Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Your Columbus Blue Jackets 2013 Quote of the Year

"What we've got to do is continue to build our fan base.  We can't just have our hand out to the league.  The season-ticket base is key.  We have to continue to build it, and it would be a hell of a lot easier to do if we play better."

- John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations, Columbus Blue Jackets
as quoted in the Columbus Dispatch (December 12, 2013 edition)

All joking and snark aside, at least Davidson talks like He Gets It.  Here's hoping that selling season tickets becomes a lot easier in Columbus over the months and years ahead.

Happy 2014, everyone!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 39: Penguins

Still on the road, so graphics are limited
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets slugged it out with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 50 minutes.  Unfortunately, the game was 60 minutes, and the Penguins pulled away in the last half of the third period to win 5-3, powered by a James Neal hat trick and a productive powerplay.  The CBJ scored a late 'we ain't quitting goal' but the better team prevailed tonight.  This game has little bearing on the ultimate outcome of the CBJ's season, and should be regarded as such.

I'm still on the road, and the DBJ is experimenting on harboring exotic bugs in his body in some fanatical post holiday weight loss scheme known as 'stomach flu'.  So we're still limping through these write ups, especially with the graphics.  Please be patient.  

Instead of the 6-pack graphic I have
provided this nifty shot of
Sidney Crosby showing off his
Movember mustache.  Pretty cool huh?
1. My first cold, frosty CBJ beer for tonight goes to development, particularly the development of Ryan Johansen and Ryan Murray.  Coach Todd Richards matched them up against the Crosby line all night long, and this is great experience for them moving forward.  These are the guys that will be responsible for closing the gap between these teams, if it is to be closed at all, so they might as well get used to it.  Overall, they did not do too badly with the assignment.  Joey was - 2 on the night, but Murray was even in +/- with a whopping 24:40 of ice time tonight.  At one point Bob McElligott commented that Crosby left the ice none to happy with Johansen.  That's a good thing, though the ice did tilt Pittsburgh's way soon thereafter.

2. My second cold, tasty, CBJ beer goes to Corey Tropp.  Being as I am on the road, and visiting, when dinner hits the table I need to go, so I missed the second half of the second period.  It was really sweet to come back down and find the game tied after two periods.  Kind of amazing that he has a +/- of 3, especially since he took a penalty that resulted in a Pittsburgh powerplay goal.  But hey, there it is.  He has been playing better and better of late, which is really helpful.  But in Richie's post game interview he indicated that he expected a guy who was getting more comfortable with the system and the guys in the room to be playing better.  Pressure to perform is a good thing for these guys, and Tropp is supplying it to the rest of the role players.  Well done tonight Corey.

3.  My third delicious, savory CBJ beer, is a playoff hunt beer.  This team remains in the hunt, 2 points out of  a three way tie for the third spot in the Metropolitan, 5 points out of the Metropolitan wild card slot, and 7 points out of second in the Metro.  This could happen a lot of different ways, and this is going to be fun to watch down the stretch.  As comparison, the Nashville Predators have exactly the same number of points we have, and they are a hefty 9 points out of a playoff spot in the ultracompetitive Western Conference.  I take a big slurp of this beer out of gratitude for being in the East.  Think that over the next time you consider booing Bettman, or at least consider letting other people do that for you, because they will.  

4.  My fourth beer goes to Brandon Dubinsky.  Dubi got us on the board early, scoring the first goal of the game.  Problematically, we gave up a goal less than a minute later on the power play from the Tropp tripping penalty.  Dubinsky could have been the hero and the first star if he would have buried one of his chances early in the second period when the CBJ were skating the Pens off the ice.  The net was open, but we repeatedly missed it.  Dubi seemed really engaged early in this game, but didn't seem to show up much in the radio broadcast commentary late, perhaps because of the amount of time spent killing penalties.  I'd have a better feel for his performance if I'd have had a chance to see it, and my assessment may be off base.  

5.  My fifth beer of the evening goes to the House of Hickory, in Nashville, Tenn.  This is seriously good barbeque folks.  Urp.   And they ship!  Let me know and I'll post their website.  

6.  My sixth, warm, flat, Natty light, found rolling around in the back of the jeep, a leftover from a round of golf last summer, goes to the Pens fans.  This was a bottom line game for us.  Your money, helping our bottom line.  Hope you enjoyed the show.

At the end of the day, the Penguins are among the leagues elite, and we are not.  The better team won tonight.  As Richie said in his post game presser, the CBJ cracked under the pressure first.  Crosby is a helluva player, and Murray is still a rookie.  The Pens are starting to get people back from injury, we're still depleted, but will get help soon.  The next time these teams meet, the game may mean a lot more to the CBJ, as we will be in a different phase of the playoff hunt, for better or worse.  But, this was a brick game, with our young players tasked with keeping the Pens stars in check.  And learning to do so is definitely a process, so this was a step.  

Now the CBJ take to the road, but so far their brand of hockey has been pretty portable.  We'll see how this one goes starting on New Year's Eve in Colorado.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

There will be days like this: Game 38, Devil Wrenches

Last night the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the New Jersey Devils (aka Devilwrenches, check the logo) 2-1 in a shoot out.  Both teams take a point, but the CBJ take two, which leaves us in what is essentially a 4 way tie for the third spot in the Metro conference, a guaranteed playoff berth.  In the hunt, with reinforcements on the way.  This is shaping up to be one fun hockey season.

We're kind of limping into this one.  The DBJ is diligently trying to recreate the Christmas vacation movie.  Last I heard, the garbage disposal went down last night late.  Remember, no smoking near the sewer!  On the personal front, I'm down in Predators land, visiting with the in-laws.  You may not believe this, but the local TV barons are not scrambling to put the CBJ games on the tube down here.  So basically, I'm working off of Bob McElligott's dulcet tones from the radio broadcast.

Earlier this week we conducted a little reader poll, and the results were unanimous.  We will be bringing back the six-pack review for the rest of the hockey season.  A couple of things we'd like you to keep in mind.  The six-packs are more work for us.  Since we do this for fun, there will be times when circumstances just throw things in the crapper.  Like, say, today.  So we don't promise perfection, but we aim to please, so we'll see how it goes.  With that...

To me, for being a Boomer, and
forgetting to put the six pack graphic
on a thumb drive so I could use it on the road.
1.  Our first CBJ beer for last night's game goes to Curtis McElhinney.  Ya, ya, I know.  Brodeur is a legend.  But McElhinney stood tall in the shoot out, and shut them down for a huge extra point.  CMac and Mike McKenna have stepped up huge for the CBJ.  When Bobrovski went down, it served to focus the team, and CMac and McMac have done a great job of filling in. The job they have done has long term ramifications, such as not feeling you have to rush Bob back to save a season that is in the death spiral.  The team has tightened up its play for sure, but the goal tenders have done a good job of taking care of business in the crease.  This one's for you boys!

2.  Our second CBJ beer goes to Cam Atkinson, for assisting on the initial goal, and then scoring the only goal in the shoot out.  Cam has been bringing steady play of late, and is starting to fulfill the promise he has of being a good NHL player.  I wonder where his ceiling is?  With 10G-10A-20P Cam is part an ever increasing number of BlueJackets in double digits for goals this year.  That depth is great to have as we get into a stretch where play is going to ramp up.  The Jackets need to match that, and scoring depth is a good way to do it.

3. My third CBJ beer goes to Arty Anisimov.  I really thought he had a quiet early season, and played a role in some of the teams early struggles.  He seems to have solidified his game, and the offensive touch has emerged.  Scoring the first goal by jumping on a rebound, and roofing it over a sprawling Brodeur, Arty has put together a string of really solid games.  Atta boy Arty.

4.  My fourth CBJ beer goes to the Columbus Blue Jackets iPad app, which is really awesome if you are on the road and want to catch the game.  They have added the radio feed to it, and it has a function where you can follow the game, with players coming on, and a text version of significant events.  Coupled with McElligott's radio broadcast, it is a great way to take in the game if you are traveling.

5. My fifth CBJ beer is a bit of a weird one.  It goes to Jody Shelly.  Because Jody really only made a very short stop on the radio broadcast, before muscling in to help with the TV production.  Nice Jody!  Way to go.  He is pretty smooth, and has some good insights to the game.  He is a boost to either of the productions.

6.  My sixth CBJ beer goes to our readers.  Thanks for sticking with it, and thanks for letting us know your thoughts.  You keep this fun.

A day late, a dollar short, but in the books nonetheless.  Here's wishing you an enjoyable playoff race, 'cause we got one of them, you know!


Friday, December 27, 2013

In praise of the Christmas holiday break

"December 24, Christmas Day, and December 26 shall be off-days for all purposes, including travel, and no Club may request a Player's consent to practice on such days for any reason, provided, however, if December 26 falls on a Saturday and the League has scheduled NHL Games on such date, December 23 may be substituted as an off-day for all purposes, including travel, instead of December 26."
That's Article 16.5(b) of the newly-agreed to NHL-NHL Players Association collective bargaining agreement.  And I think it's great.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Motion on the Table

Happy Holidays Blue Jackets Fans!  Here we sit, with the NHL shut down for the holiday, with nothing to do except eat, visit with family, and watch the NBA <shudder>.  Well, it turns out that there is one we can do during this down time.  Share a little bit of input on what you want to see in the blog.

Every year as the season approaches (well, except maybe last year which was a mad scramble), we carefully consider what type of product to put on the table for the season.  We do this for fun, but we don't want it to get stale, so we try new things.

We don't really want to get in the business of writing a recap. There are already several excellent recaps of each game produced on other blogs.  We don't need to recreate the wheel.  So we thought for this year, we would share our thoughts and perspective, and finish up with a little Haiku.  Something creative, and to keep us thinking.

However, earlier this week, with the most exacting political correctness, and great sensitivity to our finer feelings, the old grouch left us a comment:

Can we dump the game haikus? Bad idea. Bring back the six packs.

Well then.  You can't say we don't listen.  So I thought while we were killing time, waiting for the puck to drop again, we'd take a little survey to see if our readers agreed.  So if you don't mind, leave your thoughts in the comments, and shape the future of your reading pleasure.

The six-pack format was from a former blogger 'Light the Lamp'.  Along with entertaining us with some true snark, lots of good commentary, and some real original and funny thoughts, Light the Lamp originated the game 6-pack format.  Well, LTL withdrew from the fray, partly due to the soul crushing weight of the Arniel years, as well as to some increased time demands brought on by the presence of a wee one.  Last year, he graciously donated his format of doing the six pack after the game, as well as the graphic that goes with it.  To give you a feel for the format, I did the last game commentary in the six pack format.  

So what do you think?  If you've got the time and inclination, drop your thoughts on us, and we'll think it over for the rest of the season going forward.  Keep in mind we do this for fun.

Thanks as always for reading, and leaving us good comments.  You always make me think, so that's a good thing.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Thoughts on Game 37: Hurricanes

Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets exploded for 2 goals late in the third period to tie, and ultimately beat, the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in an important Metropolitan Division tilt.  This was a game of counter punching, and the CBJ took their fair share of them.  But in the second half of the third period, Jack Skille took what was termed as a bad penalty by the broadcast team.  I think that penalty was a turning point in the game, as Skille blew up Tuomo Ruutu who had just hit Tyutin from behind, and hurt him.  Other than the fact that it was purely and completely interference, Skille laid a perfectly clean hit on Ruutu and knocked him on his a**.  That penalty kill, for a penalty taken to police some liberties taken with a teammate, gave the CBJ the momentum they rode to the win.  Mike McKenna made some key saves down the stretch, and the CBJ get two huge points.
Back by popular demand...

For tonight, I thought I would acquiesce to a reader comment and do a 6 pack for tonight.  We'll invoke democratic processes later in the dead zone over the break.

1. My first, cold frosty, CBJ six pack beer goes to all of us involved in following, supporting, cheering for, managing, playing for and coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Merry Christmas to us!! The CBJ sit at the Christmas Break firmly entrenched in the playoff race.  If you had asked Jarmo and JD on October 1st if they could live with amazing injuries, but still being in the race at Christmas they would have knocked you down in their rush to take the offer.  A total credit to the players, who have laid some real ostrich eggs, but have always responded with good play to those bad games.

2. My next, silky smooth, Sam Adams Christmas Lager goes to passing, which the CBJ showed in abundance.  It was the passing of a team that has been to the wars, and seen a lot of things, but they knew where their team mate would be.  Atkinson, Foligno, and Anisimov all made passes that were a thing of beauty, all of which lead to goals.  At this point in the season, everyone has established who passes and who shoots.  Earlier they tried to make another pretty pass.  At this stage of the year, they are content to take the pretty pass and put in on net.  Funny how those make goals.

Jack Skille
3. My third beer of the six pack, is a Gordon Biersch Winter Bock, of which a couple will make you dizzy, in honor of Jack Skille's game tonight.  Jack just laid the wood to Ruutu after he hit Tyutin from behind, and left him hurting.  Clean hit on Ruutu, but he definitely lowered the boom.  The penalty kill on the ensuing interference penalty on Skille just fired the team up.  Ultimately, this lead to Anisimov laying an unbelievable, behind the back pass to Skille's tape which he promptly buried in the top corner of the goal for the game winner.  A great effort by Skille tonight, whom is playing like a man with something to prove.  And that's a good thing for the CBJ.

4. My next CBJ beer, a sweet, smooth Scottish from Barley's, goes to Mike McKenna.who backstopped the CBJ to this win in lieu of Curtis McElhinney whose back tightened up before the morning skate.  McKenna picked up his first win in a CBJ sweater, and once again did a pretty solid job when getting called on in short order.  Realistically, the goal tending since Bobrovski went down is pretty much all you could have hoped for.  When the team in front of it was laying an egg, the goal tending didn't look too good.  When the team played well, it's been good enough to keep them in the game.

5. My next CBJ beer, a nice raucous tall boy from the R-Bar, goes to Corey Tropp, who scored the second goal with a 'time to go to the net' crash, that resulted in a rebound goal.  He has really been coming hard, and his play is going to a new level.  This is looking like a nice acquisition by Jarmo that puts a lot of pressure on our role players to produce.  Which is having great results.  Nice job tonight Corey, and congratulations on your first goal with the CBJ.

6. My sixth and last beer, a nice big, expensive Arena Tallboy, goes to Ryan Johansen for taking that next step.  Dang.  When he got that puck from Foligno, you just knew he was going to score.  The thing that is interesting is to watch how confident he is when talking to the press after the game.  Joey is taking it to another level as we watch, and what a fine Christmas present that is!  Well done Ryan, well done indeed.

The CBJ come into the 3 day Christmas break on a bit of a roll despite laying an egg in Philly.  They are 6-3-1, assured of a winning record in December, and firmly entrenched in the playoff race.  Nathan Horton and Sergei Bobrovsky will be rejoining the line up over the next two weeks.  Organizational depth has been tested, and is proving sound.  That is totally a credit to Brad Larsen, and the job he is doing in promoting a winning culture in Springfield.  Thanks to all the players and coaches doing such a great job in Springfield.

More importantly I wish a happy holiday to the coaches and players of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  They have proved hard working and pugnacious so far this year.  That is a credit to their character.  Thanks for a fun early season.  The pace ratchets up from here.

And finally, to close, all of us here at the Dark Blue Jacket would like to wish you all a happy, prosperous, and enjoyable Christmas Holiday.  I won't say peaceful, because some of the gang here have young children.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

DBJ mails in a recap for CBJ Game 36: Philadelphia

Columbus 6 - Philadelphia 3
Returning to the Jekyll and Hyde team of November, the Columbus Blue Jackets laid into the visiting Philadelphia Flyers tonight, beating Philly by a score of 6-3 in regulation and exorcising a number of demons from Game 35 in the process.

Give me points for honesty: I didn't watch the game all that closely.  Yes, it was on.  Yes, I poked my head up to watch a little here and there.  Yes, my house was filled with rampaging children as some of my in-laws made a weekend youth travel hockey road trip to Central Ohio and were kind enough to stop by and drop off some Christmas presents.

So as the Blue Jackets were laying the proverbial lumber to the Flyers, I was assembling the Dark Blue Kiddo's brand-new FIVE LEVEL TOY CAR PARKING GARAGE.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

So DBJ caught CBJ game 35: Philadelphia

Philadelphia 5 - Columbus 4
The Columbus Blue Jackets opened a five-game stretch of crucial Metropolitan Division games by playing a strong opening 40 minutes of hockey, building up a 3-0 lead after two periods in Philadelphia.  The CBJ then proceeded to crash and burn in epic fashion, giving up five goals in the third period en route to a 5-4 loss to the host Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Morgan watches Game 34 vs The Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets 3 - Columbus Blue Jackets 2

It was a game filled with more aviation cliches than an Iron Eagle reunion tour at the Air Force Museum in Dayton.  There were more hashtags and tweets about grounding, no-flying, and shooting down the visiting Jets than a Monday night on twitter should see.  But in the end, *puts on sunglasses* it was the Blue Jackets who were slow to get off the ground.  They never really left the hangar until late in the game.  The offense really screwed the pooch.  As expected in any poorly played CBJ game, the refs caught more flak than a LeMay formation on a bombing sortie over Germany.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

So DBJ caught Game 33: St. Louis

St. Louis 4 - Columbus 3 (OT)
The Columbus Blue Jackets blew the doors off of the visiting St. Louis Blues in the first period with three unanswered goals but let off the gas as the game wore on, allowing the Blues to sneak by the CBJ, 4-3, in overtime at Nationwide Arena.

McKenna, Hitch, Storylines Within Storylines

Mike McKenna in Training Camp
Today General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen's contribution to the 2013-14 Columbus Blue Jackets comes to the fore.  After signing Curtis McElhinney to a one way contract, he surveyed the scene and was dissatisfied with goal tending depth.  So he went out and signed Mike McKenna and Jeremy Smith to be the tandem in AHL in Springfield.  With Bobrovsky and McElhinney on the shelf with injuries, McKenna and Smith need to carry the mail in a playoff chase (albiet early and in a sorta faltering, roller coaster way).  With the CBJ one point out of playoff position, each point at this juncture is key.

The Columbus Dispatch and the CBJ have reported a great deal about the intrigue of this story, how McKenna grew up in St. Louis, and his family's influence on hockey in St. Louis.  Good stuff, you should check it out.

Jeremy Smith in Training Camp
The other part of the tandem, Jeremy Smith has some local ties as well.  The CBJ Press release noted that Smith had backstopped the Cincinnati Cyclones to a Kelly Cup Championship in the ECHL.  It turns out that I got to see one of those playoff games when my son was at UC.  Smith has won in Ohio before, and we hope he keeps that up if he gets the call up here.

We've been here before.  In the disastrous 2011-12 season we had plan C in the goal in the form of Curtis 'The Sandman" Sanford, and plan D on the bench in the form of Allen York. And lo and behold, plan D, ends up in goal for eleven games that season.  The uncertainty at goal tender contributed to the tail spin that derailed the 2011-12 campaign early in the year.  McKenna and Smith have an opportunity to do better than that.  And I think that the team in front of them is playing much better.  So best of luck to these guys, and we will see what happens.

Because tonight the CBJ face a formidable opponent, Coach Ken Hitchcock's St. Louis Blues.  The Blues already have 20 wins in this season, and are playing at a very high level.  They will certainly be a big test for the young CBJ, and could well be the best team in the NHL this year.  You have treat these guys like you are playing Boston, and expect a 'heavy' game.  Yes, that a Hitchcock saying.  And yes, I am going to proceed to indulge myself by devoting the rest of this post to Hitch.  Oh, sorry, the Jack Adams Award winning, Coach Ken Hitchcock.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why This Team Drives Us Crazy

If you've been a Jackets fan for more than a couple years then you're pretty much used to losing. You're used to looking for nuggets of hope in names like Norrena, Picard, Brule, and Novotny. (That's right, Jiri Novotny played for us, remember that? Me neither.)

Every now and then we get a sniff of success and we don't know what to do with ourselves. One trip to the playoffs in team history, and it ended quickly and brutally at the hands of the Wings. Then last season happened. The Jackets went on a tear and just missed. So, what are we fans to do? Expect that to happen again, of course.

Then October happened. What a mess. Our fan expectations took it right on the chin. The 5-6 record compiled in October was far from the 11-0 we expected. OK, maybe we expected a more realistic 10-1. (But that 1 sure as hell wasn't going to be against the [expletive] Flames on opening night!)

Calendar flips to November...THUD. Drop the first four games. Ouch.

By November 7th most of us were expecting 15-0 (or 14-1), to have pummeled the Pens twice, a win over the Rangers, Jack Johnson to have rag dolled Rick Nash, and be sitting atop the Metro division laughing at the pitiful Eastern Conference.

Instead, we woke up on November 8th and our beloved Jackets were 5-10-0, got shutout by the Pens at home, lost to the Rangers (Nash was out with a concussion so no rag dolling), and we were one point out of the basement of the Metro...the now worst division in the NHL. Oh, the prideful times we Jacket fans were enjoying.

After that Ranger game, things started to turn just a little. Got some points in 5 straight games. Then our roller coaster section of...

We're awesome!!

Fire Richards!!

We're unstoppable!!

Fire Richards!!


Why does Richards still have a job?!?!?

Wash, rinse, repeat until...

Welcome to December.

"Good day and welcome to Day 12"

The Men of The Neon Bug have opened the month with a solid 4-1 record. And what's that? Expectations are again on the rise! Not quite to Post-April level of expectations, but things are starting to feel a lot more like last spring than like, say, 2006.

In the meantime we managed to lose Bob, Gabby, and Boll to injury. Dubinsky was out for a stretch, Calvert was missing for a while, and we have yet to see Horton. That is only going to feed those expectations as we move thru December. Many of us are thinking, "We're winning without those guys, what will it be like when they return?"

Here's what we'll be like...if we continue to forecheck like we have the last 5 games, and during the peaks of The Roller Coaster Stretch, we'll be fine. We'll be better than fine, we'll win more often than we lose. We're the youngest team in the NHL (tired of that one yet?), and we have speed. A lot of speed. When the Jackets use that youth and speed, they're fun to watch. When the boys in blue sit back and wait on the opponent to beat them, the opponent will oblige.

So, why does this team drive us crazy? Because we know that they can play solid, winning hockey. We saw it last spring, and we're starting to see it again now. This season is starting to shape up eerily like last season...horrible start, strong but not quite winning play in the middle...and now? Time for the unbelievable finish?

Parting Stat

A friend of mine once said, "The goal differential doesn't lie." And over the course of a season, he's usually right. Sure, there will be a few that will be swapped, but they'll be within a couple goals of each other. For the most part, the goal differential does indeed reflect the standings by the end of the season. Here's the standings as of right now...

Now while you're looking at the goal differential, throw out the game in Edmonton on November 19th.

Let's go Jackets.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Game 32: CBJ v NYR - A Tale of Three Periods

Columbus Blue Jackets 4 - New York Rangers 2

Tonight's Blue Jackets game against the New York Rangers had more story lines than a football program under NCAA investigation.  Lots of things swirling around this game:  Rick Nash's first game against the CBJ, Dubinky's return to MSG, and Derek Brassard's butt hurt.  In today's needlessly emotional climate of who wins and who loses, who's right and who's wrong - this game carried lots of weight with fans over who "won" the trade.  Seriously, who wins trades?  Is that another advanced stat?  To me, this game was about the cancer that once was in the Blue Jackets dressing room lead by Scott Arniel now doing their thing in Madison Square Garden.  It was also a night for a NYR fan favorite to return to the Big Apple.  And there was a needless amount of talk about the newly renovated MSG.  A hundred gajillion zillion dollar renovation and I'm sure the 34th street subway terminal right around the corner still smells like a dirty urinal that someone vomited in. Speaking of 34th Street, if you ever get a chance to see a game in NYC, get off the E (maybe it's the F...) at 34th and stop over at B&H Photo first.  It's an awesome place, but I digress.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 31: Devilwrenches

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The CBJ and particularly the Johansen line, (Joey, Umby, and Fellini for Morgan) had a bad case of Crosby-Malkinitis going into tonight's game against New Jersey.  Fortunately, Dubinsky, Atkinson, and Calvert were in the back of the bus (i.e. plane) popping Crash-the-netisone for tonight's game.  New Jersey pretty much skated the CBJ off the ice in the first 23 minutes of the game.  The huge fortune was that we were only down 2-1 after the first period.  The Jackets goal came off a nice rush by Atkinson, who dished a marginal pass to Dubinsky on the boards, who dug it out and flung it on net.  Cam was backing into the crease when the rebound off Brodeur (pronounced 'Hall of Fame') bounced into the net.  A good imitation of last night's goal by Crosby.

But after New Jersey scored early in the second to make it 3-1, the CBJ scored twice in a minute at about the 5 minute mark in the second, to make it a 3-3 game.  This flurry was all about the Dubinsky, Atkinson, Calvert line, which pretty much carried the team for the whole second period.  Really excellent effort by all three players.  Even better, at a time when the best line, Johansen's line, didn't have it, they stepped up and owned the game.  That means we have a 1-2 punch.  And sure enough that's how the game worked out.

Monday, December 9, 2013

So DBJ watched CBJ game 30: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 2 - Columbus 1
The Columbus Blue Jackets took their show on the road to the Consol Energy Center and fell to the host Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in regulation, 2-1.

I've come to the conclusion that for at least this season, there are two teams that I'm just not going to get upset over losing to.  One is the Boston Bruins.  The other is the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Those two teams, in my opinion, are odds-on favorites to be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals this spring.  They're the best that the East has to offer, and the Blue Jackets aren't close to being the best.  So be it.

How Dion Phaneuf got me interested in the Winter Olympics

The whole NHL-Olympics thing baffles me.

I mean, here we are.  We have The Best League in the world for a genuinely great sport.  The league has created a playoff system that just screams passion and competition, and the regular season builds up to those playoffs like a crescendo every spring.  90-95% of the best players in the world play in this league.  This is the pinnacle.  It doesn't get any better.

Yet, strangely, the NHL world revolves around the Olympics.  I don't get it. 

Sure, I want the United States to do well.  I'm an American; I want to see my country clean up in gold medals.  But I don't see how a quadrennial tournament that upends the premier league's own schedule (and probably will affect the outcome of that schedule this season) is worthy of the attention it receives.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 29: Wild

Last night the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in front of a snowpocalypse dimmed crowd of around 11k.  Small for a Friday night, good for a snowpocalypse.  I know we made the trip because we knew the Minnesota people would make fun of us.  And, as I pointed out to my number 1 son, snow in Minnesota is completely different than snow in Ohio, as it is generally colder.  But he pointed out that wasn't the case in Buffalo, and that he had already been taunted by someone from Buffalo.  So off we went.

The first highlight of the game came during the scoreless first period, when I scored my Christmas present, my new Nick Foligno, number 71 jersey.  I thought to myself, 'it sure would be nice if Nick would score a goal to christen this baby', and I didn't have long to wait.  Now I didn't come to this decision lightly, or because he scored that beauty of a goal the other night.  I've been leaning this way for awhile.  I was thinking I wanted a white away Jersey as a complement to the others in my collection, but in the end I decided that white was not compatible with my eating habits, and BBQ spotted is not a traditional CBJ color.  Hmmm.  Maybe those camo jerseys.....

Even though the first period remained scoreless, the Jackets were skating well, and generating some offensive pressure, so it was a good period.  Then things changed in the second period.  At the 1:17 mark of the second period, Cam Atkinson got a good feed from Dubinsky as they went storming down ice
.  As he got to the top of the circle, he snapped off a wrist shot in mid-stride, and beat Backstrom far side corner, top shelf.  Backstrom seemed a bit surprised by the shot, and more so that it went in the goal.

Four minutes later, with Matt Cooke in the penalty box for hooking, Nick Foligno christened my new sweater by scoring from the edge of the crease for a power play goal.  The assists went to Johansen and Umberger, and Nick earned the goal by potting a rebound from the edge of the crease.  Later in the second period, consecutive penalties by Anisimov and Dubinsky gave Minnesota over a minute of 5 on 3 power play, but they couldn't do anything with it, and the penalty kill did the job. Really nice work by Tyutin as the sole defenseman for the 5 on 3 part.    The CBJ entered the third period with a 2-0 lead.

After what seemed a slow start to the third period, the CBJ got rolling again.  After the Wild killed an early penalty, Comeau, Anisimov and Jenner came down the ice.  Arty set up Jenner with a beautiful cross ice feed and his wrist shot beat Backstrom to give the CBJ a 3-0 lead.

At about the midway point of the third period, Johansen fed Foligno for a break away, and as Foligno came in on the net he dropped a backhanded pass to Umberger, who only had to keep his stick on the ice for the goal.

Leading 4-0, the Jackets tightened up and kept the pressure on with the focus on preserving McElhinney's shut out.  The CBJ kept up sustained pressure even until the final minute, which found them with multiple offensive chances as the clock wound down.  It was a very complete win for the CBJ.  Foligno had a goal and an assist.  Johansen had 2 assists to break his personal record for points scored in a season after only 29 games in an 82 game season.  It is very enjoyable watching Johansen's development.  He is gaining confidence in his ability, and playing with authority.  It is GREAT to see.

Back to back shut outs allow the CBJ to maintain pace in the Metro, 3 points out of third place.  The CBJ will need to string together a bunch of W's just to maintain their position in the wild Metropolitan division, as you can expect just about all of these teams to shake off poor starts and start winning.  It should be interesting from here.

Game haiku:
Wild beats Chicago
Runs into Jackets buzz saw
Wild leave town tamed

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Ascension of Curtis McElhinney

Curtis McElhinney in training camp
Today the news broke that Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets Vezina trophy winning goal tender is out for 4-5 weeks with a bad groin, pulled last night in the Tampa Bay game.  Enter Curtis McElhinney who now assumes the reins of the starting goal tender position.  This is a tremendous opportunity for CMac, and as a fan, I'm actually pretty optimistic about how he will perform.

Yes, I do tend towards optimism, undeniably.   Though to balance that, I did jump on the 'Fail for Nail' bandwagon before Halloween in Arniel's last year.  I know a dead horse when I see one.  And CMac is no dead horse.

Consider the magnitude of this opportunity for CMac.  We picked him up at the trade deadline in 2011-12 as part of the Antoine Vermette trade to Phoenix, along with a 5th round pick and a bag of pucks, or something like that.  You see McElhinney was on injured reserve at the time, recovering from hip surgery.  He finished the year on injured reserve, and his contract expired.  That summer, with the lockout looming, he signed a two-way contract with Columbus, and when labor strife emerged, he started the year in Springfield.
Mike McKenna, called up to back up CMac

And things went well for him in Springfield.  The Falcons were winning, with Joey, Cam, Prout, and others bolstering the lineup.   Then finally the lockout ended, and the abbreviated 2012-13 season started.  McElhinney remained down with Springfield as the starting goal tender.  He needed to prove he was durable.  He posted a .923 Save Percentage and a 2.32 Goals Against Average (GAA), and backstopped Springfield to their first playoff appearance in a long time.  Pretty good numbers, a very creditable performance.

At the end of the year, with his two way contract expiring, Jarmo signed him to a one year-one way NHL contract, because basically, he earned it.  CMac has played well through camp, and in the games he has played in this year.  This has been a very long road for McElhinney, and now he has an opportunity to show that he can be a winning NHL goal tender.  And I think he is ready to seize this opportunity.

Mike McKenna has been called up to back-up CMac.  He is coming off a goal tender of the month award in Springfield, and currently is sporting a 1.91 GAA I believe (couldn't find his numbers at the last minute).  I thought McKenna played well in camp, and this represents a great opportunity for him as well.  I think he is poised to make the most of this chance.

So all is not lost in CBJ land.  We have guys who are ready to step in and do the job.  Now we get to see how it works out, but there is no reason at this point to be unduly pessimistic.

Good luck Curtis.  This is a great chance!  Make the most of it!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So DBJ has a little sumthin' sumthin' on CBJ Game 28: Tampa Bay

Columbus 1 - Tampa Bay 0
The Columbus Blue Jackets continued their November "win one, lose one" cycle into December by rebounding from a loss to the Bruins in Game 27 with a win over Tampa Bay tonight, 1-0, at Nationwide Arena.

The most notable takeaway from this game came in net: Sergei Bobrovsky crashed back into the net awkwardly at 15:47 of the third period and had to be helped from the ice.  Coach Todd Richards said that Bob will be getting an MRI tomorrow, so nobody has an exact idea what's wrong at this point.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Commodore Speaks

I chose this graphic because it speaks to how much
Arniel needed a big physical stay at home defenseman
Over on a Montreal Canadiens blog, Ian Hermelin has posted a comprehensive interview with Mike Commodore.  Check it out, here.  It's an excellent, wide ranging interview.  It speaks for itself, and I sure hope it doesn't do Commodore any harm.  The NHL can be a bit of an old boys club, and if you really have to guard your words.  But he answers some questions for Blue Jackets fans, no doubt.

I used the graphic at the right because I made it up near the end of the 2010-11 season, when Scott Arniel's team simply could not defend the crease.  By this time in that season he had chased his big physical, stay at home defenseman into the press box and the minors.  The letters in the graphic indicate the location from which a variety of teams had scored, with each team being a different letter.  Needless to say, this graphic did not document a winning streak.

In the late spring of 2011 my frustration with the situation boiled over, and I ended up writing an incredibly childish and stupid blog post focusing on Mike Commodore.  And he called me on it, which in the end I appreciated.  Let's be clear.  I was really wrong, it was poorly done, and I pulled the post.  And I feel I really wronged Commodore.  That feeling is magnified now, in retrospect.

Mike demanded to talk to me, through DBJ, and it was a reasonable request.  So I manned up, in spite of a great deal of trepidation that does me no credit, and made the call.  And Commodore was incredibly gracious about the whole thing.  I did have the faint wisdom to start out the conversation saying that I was a season ticket holder, but I also told him I was wrong, and characterized my blather as a rookie mistake.  He was very accepting of my excuses, and we had a good conversation after that.

We talked about a lot of things, but there is one thing I want to make clear.  He refused to say anything negative about Arniel, or the organization, which I thought was wise in him.  I think enough time has gone by for him to be forthright in his opinion in an interview, but it would not have been good at that time.

We talked a lot about how hard he had worked getting ready for the star crossed 2009-10 season, but how he had pulled a groin in training camp, and never seemed to get past injuries that year.  We talked about 2010-11, and how he got benched even though his stats were pretty good.  Which was completely true.  That was the year that started in Sweden.  And he broke a finger in the second game.  He came back, played reasonably well, but suddenly was in the press box.  And before long, Arniel had him earmarked for the minors.

Which is a shame, because when you look at that chart up there, we really could have used Mike Commodore patrolling the slot in front of our goal.  Howson totally bears the blame for this, as he never should have given up on Hitchcock in the first place.  And he is squarely responsible for the disastrous Arniel hiring, that set the franchise back 3 years (or more).

So Mike.  Best of luck to you in the KHL.  Have fun, and be yourself.  Thanks for the kind words about my City.  I wish it hadn't ended the way it did here.  But at least the 'why' is a little clearer today.  Hope you win the Norrisolov trophy, or whatever it is over there.

And thanks once more for the playoff run in 2008-09.  That was a beauty.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 27: Boston

Tonight the Blue Jackets lost to the Boston Bruins 3-1 in their final game of the season against the reigning Eastern Conference champs.  The Bruins came out, and exerted their will in the first period, and bounced and deflected two goals past Curtis McElhinney.  That was enough for Boston, who won their 11th consecutive home game.

The undermanned CBJ came back out in the second period with a bit more jump in their step, but kept taking penalties that interfered with any chance of setting up a consistent offensive cycle.  Dalton Prout dropped the gloves with Lucic in the second period, and came out with at least a draw.  Good to see him stepping up, and trying to get the team rolling.

Late in the period, Seidenburg went shoulder to the head on Nick Foligno.  We'll see if it gets reviewed by Shanny.  Nick took exception, and went after him, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10 minute misconduct, so the period was ended with the CBJ on the penalty kill and no scoring in the period.

Early in the third period, CMac got victimized by a slap shot from Lucic that hit Jack Johnson's skate, went up in the air, and floated over CMac's head and into the goal.  Whaddaya gonna do?  Then Dougie Hamilton tripped Ryan Johansen, and on the ensuing power play, Joey scored on a nasty little wrist shot for his team leading 10th goal of the year.

I don't see this as a roller coaster game.  The CBJ brought reasonable energy to the game, but they are just not at the same level as the Bruins.  The Bruins had no players out with injury.  The CBJ have significant injuries, not that a healthy roster would have brought them to that level.  The better team won tonight.

I think in the last Bruins game I commented that I thought Ryan Murray found the game pretty 'rich', or in other words, a difficult game.  I felt he definitely moved past that in this game, and had a pretty solid outing.  The Bruins field a lineup with a number of veterans who play the same type of game as Boone Jenner.  That made it a learning environment for the young forward.  He didn't play too bad, but it was an educational experience.    Our young guys continue to learn and develop, so that's a positive from this game.

In terms of the series, Boston takes it.  This really puts us in a hole that we need to make up somewhere else across the schedule if we want to make the playoffs.  We're in the hole with the Penguins and the Caps too, which complicates things.  So this loss hurts, but I don't think it's shocking that we couldn't handle Boston.  No wailing or gnashing of teeth.  Time to move on.

Game Haiku:
Jackets play Bruins
A bounce, a tip, an air ball
Is all Boston needs

Next up, the Stamko-less 'Bolts at Nationwide on Tuesday.


See How This Works People? Game 26: Oilers

Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets cancelled out a horrific loss on the last road trip by prevailing against the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in regulation.  This would be a 3 point game in the KHL.  Just saying.  If you read my previous post <yawn> you would know that's how this year operates.  It doesn't really matter how bad you are on the road, so long as you cancel them out at home.  Now, this game does not completely cancel out our 7-0 loss on the road to Edmonton.  The difference could mean home ice advantage in any Stanley Cup final between the two teams this year.  However, for the moment I feel I can let go of that concern, and concentrate on wins and losses.  We won one, they won one.  Split.  .500 winning percentage in this series.  Cross it off the list, move on.

Of bigger concern is the game against the Bruins tomorrow, in Boston. We are upside down in that series, and need a road win badly for damage control purposes.  This isn't a trap game, should be no problem getting up for the Bruins.  However, they are a formidable team.  That f*****g Lucic is a load, especially in the last couple of minutes of a game.  (Note to Grandma: f*****g stand for farthing, a small British monetary denomination.  It means I don't give a brass farthing about that f*****g Lucic, but he keeps beating us!)  In terms of accomplishment for our young team, it would be a significant accomplishment if they could pull off a road win against Boston.  If they can't, so be it.  Everyone else gets to try as well.  But a win would help to cancel the negatives of 2 losses against the Bruins so far.  So it's  really important game.

Joey.  Ahhh, Joey.  Nice game buddy.  Ryan Johansen's first goal was a beauty.  He found some space in the hard areas, looked around and thought 'nobody's checking me', took his time and roofed a beauty.  A water bottle buster, from the edge of the crease.  No chance for Bryzgolov, and the goal broke his shut out streak.  Damn I'm glad we don't have to play Edmonton any more.  With some goal tending, they could be formidable at some point later in this season.  It should be fun to watch from afar. <fist pump>  I love the Eastern Conference.

Taking the lead to the second period on Johansen's snipe, Edmonton got frustrated with the herky-jerky nature of the Blue Jackets game (remember what happened when we tried to skate with them?), and started taking penalties.  Power play goals by Anisimov and Foligno helped break the game open, and Skille got loose for a beauty of a snipe to complete the second period scoring.

The Jackets ended up giving up 2 goals in the third period defending the lead.  Nashville, we are not.  But the last few minutes was spent with the CBJ buzzing around an empty net, but no empty net goal was produced.

Nice crowd tonight, though quiet.  A rookie crowd, with lots of kids.  We need to do better, but there's this roller coaster thing....

Anyway, Johansen, Jenner and Murry played relatively well, in spite of a rookie mistake by the latter on the power play.  But no harm, no foul.  A good team win, with the whole team winning battles all night long.  Good stuff.

Game haiku:
Edmonton rolls in
but a CBJ hockey night
Jackets even score

A fun night of hockey in Columbus tonight.  Met some fun Oilers fan.  Made a date for a cup final in three years.  Hmmm....


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Interpreting Results in the 2013-14 Season

First and foremost, we here at the Dark Blue Jacket would like to wish you and yours a great Thanksgiving Holiday season.  We appreciate your readership as we walk down the road through another NHL hockey season with our beloved CBJ.

Like family, we reserve the right to criticize our team when we feel they don't meet our expectations.  And, these last few games have provided plenty of fodder for criticism, as well as some profoundly satisfying moments.  In the previous post, the Dark Blue Jacket raised some issues related to the relative stability at the coaching position at this juncture, which brought fast and thoughtful response from some of our readers.  Good stuff folks, thank you!

What I wanted to do tonight was to share with you some thoughts I have had about how this season is turning out.  With a team that is likely to be a bubble team in the NHL, we need to ensure that we are at least a .500 team, and then try to make a few runs that will put us into a playoff position.  This remains doable for this team.  The 2013-14 season was always going to be about surviving the first half of the season to see what would happen with the addition of Nathan Horton.  So far we are hanging in there at this task, benefiting from below par play from our fellow Metro Division opponents.  This won't last, but it has served to keep us in touch with a play off spot.

You see, one thing about this year, is that we play a home and away with all the western conference teams.  If you split all of those home and away games, you have a solid foundation for a .500 season.  Win a few of them, and you do your self some favors.  Lose a few of them, and you dig yourself some holes.

Earlier this year, the CBJ went 4-5 in a 9 game home stand.  Not so good.  But then they went on the road, and actually finished up 3-2, before losing to Nashville last night.  So what did they accomplish?  Well the CBJ lost disappointing games to Ottawa and Calgary at home already this year.  On the road trip, we canceled out those home losses with road wins.  We are .500 on those games.  Also on the road trip, we lost a pretty brutal game to Vancouver.  But low and behold we had already beat them at home.  Vancouver cancelled out.  We did lay another beating on Toronto, so we are ahead in that series.  Pittsburgh, not so much, but the two series cancel out.  We are behind the 8 ball with Boston, but we are up on the Islanders.  Likewise we are down with the Capitals, which puts us in a hole.  We have more games against them that we cannot afford to lose.
So we have laid some ground work we need to make up to cancel out other losses in this early season.  Edmonton comes to town tomorrow.  Obviously, we badly need to cancel out the egg we laid up there.  We now have to win a road game against Nashville later in the season to cancel last night's loss.  But viewing the season as a whole, the CBJ have managed to stay even on a lot of fronts, in spite of injuries and a lot of subpar play.

It is quite possible that this is all going to fall apart going forward.  I don't think it is a reasonable expectation that the rest of the Metro will continue to play the way they have.  I think you can look for a Division wide elevation of play.  The CBJ are going to have to match that in order to hang with the pack.

The situation is less than ideal, but so is the news on the injury front.  So long as the CBJ can maintain their manic pace, and balance the curb stompings (DBJ's term) with the eggs they lay, they will hang in there.  Then at some point in the season they will need to make a move.  But they are staying close enough for that to remain possible, and that is all we need to get out of this early season.  The youth are learning valuable lessons.  Hopefully they can use those lessons going forward.


So DBJ hijacked the recap for CBJ Game 25 to talk about matters

Nashville 4 - Columbus 0
The Columbus Blue Jackets lost on home ice to the Nashville Predators, 4-0.  The Preds scored at 9:58 of the 1st period and - in classic Nashville style - ran the clock out on the CBJ for the balance of the game.

Bless your heart, Barry Trotz.  Only you could sit on a lead for 50 minutes of game play and get away with it.

Here's the game haiku:

Trotz' Rule to Live By
CBJ can't score a goal
All Preds need is one

OK, that's out of the way.  Now let's talk about things of substance.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CBJ Luck

On the evening when:

- The NHL TV rights in Canada dramatically shifted, leaving former stalwart TSN out in the cold and MAKING DOUG MACLEAN ONE OF THE MOST VISIBLE ANALYSTS IN THE SPORT in a $5+ billion, 12-year deal that effectively gives Rogers SportsNet control of NHL television programming across Canada, and

- 10 former NHL players brought a potentially devastating suit against the NHL over the long-simmering concussion/head trauma issue and the league's obligations to its players....

...the Columbus Blue Jackets curb-stomped the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Center of the Hockey Universe.

Of course they did.  On a night when nobody of influence was paying attention to the actual games being played.

That, my friends, is the encapsulation of CBJ Luck, wrapped up with a bow in one evening.


Class action lawsuit over head trauma filed against the NHL by former players

I'm going to leave the opinionating out of this post due to time constraints and a need to better digest what popped right at the beginning of tonight's CBJ-Toronto game, but here's the skinny:  10 former NHL players have filed a class action lawsuit against the NHL in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.  They apparently allege the following:
The 47-page complaint is linked here in PDF form.

Monday, November 25, 2013

So DBJ can't quite believe what he saw in CBJ game 24: Toronto

Columbus 6 - Toronto 0
The Columbus Blue Jackets ended their five-game Canadian swing with a blast of old-fashioned, Columbus cannon-fire.  They took it to the host Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-0, at the Air Canada Centre in the Center of the Hockey Universe.

Tonight's recap is a little out of sorts because I'm pinch-hitting for one of my compadres.  I didn't sit and watch the game all that closely.  Instead, I did many of the regular fatherly chores - wash some dishes, put some of the kids to bed, switch out the laundry.  You know, the stuff you do when the game is on in the background and you occasionally look up to check what is going on.

I ended up looking up a lot tonight...and had absolutely no idea what was going on.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

So DBJ watched portions of CBJ Game 23: Vancouver

Vancouver 6 - Columbus 2
The Columbus Blue Jackets' Western Death March Road Trip continued with the Vancouver Canucks pasting the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-2, at Rogers Arena.

I fell asleep before the first intermission and awoke with about 10 minutes left in the third.  It was a 10PM start -- so shoot me.

Point is, the 'nucks apparently dropped three goals in really short order on the Blue Jackets in the second period, and the CBJ retreated to Their Happy Place.  It was over.

Your haiku:

Calvert's goal for naught
Nuckle-heads destroy poor Bob
Brick by Brick, baby!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back in the Saddle, Game 22: Calgary

The boys deserve some cold ones tonight
Hee, hee.  Look what I found!  Thanks for the graphic DBJ!!  Shrugging off the annual debacle in Edmonton last night, the Columbus Blue Jackets came back to prevail over the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime.  This is a big win for the Jackets.  All four of the Jackets on the ice, Anisimov, Atkinson, Savard and Nikitin all got a crack at the winner, but after 3 or so blocks, Nikki 6 buried the game winner.

The CBJ played a very good first 40 minutes.  They took a lead in the first period off a nice shot by Nick Foligno.  The played a good all around game.  Calgary came out hard in the third period, and were able to connect on a stretch pass and score the tying goal.  I thought the Calgary pressure at that time might swing the game, but the Jackets hung in there, and slowly regained the upper hand in the game.  The Jackets controlled the last couple of minutes of the game, and really controlled the overtime, finally scoring the winner.

Columbus is 2-1 on the 3 road games so far on this trip.  Very acceptable.

Anisimov seemed more engaged tonight, moving up in the lineup to play for the injured Dubinsky.  Matt Calvert may return in the next game.  Love what I am seeing from Johansen.  Same from Murray.  Every time someone gets pressured it seems they throw a crappy pass at Murray, and low and behold, the puck gets settled, and a nice pass up the ice is the final result.  Nikitin had the best all round game he's had this year.  It was a good, workman-like, Jackets win.

On the second night of a back to back, I'm keeping my shift short.

Game Haiku:
Nikki 6 wins game
Good effort in Saddledome
On to Vancouver


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Like Deja Vu All Over Again, Game 21: Edmonton

Sorry Sir, we're out of ammo!
I love that old Yogi Berra quote.  I wondered if it was going to be one of 'those' Edmonton games this evening.  Yup.  Sure was.  The Jackets got waxed, losing 7-0 to a motivated Edmonton squad.  Same old sad song I've heard these many years.  I think the TV announcers said we were 5-19 in Edmonton over the years.  That means Brad Marchant and Trevor Letowski were losing these kind of games in Edmonton all these years.  Yeah, and Nasher too.  It's part of our history.

This is just the way it was last year.  A CBJ team that was rolling came into Edmonton, and Atkinson, Anisimov, and Calvert scored like 3 goals against Edmonton but we still lost by 3.  The next night we beat a floundering Calgary squad, and got rolling again.  This is what happens in this game, year after year.

Edmonton fans, congratulations.  Your boys had it tonight.  Way to break that 6 game home losing streak tonight.  Good luck on that going forward.  You see, we won't be coming back to help you resurrect this momentum later on this season, we're in the Eastern Conference now.  However, we'll see you boys in Nationwide Arena on November 29 to see if you can duplicate the feat of playing Oilers hockey.

Because we sure played Oilers hockey tonight.  And tonight, I'd say Edmonton is about 7 goals better than the Jackets at Oilers hockey over a 60 minute time frame.  At one point in the second period the teams were literally skating laps.  I thought it looked like an ice rink.  I hate to break it to you folks, but if we try to skate with Edmonton, we don't do it as good as they do.  Seventh (7th) goal is after Derek McKenzie, whom I love, tries to race Edmonton back up the ice.  He falls down because he loses this race (naturally), the puck goes the other way, and they score.  The Jackets players tried to play like they were as skilled as Edmonton, instead of a defensive hockey club that can shut down their high flyers.

Just to clarify, Edmonton fans, Blue Jackets hockey is awkward, jerky, slow progression up the ice, fueled by poor (but getting better, except for tonight) passing.  Not smoothly skating laps like we were tonight.

Blue Jackets fans, good news.  Number one, we need to do better at Calgary tomorrow.  Everyone knows that. No shock.  We lost to Calgary opening night.  We need this game back.  We evened up the Ottawa game by winning on Sunday. We lost at home, but we won on the road, canceling the game out.  We need to cancel out that other Calgary game tomorrow.  Edmonton gets to see if they can do it later in November.  That's a home game we need to win (note to self, play Blue Jackets hockey!)

That's one of the things about this new schedule format. A lot of teams you play twice.  If something bad happens early, you try to cancel it out to remain .500.  Than you hope to take advantage of a few games along the way.  It's still early season chess.  But need to win tomorrow against an improved Calgary team.  It was easier last year.

Another thought I had was about how next year will be.  I'm pretty sure that Wennberg and Dano will be down at the AHL in Springfield.  In the face of the injuries, Chaput and Collins have come up.  This is important developmentally for them Chaput and Collins.  They'll go back down to the AHL better for the experience.  The haven't been bad, but they haven't really contributed on the offensive side much.  I wonder how different that situation is next year.

Anyway, one of those nights.  Now for some haiku.  Whoo boy!

Jackets wrister wide!
Edmonton rebound, skate, score!
Deja Vu once more

Another bad night in Edmonton, one of many.  Forget it and move on.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

So DBJ thinks he watched CBJ game 20: Ottawa

Columbus 4 - Ottawa 1
The Columbus Blue Jackets opened their week-plus Canadian road trip this afternoon with a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Yes, I watched a lot of this game.  No, I didn't watch all of it.  Reason being, I got caught flat-footed by the matinee start.  I had it in my mind that the game started at 7, and it started at 1.  Go figure.

Then there's the illness factor.  I've had a cold for a few days, and an evening at the arena didn't help things one bit.  So I've been a little loopy since Friday night.  That Canadiens game was on Friday, right?  And didn't today's game start at 7?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

So DBJ was at CBJ Game 19: Montreal

Montreal 3 - Columbus 2 (Shootout)
The Blue Jackets wrapped up their final home game for the next ten-plus days with a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, at Nationwide Arena in front of an announced crowd of 11,562 (about 20-25% of whom were wearing Habs gear).

Long story short about the game: I sensed backsliding going on.  It's one thing to get a standings point in an overtime loss against the Bruins - a team that could just as well win the Stanley Cup this season - but it's another altogether to lose to a de facto .500 team in the Canadiens.  The team didn't have nearly as much focus and drive as they did last night.  In fact, this improbable CBJ scoring play pretty much encapsulates the night on the ice:

Nikita Nikitin flops like a seal on the ice, the puck dribbles around and Artem Anisimov - who's been a ghost for most of the season - gets the goal.  And wouldn't you know, Nikitin gets the assist.  Epic.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gallos' Musings about the 18th Game: Boston Bruins

No rant tonight folks.  Sorry.  The game hinged on a Cam Atkinson vs Milan Lucic match-up.  Lucic won it.  This is not a shock.  I love Cam, don't get me wrong, but I bet on Lucic in that match-up.  Cam tried to make a play, and I celebrate that. Heck, Anisimov ended up on the fourth line tonight cause he didn't take a shot from the high slot with no one in front of him and a clear shot at the goal but passed to a covered Gaborik on the wing instead which was really dumb, shoot the puck Arty!  So I understand where Cam was coming from.  The boys played well tonight, but lost to the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Overtime.  It is a typical Boston finish.  It's what they do, and it's why they are a good team.  If you want to beat them, you need to rise above this, but we join a long list of other teams that they have done this to, so give credit where it is due.

OK.  We are last in the Metro.  I figure I should be upset about that, but I'm not.  With the exception of the Rangers game, I have seen them beaten by good teams.  Not to dis the Rangers, its just we didn't play that game, and neither did they.  We made the Bruins play their game.  We played our game pretty effectively.  The Bruins game consists of sticking the dagger in your heart late, and they played that to a 'T'.  The Bruins play a very mature game, the CBJ's game is growing.  That said, we took them out of their game several times with hard offensive pressure,tonight in a good effort, but in the end....meh.  It's what it is right now.

This was a rich game for Ryan Murray.  Not that he didn't play well enough, but he was getting stretched.  Cool to watch him handling that.  Hey folks, there will be days when it don't work for him, but by and large he's already one of our best defensemen.  If he stays healthy, he may be a special player.  If so, there is nothing to do but enjoy his growth process at this point.  Some days it won't work.  That's what growth is.  So far though, he seems to avoid it not working.

Same with Johansen.  You can see these guys growing, day by day.  It is fun to watch.

I felt that the team got a big lift by the return of Nick Foligno.  He played well tonight, scoring a goal.  By the time the second period rolled around, Todd Richards was taking advantage of the flexibility having Foligno gave him.  During that period he ultimately had Umberger and Anisimov on Boll's line, because other people were outplaying them.  Funny how their play picked up as the game went on.

As I wandered past her between periods, sighing that the CBJ were in last in the Metro, Mrs. Gallos observed 'That's when they do some of their best work'.  She's got a point.  This season won't end early on these guys this year, and reinforcements are on the way.  Jenner, Calvert, and Horton are all moving on to the near term horizon.  Chipping away point by point at this juncture doesn't bury us.

So win at home tomorrow, eh?

Game haiku:
Cam versus Lucic
The game is on his stick, shot!
Block, rebound, goal, game.

Beat the Habs tomorrow!