Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Game 77/Tampa Bay: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets did their darndest to prove to the NHL that they were worse than the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that was only 3 points ahead of them in the NHL's Race To The Top Draft Seed (aka The Taylor Hall/Tyler Seguin/Cam Fowler Sweepstakes).  And, for 40 minutes, they did a pretty good job.  Things loosened up in the 3rd period, Tampa lost their composure, and the Jackets couldn't continue laying low.  CBJ win, 3-2.

But Tampa Head Coach Rick Tocchet called the game as it was:
“It was kind of – I shouldn’t say – a boring game,” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said.
I won't disagree. OK, there was one exception.

Note that R.J. Umberger was at the bottom of that pile of humanity and squeezed the puck out to Rick Nash. Wow.  That's some tenacity out of R.J.

But was it a case of losing by winning?  Did the win jeopardize the CBJ's draft position, or is winning more important at this point?  This warrants further discussion.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Backup Team: Phoenix Comes Calling

With the Columbus Blue Jackets not making the playoffs this year, our postseason loyalties are being wooed by the rest of the league.  It has started in Phoenix with three solid rationales and one genuine clunker:
First, everyone loves the underdog. That's exactly what we were for most of the year. People still aren't giving us the biggest chance. Right now it's just a lot of "This is a great story" stuff with the thought that it'll be over soon. Well I think that's unlikely.

Second, we play some pretty exciting hockey. We like to win quite a bit. When we do it's always because of a different guy or a different play than the night before. Sure Ilya Bryzgalov stands on his head at times, but even on nights when he doesn't we'll find someone to go out there and win for us.

Game 76/Chicago: My Take

A tired Columbus Blue Jackets team blew into the Windy City and handed the Chicago Blackhawks their lunch for the second time in a week, this time winning by a score of 4-2.

I have a few disjointed thoughts on this game, so bear with me.

First, Rick Nash is one fascinating captain.  The Dispatch's Aaron Portzline relates the story of the final goal:
A nice touch by the captain late in the game. On a two-on-one with Voracek in the dying seconds, Nash passed the puck to Voracek and then curled way out of the play, leaving Voracek no choice but to score into the empty net. Nash said he wanted Voracek to score the goal because he deserved it, given the way he played. "After I passed it, I was screaming at him to shoot it," Nash said. "He played great. He deserved it." Voracek, when pressed on the matter, admitted he would have passed the puck to Nash if given the chance.

Are the young Blue Jackets intimidated by Rick Nash? Have they been brow-beat into dishing off to their "elders" rather than looking for the shot themselves? If that's the case, there's a lot of attitudinal reprogramming of young minds to work on. Kudos to Nash for recognizing the need to celebrate the team's youth and build some confidence in his junior woodchucks.

Next, the Jackets are 6-2-2 in the last 10 games.  The way in which they got there is fascinating.  They thump one of the top teams in the Western Conference twice in a week, yet they lay an egg in the middle against the struggling Islanders.  (Aren't teams supposed to play like crap on the second game of a two-night string?)  Clearly, the team can now get "up" for big games.  But can they win the games that they're supposed to win?  The ones the allow them to collect points like candy-filled eggs at one of the Dark Blue Onesie's Easter egg hunts?  And what does this say about Interim Head Coach Claude Noel?  Not sure right now...need to think more on that.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Game 75/New York Islanders: My Take

The quick and dirty analysis of this game tells us that the New York Islanders, who are making one last-ditch effort to fight for their playoff lives (winning two in a row, but 8 points behind the 8th place team in the East), wanted it more.  The Columbus Blue Jackets, eliminated the night earlier, are (hopefully!) playing for next year.  It showed on both counts as the (in my opinion) superior Blue Jackets team lost in overtime to the Isles, 4-3.

What I have a hard time reconciling is the Jackets outburst at the beginnings of the second and third periods.  R.J. Umberger scored 51 seconds into the second period.  Rick Nash scored 33 seconds into the third, with Grant Clitsome scoring just over 30 seconds later.  So they come blasting out of the gate - does that mean Claude Noel's intermission talks in the locker room are having an effect? - and then sit on their heels.  Makes no sense.

(Keep in mind that Mike Commodore scored in the first 30 seconds of Game 74 against Chicago, and Antoine Vermette scored 1:39 into the third period of that game.  Again, quick starts.)

Ah well, the Jackets got the overtime loser point and currently have the 7th seed in the draft.  Dare we wish for the Boys in Union Blue to tank the rest of the way to get a better chance at a top seed without giving up Nikita Filatov in a trade?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It Ends Now.

Or, more accurately, it ended last night. Per The Dispatch's Tom Reed:
#cbj Blue Jackets arer [sic] officially eliminated from the playoffs with Detroit win.
So the Columbus Blue Jackets are now officially playing out the string.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Game 74/Chicago: My Take

If you EVER think to yourself, "That DBJ - what a jerk. Always getting on the Blue Jackets' case. Never finding the positives. Yadda yadda yadda..." --- All I can say is: Watch these highlights.

The story of the 2009-2010 Columbus Blue Jackets is the frustration of wasted potential. The CBJ could have been the equivalent of the Colorado Avalanche, a young team that pulls it together to run through the league like a hot knife through butter and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead, we saw too many young players regress...and that catastrophically bad December.

This team has talent. They have skill. They CAN win. They can drop 8 on the number one team in the Western Conference.

So excuse me if I am frustrated. It's games like this that make me dream about what could have been this year...

And now, a special message from NBC Sports


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Goodbye, Syracuse

I was going to leave the whole "Columbus Blue Jackets parts ways with its farm team" story alone largely because the Syracuse Crunch have not been of much consequence to the fortunes of the CBJ this season.  Whether that's because of the Jackets' less-than stellar drafting, Jackets Assistant GM Chris MacFarland's eye for minor league talent - he's the one responsible for stocking the team's AHL affiliate, I understand - or because of the coaching that just has not developed many NHL-caliber players, I don't really care.  Point is, Columbus has been doing their thing, Syracuse has been doing their thing, and ne'er the twain shall meet.

(One big exception: The Crunch did a bang-up job promoting the AHL and themselves in their Outdoor Classic.  I can't praise the Crunch ownership and management for pulling that off, especially for putting together the Dark Blue Jacket Television Broadcasting Dream Team in Bob McElligott and Danny Gare.)

The Syracuse Post-Standard has a Syracuse Crunch hockey blog that is staffed by the paper's Crunch beat writer, Lindsay Kramer.  Since I started reading that blog (was it in 2008?), it's been clear to me that Kramer has not been thrilled with how Columbus has handled the Crunch.  I'm not going to cite chapter and verse; you've got the blog link, go poke around and see for yourself.

Putting money where your mouth is

According to Puck Rakers (and following up on a question from yours truly in this week's Puck Rakers chat), the Columbus Blue Jackets hit their NHL revenue sharing target and are in line for a tidy little check from the league for up to $10 million dollars.

Aaron Portzline explains the two criteria:
This marks the second straight season in which the Blue Jackets have met the two thresholds to qualify: an average attendance of 14,000 or more (the Jackets average in excess of 15,000) and a revenue growth rate ahead of the NHL average.
You can say a lot of things about Columbus, but you can't say that we don't support the Blue Jackets. Not only do we get the arena hopping in a year when we haven't had much to celebrate since - what, October? - we buy concessions, pay for parking, buy swag and (at the corporate level) purchase sponsorships at a pace that allows the Jackets to hit their revenue sharing targets.

So, yeah, we're doing our part as a community.

Portzline also tells us that CBJ President Mike Priest is going to reinvest the revenue sharing into hockey operations, not into cutting the arena lease-driven operating deficit.  That is a very wise move, both on the practical level (more money for salaries, coaching, scouting, etc.) and on the public relations level.  The team is reinvesting in itself with the largesse that we as a community helped make happen.

Wouldn't it be something else to see the Jackets land a star-level player with a signing bonus made possible by the revenue sharing?  Perhaps that top pair D-man or an all-star caliber center?

Moves like this cement my feeling that while the Jackets aren't a perfect NHL team, they're doing the right things to become better every day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Game 73/New Jersey: My Take

One team was in 4th place in the conference, fighting for playoff position and the division lead.

The other team was in 15th place in the conference, sorting out April tee times.

Guess which team won, 6-3?  It wasn't the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Jackets played a lackluster game - especially on defense - committing too many stupid penalties that led to the New Jersey Devils capitalizing.  It's as if they just sat there and watched the Jackets implode.

Mason wasn't great, but he had little help and, by the back half of the 2nd period, dwindling confidence.

A pathetic performance by the Jackets.  I hope Scott Howson put aside his scouting to see that mess, take notes and base his housecleaning on what he saw.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Memory Lane: It all started with Sergei Fedorov

When I started following the Columbus Blue Jackets upon moving to Central Ohio in late 2006, the only reason I started watching the Jackets was that they had one of my old hockey heroes, the former Detroit Red Wing - Sergei Fedorov.  Sure, I held my nose at seeing former Coloradoan Adam Foote on the ice with him (a wise move in retrospect), but it was sweet to see Sergei, one of the members of the "Detroit Red Army Wings" play live.

Early on, seeing Fedorov play in person was enough.  Even as he was in the back end of his career, I think the appropriate phrase was that he had forgotten more hockey than most Blue Jackets had learned.  It was a joy to watch him on the ice.  Federov, to me, remains a living legend.

Game 72/Nashville: My Take

OK, perhaps I was a little harsh on the Columbus Blue Jackets the other night.  They did have a third period comeback - a rare one in a season of third period collapses (Yeah, Interim Head Coach Claude, I agree that conditioning has been a huge issue for this team this year....).  And they scored four straight goals on the Minnesota backup goalie to close the game strong.  So the Boys in Union Blue had plenty on which to hang their respective hats.  And, again, nice return for Rick Nash.

Whew, got that off my chest.  Now, let's talk about the Nashville Predators game.

It was a classic goalie duel.  Interestingly, Nashville clearly was up for this game, showing the Jackets their starting goalie, Pekka Rinne, instead of their backup like so many other teams have done of late.  Despite the fact that the Jackets just can't win in Nashville, this is a Rivalry with a capital "R".  And the Jackets took Team Trotz to the wire, losing 1-0 in overtime.

Rinne stopped 33 shots.  Steve Mason stopped 31.  Arguably, Mason had the more difficult night as the Predators' defense is much more stout than Columbus' duct-taped blue line.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Game 71/Minnesota: My Take

Not a lot to speak of tonight. I found the game to be a pretty "feh" performance by the Blue Jackets.

I suppose the moral of this story is: If you can't score normally, get opportunistic. Rick Nash did, and the Columbus Blue Jackets won, 4-2, over Minnesota.

Nice to see the Jackets on the winning side of the coin in a game like this.

How long until John Moore joins the team?

The NY Times' Rich Sandomir replies

As luck would have it, I finally found out how to get in touch with Rich Sandomir, the lead co-author of the article suggesting that the Columbus Blue Jackets are potentially for sale.  Here's his response to the text of my "open letter" (which I had to cut and paste with minor edits into a direct email to him). Note that I'm not editing a bit of his note, including the typos and lack of line spacing...
We rely on impeccable sources in the league and the financial industry who say authoritatively that the Blue Jackets are a "potential" candidate for sale. Sorry I can't be any more detailed about it. The fact that they could "potentially" be for sale, as we wrote, doesn't mean that anyone wants to buy them. Mr. Belson and I didn't mention every team that might be for sale but trustworthy people who know about teams that are potentially for sale say the Blue Jackets are on that list.
Richad Sandomir

The Jackets reply

As I mentioned in a past post, I took the rare (for me) step of contacting the Columbus Blue Jackets regarding the New York Times-promulgated rumor that the Jackets possibly are for sale.

I have to hand it to the Jackets - they're a stand-up bunch, even when they have nothing meaningful to add to the conversation.  Here's the entire text of an email I received from Todd Sharrock, Vice President of Public Relations for the CBJ:
Good afternoon. I received your e-mail through regarding this week’s NY Times article. The Blue Jackets are not going to comment on an article that is based on speculation and possibilities. Our team president Mike Priest has been quoted in recent months that our position is to find a solution to ensure that the club can compete effectively here for many years to come and that remains our focus. Thanks for the note and for your support of the Blue Jackets and the NHL.
I had already heard from others in the media and fan base that the Jackets don't comment on rumors after sending my inquiry, so this "no comment" response was anticipated.  That Sharrock took the time to write back...that's appreciated.  Better than the writer of the article, that's for sure!

So we wait...and hope...

The Female Hockey Fan: CBJ-style

Everyone has an opinion, including me. I also have the platform to express my opinions, which is something I do not take lightly. As a result, I decided not to rush out & blog about my initial reaction to the Blue Jackets' latest promotion. I wanted to reflect on it, think it through & sleep on it. But my reaction a day later, if anything, is even stronger. Perhaps being a successful woman who is a part of a male-dominated workforce makes me a bit more sensitive to stereotypes about women being less knowledgeable than men.

Plain & simple, folks... the Columbus Blue Jackets' official stance on female hockey fans is that they do not know hockey.

ster·e·o·type (stěr'ē-ə-tīp', stîr'-) n.
1. A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.
2. A generalization, usually exaggerated or oversimplified and often offensive, that is used to describe or distinguish a group.

The good news? The Blue Jackets are FINALLY offering their first "ladies' night" event! The bad news? It is Hockey in Heels night - complete with Hockey 101. Yes, really. Check it out:

Okay, so let's look at this objectively.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Timing is everything

Get this, courtesy of the Dispatch's Aaron Portzline:
#CBJ president Mike Priest confirms to The Dispatch: the Blue Jackets and Nationwide Arena have applied to host the 2013 NHL All-Star Game
It's an interesting story, but not for the reasons that we would automatically think.  In fact, it's not even a new story.  The Fan's Lori Schmidt points that out:
Reminder: As we told you this February, Columbus has not only applied for 2013 NHL All Star game, but also the 2013 or 2014 Frozen Four.
So why the mention today?  I can see three potential reasons...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An open letter to the NY Times' Rich Sandomir

Mr. Sandomir:

Yesterday's New York Times published an article by you and Mr. Ken Belson, "Hoping to Sell, Team Owners Face a New Opponent: Recession".  In the article, you and Mr. Belson state:
Now that the economy seems to be on the mend, owners who held off selling during the downturn are seeking to unload their teams. According to sports bankers, the teams thought to be for sale include the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Detroit Pistons in the N.B.A; the Stars, the Atlanta Thrashers and potentially the Columbus Blue Jackets in the N.H.L.; and baseball’s Houston Astros.
I am sure that, as a sports columnist, you can appreciate that the fan base of any team would be surprised when speculation is floated suggesting that their favorite team may be for sale.  As a Columbus Blue Jackets fan, I had that very reaction upon learning of your article.

The team's financial issues, stemming from perhaps one of the worst arena leases in professional sports, are well-documented in Columbus.  That the team potentially may be for sale, however, is surprising as the community and team are working to develop an arrangement which lifts the roughly $10 million annual millstone from the Jackets and lets them operate as the profitable team that they should be.

Are the Blue Jackets up for sale?

This is not good. Not one bit.  From the blog of Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
A New York Times story on sports ownership during the recession references both the Hawks and Thrashers as being among franchises that might be for sale. The paragraph in question reads:

Now that the economy seems to be on the mend, owners who held off selling during the downturn are seeking to unload their teams. According to sports bankers, the teams thought to be for sale include the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors and the Detroit Pistons in the N.B.A; the [Dallas] Stars, the Atlanta Thrashers and potentially the Columbus Blue Jackets in the N.H.L.; and baseball’s Houston Astros.

E-mails this morning to various club officials seeking comment have not been immediately returned.
If it's true - and there's no confirmation yet, we can only hope that this is a posturing move by team officials to get the arena situation behind them.  Hopefully our community leadership appreciates that the Blue Jackets can't sit idly by while operating under one of the worst lease agreements in pro sports.

Get it done, guys...  Save the Arena District!  Save our Blue Jackets!

[UPDATE: I put a message into the Columbus Blue Jackets asking for a confirmation or denial of the rumor.  As soon as I hear anything (if they deign to respond to this lowly blogger), I'll pass the info along.

Also, PuckeyesMom makes a very valid point via Twitter:
@DarkBlueJacket I doubt the #CBJ are for sale, but even if they are, it doesn't equate relocation. Montreal just changed ownership in 2009.
Excellent addition to the conversation. A sale does not mean that the Jackets are pulling a Baltimore Colts and lining the moving trucks up in the middle of the night. It does, however, introduce an element of uncertainty that this team just does not need.]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

While I was out...

My oh my, some interesting tidbits popped up while I was floating around on a gondola at the Venetian and wandering through the humanity at the MGM Grand.  Of particular note:
  • There might be hope for Rick Nash as the Columbus Blue Jackets captain after all.  Let's hope he puts his words into practice.  This team needs a player-led kick in the rear, and Gold Medal-winning Nash is the guy to apply the footwear.
  • Next year's CBJ third jersey will apparently have a cannon on the front.  That could be cool.
  • George Matthews is coming back as CBJ radio voice.  This, as Jeff Little explains, is a solid move for the CBJ.  I agree and will emphasize his point and suggest in a league with an 82-game regular season, you need to enjoy the ride as much as the result, and the announcers are your tour guides on the journey.  George is masterful in his own quirky way at getting Columbus excited during elements of every game...even when you're not entirely sure what's going on!
  • In the same post, Jeff Little suggests that Bill Davidge should go back to radio, and radio color guy Bob McElligott should replace him on TV.  If you have to keep Davidge (who I don't care for as much as Little does), radio is a fine place to be.  I've been on record as saying that Bob McElligott should be on TV and continue to stand behind that assertion.

Back from Vegas...and thoughts on the Jackets

Oh my...after 5 days and 4 nights of frolicking around Las Vegas to celebrate Mrs. DBJ's birthday with some long-lost high school friends, I'm back in Columbus and - while still a bit groggy from the late night flight - am getting ready to fire it back up again.

Before I get too far along, let's all offer a hearty thanks to Kirsi for keeping the game thoughts a-flowing in my absence.  I'm still trying to understand the fascination with Marc Methot (or was it "met to charm"?), but the commentary was downright solid and worthy of everyone's time and attention.  Yeah, you - in the back - sit up straight and hear what the lady has to say!  You might actually learn something!

As for me, I'd never been to Vegas and was fascinated by the whole thing.  Perhaps most pertinent to this blog is my rote education in the world of sports betting.  (I spent a decent amount of time at Lagasse's Stadium in the Palazzo even though I didn't stay at that hotel.  It's a sports-watcher's dream place...the ultimate man-cave.)  The West Virginia Mountaineers - always an easy team to root against - became the ideal team to bet against because their hoops team just could not cover the spread if their lives depended on it.  They provided me with ample money to play the slots.  If I didn't come back a dollar or two ahead on the trip (gambling-wise...the food and shows were plenty expensive), I can't have come back worse than even.

Steve Mason: "Sanest Move" and other anagrams

A blog I occasionally read is Wrap Around Curl, written by a fan of the WHL's Spokane Cheifs. One of her recent posts titled "Fun in English Class" is about hockey player name anagrams... which are hilarious. For fun I decided to try out the Blue Jackets' names. Try yourself here. I bolded some of my favorites... and some were just funnier in all caps.

Mathieu Garon: toughest mania
Steve Mason: sanest move

Mike Blunden: nimble, nuked
Jared Boll: do bell jar
Derick Brassard: sacred drab irks
Chris Clark: slick charr
Derek Dorsett: retorted desk
Kristian "juice" Huselius: juciest shriek in usual
Derek Mackenzie: zanier, meek deck
Maksim Mayorov: I'm my savor amok
Andrew Murray: unmerry award
Rick Nash: arch sink
Samuel Pahlsson: phalluses man so
RJ Umberger: GRR! BUM JEER!
Antoine Vermette: to retentive amen
Jake Voracek: cave! ok! a jerk

Mike Commodore: I'm crooked memo
Jan Hejda: hajj dean
Rostislav Klesla: overkill lasts as
Marc Methot: met to charm (too true!)
Nathan Paetsch: a path enchants
Kris Russell: SKULL RISERS
Anton Stralman: not smart annal
Fedor Tyutin: tidy fortune

I think my favorite non-Blue Jackets anagrams are Luongo's (goon or trouble?) and Heatley's (hey neat lady!). Post any other fun ones you find/think up/discover!

Update: More!

Columbus Blue Jackets: JUMBLE SUCKABLE SCOUT (from Q); ABLE TO SUCK MUSCLE JUB (from Jim)
Stinger: Resting (from Q)
Rick Nash: Cash Rink (from wrap around curl herself)
Ken Hitchcock: check on thick (ahahhahaha)
Scott Howson: NOW COSTS HOT!
Claude Noel: Ace, dull one!

Game 70/Edmonton Oilers: Happier Thoughts

Here are your highlight's from last night's 5-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers:

Although this game wasn't on Fox Sports Ohio or Versus, maybe you caught the CenterIce feed. If not, the Dispatch always has excellent game wrap-ups that give details of how the goals were scored and such.Check out the one for last night's game here (honestly, I prefer the ones not written by Arace, but I'll take what I can get).

The worst part of the game last night was that Hejda was injured after playing only four shifts. He apparently sprained his right knee and will likely be out for the rest of the season. Because of Hejda's injury, Paetsch switched from playing LW to D. He somehow managed to finish the night an impressive -3. Brassard, Pahlsson, Umberger, and Voracek were tied at -1. Paetsch bounced around pairings and made me worry every time he was on the ice. [Update: Apparently Paetsch was also frustrated with his play. I didn't notice is but one #CBJ twitter says that he broke his stick after an Oilers goal. Lots of stick smashing going on: after the empty netter, Ryan Whitney smacked his stick against the glass.]

The most exciting part of the game (for me) was that Marc Methot got his second goal of the season. As leeauer on twitter says... "you don't leave Marc Methot uncovered"! With his goal the Jackets were up 3-1, but then goal scoring went back and forth between the two teams. With 12:15 left, I admit, I was worried that "Jackets time" would begin and somehow the Oilers would come out on top. I am pleased that that didn't happen.

All sorts of significant/notable milestones were reached last night, including Fedor Tyutin, who has now played in 400 games. He also tied his career high for assists with 25, the number he had last year in 82 games. Last year he had 34 points and right now he has 30, so look for him to set a record there, too. Derek Dorsett had the first multi-point game of his career last night with his two assists, on the fourth and fifth goals, scored respectively by Huselius and Vermette. Those two men had a heck of a night last night. Vermette now has 55 points after getting three last night with his empty-net goal and two assists. His previous season high was 53 during the 2007-2008 season when he was with the Ottawa Senators. He had 5 shots on goal and won 16 of 26 faceoffs. Huselius had a four point night with one goal and three assists, four shots on goal, and finished +3.

Jared Boll fought Theo Peckham, and even though Boll went to the ice first, he definitely won that fight. Thankfully Boll seems to be okay despite smacking the back of his head against the ice.

I do feel a bit bad for Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who is 0-8-2 in his NHL career. He is huge though! 6'6". But the Blue Jackets did bring his goals-against average down!

Thanks to Dispatch Writer Aaron Portzline who found out who the hard hat winner was for last night's game. Mike Commodore received the hat, who protected Mason's net when Mason himself couldn't. Also, Garon got the hard hat after the 2-1 win over the Thrashers on 3/11 and Vermette got it after the 5-2 win against the Ducks on the 9th. Here's the video of Commodore's sweet moves in case you don't feel like watching the entire highlight reel above!

Next up: the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Yours truly will be in Nashville on Saturday for the Blue Jackets game, so be sure to check back here for a report on how that went, or at least some photos!

Methot goal photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images
Photos of Boll and Huselius: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Game 69/St. Louis Blues: (Sad) Thoughts

Here are some highlights from last night's game, a 5-1 beating by the St. Louis Blues, if you want to call them that.

It was a hard game to watch. The first period may have been boring but the Blue Jackets weren't getting outplayed, so I had hope going into the second period. The Blues also had hope and scored three times in the second. At points it looked like the Blues owned almost all the ice, skating right on through the neutral zone. The Blue Jackets had 11 shots on goal until the third period, when they took 14 more. It pays off to take shots, obviously... Voracek put one in off of a sweet pass from Brassard to prevent a shutout (thank goodness).

Noel made the interesting choice of pulling Mason with what, three minutes left? And three goals back. That led to an empty netter for the Blues, sealing the Blue Jackets' fate. It is getting annoying to watch them play well one night, with want, and then give up the next game because they are down two or three goals. I understand that the team has a good sports psychologist that works with the guys, but I don't know how much s/he has been around as of late. This team has talent, passion, and grit - they just throw it all away too quickly because, it seems, of that pattern of bombing in the third that emerged earlier this season.

I will give the honorary loser hardhat to Marc Methot, who led the team by far with seven hits. He has been looking great out there, and I hope he is one of the defensemen they choose to keep around.

Hoping to see more of an effort in the next game, but good for the Blues, who continue their push toward the playoffs. The Oilers come to Nationwide tomorrow night. The game won't be televised, which may be a good thing.

This is a tough one to write about. I'm going to forget it. Let's hope the Blue Jackets do too and they get the W tomorrow!

Photos: Jay LaPrete/AP Photo

Friday, March 12, 2010

Game 68/Atlanta Thrashers: Thoughts

Here are some highlights from last night's game, a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Notably missing from the Blue Jacket's line-up was captain Rick Nash, along with the newly acquired Nathan Paetsch. Chris Chelios also played in his first NHL game of the season last night, previously having played with the Thrasher's AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.

Blue Jackets goals: Umberger from Huselius and Tyutin; Huselius from Russell and Dorsett
Thrashers goals: Oduya from Kozlov

I had the pleasure of going to this game. I got the tickets originally because I wanted to see Kovalchuk play... but we all know how that turned it! It was nice, though, that Chelios played (maybe nice isn't the right word. Perhaps "interesting"?).

But there was this man, #80: Nik Antropov. During his first shift I thought, "dang, this guy is huge". That thought quickly changed to "wow, he is a jerk". Jerk may not have been how I originally described him. But, it seems that he can't take a hit: he apparently didn't appreciate Boll so he elbowed him in the face. The ensuing power play, along with a sweet move/failed shot block by Chelios, led to the Blue Jacket's first goal. Throughout the entire game Antropov was tangled up with Boll and Pahlsson. At one point Pahlsson and Atropov fell on top of each other along the boards, and Antropov proceeded to give him a little extra shove with #26 was down. Pahlsson then laid a hit on him - and Antropov, once again, showed why I dislike him. He looked at the ref, as if he was expecting a penalty to be called. Ugh, please. Antropov later at the end of the second period got a minor for cross-checking Pahlsson (Boll in turn got two minutes for roughing Antropov, so there was no powerplay).

I was excited to see the top line start off as 18-16-93. I would like to see Brassard stay as the #1 center for the rest of the season. Instead, Brassard bounced around lines all night. There were a ton of other line changes as well and I just couldn't keep them straight. At one point, Dorsett was on the top line.

I thought the defensive play was much better in this game, comparatively. I was especially impressed by Marc Methot who led the team with seven hits and three blocked shots. IHC Claude Noel had this to say about Methot's play:
I thought Methot was real good, really good. I think he's playing really well, really playing with passion, playing physical. He's a good skater [and] he's playing with a lot more confidence.
Although I didn't notice the faceoff that Noel referred to as to why he benched Mayorov (Noel said Mayorov basically ignored his responsibilities after the faceoff) I did notice Mayorov leave a play to wait at the point for a breakaway opportunity. He did get the puck and carried it down the ice, but lost an edge behind the net and fell on his butt. I have liked watching him play though so hopefully he gets a talking to. It looks like they will need him the next game because Portzline has tweeted that Huselius and Nash will both be out for tomorrow's game against the St. Louis Blues.

The Blue Jackets had one shot in the third period. The Thrashers had 17. In his post-game presser Noel said, "we had one shot, gimme a break". Yeah.

Is the hard hat no longer being awarded? If it was - I didn't notice (please let me know). I would have given it to Vermette. He didn't have any shots but won 13 of 20 faceoffs, and was all over the place, making things happen.

What did you think of the game? I am especially curious as to what others think about Huselius' play last night. He finished with two points (one goal and one assist),  so his stats look okay, but I thought he was infuriating to watch, especially on the power play.

An "interesting tidbit," as our favorite writers at the Dispatch might say: last I checked, the O'Clitsome St. Patrick's Day themed jersey was going for more money than Nash's.

Also, here is a fun interview with RJ Umberger about the first time he skated, his pregame rituals, and who he would like to put a big hit on:
Probably Ryan Kesler. He plays real hard, he plays in your face, he's got a nasty edge. We have a little bit of a history, too. It's fun to compete against someone like that because it brings all that out.
Photos: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Guest Post: About those third jerseys...

Greetings Blue Jackets fans, I twitter under the name En4cer45 and Mr. Dark Blue Jacket is being kind enough to let me speak my mind about what I would like to see as the Columbus Blue Jackets unveil a new 3rd jersey this November. Now everyone knows the Blue Jackets started off with the CBJ logo with a neon green hockey stick as a J.

Then during the 03-04 season we unveiled our first 3rd jersey featuring the logo that would become the franchise’s current logo:

So during the February 23rd edition of puck-rakers: “Reebok has been handed design ideas by the Blue Jackets regarding the third sweater, to be unveiled next season. The club expects to get a prototype back from the sporting goods' supplier shortly. Local retailers have already been asked to submit orders. The Dispatch has been told by a high-ranking front-office member that the new duds will be unveiled next November.”

Now Aaron Portzline makes it sound like we’ve already decided on a few ideas and the prototypes are being made as we speak. Now these are just my opinions and my only previous jersey designing experience is on the EA Sports NHL series of games. Also note that my examples I’m including team’s home and away jerseys not just their alternates. So here goes these are my do’s and don’ts for the new 3rd jersey.

Game 67/Anaheim: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets came out swinging - literally and figuratively - in Orange County last night.  By the time the dust was cleared, the Boys in Union Blue spanked the Anaheim Ducks, 5-2.

Considering that the Blue Jackets were playing without Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius, and that they put both Derek MacKenzie and Maxim Mayorov into the lineup only a half-hour after the pair got off the cross-country flight from Syracuse, that the Jackets won at all is surprising.  That they took it to the Ducks like they did - with a physical, in your face style that would make former Ducks GM Brian "Truculence" Burke proud - is even more so.

CBJ: Big in Oregon?

Is this Marc Delphine a closet Columbus Blue Jackets fan, or is he cheap to the point of tampering with a CBJ trademark?  Check out Delphine's website banner and decide for yourself:

And while I'm at it, what's Mr. Delphine's stance on the right to intellectual property?  I'd be interested in knowing, and I'm sure that the Columbus Blue Jackets would, too.

[UPDATE: Oh, I just learned that he's a Libertarian.  He won't care about crap like that.]

Thanks to Dan Getson for the Twitter-tip!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Game 66/Los Angeles: My Thoughts

Apologies for the late post, but AT&T decided to mess with my DSL and left me unable to use the Inter-Tubes for most of the day.  Very unnerving.  How's Time Warner digital cable?

As for the game, I'll use the same word I used on Twitter after the game last night.  Brutal.

The Los Angeles Kings destroyed the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-0, on 4 goals against Steve Mason in the 1st and 2 on Mathieu Garon in the 2nd.  There were no goals in the scrimmage-like 3rd, and I swear that the Kings were taking penalties just to work on their penalty kill.

Because of the fact that most all of the LA goals were on power plays, the team's +/- ratings weren't as hellacious as they should have been.  Someone counted last night, and Fedor Tyutin was on the ice for 5 of the LA goals.  That is bad.  Real bad.