never got to use this season.
I'm sure you understand.
One element of any review has to be an answer to the question of "How bad was it - really?"  While a number of different factors will come into play on a host of forthcoming evaluations (here and elsewhere), I'll suggest that the pentultimate determinant of the answer to the question comes in the standings.  Goals, save percentages, plus/minus, salary cap hits, corsi numbers, average time on ice, et al surely have their place and demand scrutiny, but it's all about winning in the end.  Doesn't matter how you win..just matters that you win in the hopes of making a playoff run and winning a championship.

Thus, I'll suggest that it comes down to points, differentials between those points and what it takes to qualify, final position in the conference.  I also think that the number of days remaining in the season after the team was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs is a worthwhile number to consider, because that gives a perspective on how many "worthless" (from a playoff chase point of view) games the CBJ fans had to endure.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Game 79/St. Louis: Gallos' Take

Draft Pick Preserved/ Post Partum Depression

I was talking to Mrs. G on the drive home from the game, wondering how to characterize the game.  Her phrase was 'post partum depression' and its as good a synopsis as I can come up with.  What we had were two teams that were out of it.  Neither really had their mojo going.  One of them was a bigger team with more goonish tendencies (and I don't really mean that negatively, at least this time).  The bigger, goonier team prevailed, 6-1.  They outshot the home team, they appeared to be more aggressive than the home team, and they certainly had better goal tending than the home team.

LeNeveu sees his first action as a Columbus Blue
There are those who would assert that a good defense obviates the need for excellent goal tending (e.g. the Detroit Redwings).  Lacking the certified first round hall of fame ballot defenseman of the Redwings, the CBJ had better get pretty good goal tending.  Giving up rebounds which were not cleared by our defense ultimately did in Mathieu Garon this eveing, as it did David LeNeveu, making his CBJ debut.  Garon was pulled after the second period and was replaced by LeNeveu.  LeNeveu made some good stops, but couldn't stop a 2 on 1 in which he served the rebound to the shooter to give up his first goal as a CBJ net minder.  This was preceeded by several pretty solid stops.

This is not to say that Jaroslav Halak didn't give up rebounds.  He did, leaving several juicy ones up the slot, that the Blues defense cleared without interference from the CBJ.  Thus, it was a team effort.  Less than sterling goal tending, hampered by less than sterling defense, hampered by an inability to put significant pressure on the other team's tender.  Quickly putting my math skills together, that equals a 6-1 loss.

Detroit's Rule Book, Jake & Brass, Nash money for Richards?

Puck Rakers are reporting that Jan Hedja has been suspended for two games for the elbowing minor he took in the Chicago game.  Further, recently the NHL declined to add further discipline by on this hit by Todd Bertuzzi, conveniently shown on Puck Daddy, even though he was ejected from the game.  This is just further proof that there is a Detroit Redwings rule book and a 'rest of the NHL, particularly the Blue Jackets' rule book.  Click here to add your critical 'you're just whining because you are out of the playoffs' comment.

A good example of this is well before the lock out.  I was at a CBJ v Detroit game back when Sergei Federov was still a Redwing.  Sergei took a penalty he didn't like, and whacked the puck clear across the rink, I mean from near the bench to the penalty boxes, and the refs darn near had to drag him to the box, but no 'delay' or 'unsportsmanlike' penalty for the mighty Federov.  Double D (Derek Dorsett) smacks a puck off the near board and goes to the box, and he gets hit with the 'T'.  Double D ought to know better.  But that's a penalty in the rule book that applies to us, not the one that applies to Detroit.

And I was watching a Redwings v Chicago game about a week ago, and sure enough, what passes for hooking, holding, and interference in the rest of the league is 'just a hockey play' at the Joe. 

The point to all of this is not that we need to be as good as the other teams to compete in this league, we need to be better.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Game 78/Chicago: My Take

Playing their fourth game in six nights, the host Columbus Blue Jackets took the defending Stanley Cup champion (and current Western Conference 8th seed) all the way to the shootout before succumbing, 4-3, at Nationwide Arena.

Perhaps it was the fact that the Blue Jackets got eliminated from the playoffs last night.  The pressure - and, to a degree, the frustration - was missing.  I hear a lot of "Sit back!  Enjoy the game for what it is!" from other fans...and when there's nothing to play for beyond the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs (which are over a year away), why not enjoy?

And with both Rick Nash and Steve Mason on the shelf nursing injuries, the Blue Jackets (somewhat surprisingly) pulled one of the more entertaining and, more importantly, competitive games of 2011 out of their sleeves.  I had a darned good time watching it on TV.


OK, so I just wanted to use this graphic again.  There's some delicious dark humor to it, dontcha think?

While we're here, though, let's take a moment to reflect on the season that started so unbelievably strong, crumbled like dry breadcrumbs only to show signs of life before running out of steam about 5-6 weeks too early.