Sunday, February 26, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 62: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 4 - Columbus 2
18-37-7, 5th in Central Division, 11 points out of 29th in NHL
With tomorrow's 3PM NHL trade deadline looming over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team made its only appearance of the year in Pittsburgh in a losing effort, 4-2 in regulation.

1. WELCOME TO LIMBO - While the game itself was reasonably competitive for 50 minutes or so, you can't look past the elephant in the room, the trade deadline.  The Blue Jackets are already in nuclear rebuilding retooling reshaping mode, with Antoine Vermette, Grant Clitsome and Jeff Carter gone.  Replacing them are Cam Atkinson, Jack Johnson and Ryan Johansen (who apparently has returned from exile to the press box).  That said, the deadline is tomorrow at 3PM and all signs point to the Blue Jackets not being done with personnel moves.  I'm reading internet rumors suggesting that Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Sammy Pahlsson, Derek Mackenzie and perhaps R.J. Umberger might still be in play.

So what to make of this particular game's roster?  " wasn't all bad, what for the one game they played together?"

James Wisniewski and his blue line compadres largely held the Penguins
in check for 50 minutes of game time.
2. MEDIOCRE KEPT THEM IN THE GAME - By mediocre, I mean professionally played.  Average.  Not stellar.  And mediocre goaltending and defense kept the game at 2-1 - not great but certainly not a lost cause - until the 10:47 mark of the 3rd period.  Things started breaking down (or perhaps the Pens decided to turn it on), and then the game was lost.

3. WHY SO ANGRY?  YOUR TEAM IS GOOD - I was stunned at the level of vitriol directed at the Blue Jackets on the Interwebs by Pens fans after their team went up 3-1 and then 4-1.  It's not like the Pens got slapped with a penalty or anything - they had zero penalty minutes in the third - and not like the game was still competitive when the scoring took place.  The Pens had it, yet the fans were seething with stuff like, "Take THAT, Columbus."

Ummm...we've been taking that all season.  We're 11 points out of 29th place.  Try anger management classes or something.

4. JACK JOHNSON IS NOT BAD - Seriously, when the CBJ attention-meter hits Jack Johnson levels, one begins to worry.  Johnson logged over 23 minutes of ice time with action both on the power play and penalty kill, put a shot on goal and got a -1 rating on the afternoon.  He also had a couple nice hits and a 1-on-2 defensive save that cleaned up after a bewildering Rick Nash turnover.  Not bad for never having practiced with the team.

So here's the one sentence assessment of Johnson: He's not Jesus Christ, but he's definitely a trade up from Grant Clitsome.

So many Rick Nash Movember 'stache photos, so little time left?
5. THE LAST GAME? - Back to the trade deadline, and the potential of a Rick Nash trade that is dreaded by some . Nash didn't hurt his value by putting a breakaway shortie past the Pens goaltender (Oh, and thanks for starting some kid in net in his first NHL game, Pens.  That goal might have helped put another little extra sumthin' sumthin' in the trade pot for Nash!).  Otherwise, Nash largely played the same game that we've seen out of him for most of the season...good but not great, perhaps weighed down by the troubles of the team and the lack of talent assembled around him.

Postgame, Nash made all the right statements about Columbus and the fans, refusing to comment on anything related to the trade deadline.  He is incapable of saying anything that could be interpreted as a negative.  Nothing but teflon.

Bonus number 6: In the irony of ironies, no members of the media posted the scouts in attendance for the game anywhere I could find it.  So my last post on the matter stands as my most definitive.  Thus, my month-long project of tracking scouts at CBJ games comes to an unsatisfactory conclusion.  I'd really love to learn who was scouting, if only to try to correlate scouting activity to actual trades that come down.

NEXT UP: The NHL trade deadline hits at 3PM tomorrow (Monday), and then the 'new' Blue Jackets will be home against the Detroit Red Wings at 7PM on Tuesday.


  1. I will be glad when the trade deadline is past, but I have read rumors of Burkie, waiting until this summer to make their big pitches for Nash.

  2. Not sure how much of this is true. But one of my friends (who doesn't really watch hockey), told me that he heard the reason around the Nash trade was his work ethic. This of course would just be one of the reasons. But he went on to say how with Nash being the best player on the team since coming here pretty much, he's never had to work hard. And when they add new players, that work ethic rubs off on them, so the CBJ want him outta the locker room. This makes some sense after what Vinny said towards the beginning of the year about players not working hard in practice. Just wondering what you had to say about this?


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