Wednesday, September 30, 2009

@NikitaFilatov: #NHL #cbj #fake #punkkids

The person (kid?) who pretended to be Nikita Filatov on Twitter for the last week or so finally "came clean" and admitted that it was NOT Filatov who was Twittering.  All hail to Eric Smith at HockeyBuzz for sniffing it out.

The whole Filatov Twitterring thing was somewhat cute/fun, even bringing Mike Commodore (who IS Twittering) into the web of deception.  What crossed the line, however, was this post - which was just as false as every other one:
"Interesting, Sergei Nemchinov (coach of CSKA Moscow) called and offered me largest contract offer I have seen so far. Maybe KHL not so bad."
Considering that Filatov's August interview with Russian sports media and the KHL discussion therein caused some unnecessary consternation in Columbus (at least amongst the fan base if not the front office and locker room), this posting was real bad form...especially from a supposed fan of the Blue Jackets.

The Dispatch's Tom Reed posted on the matter on Puck-Rackers, and the perpetrator offered an apology there.  The masses were unsympathetic; good for them.

Here's my repsonse to that person, copied over from the Puck-Rackers comments:
@Coming Clean - It's one thing to mess around and impersonate a person (the Adam Foote impersonator is hysterical).
Now that we know that you're a CBJ fan, however, why you would post the KHL contract offer reference boggles the mind. All that accomplished is raising suspicion and reducing trust in the organization...even for a couple of days.
Sit back and ask yourself: Would a REAL fan do that?
At least you came clean. Let's hope that no damage was done to people, their motives or their reputations.
Ah well.  Case closed.  Let the regular season begin (PLEASE!).

The Hitchionary returns!

Kudos to Michael Arace for a great second annual edition.  Perhaps my favorite sentence in the definition of "hard":
Understand, there is bizarre and then there is hard bizarre -- and hard bizarre is vastly preferable because it implies that, amid the mayhem, some cowboy-strong players penetrated the hard areas with pace.

This column once and for all proves that Our Leader makes less sense than is funnier than your leader, NHL wannabes!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nash on the couch

No, the Captain's not getting treatment (at least, not that I know of). ESPN (cough) did a series of "Couch Sessions" with the NHL's stars in anticipation of the forthcoming regular season, and they got Rick Nash on the record.

Nash is a pretty quiet guy, at least publicly, so it was interesting to me just to see him talk and how he talks. This is one cool, confident character.

The Hitch speaketh: The sick are healed

Our Leader is happy to have Mike Commodore and Jason Chimera back, that's for certain.  The team is, too. Now we need Kristian Huselius and Freddy Modin back at full tilt.

Can't wait to see what he does with his tinkering on the defensive pairings...the Stralman acquisition makes it all very interesting. (A Commodore/Russell pairing? That's like the TV Odd Couple!)

Bring on Minnesota! Is it Saturday yet?

It's all about desire

The Dispatch's Michael Arace posted this nugget on Puck-Rackers earlier in the week:
The Jackets were 4-3-1 in the exhibition season. Their four victories were produced by the younger campers who played with intensity and verve against Boston (twice), Pittsburgh and Minnesota. A number of these youths – Brassard, Voracek and Filatov, as well as Michael Blunden, Matt Calvert, John Moore, Maksim Mayorov and Jonathan Sigalet, among others – fortified their promise, or gave an initial signal.
 That's right.  The kids/backups were undefeated in the preseason.  The stars?  0-3-1.  Now I'm not going to go jump off a cliff, predict imminent doom for the Blue Jackets this season or anything of the sort.  But I'm not going to let this teaching moment pass by.

Let's go back to look at 2 games.  First, the Boston preseason victory.  They played their starters, Hitch (mostly) played our scrubs.  And we won, 4-2.  Try these quotes on:
"You know what they say: 'Work will win out over skill nine times out of 10,' " [Raffi] Torres said. "This is an example of (coach Ken Hitchcock's) system: If you play hard, it's usually going to work out well."
"There are a lot of guys in here looking for jobs and competing," [Derek] Dorsett said, "so we've got one more game left and guys want to make an impression."
Torres, Filatov, Dorsett and Matt Calvert (currently a Brandon Wheat King, but perhaps a Syracuse Cruncher if they can get a contract done) scored for the Blue Jackets.  And the motley crew played good enough defense (in front of Garon, not Mason) to hold Boston to only two scores.  They outshot the Bruins 35-24.  They even got a couple more penalty minutes - a feisty lot!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A couple reminders

  • The NHL Network's "On The Fly" show will offer a preview of the Western Conference on Tuesday night.  Check it out!
  • The "Blue Jackets Live: Season Preview" is airing 3 more times - Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night on Fox Sports Ohio.  Click here for more info.

Howson's D-man Shuffle

GM Scott Howson's pursuit of the elusive offensive defenseman hit a fever pitch this week.  We've seen tryouts, cutdowns, reassignments and now a trade.


  • Grant Clitsome - Going to Syracuse.  Good camp, Grant...we'll see you at Nationwide when the injuries pile up!)
  • Martin Skoula - Released from tryout.  A true shame, because his girl is gorgeous and I spent a lot of time comparing his stats to the CBJ defensive corps. 
  • John Moore - Going to Kitchner.  The training camp wunderkind gets a year to terrorize the juniors.  See ya next year, John!
  • Nick Holden and David Liffiton - Going to Syracuse.  Not sure that these two really were on the CBJ roster radar.  
  • Johnathan Sigalet - Waived.  If he clears waivers, he's going to Syracuse....I think.
  • Anton Stralman - Received in trade from Calgary.  Howson got the former Maple Leaf and Marlie (never played in the regular season for Calgary) for a 2010 3rd rounder.  Here's his stat page, which reflects his youth and the transition from Sweeden's Euro game to the rougher (truculent!) North American game.  Stralman's numbers won't impress (He IS improving...), but this highlight will:

Quite a week on Nationwide Boulevard.  Now, the regular season looms...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Can someone PLEASE do basic research?

Ah, the cruelties of an uncaring hockey media...from SI's Central Division preview writeup on the Jackets...

KEEP AN EYE ON: Derick Brassard.  If not for a shoulder injury suffered in an early season fight against Dallas' James Neal, the Jackets might have had a pair of Calder finalists.  The big, skilled center had 10 goals and 25 points in just 31 games, hinting at the kind of production he's capable of this season now that he'll line up alongside Rick Nash and Fredrik Modin on Columbus' top line.  

If I was Kristian Huselius, I'd be hurt.  Actually, I'd be laid up with the flu and hurt, but you get my drift.

This is one nasty flu bug

I was down earlier this week with the flu but was lucky to get medicated early and now just feel sluggish. Looks like Mike Commodore wasn't so lucky:

Just woke up. Have the flu. Feel awful. Lost 8lbs (from Sept. 23)

Here's hoping that Mike and Kristian Huselius get well soon!  

Cuts a'coming...

So says Our Leader in the press conference below. The CBJ need to make room for Martin Skoula.

Anyone want to venture a guess as to who's next to get voted off the island?

UPDATE: Puck-Rackers says that the Doug Lynch tryout is over...he's been cut.

The Hitch Speaketh: Post-Pittsburgh edition

OK, I'll come out and say it.  It's really weird to see Our Leader so positive about the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Hitchcock has been working like mad (along with GM Scott Howson) to turn the CBJ into a respectable team, and he's been one grumpy sunuvagun along the way.  And he's had every right to be that way; the Jackets were probably the equivalent of a mediocre AHL team when he took over in November 2006.  I went to my first CBJ game in the middle of the Gary Agnew interim coaching period, and they were gawd-awful.

Now, as the Boys in Blue have turned the corner and are playoff-caliber, however, Our Leader's disposition has brightened considerably.  Hitch has turned into your happy uncle, the one who always has a story or two to keep the kids entertained around the dinner table.  I'm guessing that's because he, too, is very entertained by what he's seeing on the ice in the preseason.

The Jackets mauled a largely Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins squad that had many more starters than AHLers, 5-2, last night.  Nash and Brassard are clicking big time.  Steve Mason is in form.  The AHLers are scrapping for those last roster spots.  Derek Dorsett is keeping 'em honest through truculence.  Speaking of gloves dropping, even wunder-rookie defenseman John Moore gave the what-for to Tyler Kennedy!  All in all, a very pleasant evening.

Hitch was pleased, too.  He's loving the kids that are starting to grow up in the NHL, especially Voracek and Brassard.  See for yourself...

If he keeps this up...if the Jackets keep this's gonna be one fun season.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


50 Blue Jackets games in HD this year on Fox Sports. This is a good thing for me, and for my plasma tv.

The Hitch Speaketh...Pre-Pittsburgh edition

Up to the minute, here's Our Leader's state of the team. It appears that he's tickled that the team is so competitive now that it's faced with the adversity of injuries and illness.

Also, the Pens are bringing a big-time lineup, and Hitch notes that the team is psyched to take 'em on. Nice to hear.

Mr. Dangerfield? No, just the Columbus Blue Jackets...

Just got my catalog in the mail this afternoon.  It was pleasantly surprising to see a couple merchandise examples using the awesome CBJ logo.

But then I saw THIS:

Chris Mason.  CHRIS Mason.  CHRIS MASON?

Um...NHL, you guys gave the Columbus Blue Jackets goalie, Steve Mason, a Calder award a couple months back.

Rookie of the Year.  

Jeez...can't get no respect...

Jackets sign 007 ... errrr .... Martin Škoula

Puck-Rackers reports that former Avalanche/Panther/Wild defenseman  Martin Škoula signed a tryout with the Blue Jackets today.  (No word on whether he is bringing his partner, Strawberry Fields, with him to C'bus.)

Looking over Škoula's stats, I think the thing that stands out for me is his durability. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggests that Škoula has the "most games of any NHL defensemen his age or younger". As best I can see, the least number of games he has played in during a given season since entering the NHL in 1999 is 78...that's nine years with no more than four missed games a season. Folks, that's ironman-quality play.

Clearly, the jury is out on whether Škoula is a good NHL defenseman. But, after comparing his stats from last year with the Wild with the 2008-2009 Columbus Blue Jackets defensive corps, here are the positives:

  • His 81 games would tie him for 3rd best on the team (Tyutin & Hejda have 82, Commodore has 81)
  • His 4 goals ties him for 3rd best (Tyutin-9, Commodore-5, Methot-4)
  • His 12 assists and 16 total points ranks him 6th (Tyutin-25-34, Commodore-19-24, Russell-19-21, Hejda-18-21, Methot-13-17)
  • His 19:58 average time on ice is 5th (Tyutin, Commodore, Hejda, Klesla)
  • His shooting percentage is actually the best.
  • He's 6'3", 225 lbs.  A big boy!
Here's the other side of the coin:
  • His 10 PIMs puts him essentially at the bottom of the heap 
  • No power play goals or assists.  Only 1 short-handed assist.  That says to me that he's not a special teamer.
  • His 55 shots on goal clusters him in the 3rd tier of shooters with the likes of Backman and Methot, behind Tyutin, Commodore, Russell and Klesla.
  • His +/- was -12, worst on the team.  

Oh, yeah, he's Czech.  Should play well in Columbus, where the Czech Mates of Klesla, Hejda and Voracek can at least make sure that he's getting home cooking.  Seriously, common cultural ties mean a lot in an international sport like hockey.

In summary, I'll give the tryout a thumbs up.  He's got enough upside to break into the top six, and there's nothing lost if he doesn't pan out.

UPDATE: Light The Lamp offers its usual thorough scrubbing of the new guy's plusses, minuses and potential in Columbus.  I'll spare you the "Martin Skoula is an Idiot" YouTube'll have to go there to see it.  Ouch.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Moore, please!

The Dispatch's Michael Arace ably summarizes the John Moore quandry: Do you put an 18-year-old defenseman, albeit one who is talented and improving every day, out on the NHL firing line...throwing him to the wolves?  Or do you bite your lip and let him mature more naturally in junior hockey?

Moore's 4 points and +1 over 4 preseason games is persuasive, but this is a franchise that is gun-shy with young talent these days.  The Jackets' first-ever draft pick, defenseman Rusty Klesla, was forced into duty right out of the draft at age 19 and only now is starting to reach the potential everyone hoped he had (see: Holmstrom, Tomas - 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs).

Besides, a year of juniors will give Moore time to develop...and the Jackets will have a top six d-man in 2010 - one who could stick around for a LONG time.

Tall trees invade Syracuse

Courtesy of Lindsay Nelson, I'm conjecturing that the Syracuse Crunch ownership has a thing for Zdeno Chara wannabes on tryout contracts:

[Defenseman Libor Ustrnul is] listed at 6-5, 230. They must have lifted that from his high school yearbook. Ustrnul, 27, looks not a puck shy of 250, and the 6-5 could be from shoulder to shoulder.
And here's the scary thing: Ustrnul wasn't even the tallest player on the ice Wednesday. That honor went to 6-6, 230-pound forward Justin Lutz, here on a tryout contract.

The Hitch speaketh: Post-Boston edition

Seems as if Our Fearless Leader is pleased with the way things are going. I'm not sure that I've ever seen him that positive, especially when it comes to the younger Jacket players.