Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Now What?

I used this Bobrovsky illustration by @PREDSmyth again cause I like it.
Here we are, unexpectedly, certainly against all hope, in the off season.  The finale of the season was an incredible high.  Not making the playoffs is a low, but not of the same magnitude for me.  I was reading through the season re-cap in the Columbus Dispatch this morning (I like to have that newspaper in the morning), and I was reminded how many times this season that choices or direction hinged on the results of one game.  The amazing thing about this team, is they nearly always won that game.

Thinking about the time leading up to the trade deadline, and I felt 'gosh, they win a game or two here, and they might be buyers at the deadline'.  Well, they won those games.  Then there was the incredible road trip to end the season in which they went 5-1.  I don't know how many times before that road trip that I said 'stick a fork in them, they're done'.  But the teams resiliency and belief came through time and again, to build up to the fantastic crescendo at the finale.

So now what?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Never forget: Sergei Bobrovsky

The DBJ team, like much of the Columbus Blue Jackets fanbase, is still recovering from the roller-coaster season and climactic ending to the 2013 campaign.  I'm sure we'll come up with some appropriately insightful  post-mortems, but I wanted to make sure that I shared this video of surefire Vezina contender Sergei Bobrovsky from Saturday's Nashville game.

Seven shots in rapid fire succession.  None passed by him.  I've never seen anything like it.  Such an incredible display. I hope to see something like this again but can't take what we saw for granted.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

@Morgan_Ward_140's Six-Pack for Game 48: The Nashville Predators

Columbus Blue Jackets 3 - The Nashville Predators 1
9th in the Western Conference

Full many a flower are born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness upon the desert air
                      - Thomas Grey from Elegy in a Courtyard Church

It's the best reference I could come up with to describe how I feel right now.  The Jackets played 19-5-5 since March 1st and miss the playoffs by virtue of a tie breaker. The hockey the Jackets have played the last 8 weeks is nothing shy of phenomenal.  The NHL's second season is about to begin, and the blossoming Jackets will have to be heartbroken bridesmaids one more.  It's easy to be one of the 19,002 at Nationwide Arena tonight and bemoan the 'what would have been' if there wasn't a disallowed goal here, or a hosing by the officials there.'  Truth be told, February cost the Jackets the a chance at post season glory and nothing else.  Still I, like so many others, can't help but feel nostalgic about the this past season as it is merely minutes from being over.  But the focus of this post is tonight's game, and not a weepy eyed "back in 82" retelling of this season.

Friday, April 26, 2013

It's Time to Bring the Thunder

Sergei Bobrovsky by @PREDSmyth, stick tap to @RedditCBJ for
passing this along
Saturday the most recent crop of BlueJackets fans will get a unique opportunity in Nationwide Arena.  In all likelihood you have heard some of the older, core group of fans speak longingly of Game 4 of the 2008-09 playoffs, of the thunderous noise in Nationwide Arena, and the unbelievable experience that the game was.  Blah, blah, blah, yawn, 'Yeah but I wasn't there so it doesn't mean that much to me'.  This is your chance to experience that atmosphere folks.  However, there are some important differences between Saturday's game and Game 4.

First and foremost, it is important to remember that Game 4 was a lost cause.  Yeah, maybe we would win a game, but the Redwings were going to win that series.  There wasn't any doubt there.  Tomorrow's game could not hold a greater contrast.  The game on Saturday is all about winning.  It is a win or go home game, and there is no chance of making the playoffs if we don't win.  We may be disappointed in the end, but we must win tomorrow.  It is time to sell out folks, it's now or never.

I went to that Game 4 of the 2008-09 playoffs with a firm resolve not to be cheated.  No matter how the game turned out, I was going to let it all out for the CBJ.  Saturday's game is not about fearing that you may be cheated.  Saturday's game is about a huge, monstrous celebration of what the 2012-13 team has accomplished.  But, there is business at hand as well, and a hockey game to be won.  So a few things to consider before you go to the game.

1. There is nothing that you might want to use your voice for on Sunday that is more important than this game.  The last home game was nice and loud.  About average for a pre-Arniel crowd.  We are looking for another order of magnitude.  You don't need that voice on Sunday.  Send a text message.

2. One of the striking things about the Game 4 experience was that the team quickly fell behind by two goals, but the crowd just got louder.  We MUST have this on Saturday!!  If the Preds should score a goal, we need to take the noise to another level. Trust me, the team will respond to it.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  We need to be a loud, raucous, tough crowd tomorrow.

3. Enjoy this with every fiber of your being.  Saturday's game is a gift from the players and coaches, wrought with hard work and faith.  A playoff showdown that will go down to the wire.  As a fan, you can't really ask for more. Get loud!  Get rowdy!  But carry a sense of joy with you as you do so (thanks Claude).  This is the good stuff, a time to be enjoyed.

This is playoff hockey.  It is time for the thunder to return to Nationwide Arena.  It's up to the fans to bring it.


DBJ's six-pack for Game 47: Dallas

Columbus 3 - Dallas 1
23-17-7, 53 points, 9th in the Western Conference
The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up the Six Game Roadie From Hell with a 3-1 regulation win against the host Dallas Stars at American Airlines Arena.

The Blue Jackets went 5-1-0 on the road trip, which in itself is impressive.  Even more impressive, however, is how the Blue Jackets are single-handedly keeping themselves in the Western Conference playoff chase while pretty much every single other game that needs to go Columbus' way isn't.  Detroit capitalized on their game in hand and leapfrogged the Blue Jackets into 8th place (They since have jumped over Minnesota into 7th.).  Absent help, the Blue Jackets have just kept winning.

Winning won't be enough, however, to make the step into the playoffs.  They still need to win on Saturday against Nashville, but they'll also need:
  •  Detroit to lose in regulation on Saturday against Dallas, or 
  • Minnesota to lose their final two games - with at least one loss in regulation.  
No small order.  

But enough of the looking forward.  Let's crack open a six-pack and reflect on what we just saw.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Always feeling this happy

Some of the things that set this blog apart from its contemporaries is our ability to have open and honest conversation about the Columbus Blue Jackets.   We love the team as much as everybody else, but have a different set of expectations.  The last 12 years have been exceedingly frustrating for me as a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.  I looked around the league and saw the things that successful franchises were doing and, to me, it never seemed like the Blue Jackets were interested in doing those things – until this season.

Hi, I'm the Blue Jackets, can we come in?

Monday, April 22, 2013

@Morgan_Ward_140's Six-Pack for game 46: Sharks de San Jose

Lumbus 4 - San Jose Sharks 3 - F
8th Place in the Western Conference
I went ahead and put my twitter handle in the title of tonight's post.  I feel bad when Tom's DBJ twitter account gets peppered with response's to my posts, so there it is. 

The Blue Jackets enter tonight's game in San Jose needing to win all three games (preferably in regulation) and combined with the Stars and Wings to gain no more than 4 points in their remaining game to make the playoffs.  That formula gets the Jackets in the playoffs without having to worry about tie-breakers.  It's also means there are a lot of other games to watch that impact the Jackets.  How the Wings, Stars, and Wild play all impact the Blue Jackets, so by proxy we become fans of the Blue Jackets and "whoever is playing the Red Wings."  But tonight our focus is on the Blue Jacket's roadie in San Jose, a team that the Jackets have played well this season.  And well they did on this night.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Gallos' Six-Pack for Game 45: L.A. Kings

The Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the host LA Kings for the first time on this road trip tonight 2-1 breaking a 5 game winning streak.  The teams came at each other pretty hard in the first period.  In spite of it being a back to back for the CBJ, they seemed to have some jump in the first period.  The Kings were showing why they were champs last year, and brought a lot of pressure on the CBJ.  With a player for each team off for roughing, Dalton Prout took a hooking call, and in the ensuing 4 on 3 power play LA scored, and the period ended at 1-0 LA.  

In the second period, LA came out pushing hard.  In the middle of the period, the CBJ seemed to get some traction, and Blake Comeau forced a turn over in the LA zone.  He sent the puck back to Prout, who scored his first NHL goal with a shot from the point, which may have deflected off a Kings player. Nonetheless, this tied the game.  Unfortunately, LA came right back and scored within a minute and a half and restored their one goal lead.  The second period ended with the CBJ down 2-1.

As the third period progressed, the Jackets brought more and more pressure, but they were unable to solve the Kings defense, and the Kings win 2-1.

1. My first cold adult beverage goes to Sergei Bobrovsky.  How could it not?  The CBJ are leaning hard on the young net minder, and he is answering the bell.  The Kings got a goal in off a defenseman's skate and one that Bob did not see.  What he could see, he was stopping.  Incredible performances down the stretch here, no matter how things turn out.
Dalton Prout and Cam Atkinson in Development Camp

2. My second cold beer goes to Dalton Prout, who scored the first goal of his NHL career to represent the total scoring by the CBJ.  Prout played a solid all around game, and benefited from a great pass by Comeau and a couple of deflections of his shot on the way to the net.  He has been very solid since coming up from Springfield.  

The Jackets have done a great job on this road trip, and I'm not about to start awarding skunk beers. But I do have a few thin, watery Natty Lights to pass out.

3. My third beer, a fine Natty Light, good for the waistline and all that goes to the defensive pairing of Savard and Erixon.  Admittedly, this is a tough position for these guys to be in, but it seemed clear that they were not ready for playoff hockey, especially on the road.  More development work in store for these two,and hopefully a big summer to get them more ready for next year.

4. My fourth beer, a tepid Natty Light goes to the power play.  You can't do anything in the playoffs without a power play, and the lights look out on the power play.  Its not a real threat.

5. My fifth beer, a warm flat Natty Light goes to the defensive effort after Prout scored the goal to even up the score.  Guys falling down, a really half-hearted, glide up, wave your stick in the general area of the defenseman check by Gaborik which gave the time and space for the shot on the net that lead to the game winning goal.  A little bit of pressure on that shot would have made a big difference, but that would require the feet to be moved.

6. My sixth, warm, found under the truck seat a year later, flat, Natty Light goes to Jeff Carter for being a big #Boomer.  That's one of the privileges of passing out the beers!

Were the CBJ outworked?  Meh.  This is a really tough game on a back to back.  They brought a pretty good effort considering the number of games they have played.  The loss doesn't hurt too much, the Jackets are still in eighth place.  It puts more pressure on the other games, but since they started the road trip winning three straight, they took the pressure off this game.  But they still need to win some games down the stretch.

Ugh.  Todd Richards just announced that Matt Calvert  has a broken finger.  He'll be out for awhile.  Boone?

Next up the Sharks on Thursday.  Another tough game, but a day of rest in between.  They CBJ have to get some points.  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

DBJ's six-pack for Game 44: The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim

Columbus 3 - Anaheim 2 (OT)
The Columbus Blue Jackets' twenty-first recreation of Sherman's March through Georgia continued tonight in California, where the visitors stole two standings points away from the host Anaheim Ducks in overtime at Honda Center.

And with that, my friends, the Blue Jackets have leapfrogged the Detroit Red Wings (!!!) and assumed sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference.

That's right.  8th place.  If the season ended tomorrow, the Blue Jackets would be playing Stanley Cup Playoff hockey for just the second time in its history.

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.

Four games left in the regular season...

Thanks, Calgary, for everything.
And for beating Detroit tonight.
I crowdsourced this six-pack, so congrats to everyone who helped make this possible!

1. Beer number one goes to uber-CBJ optimist John Kemp's favorite Blue Jacket, Blake Comeau, for goal number one.  The first half of the game was a slog, with Anaheim playing the CBJ card and dropping everything but the kitchen sink back into defensive coverage to stymie the Blue Jackets' shooting.  Comeau tips a James Wisniewski shot in to loosen the game back up.  Huge goal.  Kemp weeps with joy.  (But he still won't tell his kids that Nash was traded.)

2. Beer number two goes to Matt Calvert. Union Marc suggested that "cause no one has left his heart on his sleeve" like Matty Ice.  I give him all sorts of credit for keeping the motor running, but the beer comes for production:

We're going to beat this photo like a dead horse.
It is nothing but meme fodder.

3. The third beer shall go to your personal friend and mine, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard.  "Jimmeh" let three pucks slip by, and that's all it took for Calgary to help Columbus vault into playoff contention.  (Hat tip to RedditCBJ and RobSal53)

4. My man, Fedor Tyutin, tipped in the game winner in overtime off a Nick Foligno shot - so let's give 'em one of those $9 Nationwide Arena tallboys to share.  Nobody apparently loves Tyutin, but trumarvel, jahykes, TheAngryJacket and MasonAnimation all love them some Foligno, the overtime specialist.

I like Tyutin.

There's something beautiful about an overtime winning goal.  It's like a walk-off home run.  We score, and that's it.  Start the party.

5. For enduring overtime hockey in Southern California, the fifth beer goes to The Blue Jackets Fans.  This 1AM wrapup stuff is for the birds, but it's the playoff chase and we stay up regardless.  Mellington73, stefanbneeley, WhalerJacket (who, I'll have you know, was one of the crew at the late, great CBJ blog, "Tea with Mrs. McGill") and danamctigue all made it to the finish line and reminded me that it's not about the team...it's about the fans.  True dat.

6. Yes, Erik, you can have a pity beer.  Poor soul.
WERE THE BLUE JACKETS OUTPLAYED TONIGHT?  I felt all along that the Blue Jackets were applying the pressure...it was one of those games where we simply had to stay at the level of the opponent and stick around until the end.  They did, and they won.  So no, they were not outplayed.

NEXT UP: Because one night of late night hockey wasn't enough, we're going to do it all over again tomorrow.  Or I guess it's today by now.  How about, we're going to do it all over again later...say, at 10:30PM EDT?  That's right, the Los Angeles Kings will be hosting the Blue Jackets at Staples Center.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bob Says Nyet (a kinda-sorta advertisement)

Before the season, this guy out of Philadelphia wrote me to congratulate me (and, presumably, my favorite hockey team as I really had nothing to do with it) on bringing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to Central Ohio.  He then offered to sell me his unsold inventory of Bobrovsky fan shirts.  I'm not into running an merchandise shop out of my pantry closet, so I passed.  Plus, I wasn't sold that Bobrovsky was going to unseat Steve Mason in net.

Get your gear to honor Columbus' First Czar!
But time passed as well, and Bob wound up being something special in Columbus.  Now I felt bad, not for me as I still don't want a bunch of unsold T-shirts and hoodies in a box under my bed but rather for the Columbus fans who have been deprived this nifty looking shirt.  I suppose I also felt a tad stupid for not jumping on the bandwagon earlier.  Thus, I wrote the gentleman back and offered to give him a blog post to hawk his wares.

Morgan's Six-Pack for Game 43: The Quebec Nordiques

Columbus Blue Jackets 4 - Colorado Avalanche 3 F/OT
9th Place in the Western Conference
Typically after Master's weekend I begin preparing for another April tradition like no other, the NHL draft lottery for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  But that is certainly not the case this April.  As fans hopeful for a chance at the post season, we watch every game.  We track the teams below us, we track the teams ahead of us.  We visualize scenarios, exchanges, ordering tickets for the playoffs.  This is new territory for the social media CBJ fan base that's emerged the past few years (no I'm not saying you've only been a CBJ fan for a couple years, I'm saying you've only been able to gush about it on twitter for a couple years now).  On nights like tonight I sit back and watch the fan base consume itself.  Who's the bigger fan, who's the biggest troll.  Who knows more that everyone else, who's always right, who believes more.  The team is winning, and I guess everyone sheds decades of hockey grief differently on micro blogging sites.  All that matters to me is they are winning.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Dubinsky Time

Brandon Dubinsky
As I reflect on tonight's upcoming, critical tilt against the Avalanche in the Pepsi Center, Brandon Dubinsky sticks out to me as one of the players who will need to make a huge contribution.  With Anisimov on the shelf indefinitely (eat my shorts Yeo, the refs got the call right.  The responsibility is on the player to protect the other player, your guy failed in that responsibility) due to a hit to the head, Dubinsky's role is magnified.  Much as we saw in the Minnesota game, we need Dubinsky to be big tonight.  After something of a star crossed season this year, with knee injuries, a slow start, and illness, this is Dubinsky's opportunity to really put a stamp on his contribution to the team.  I think he will do it.

I worry about Colorado.  We have not handled their speed well.  We need to make sure we play our game of clogging the neutral zone and playing good defense, and not get into a track meet with them.  And naturally, Bobrovsky needs to continue his assault on the Vezina trophy.  Only six games left.  Crazy things can happen.  This team just needs to keep winning.

Brandon Dubinsky, this is your time!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gallos' Six-Pack for Game 42: Wild

YEEEEEHHAAAAAAAWWWWWW!  Ahem.  Sorry.  The Columbus Blue Jackets prevailed tonight over the host Minnesota Wild 3-2 in a shoot out win to keep pace in the hunt for the playoffs.  The CBJ came out flat Bob in the first Bob period, but Bob the Wild couldn't solve Bob until they finally Bob bounced one in the goal off of one of our defensemen.  Did I say Bobrovsky was dominant tonight?  The CBJ came out steaming in the second period, scoring their two goals for the game in bang-bang fashion early in the second period.  After that it was holding off the Wild.  Finally, late in the third period the Wild went on a power play off a Setoguchi dive, err, I mean a Dalton Prout cross check (the official explanation).  The Wild got a rebound in to tie the game, and regulation time ended with the score tied 2-2.  OT was fun to watch, but had no scoring.  The CBJ owned the shoot out, and came out of this game with the coveted two points of the winner, leaving them tied with Detroit and Dallas with 45 points for 8th place, but trailing in tie breakers.
Victory Beers are sweet!

Sergei Bobrovsky is on top of his game

1. My first cold, well deserved beer, obviously goes to Sergei Bobrovsky.  Bob made great saves throughout the game, took on several shooters that got behind the defense mano-y-mano and stoned them all.  The two goals scored were one that bounced in off our guy and another that was a greasy re-bound goal on a power play.  If Bob could see it, Bob was stopping it.  Finally it came to the shoot out, and Bob stoned both of their shooters to preserve the results of the CBJ shooters.  This was an outstanding performance, and a well deserved win.

2. My second beer, an Adirondack Black and Tan, goes to former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky.  He was a dominant force in the second and third periods, assisting on both second period goals.  Dubinsky was not available for much of the first period because he jumped the Wild player who delivered a shoulder and an elbow to the head of Artem Anisimov knocking him out of the game.  Dubinsky collected an instigator penalty, 5 minutes for fighting, and a 10 minute misconduct, and the admiration of his teammates.  Making up for his absence in the first period, he sent a blind behind he back pass into the slot right on the tape of Vinny Prospal who one-timed the puck home for the Jackets' first goal.  On his next shift, he screened the Minnesota goal tender giving FedorTyutin a clean look for the second goal.  Dubinsky was all over the ice tonight, and played a great game.

3. My third beer of the game, a nice tasty Yuengling, goes to Mark Letestu.  He has been an extremely steady player down the stretch and tonight played well in filling a short bench caused by the loss of Anisimov.     Then he promptly scored as the first shooter for the CBJ in the shootout, giving Bob something to work with.    Playing all over the line up this year, Letestu has been a glue player, helping to hold stuff together when everything turns to crap.  He had a really good game tonight.

4. My fourth cold frosty beer (of indeterminate make because I'm getting tired) goes to Camsanity himself, Mr. Cam Atkinson.  These kind of games are tough for a guy like Cam, since on the road the other coach can put some big guy on the ice to lean on the smaller guy.  But Cam fights his way through it all, and he ended up scoring a real nice goal to win the game in the shootout. I think he is still hampered by the high ankle sprain, and will be until there is some off season to fully heal.  He looked great in the shootout, confidently scoring to put the game away, and get the coveted two points.

5. My fifth ice cold beer goes to the concept of Vinning!  Vinny Prospal scored his 11th goal of the season , and assisted on the other goal.  I think Vinny is the ring leader of the crazy mojo this team has, and is helping to keep them loose in a crazy stretch run to the playoffs.  Live long and Prospal Vinny!

6. My sixth beer goes to Fedor Tyutin, for scoring that all important second goal while Minnesota was off balance.  That quick strike held up well later in the third period, providing a buffer that we used when the Wild tied it up late in the third period.  Way to go Toots!!

Wow!  Just a big huge monster win tonight for the CBJ.  They are keeping their noses firmly in this playoff race, and if they win their games their task becomes easier.  There is a lot of resiliency in this team, and is should be fun to see how this turns out.

Were the CBJ outworked tonight?  In the first period, yes.  In the second period, no, in the third period, maybe.  However, they were not outworked in the shootout, which is where it counted in this game.

Up next is a pesky Colorado team on Monday that has won 3 straight since being called out by their goal tender for a lack focus.  We tend to get in trouble with Colorado's speed, so this will be a challenging game. But I won't think about that just yet.  I think I'll sit here and bask in the glow of victory for a few moments, before turning my sights to the Avalanche.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

DBJ's Six-Pack for Game 41: St. Louis

Columbus 4 - St. Louis 1
18-16-7, 4th in Central Division, 11th in Western Conference
11th draft pick (and 15th & 24th!)
Riding a season-best six-game winning streak, the mighty St. Louis Blues rode back into Columbus for the penultimate game of the 2013 Hitchcock-Davidson Cup series...and left with their tails between their legs after absorbing a 4-1 regulation loss at the hands of the host Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

OK, I'll admit it.  I've grown so used to writing, "The team got spanked" leads that I had to flip the lead to the St. Louis point of view because, well, the Blues got spanked tonight.

And it was Team Yearbook night, too:

Who else would YOU put on the cover?
But enough of the memorabilia.  Let's crack open a few.  I was fortunate enough to be at this game, so my insights might veer a little from the TV and radio voices.  And my phone stinks, so my Twitter account largely lay dormant.  Thus, there was very little filter tonight...which makes for some interesting picks.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Scenes from the CBJ Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night

While I was unable to attend tonight's Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night party at Nationwide Arena, the miracle of modern social media allowed me to have a window into this evening full of fun.  Allow me to share a few vignettes, more or less in chronological order:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gallos' Six-Pack for Game 40: San Jose Sharks


At the 5 minute mark of the third period tonight Mrs. Gallos nudged me, and pointed out that in the last game we bailed at that point to get a table for post game festivities with our friends.  This game was a completely different feeling, and we stayed around to watch Bob record the fourth shut out of his career, and his fourth shut out as a Blue Jacket.  If that doesn't say something about Philly's defense, it should.  Tonight the Blue Jackets validated their previous 6-2 victory over San Jose with a 4-0 shut out in Nationwide Arena.  

There was a good, spirited crowd of 17,771 tonight, but as a long time fan I can't help but observe that the last two years still loom heavy in the barn.  It was a nice, active crowd, but I have heard the barn in full bay like a pack of blood-hounds after Cool Hand Luke.  There is a palpable difference.  Nonetheless, the good things that this team has done is starting to slowly rebuild that noise.  It would be educational to see what happens if these crazy dudes make the playoffs.  

The CBJ took the lead in tonight's game in the first period off a really nice Matt Calvert goal.  In the second period the Jackets stretched their lead early in the second period off a nice James Wisniewski slap shot followed two minutes later by a Ryan Johansen wrister which was set up beautifully by Marian Gaborik.  Gaborik closed out the scoring in the third period, walking in off a beautiful feed from Artem Anisimov, and showing great patience as he scored.  Sweet stuff.

All in all, it was a completely different feel after this game compared to after the Minnesota game.  Winning is good for you!  And now for this games six pack!

Beer tastes better after a win!

1. My first, frosty cold Yuengling goes to Mr. Matt Calvert.  Part of the reason is that he scored the game winning goal in the first period (pretty cool).  The other part of the reason, is that in my nice neat world as the arm chair hockey GM, this game should be a poster child game showcasing the reasons why it is impossible for an NHL team to run a line with not one but two relatively diminutive players such as Calvert and Cam Atkinson..  See, the problem with that strategy is that eventually you will have to play the San Jose Sharks, who will use their superior size to simply push these players out of the game.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Calvert line looked dominant tonight with Letestu in the middle, trashing my theory about smaller players not being able to complete with the really large teams like the players on San Jose.  My theory may hold up on the road, where the Sharks coach has the last line change, but for now and at home, this line is very quick and tenacious on the puck, and they did a great job of keeping San Jose chasing them. Good stuff!!

2. My second nice, cold beer goes to our new scorer, Marian Gaborik.  I give him this beer for the patience he exhibited with the puck.  The first time on a beautiful pass to #Yoey for his second period goal, and the second time when he scored his own goal, taking a great feed from Arty, putting the goal tender down, and then walking to the open part of the net for the easy score.   The best part was that those goals really took the game out of San Jose's hands, and thwarted a come back attempt.

3. My third cold beverage goes to James Wisneieski, for his slap shot goal the second goal.  That goal firmly cemented momentum in the CBJ's favor, and was scored at a pivotal moment.  In spite of the fact that the Sharks did some pushing, for the most part, the CBJ seemed ready for it.  Wiz is finally getting a chance to get his slap shot going.

4. My fourth cold beverage goes for Sergei Bobrovsky, for his fourth career shut out, and his fourth shut out with the CBJ.  Bob was very solid tonight in goal, and the defense did a good job of keeping the Sharks to the perimeter.  Bobrovsky stopped all 30 shots that he faced.  Detective Bobrovsky was on the case tonight!!

5. My fifth, frosty cold beer goes to Ryan Johansen.  Yoey was thought to be questionable for this game, and the CBJ called Michael Chaput up from Springfield as a precaution.  Yoey was not to be denied though, and answered the bell, and scored a beauty of a goal on the great feed from Gaborik.  A real nice sniper's goal, which is good to see from him.  He seemed to have a good jump tonight.  

Adrian Aucoin
6. My sixth cold beer goes to Adrian Aucoin.  The elder statesman of the defensive corps survived the trade deadline by doing what he was brought in to do, which is be a great influence on the young D-men.  Paired with Wiz tonight, Oakes made a beautiful set up pass for Wiz's goal scoring slap shot.  Wiz has to take those shots off the pass.  Once you catch the puck and set it, the goal tender has time to respond.  Aucoin has done very well for the CBJ this year.  

All in all, this was a really fun game.  The CBJ shut out the Sharks.  You tell me if they were outworked!

Friday the Blues come to Nationwide, and the team has time to get a day off and to actually have a practice! Another crucial Western Conference tilt as the CBJ fight to keep their playoff hopes alive.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Morgan's Six-Pack for Game 39: The Minnesota Wild

Columbus Blue Jackets - 0  Minnesota Wild  - 3
Blue Jackets are on the outside looking in

The traveling Minnesota Wild visited Nationwide Arena as the Jackets look to open a brief three game home stand before starting a season-defining 6 game road trip out West.  Coming into the game, the CBJ's expansion cousins are seven games above .500 and with 44 points are clinging to 7th place in the West.  Despite the story lines surrounding this week's trades, the Jackets look to show tonight's crowd of 15,909 that the playoffs are no joke.

Well, then tonight's game happened. The loss tonight was disappointing.  Spirits were high after the trade deadline acquisitions and talk of playoffs, while a long shot, were still a possibility.  The Blue Jacket's looked confused and couldn't solve a team that played smart and bought speed every shift.  It's easy to pick on one or two mistakes the Jacket's players made to channel our anger, but the team showed us that despite how well it's done this season, that their overall record lends itself to the inconsistency we saw tonight.

Lay an egg, get some eggs.

1.  Vinny Prospal, the first can of suds is for you.  You skated strong in the first period trying to cause turnovers and take away time and space from a talented team.  I don't know if you're penalty in the second was an NHL caliber hooking call, but you did stop moving your feet - the death knell for any obstruction type penalty.  Oh, then you got dumped a second later.

2.  Ryan Johanson - I couldn't help but notice you getting tossed from at least three face-offs tonight.  In close games you have to mind your manners in the circle.  Stay square and let the visiting opponent get their stick set.  The team needs you taking big draws, not getting tossed from them.

3.  The Blue Jackets Power Play.  A handful of shots on four attempts.  A good power play a playoff team has.  It may be too late in the season now, and I've been saying it all year - the power play is stinky cheese.  Tonight's game was won on the Power Play, kind of like in the playoffs

4.  Sergei Bobrovsky, you have got to be in a state of blackout drunk perpetuity with all the beers this blog tosses your way.  Trust me, we were drinking tonight too. I know the 21 saves on 24 shots doesn't really say it, but you played well tonight.  A couple of breakdowns in front of you were all the different tonight.

5.  Cody Goloubef gave one heck of a post game interview on the radio tonight.  Despite the seemingly high school newspaper-esqe questions you were asked after a tough loss, you answered the questions politely and the way any guy looking to stay in the NHL should.  Great interview.  I don't know that I could have been so gracious.

6. Mark Letestu - giving us another game to love you.  As this team looks to improve and upgrade it's personnel over the next few years, we hope that nights like tonight give some special consideration to your chances as a future Blue Jacket.

The Jackets looked confused tonight and they were outworked.  They didn't look like a 30th place team, but they sure as sh!t didn't look like a team fighting for a playoff spot.  Minnesota brings a lot of speed, but it seemed to be their quickness that out-matched the Jackets.  Despite the beer I consumed during this game, it was sobering to see that when Bobrovsky isn't "Save the world from complete aniliation good" in goal, this team stands little chance on it's own offensive merit.  Marian Gaborik played well the first two periods, but I didn't notice him much the 3rd period.  You make like 12 times as much as your center tonight, but you guys seemed to have a little chemistry tonight, especially down low.

While the #CBJ twitter feed nearly consumed itself after the loss in St Louis, most fans now understand how difficult it really is for the Jackets to make the playoffs.  I have not given up on the Jackets, however I understand how nearly impossible the task is.  I am not going to judge another fan's belief that this team will win 7 of the remaining 9 games it has left on the schedule.  But if the CBJ is going to play it's February hockey in April, it will be back to playing it's regularly scheduled tee times this month as well.

The CBJ play Tuesday in Nationwide Arena against a rejuvenated San Jose Sharks.  Every game from here on out is a must win.  With 9 games left, it's likely 7 wins are needed for playoff bonuses.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

DBJ's six-pack for Game 38: St. Louis

St. Louis 3 - Columbus 1
16-15-7, 4th in Central Division, 10th in Western Conference
13th overall draft pick (plus 17th and 24th!)
With every game critical in this playoff stretch run, the Columbus Blue Jackets flew into St. Louis trailing the host Blues by a single standings point.  The Blue Jackets ran into a Hitchcockian buzz-saw and lost, 3-1, in regulation 

This was a big one, no doubt about it.  A regulation win would have had the CBJ leading the Blues by one standings point.  Instead, the regulation loss has Columbus three behind St. Louis.  St. Louis now owns eighth place with 42 points.  Edmonton and the CBJ are in 9th/10th with 39. (Edmonton has a game in hand.)

It's going to be a dogfight all the way to the finish if this team is to get to The Dance for the second time in its history.  The odds are not with us (9% chance to make it?), but this team has a strange habit of defying expectations just enough to stay in the conversation.

With 10 games left, it looks like the Blue Jackets will need 15 points to have a reasonable shot at the playoffs.  Are they up to the challenge, especially considering that so many games are on the road?

If it's St. Louis, do we have
to ask for our 6-pack of Bud Light
in French now?  Budweiser being
part of InBev now...
1. Beer number one goes to Ken Hitchcock.  If there is anyone who can coach his team to sit on a one-goal lead for an entire period as if it was a four-goal lead, it's Hitch.  The Blue Jackets were skating in mud for most of the night (I'll presume that there were some tired legs from playing the night before, too, but St. Louis was in the same boat), and I'm guessing that it drove the team crazy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gallos' Six Pack for Game 37: Nashville Predators


Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets picked up two crucial road points by beating the host Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1.  Fox Sports is reporting that the CBJ have not won in regulation in Nashville since April, 2006. The CBJ sort of waded into this one, and leaned hard on Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period, but he stood tall and the first period ended scoreless.  The CBJ weathered the storm in the first 10 minutes of the first period as Nashville came at them hard.  

The CBJ scored first in the second period on a power play goal by James Wisniewski that included the first point in the Blue Jackets uniform by Marian Gaborik to get him off the devil numbers in career points (he came into the game with 333 goals, 333 assists, and 666 points).  Nashville answered, and the game was tied 1-1 at the end of two periods.

The CBJ came out hard in the third period, took control of the ice, and started spending a lot of time in Nashville's zone.  After a very long possession shift, Brandon Dubinsky rifled a perfect pass through the crease to a crashing Gaborik, and the CBJ went ahead 2-1.  That turned out to be the game winning goal.  Later in the period, Matt Calvert had another goal waived off for a 'distinct kicking motion', which this time was at least a good call.  Matty was not to be denied though, and in his next shift came through the high slot and rifled a shot past Pekka Rinne to stake the CBJ to a 3-1 lead.  The Jackets shut it down from there, and walked away victorious.  They picked up two big points to keep in touch with the dogfight for eighth place in the West.

Beer tastes better after a road win!

1. As usual, my first cold beer is for Sergei Bobrovsky.  He played dynamite in goal again today, carrying the team through the first period when Nashville was coming hard.  He stayed on top of his game throughout the game, and answered some serious pressure by Nashville in the second period, and down the stretch to preserve the win.  BOB!!!

2. My second icy cold adult beverage is for young Matt Calvert.  Although he had another goal waived off for playing DKM Hockey (snicker, I crack me up), he was all over the ice in the third period, and snapped off a good wrist shot to get his redemption goal and the insurance goal for the CBJ.  Matt has really started to become more consistent with his game, which is really good to see.  He and Cam are a real threat due to their speed and effort.  

3. My third cold one is for new Blue Jacket Marian Gaborik, who scored his first assist and goal as a Blue Jacket.  The goal was the game winner, and we hope the first of many.  Gaby's old Ranger teammates seemed to know exactly what to do with him, and were able to hit him with many long passes that show great potential for future explosiveness from this player.  He seemed to understand the concept of back checking, and was decent in the defensive zone.  Welcome aboard Gaby!!

4. My fourth, cold, luscious, beer goes to Brandon Dubinsky.  Returning to the lineup after fighting off a knee sprain, Dubinsky took part in a dominant shift, where the CBJ cycled the puck deep in the Nashville zone.  After fighting off a couple of Nashville defenders, Dubinsky walked off the end boards with the puck and hit a crashing Gaborik with a perfect pass for the game winning goal.  He showed lots of grit and played well, as well as picking up two assists.

5.  My fifth cold beer goes to James Wisniewski.  Wiz scored the all important first goal on the power play.  That power play needs what Wiz can bring to it, and it is already improved since he came back from the broken foot.  Wiz leads the team in power play goals, and that was a huge momentum changer in this game.  

6. My sixth cold beer, times 4, goes to Todd Richards, Craig Hartsburg, Keith Acton and Dan Hinote.  They have created an environment where the players can succeed, while keeping the pressure on the players if they don't work hard enough.  The players have taken that and turned it into great chemistry in the room.  It's gonna be fun to watch these guys down the stretch.

Score board watching in April is a great thing if you are a CBJ fan.  The boys did their job tonight, winning on the road. They are going to have to repeat that feat if they want to make the playoffs.  If they keep playing like they did tonight, they have a shot at it.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I am very much in like with today's two big trades

Up until about 2pm today, I thought the Blue Jackets were going to sit pat at the trade deadline.  Really, there was not much harm in the Jackets being cautious observers today.  I'm glad the Jackets passed on Pominville, except for two seasons his numbers are very Umbergian.  I was hoping that maybe today that JD and Jarmo might sniff out a buyer for one or two of the many RFAs/UFAs the Jackets will have at the end of this season.  First the Lightning / Senator trade broke, and in a tweet I pondered if we'd see a pending assault weapons ban hysteria like frenzy the last hour up to the deadline.  Well, as the hour drew near, it showed the JD and Jarmo were in fact, busy little bees. Here are the two big splash acquisitions for the CBJ today:



Steve Mason is sent to the Philadelphia Flyers in return for G Michael Leighton and a 2015 third round pick.  This is a good "heads up" trade by Jarmo.  Mason is an RFA this summer and given his contract status, I'm curious to see what kind of qualifying offer, if any, he would  have gotten despite playing respectably in his starts this season.  If another team gave Mason an offer sheet, the Jackets would likely stop negotiating and taken the compensation, likely some third or fourth round picks.  Then they are left with turning an existent  prospect into a backup which seldom ends well.  Now, Mason's RFA status is Philadelphia's mess to consider.  They love goalie drama.  They haven't had a solid goal tender since Bernie Parent and the list of starters they've had since reads like the periodic table of elements.   I think both Leighton and Mason were in desperate need of a change of scenery and that probably helps them both.  I say there's a cloud of doubt that follows Mason to the Flyers and no one in the Columbus media cares enough (or is aware) of Leighton's skeletons.  Well, they are also much easier to over look considering the 900k cap hit.  I like this trade, it's a good trade, not a "Holy Cow, did you see what Jarmo pulled off" kind of trade.  Seriously, its the Flyers taking another troubled goalie but this time giving up little to do it.  Slowly the Flyers learn, if at all.


Then the BIG trade.  Confirmed are: Blue Jackets get F Marian Gaborik in exchange for F Derek Brassard, Derek Dorsett, D John Moore and a 2013 sixth round pick.  I like this trade, but I'm not in love with it.  I know its very easy to fall in to a  romantic swoon over this trade when your team acquires a legitimate scorer - SEE JEFF CARTER.  To be honest, these are the kinds of trades you want your GM to be able to orchestrate.  This is what I expected from JD, maybe not so soon. Let me break this down for the Jackets players first:

Derek Brassard - as members of the Ice Crew weep, you cannot  hide in obscurity while playing in New York City.  The media has expectations, the season ticket holders have their own nickname (the Blue Seaters), and the city itself will eat you up with its bigger than everything style.  This is a needed salary dump and kind of a "quid pro quo" between the teams of "I'll take some bad salary if you take some bad salary.'  If Brassard wants to be playing in North American in 2014-2015, he better make it in New York.  But hey, if you can make in New York, you can make it anywhere, right?

John Moore - with Wisniewski, Tyutin, Johnson, Erixon, and Nikitin still around and with the emergence of Prout and the anticipated arrival of Murray next season - Moore found himself in a very actionable position.  Even if Tyutin/Johnson are moved and Wisniewski is bought out (total worse case scenario there folks) Moore is still a third pair defenseman.  The Rangers have a frugal blue line budget and Moore fits the bill in that regard.  This also fits the 'budding prospect' role of any trade to placate tired NYR fans.

Derek Dorsett - you're dating a girl from my high school alma matter, so I feel a kinship.  But seriously, there has to be tangible value to a trade and Dorsett fits this bill.  Glen Sather knows this, but the NYR dressing room is low on testicular fortitude.  Dorsett immediately possesses everything you could ask a non-regular goal scorer to have.  Grit, energy, work ethic, energy, grit, and the swagger every hard nose hockey player has.  It won't take long for the Blue Seaters to fall in love with Dorsett, and that's because he's awesome.  There will be a standing ovation when the Rangers come to Nationwide Arena next season, and it will be for this fella alone.

Lets break down Gaborik

Marian Gaborik has one less point than Mark Letestu so far this season, and makes 12 times as much money.  There is the lingering doubt that this could be the greatest salary dump in New York Rangers history, but I believe Gaborik is still capable of 30 goals a year, even in Columbus.  There are two dynamics that come with Gaborik - his health and his salary.  There is no question about his skill, assuming 100% that simply leaving New York puts him back 1 point per game form.  Now that he's out from under the Bobby Valentine of hockey, I think he'll do well here in Columbus.  Between Natalie Taylor and Aaron Portline, Gaborik is going to like the way he looks - I guarantee it.  I'm going to say the arrival of Gaborik means Prospal is here for one more season to play Crash Davis to Gaborik's Nuke LaLoosh. 

Leesen to me vill you, Ga-bor-ick.  Ve must teach you
good interview vhen you in a slump or pull dat
hip flexor again.

But its his health, and how that impacts his salary negotiations, that scares me the most.  I wrote yesterday that I believe JD and Jarmo aren't going to get all emotional in signing guys because they can't believe they came here in ther first place.  Gaborik is on a pace to miss 20+ games every other season.  I don't know if he likes to drink (alcohol consumption has serious effects on the body's ability to repair muscle fiber) or is just genetically prone to pulling and tearing stuff, but at 7.5 million dollar a year cap hit I'd like to see a more sturdy 7.5 million dollar man.  Given the level-headedness JD and Jarmo have shown the last 72 hours, I can't believe they're going to rush out and give him a 5 year S35 million dollar extension they second they are able - Conn Smythe Trophy notwithstanding.    If they are both smart and committed, contract negotiation should start around the Olympics next season.  Socialized reward, privatized risk.

Overall, I like both of these trades in the fact that neither team is saddled with long term baggage.  Columbus didn't move and draft picks and isn't receiving a loafing Stephane Richer in return.  Columbus has cap room for next year to try out this Gaborik experiment.  The Rangers are only exposed to one year of Brassards fluffy contract, although Brassard will really have to earn his money playing for Torts next year.  But these are the types of trades any capable GM should be able to make.  Maybe because the Blue Jackets have NEVER had a management staff capable of making sensible trade or acquisitions is why these blew up social media today.  I haven't fallen deeply in love with management because this type of management should have been here YEARS ago.  I am very happy they are here now.  These are the type of deals that this team should have been capable of making since day one.  The silver lining to my "matter of fact" feeling about these trades is I do very much like that each of these trade have a very calculated feel to them.  They don't seem thrown together last minute, or made out of haste and desperation.  What's not to like about that?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A sign of signings to come?

While trade rumors fly around like trade rumors at the trade deadline, a little news did break out of the CBJ camp today.  The Columbus Blue Jackets sign Mark Letestu to a 2 year $2.5 million dollar contract.  To me, this signing identifies the kind of contracts we might see from John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen as we approach the offseason. This signing is actually pretty significant considering the amount of RFAs and UFAs the Blue Jackets have coming up at the end of this season.  I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear the conversations between uber-loyalist majority owner McConnell and John Davidson as he looks to turn this team around.

And then there was one...

Having my Cake and Eating it Two

Totally awesome cartoon by Nate Beeler in today's
Columbus Dispatch kinda says it all!
Here we sit, on April 2 (hence the two in the title) and the Columbus Blue Jackets are sitting one point out of playoff position, having been leapfrogged by the Blues while the CBJ were idle.  For the second time in franchise history (hence the two in the title) the CBJ are part of the playoff conversation in April.  There is a healthy assist from the truncated schedule in there, but the reality is some hot goal tending and a team that has pulled itself out of the cellar by their skate laces deserve a healthy helping of credit.  And it is being noticed locally, as is evidenced by the cartoon by Nate Beeler at the right that appeared in today's Columbus Dispatch in the op ed page.  Subscribe now to get this awesome content! (hopefully that satisfies the lawyers)

Having watched the CBJ squander many an opportunity to engage the local casual fan in past years, it is really refreshing to see how this team has established a home ice advantage down at Nationwide arena.  In the past we have often seen the CBJ lose in these important home stands, or fail to show up when the big crowd is on hand.  This is a credit to the hydra like leadership of the team, and the will of the players who seem to keep on chugging no matter the situation.  There's also that thing about a hot goal tender, as evidenced by Sergei Bobrovsky  being named the third star of the month of March by the NHL.

But where do we go from here?  The Blues have a couple of games in hand, and they have loaded up at the deadline by picking up Bouwmeester from Calgary.  They are in 'full on win now' mode.  We are probably going to have to pick someone else to leap frog to stay in play off contention.  Nashville has games in hand, but also has to play Chicago four times down the stretch.  Detroit has seven of their remaining 12 games on the road.  The CBJ are in a similar situation, with only 4 home games remaining, and 8 on the road.  For the CBJ to make the playoffs, it will be a tall order, and they will have to do it on the road.

So for me, in my opinion, our CBJ are going to fade late, and are unlikely to make the playoffs.  Which means of course that we get a shot at the lottery for the number one pick, which is pretty cool.  This does nothing to diminish the pride and satisfaction that I have for what this team has accomplished.  And, of course, based on what they have accomplished so far, maybe it is unwise to count them out.  Some of these western conference teams had better focus on putting the CBJ away soon, because if you let them hang around, there is no telling what this group can accomplish.

As of Thursday, our next game, the level of intensity of play is going to take a quantum leap as the post trade deadline period begins.  At the bottom of the incredibly tight western conference, this signifies the start of playoff mode. The CBJ have to match or exceed that elevation in the level of play.  Honestly, I think they have that in them, if they can find a way to do it.  These few days off come at a good time.  I think our defense is going to need to elevate itself, the power play needs to get on track, and the forwards will be bolstered by the eventual return of Dubinsky and Foligno.  And of course the goal tending, both Bobrovsky and Mason will need to remain white hot.  It can be done.

So as this final phase of the 2012-13 season comes to a close, I am going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, while taking every opportunity to cheer the CBJ for what they have done.  Because I am having my cake, and eating it two!


Monday, April 1, 2013

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on the Howson re-hiring

He's back!
In case you missed it, Columbus Blue Jackets majority owner John P. McConnell announced this morning that former Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Scott Howson has been brought back to the team in a newly-created position, Senior President of Hockey Operations.

There is a lot to process in this announcement, so I thought it best to break it all down, 5 Thoughts- style.

1. First, the surprise/shock element.  I totally appreciate that the times dictated that Howson was fired, but could anyone have predicted that Howson's roster and the Howson-developed talent pool would perform the way it has since he left town? Not me.  I figured that the team was going to tank for the balance of the season.  Instead, the boys in Union Blue are in sole possession of 8th place...above the playoff qualification line.  Which shows why I'm a blogger and Howson is back in charge on Nationwide Boulevard.