Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Preseason is over...at long last...

I always have mixed emotions about the preseason. It's hockey. Real, live, in an NHL rink (usually) with NHL players type hockey. The first preseason game is fun, the second one is ok, the third one is boring, and the fourth one is the last chance to get a discount on your fan bucks if you're a season ticket holder.

You have to watch the games looking for certain things, and usually not the final score. I tend to watch specific players, maybe see how the special teams are looking, how the "not quite there yet" kids look playing with the big boys, etc. With that in mind, here are a few things that caught my eye in the three, home preseason games I went to...and left after 2 periods each time.

Scoring, what scoring?

Let's get the nasty one out of the way first. The preseason predictions are rolling in from every corner of North America, and all of them pretty much agree on the Jackets set up this season: Solid D, can Bob do it again, need goal scoring.

Agree on the scoring.

We have guys who are capable of putting it in the net, but the lack of finishing in some of these games was concerning. Granted, the games take place at half speed with all the checking of an All-Star weekend, but they still take shots and try to score at times.

What I think concerned me more than anything was the amount of possession we'd have without any shots on net. We'd get the puck in, move it to the points, battle in the corners, throw it to the slot, dig it back out of the corner, then turn it over. All that work for no shot on goal. I'd watch thinking we're doing OK, then look at the scoreboard and we're getting outshot 13-2. I'm not that "SHOOT IT!!!" guy in the stands, but put the puck on net fellas.

Puck movement

On the heels of the last bit, we did have some pretty good puck movement throughout most of the games I watched. No more dumping it into the corner and praying we can get it back out. The East is reportedly built for more carrying it in and less dumping it in, then our game plan is in decent shape for the our move to the Metro.

The power play, while not converting a lot of goals yet, was much better at possession and moving the puck. There was a lot more play from the point and the half wall on the power play than last season. Step 1 to a good power play is possession and puck movement, the boys seem to have a good jump on that. Step 2 is to put the puck in the net off all that possession and puck movement, so we'll see how that comes along as the season gets started.

Ah, the forecheck

It appeared in most games we had a 2 man forecheck going. As a fan...YES!! I love me a good forecheck. This will be a helluva lot more fun to watch than the 0-man "We'll just be here at the blue line waiting on you" type system. Atkinson, Calvert, Foligno, Boll, MacKenzie, and Jenner all have the abilities to make that work. This will be entertaining.

We may blow some chances, and give up the occasional odd-man rush, but we finally have the defensive corps to make that work. And let's say they blow it occasionally, and they will, Bob is waiting.

So, why not play to our forwards' speed and push that forecheck deep? For a team that will have trouble scoring, getting the turnovers in your opponents end of the ice will make up for some of that pretty quickly.

So what does all this mean?

My opinion of the team didn't really change much through preseason, I think we're a playoff team. Honestly, I think there are only two teams in our division better than we are, the Pens and Rangers. I think we'll go back and forth with the Isles all season for 3rd in the division, and I don't think there's any way in hell we finish below the Devils, Phylers, Caps, and Canes.

The Jackets have the reigning Vezina winner in net behind a defensive unit built for the grind of the West. Scoring is a question, but defensively our 8-7 track meet type games will be limited. Can our group of forwards score us enough goals to get into the playoffs? I think so.


  1. I might disagree with you on the Caps. They added a lot of sandpaper to that team and I think Oates is a pretty smart coach ( Which kills me to say because he was annoying as all get out as a player. Great....but annoying. Like Borat.)

    I too am fairly optimistic about the Blue Jackets season. ( this is my second season in Columbus. And now that the Blue Jackets aren't in the same division with my World Champion Blackhawks, I can root for them with a little more vigor.). I personally would like to see the Atkinvert brothers score a little more. They're quick, they go to the net, I think they're capable of more goals. Maybe playing with Arty the one man Party will free them up. a little bit.

    I'm amazed Wisnewski didn't get amnestied but I think that happens next year. Hopefully Ryan Murray is everything they say he is. Should be a hoot. Can't wait for Friday.....well i can, it's Calgary after all.....but you know what I mean.

  2. I, for one, would love to see the CBJ finish higher than the Caps - if only to read Ted Leonsis' blog when it's etched in stone.


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