Saturday, March 31, 2012

Game 78: Florida

Columbus 4 - Florida 1
26-45-7, 5th in Central Division, 30th in NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets boosted their record versus the NHL's Southeast Division to 3-3-0 - their only division matchup where they have a non-losing record - with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers last night at Nationwide Arena.

Well, I guess we've conclusively answered the question, "Is the worst team in the Central Division better than the best team in the Southeast Division?" - at least for one night.  Man, Florida really is not very good.  That emperor has no clothes.  Must be great to play your hockey in a division filled with creampuffs.  If the CBJ took Winnipeg's place in the Southeast, who knows how this season would have played out.  Heck, maybe we'd even be congratulating Priest and Howson on their outstanding work this season...and Arniel would be a Jack Adams candidate.  <brain explodes>

The Blue Jackets owned this game from start to finish.  At no point did I really think that the Panthers were going to threaten to win it.  In fact, I think I saw Todd Richards employing a "shut-down" approach in the third period.  When was the last time you saw that out of the Blue Jackets?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Is the worst of the Central better than the best of the Southeast?

I don't often write up previews for specific Columbus Blue Jackets games, but this particular game intrigues me, especially at this point of the season.

Tonight, the Central Diivision (and Western Conference and National Hockey League) cellar dwellers, the CBJ and their 57 standings points, take on the Southeast Division leaders, the Florida Panthers who are sporting a comparatively gaudy 90 points.

Suffice to say that the Blue Jackets have been the Central Division's whipping boys in 2011-12, posting a staggering 4-17-2 record.  They're only 2-3-0 versus the Southeast Division, however.  The Panthers, however, are 0-3-1 versus the Central yet have a more respectable 11-7-3 record versus their own Southeast Division.  If Florida didn't have the playoff seeding protection of being division leaders, they would drop to sixth in the Eastern Conference by virtue of their standings points thus far.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

DBJ's bonus thought on Game 77: Detroit

Columbus 4 - Detroit 2
25-45-7, 5th in Central Division, 30th in NHL
First off, please do not let this post in any way deter you from Gallos' eloquent reflection on last night's game against the Detroit Red Wings.   His "recap" post eloquently captured the night in a way that I won't even try to do.  (And thanks to Gallos for covering for me...I was in bed earlier than I recall for a long, long time.)

That being said, I wanted to share and expand upon a thought that I offered up last night.

As you probably know if you've been paying attention to this blog, I grew up a Detroit Lions NFL fan.  And barring a very brief period at the beginning of my fanhood (when Billy Sims ran wild over the NFL) and a yo-yo stretch of ridiculous highs (and lows) in the 90's where I had moved out of Michigan and settled in Indiana for school and eventually life with my betrothed, the Lions pretty much stunk up the league.  

When the Lions won, the turducken tasted great.
The team was so bad that they couldn't sniff Monday Night Football.  They couldn't get a "national TV game" on Sundays if team owner William Clay Ford wheeled a fleet of free Explorers into the ABC/ESPN/FOX parking lots.  Their brand of football often was so atrocious that, simply put, no one wanted to see it.  Well, outside of the masochistic fans in the Detroit media market and those who, like me, moved away but wanted to keep in touch (and hence subscribed to DirecTV for the purpose of watching the worst announcers FOX and NBC/CBS had calling the games).

But we had Thanksgiving.

Once a year, thanks to whatever arm-twisting/bribery/lurid photos that Mr. Ford used with the NFL schedulers, the networks were on national television.  And not only that, but they were the only game on television.  And not only that, but the game was being called by the networks' top announcing team.

That's not to say the team was good.  Far from it on too many Thanksgivings.  In fact, the NFL usually had to prop up the game by putting a Super Bowl participant from the prior year in as the adversary for the Lions just in order to generate some semblance of public interest in the game.  (Well, that and the eminently-worthy Barry Sanders.)  As often as not, the Lions lost.  Occasionally, they lost in spectacular fashion.

But every now and then, they won.

And I tell you that to explain my feelings about last night's game.

Fox Sports Ohio to the rescue

Once we learned that the NBC Sports Network decided to pass on broadcasting the April 5th Columbus Blue Jackets - Colorado Avalanche game (which makes sense from an NBC perspective - despite their efforts, NBC can't get America all that interested in the Avs...and they simply haven't tried with the woeful Blue Jackets), the question arose: How would Blue Jackets fans be able to see the last away game of the season without hopping on "Last Minute Plane Tickets dot com"?

Fear not, CBJ faithful, for Fox Sports Ohio has come to our aid.  From their advisory:
April 5th Blue Jackets Game on FOX Sports Ohio 
FOX Sports Ohio will be televising the National Hockey League game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, April 5th. Coverage will begin at 9pm. The game was originally scheduled to air on NBC Sports Network. 
Blue Jackets Live pregame and post-game shows will not be aired for this game. Those shows will return on April 7th when the Blue Jackets take on the New York Islanders. 
Very cool.  Thank you to Fox Sports Ohio for picking up the slack on this game.

Game 77: Detroit- It's about the pride

If I say this pic is Allen York who is to doubt me?
There are times in the life of a Blue Jackets fan when you have to swallow your pride.  Oftentimes, that is when you are leaving the building after the Detroit Redwings have reaffirmed who the better team is.  We know this.  Kudos Ken Holland.  I admire Mike Babcock for continually demanding the best from his highly talented team. There is no question as to who is the better organization, or the better team.  We have a long way to go to even be in the conversation.

This is the beauty of the game, that we so love.  While these things are well known, one does not get to complete the season with a pencil. One must strap it on, and get it going, on any given night.  And thus was the situation of the mighty Redwings tonight.  On the back end of a home and home, after the Redwings clinched a playoff spot, and our Blue Jackets clinched the cellar while being thoroughly dominated, the home squad responded with an inspired effort and beat the Wings 4-2.  Nothing more illustrates the beauty of the game of hockey as this match up.  Should you want to beat a superior opponent, you must  bring a complete team game, and a superior effort.  Tonight, the Blue Jackets accomplished that feat.  Of course it helps to have home ice, the last change, and the face-off advantage working for you.  The architects of the game knew that pleasing the home crowd was a good thing.

A lot of verbiage.  But in the end, for the Jackets fan, it means leaving the building after beating the Redwings.  There are few feelings in the life of a long suffering Jackets fan that are better than that.  You want thoughts? York wins one, his NHL first.  Double D, Derek Dorsett scores a goal.  In spite of the fact that the $($%$^^%&&*&%$% referees still will not call goal tender interference fairly against the Redwings, the boys still won.

And the indescribable pleasure of walking out of the building after beating the Redwings.   Well done lads.  Well done.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Game 76: Detroit

Detroit 7 - Columbus 2
24-45-7, 5th in Central Division, 30th in NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets took their show on the road to Joe Louis Arena tonight, only to be demolished by the Detroit Red Wings in regulation, 7-2.


Here's a little to chew on:
That's all.  6 games left.

NEXT UP: The Red Wings visit Nationwide at 7PM on Wednesday for a nationally-televised game on NBC Sports Network.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 75: Edmonton

Edmonton 6 - Columbus 3
24-44-7, 5th in Central Division, 30th in NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets dropped today's matinee against the Edmonton Oilers, by a score of 6-3 in regulation at Nationwide Arena.

The Blue Jackets clinched 30th place in the National Hockey League with the loss, the first time they have ever officially been the worst team in the league.  They need three standings points to avoid being the worst Blue Jackets team of all time.

7 games to go.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 21:38 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 74: Carolina

Steve Mason continues a string of strong hockey
Doggone it!  I really liked that hat!  It was a gray/faded blue, with the flag and star logo, and it had another small civil war hat logo near the back.  I got it after I tossed my hat for the Jeff Carter hat trick, and it was a real beauty.  But there it is.  Now I have one with the ol' Napoleon on it, and it is my first cannon logo hat.  So I guess that's okay.  But I'm still bummed about that other hat.

And now on to the 5 thoughts.

1, 1a, and 1b are hereby repeated.  You know what DBJ thinks.

2. Not a star of the game, but I really liked Cam Atkinson's game last night.  He brings a lot of speed and jump to the top line, and effort wise he pairs up well with Brassard and Umberger.  One important measure of how good a player is depends on whether you make the players around you better.  With Umberger and Brassard relieved of  the 'making sure you feed the Captain the puck' duty, they seemed to thrive.  Atkinson was all over the ice last night.  Sure he gets out muscled with regularity.  But it never deters him, and he never quits on a play.  I'm gonna call him my Third Star of the game, though no one else did.

3.  Hattie for Umby - Again, best game by far that Umberger has played this year.  In large part due to the magic Brassard was working with the puck. Umberger just LEANED into the one-timer for his second goal.  He just cranked it, hard!  It was really good to see.  And for his third, Brass just toyed with the defenseman before dishing to Umby.  Very nice to see, very fun game to go to.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 73: Chicago

Chicago 5 - Columbus 1
23-43-7, 5th in Central Division, 13 pts. out of 29th in NHL
The host Columbus Blue Jackets lost last night to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, 5-1 in regulation, in a game that actually wasn't as close as the score would indicate.  In the process, the Blackhawks swept the season series with the CBJ, 6 games to nil.

Nine games left.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 15:15 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shootout afterglow

In a season where so little has legitimately gone right, I can't help but smile over the incredible fourth-round shootout winner by Cam Atkinson.  And while the NHL didn't make the clip available for embedding, our good buddy Skraut was kind enough to extract the footage so you can watch it again and again.

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 72: Calgary

Columbus 2 - Calgary 1 (SO)
23-42-7, 5th in Central Division, 10 pts. out of 29th in the NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets ended their three-game Western Canada road trip in impressive style, defeating the Calgary Flames in a four-round shootout, 2-1.

1. THAT'S WHAT THE STRING IS FOR - I'm going to postpone my now-regular excoriation of the CBJ for putting Rick Nash on the ice to (Gasp!) compliment the franchise for using this "playing out the string" game to let young players play...and learn to the NHL level.  Ryan Johansen getting minutes in 4-on-4 overtime play.  Steve Mason gutting out a win  in goal.  And - appreciating that it took getting to a fourth shootout round for this to happen - Cam Atkinson's awesome shootout goal to win the game:

Why does the NHL not put shootout goals on its game highlight clips?
Oh well, I think this still photo does Cam's goal justice.
If you HAVE to tank in a season, this is the type of stuff that you want to see as you play out the string.  You want to see your young players learn, step up, perform and see their efforts get rewarded.  That's what carries over into future seasons.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Game 71: Vancouver

Vancouver 4 - Columbus 3
22-42-7, 5th in Central Division, 12 pts. out of 29th in the NHL
The visiting Columbus Blue Jackets dropped a 4-3 decision in regulation to the Vancouver Canucks at the Rogers Centre.

No "5 Thoughts" tonight...not because it was a terrible game, though.  It actually was a decent game from a CBJ perspective; they were skating uphill against a superior opponent all night yet still kept it to a one-goal game.  It had the potential to be downright embarrassing yet wasn't.  Well, unless you were Nikita Nikitin.

Nope, the "5 Thoughts" aren't coming because of the on-ice performance.  They aren't coming because it's too flipping late and I'm tired after a long day.  You're welcome to add your thoughts in the comments.

NEXT UP: The good night's sleep spoiled Western Canada road trip concludes tomorrow (Sunday) night in Calgary at 8PM EST (!!!!!).

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Because it's the Cup" - Blue Jackets style

Inspired by The Royal Half, I note that the NHL has created a new marketing campaign for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Here are the NHL's ads thus far:

Of course, this "Because it's the Cup" theme cries out for a Columbus Blue Jackets twist.  Sure, we're not going to sniff the playoffs this year...but that doesn't mean we can't have fun (and toss a few jabs in the process):

The power of a single word

[NOTE: Before anyone flies off the handle, keep in mind that nothing in this post changes any of my feelings toward Blue Jackets management.  As I said, a pox on both their houses.  But this post is about Rick Nash.]

Let's get it straight: I don't hate Rick Nash.

At the same time, no matter how I look at the Nash situation, I keep coming back to this - his very own words:

(Transcript here)

And then there are his comments from this week in Edmonton that suggest that he - and the locker room that he still leads - aren't necessarily marching to the same drummer as management (emphasis added):
"We’re going to try and get as many points as we can by the end of the season,” Nash added. “Finishing last is something we (players) don’t want to do. Perhaps management and other levels of the organization have different obligations, but for us, there’s no chance that we want to finish in the basement."
After considering what Nash himself has said, I believe that, for all of his many contributions to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the greater Columbus community, he has turned into a mutinous captain.

What a powerful word that is: Mutinous.  Yet this isn't an expression of enmity - it's just an interpretation of that which he pushed in front of my eyes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fox Sports Ohio carries the CCHA championships

For those who have grown weary of playing out the string, I think I have just the remedy for you.  And no, it's not endless college basketball.

Nope, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) is holding what I believe will be their final championship tournament this weekend at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit - and it's a darned good brand of hockey to witness.  Good college hockey has a ton of energy and enthusiasm with nary a fight to be seen.  Diehard Blue Jackets fans will find it a surprisingly fun type of hockey.

Even better for the homers, both perennial power Miami (OH) and the tournament's Cinderella team, Bowling Green, have made it to the final four.  Oh yeah, Fox Sports Ohio has announced that they will be covering the semifinal and final rounds!

More information, please

I'm still stupefied at last night's non-performance in Edmonton.  Therefore, I'm going to avoid discussing The Game That Shall No Longer Be Mentioned any further.

Remember 2011 free agent blue line pickup Radek Martinek?
He played all of seven games for the CBJ before his
season-ending injury.  That's 63 games lost right there.
In a larger sense, however, I'll suggest that the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets abruptly stopped being fun - or funny - once the recent four-game win streak ended with the St. Louis games.  The drudgery of playing out the string appears to have set in, both for fans and players.  I remain hopeful that the team can find a flicker of life between now and the end of the regular season but won't go as far as to say that I'm optimistic.  This has been a brutal season, one I'm sure that the team is weary of.

I've also started thinking over the inevitable post-mortems to come on this season.  Stats will be analyzed, decisions rehashed, public utterances dissected even further.  What won't happen, at least out in public, is a meaningful discussion of perhaps the most critical component of this season's implosion: The number and severity of injuries.

Game 70: Edmonton

Edmonton 3 - Columbus 0
22-41-7, 5th in Central Division, 10 pts. out of 29th in NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets lost, 3-0, to the host Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.

The NHL should destroy every available copy of this game.  It was atrocious hockey by two terrible teams.

NEXT UP: Saturday, 10PM EST, in Vancouver against the Canucks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Notes on Mid-Western Fans

Would profanity laced invective make Nationwide Arena
a more competitive environment?
I've been mulling this post over for quite awhile.  A fairly longstanding discussion between Mrs. Gallos and myself is about the nature of the fans in CBJ land.  We are NICE people.  Its who we are.  We are not a terribly showy bunch of folks, preferring substance to show.  Its why, I think, DBJ reacted negatively to boo-gate, the booing of Jeff Carter.

I always felt that Detroit fan's continual booing of Sergei Fedorov was bush league.  One game yes, maybe two.  But years later?  I wouldn't agree with continual booing of Carter.  We got our point across.  Which is why, strangely, I found the booing rather refreshing.  That's not my normal persona.  And I didn't chime in, but once it started, I wasn't against it, in this season from heck.  It was fun, and it signified that although we are NICE, there are limits.  If you don't appreciate, or understand our NICEness, then we won't be NICE to you.  If, on the other hand, and you are JMFJ, and understand and embrace that, we will respond strongly.  If you betray us, we react strongly (see: Foote, Adam; Nash, Rick as opined by DBJ).  But we are NICE people, and you can work your way back into our good graces (see: Nash, Rick).  We also have a fairly tenacious streak, and don't give up easily (see: season ticket holders).

Anyone who was at Game 4 of the playoffs against Detroit knows what a NICE crowd can sound like with the bit in their teeth.  Some also found out how a NICE crowd will react when you try to throw an Octopus on our ice in a playoff game.  There is a classic picture of that beat down hanging in the R-Bar.  At the end of the day, we prefer to cheer in a positive manner.  'Let's go Jackets!!!'  We tend to save our booing for the referees, who of course, always deserve it in our barn.  But we want our players to play well, and we tend to be fond of them, and identify personally with them, unless they reject us (see Carter, Jeff).  In which case, you might get booed in our barn.

Yes, I know these are gross generalizations.  But I have been a season ticket holder for a long time, and have sat through a lot of games of 'playing out the string'.  In that regard, I'm a qualified observer.  And while DBJ addressed 'playing out the string' in this post, I'd like to suggest that really playing out the string in Nationwide Arena starts on December 1, rather than after the trade deadline.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Playing out the string

There's a point in the season when a team has to realize that they're out of the playoff hunt, that the last glimmer of hope for post-season success is extinguished.  For those not paying super-close attention, Puck Daddy hit us square on the head with the fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets were eliminated from playoff contention today.

Outside of that final nail in the coffin, there are other points at which a team might need to take a good, hard look at itself.  From my limited experience in following NHL hockey, perhaps the most common threshold where the pretenders are separated from the contenders is the NHL trade deadline.

The joy of playing out the string.  Are you ready to renew for next season?
This is an obviously awkward time for a professional team that isn't cutting it at the trade deadline.  Rather than aggressively add talent as "buyers," they're relegated to the "seller" position - dumping players whom they don't want to re-sign or play with in the following season in order to gain tools (players, picks) to facilitate a competitive team in seasons to come.  They have to continue to sell tickets in the current season and market ticket package renewals for the upcoming season, however, knowing that the season will end with game 82.  So they're playing out the string...and selling hope for next season along the way.  You know, so people will stick with them.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 69: St. Louis

St. Louis 2 - Columbus 1
22-40-7, 5th in Central Division, 8 pts. out of 29th in the NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up a home-and-home weekend series with the St. Louis Blues at Nationwide Arena tonight, losing 2-1 in regulation.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 21:04 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Game 68: St. Louis

St. Louis 4 - Columbus 1
22-39-7, 5th in Central Division, 8 pts. out of 29th in NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets were thoroughly dominated in all aspects of the game in a 4-1 loss to the host St. Louis Blues tonight at Scotttrade Center.

NEXT UP: The CBJ home-and-home weekend with the Blues concludes with a 6PM faceoff on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On Jeff Carter

Last night's 5 Thoughts have brought the knives out (Isn't "Anonymous" commenting grand?), so permit me to expand on my somewhat controversial "Thought 3b." - the one taking fans in attendance to task for booing Jeff Carter.

First, let's get this out on the table.  I have prided myself in my Twitter and blogging presence for not attacking my fellow Blue Jackets fan.  In fact, I (very) often bite my tongue, shake my head and/or step aside from the online world when others attack those whose worldviews do not agree with theirs.  But it's been a long and frustrating season, and I slipped last night.

For that - and to those who don't appreciate the comparison to our friends to the southeast - I apologize.  And I suppose I should apologize for any slight perceived by our friends to the southeast.

Will I retract what is out there?  No.  What's the use?  It's my opinion, one that now has been stated in the public dialogue.  And I stand behind the substance of the opinion.  So I guess we all have to suck it up and deal with the fact that there is no unanimity in a world full of nearly 7 billion people that are capable of processing information and drawing conclusions independently of each other.  We've all got to find a way to respect opinions, even those with which we don't agree.  And "all" includes me.

With that out of the way, let's get to the crux of the matter: Jeff Carter.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 67: Los Angeles

Columbus 3 - Los Angeles 1
22-38-7, 5th in Central Division, 7 pts. out of 29th place in NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets won their fourth straight game, downing the Los Angeles Kings by the score of 3-1, at Nationwide Arena tonight.  The team hasn't won four straight since November 2010 - the apex of the Scott Arniel honeymoon.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 22:15 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Guest Post: Reclaiming Our Voice and Demanding a Trade

[Because I feel that the "CBJ Fan Protest" is an important development in the public dialogue involving the Columbus Blue Jackets, I invited one of the organizers, @CapnCorneliusto offer some thoughts on the protest, its goals and activities going forward.  In addition, I asked him to provide information for those who wish to get more involved. -- DBJ]

Last week as Jackets fans we discovered that our team’s star player demanded a trade, or, rather, asked that the Jackets “consider” trading him.  The following day Rick Nash spoke and told us that he had determined that being traded would be best for the team.  In each case, a lot of lip service was paid to us while neither the team’s management nor its star seemed to be completely honest with us.

The fans of this team, for their part, have been speaking with a loud voice since January.  A voice that has been largely ignored.  That voice was again evidenced over the last week with many chanting “Fire Scott Howson!” and “Fire Mike Priest!”  at Nationwide Arena and carrying signs to similar effect.

When myself and the other organizers of the CBJ Fan Protest created For A New Start (F.A.N.S.), we did so to give a voice to Jackets fans who have become fed up with the mismanagement of the Columbus Blue Jackets on and off the ice.  The idea was born from the open mic portion of the CBJ Fan Protest where many fans came up and shared their personal stories with one another.  This week, we are turning the volume knobs up to 11 so that we can all have our voices heard again.

The days of podcasting continue unabated

I was honored to be invited to offer the "opposing team" insights on the All The Kings Man podcast last night.

Topics included the state of the Blue Jackets, the Jeff Carter/Jack Johnson trade, Rick Nash and how one maintains hope when...well...your team has the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

My segment starts at 28:18 or so.  Enjoy...cringe...whatever you want.

(And please understand that my participation was recorded starting at 12:30 this morning.  So if I sound sluggish, it's excusable.  Right?  Right?)

Many thanks to Jesse, Matt, the Royal Half for having me along for the ride!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An answer that could fill in a host of blanks

New Los Angeles King Jeff Carter
From Jeff Carter's media scrum in advance of tomorrow night's Los Angeles Kings-Columbus Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena:
Question: What’s your take on the whole situation with Rick (Nash)? Is that awkward for a team? 
CARTER: “I don’t really know what to say to that. I’m not going to say too much. It was definitely awkward, I guess, would be a pretty good word to describe it.’’
You don't say.

(But which "situation with Rick" is he discussing?  His inability to develop any chemistry with Nash?  Rumors of locker room friction?  Nash's desire to leave town?  Something else?)

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 66: Phoenix

Columbus 3 - Phoenix 2
21-38-7, 5th in Central Division, 9 points out of 29th in the NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets won their third straight game in regulation for the first time in what feels like forever in defeating the visiting Phoenix Coyotes, 3-2.

The Blue Jackets are perilously close to making the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft a topic of conversation around the league.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 19:31 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We want the Cup. In Columbus.

I hadn't planned to write anything on this day off from Columbus Blue Jackets hockey, but tonight's Versus NBC Sports Network game featuring the Buffalo Sabres visiting the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre in the 'peg got my blood pumping.

Grant Clitsome works through some post-practice
drills while with the CBJ
First, it's great to see Claude Noel do well.  The former interim head coach (who had a winning record with an increasingly AHL roster...just saying) has the Jets in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, which means that - if the season ended today - Noel would have navigated the former Atlanta Thrashers to the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs.  More power to him.  Noel's a darned good coach and deserves all the success that he gets, regardless of small-minded snickering about how he tried to emphasize "joy" on the Blue Jackets as a reaction to the cloud of misery surrounding the club in the wake of Ken Hitchcock's early exit.

And then there's Grant Clitsome.  Clitsome was placed on waivers around the trade deadline and was picked up by Winnipeg.  It's been a sea change in environment and attitude for Grant (Was this article really that bad?), summarized by Jets Hockey Forum:
Clitsome: "The hardest thing to adjust to was having to shout at your teammates as you can't hear them with how loud the crowd is"
Which brings me to the real reason I'm writing tonight: The incredible environment in Winnipeg.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Licking My Wounds

I'm still having a hard time adjusting to the post trade deadline reality of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  I'm sort of like an injured pet.  Sitting quietly in the corner, worrying at the injury, in hopes that it will help the healing.  The most accomplished player in the history of the franchise is on the trading block.  Management demanded a price commensurate with his accomplishments, and what it would take to replace him.  Then they stuck to their guns at the deadline when people wouldn't meet their price.  The NHL intelligentsia seem offended by both the price, and the unwillingness of the underdog Blue Jackets to cave, and fuel a cup run by someone that they really wanted to watch play.  In the immortal words of Bill the Cat:  Phttthhhbbbbbttt!!

The Rangers offer of a pretty decent player, their second best prospect, a middlin' prospect, and a number 1 pick was deemed adequate in many circles, so long as you weren't staking your reputation on actually having made that trade.  Some of the outrage in New York had to do with the temerity of the CBJ for asking for players that the Rangers quickly took off the table.  OK then.  I have to confess that this backdrop will add a bit of spice to my watching of the playoffs.  At the end of the day, CBJ management did a good job of sticking to their guns, and not giving in to inferior offers.

We the fans are left to grapple with the post trade deadline reality of the situation.  Todd Richards seems to be slowly instilling some confidence in the group.  Their play is more sound.  The addition of Jack 'Mother's Favorite 'Johnson (JMFJ, you're welcome grandma), has added a completely new dimension to the blue line.  Talent pressure from the top serves to push people down into appropriate roles, and Johnson has done that on our defensive corps.

So how does this resemble Gerard Gallant's team?  We have seen this before.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 65: Phoenix

Columbus 5 - Phoenix 2
20-38-7, 5th in Central Division, 11 pts. out of 29th place in the NHL
For the first time since February 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets won back-to-back games in regulation (Thanks, Rob Kunz!), winning 5-2 over the host Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Arena.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 17:03 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Alphabet Soup.

Hello friends! This post started off as "alison's recap of the trade deadline", but, as I pondered it more, I think most everything that can be said has been said, and while apparently Scott Howson's definition of "very active" and my definition of "very active" are rather different, we made it through, albeit with a somewhat different roster. Obviously, the most looming non-transaction during the trade period was the activity surrounding Rick Nash.

The pending trade of Nash is another topic that has been debated as much as it can be...for now. Suffice it to say, that I do believe that come next season, Nasher will find himself as part of another team, and hopefully, the Blue Jackets will have acquired assets in trade that can help us become a true contender in the NHL. So, the question looms...where do we go from here? And that brings us to the alphabet...the alphabet of "C's" and "A's".

Rick Nash has worn the C for Columbus for almost all of his Blue Jackets career. It will surely be a jolt to see the letter on another jersey - but, here is my completely amateur view of what we'll see come puck drop 2012. My belief is that the letters should go to guys who are not brand spanking new to the team next year, so, assuming that the bearers of the letters are on this roster now, I'm throwing out my theories - and welcome all of yours....

Friday, March 2, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 64: Colorado

Columbus 2 - Colorado 0
19-38-7, 5th in Central Division, 11 pts. out of 29th in the NHL
The Columbus Blue Jackets opened their brief two-game western road trip with a 2-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche last night at Pepsi Center.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Inexplicably, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 18:32 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reasons why the CBJ should keep putting Rick Nash on the ice

I've been pleasantly surprised at the feedback from the Game 63 recap, where I discussed the madness of putting Rick Nash, the Columbus Blue Jackets' mutinous captain, on the ice once both he and the Blue Jackets management decided that every effort would be made to move him to another team.  The blog comments reflect thoughtful, reasoned counter-responses to my post, and Internet chatter has been surprisingly positive once the shock of "scratching the star player" wears off.  There's been a nice, healthy undercurrent of, "I never thought about it that way, but it makes sense."  Regardless of which side you come down on in this polarizing discussion, I'm pleased to have been a part of it.

Thanks, Rick.  It's been terrific.
But you don't want to be here any more, and Columbus needs to move on.
In deference to those who don't agree with my assertion (and in preparation for tonight's Fire The Cannon podcast appearance where I'll be discussing this whole notion), I thought it would be a good exercise to summarize the points of those who disagree with my assertions in one place.  That way, you readers can consider both sides and draw your own conclusions.  Of course, I reserve the right to offer my reply to those arguments.

  • Nash is one of few players who can be relied upon to score.
  • Nash helps the team win games right now.
  • There's no need to start the rebuild now, seeing as a good portion of the roster won't be around next season, so you might as well play Nash.
DBJ's response: While Nash did score in Detroit in Game 63, the team didn't win.  And they haven't won in many games this season where he participated in the scoring column.  Besides, this season has long been declared over from a competitiveness point of view.  Winning games right now only serves to jeopardize the team's draft position.

We be podcasting...tonight!

In case you want a little more pre-game than you can get on your standard Blue Jackets broadcast outlets, why check out tonight's edition (Episode of the long-running Fire The Cannon podcast featuring HockeyBuzz's Eric Smith and 97.1 The Fan's Lori Schmidt:

The party starts at 7:00PM, and guests will include Scott "Torg" Torgerson of 97.1 The Fan and...wait for it...yours truly.  (Gee, I wonder what Eric wants me to talk about...)  What a lineup, sure to get that blood pumping in advance of the late-ish (9PM) start tonight in Colorado.