Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wash, rinse, repeat.

WHAT TYPE OF COACH DID HE INHERIT One who employed a defense-first philosophy One who employed a defense-first philosophy
WHAT HE DID AFTER ARRIVING IN TOWN Tinkered with the inherited roster. Squeezed a playoff appearance out of it, but the team didn't win a playoff game. Tinkered with the inherited roster.  Came within a tiebreaker of squeezing a playoff appearance out of it.
WHAT HE DID IN THE FOLLOWING OFFSEASON Jettisoned older "role model" players.  Threw his lot in with younger, arguably more skilled players in the pursuit of a different, more aggressive, on-ice profile. Jettisoned older "role model" players. Threw his lot in with younger, arguably more skilled players in the pursuit of a different, more aggressive, on-ice profile.
WHAT HAPPENED THE FOLLOWING SEASON Roster looked lost and apathetic on the ice. Roster looked lost and apathetic on the ice.

We know how the first story ended: Scott Howson fired Ken Hitchcock, and things didn't get much better.  What will Jarmo do?

I did not attend either CBJ-Pittsburgh game this weekend.  I did not watch either game on TV.  I did not listen to either game on the radio.  I did follow the scores and reviewed the box scores following the games.

I also stayed abreast of my fellow Blue Jackets fans online and was shocked (and I'm not saying that in the sarcastic "Casablanca" sense of the word - I was legitimately shocked) that some of the most even-tempered and perhaps even fan-boyish folks that I know were downright livid with the showing on the ice in both games.  This, after giving the south-side-of-mediocre team a pass as they ambled along to a 5-6-0 (pre-Pittsburgh home-and-home) record.  But I swear what I was reading over the weekend seemed so base in the motivation: An apparent fear (or worse yet, realization) that the new boss was indeed same as the old boss.  Listless team, minor league quality of play, unforced errors - all the stuff that we fans loathed about past CBJ teams and prayed that the new management would make this roster rise above...but apparently didn't.

There are plenty of reasons that this could be.  It could be the team culture.  It could be the coach.  Or it could be the general manager.  We all have our opinions.

I'm not panicking yet - not as long as the Blue Jackets hit .500 by the time Nathan Horton finally joins the lineup.  At the same time, it is abundantly clear that this team has some serious problems that Horton alone probably won't fix.


Key among the issues at hand is offensive production.  The Blue Jackets are 20th in the league with 32 goals in 13 games, or 2.46 goals per game.  Five of those 13 games saw the team score two or fewer regulation goals*.  Folks, that's a recipe for failure if you won't recommit to the "kitchen sink" approach to defense that we saw toward the end of last season.  Lack of goal production puts pressure on the defense to play even stronger - especially the goaltender, who will be called upon to stand on his head more often than not to keep games from slipping away.

*I note that the Blue Jackets has won only one game with two or fewer regulation goals, and that took a shootout to beat the Islanders.

The best humor is rooted in truth.  
So the knives are coming out for Todd Richards.  Perhaps rightfully so.  I've never said that he's the best coach in the league, but in my estimation he's far from the worst.  (We've seen the worst.  Richards is not the worst.)  And let's go back and look at history.  Did firing Ken Hitchcock solve anything?  No, it didn't.  It took Howson another two head coaches (Claude Noel and Scott Arniel) to realize this fact, but he finally came around.  It was his roster.  Howson then made some positive moves, but, it really was too late for him by then.  I suppose the development cycle stopped at Howson 4.0.

Jarmo Kekalainen finds himself in much the same predicament as Howson.  Inherited coach, questionable offseason moves leading to unmotivated roster, disappointed fans.  So what does he do?  Kick Richards to the curb and install his own guy?  Gosh, I hope not.  (Wait a minute.  Peter Laviolette is still in circulation, right?)  I truly hope that he learns from history and tries fixing his flippin' roster first.  Get some scorers and finishers into town and tell Richards to start winning, else he's next.  The team has some chips to move, especially on the defensive front, and it's time to act before the 2013-14 season is out of reach, playoffs-wise.


The other issue I detect is rooted precisely in what I warned about at the opening of the 2013 free agency season:
And, of course, that's exactly what Kekalainen did.  Now I'm going to use the "Casablanca" sense of the word: I'm shocked, shocked that the team has looked so listless on the ice so often this season.  I mean, Jarmo booted Prospal and Aucoin just as Howson booted Peca.

This problem is going to be much harder to solve, and I'm not sure it can be done during the 2013-14 season outside of a home run trade for a scorer and respected veteran in the same body.

The quick and easy answer is, "Bring Vinny Prospal back."  Let's be serious about that: While Prospal's return to Columbus theoretically could achieve the desired effect in putting a boot up this team's rear end, I think Jarmo pretty much burned the Prospal bridge by letting him return home to Europe.  It would take a big, big man for Jarmo to acknowledge his mistake in severing ties with Prospal...and it would take an even bigger man in Prospal to accept an implicit Kekalainen apology by returning to the team that spurned him after his efforts over the preceding two seasons.  I see neither the former nor the latter happening.

Instead, what do we get?  Brandon Dubinsky howling at the moon, night after night:
Because everyone clearly is listening to the apparent leader.  Every single game.  Or if they are listening, they don't have the chops to respond properly.  (And if that's the case, refer to my first point above about getting some real scorers on the quick.)

Jarmo's already ignored history and followed Howson's initial path.  Let's hope that he puts the hubris aside, is a quick study and tries another approach...for I am not interested in repeating Howson's final three seasons.

But make no mistake: There are problems on this team, and they need to be fixed quickly if the season is to be a successful one.


Lastly, an only tangentially related thought to this post, an impression about the Columbus Blue Jackets' mindset against Pittsburgh.

Am I upset that the team lost both games to what arguably is the best team in the Eastern Conference?  Not in the least.  The Blue Jackets aren't a great team.  Right now, they're struggling to become a consistently good team.  The CBJ aren't going to win all 82 games, so losing a couple to the Pens isn't going to have me jumping off the AEP Tower at Nationwide Arena.

That said, having a week of no Blue Jackets hockey leading up to the home-and-home series with the Penguins was perhaps the worst possible scenario for Columbus.  Actions speak louder than words, and the "#DefendNWA" marketing campaign (largely in response to the Pittsburgh fan takeover of 2010) as well as Coach Richards feeling that he needs to make his "respect, not awe" public comments suggest that the team is actually spooked by the Penguins - business operations, hockey operations, everyone.  For Pete's sake, Richards is quoted as saying, "There's a fear of getting embarrassed there" about playing the weekend opener at the Consol Center.  If you're scared of getting embarrassed, you ARE in awe.  And the team had a whole week to let the awe and fear envelop them.  Are you really surprised at the outcome?

It's one thing to play hard and lose with your head held high.  It's another to play scared of abject failure and then proceed to get destroyed.

This team has to get the Penguins out of their grill lest they become the team's latest insurmountable obstacle - a modern-day version of past nemeses like the Colorado Avalanche or Nashville Predators, if you will.


  1. It does not appear to this STH that the team has on-ice leadership. I watched David Ortiz give a pep talk to his fellow Red Sox players. They hung on his every word then went out and got the job done. I do not see this type of effective player leadership on the Jackets. Management must do something quick, otherwise they could lose the 'the room' and the fan base once again.

    1. As indicated elsewhere in this post, leadership is an issue but not the only issue.

      I do share your concern about the fan base, though. The team needs to grow it, and that's going to happen when they win consistently and (re-)build some buzz in this town.

  2. You fail to note that the Scott Howson model worked after the first year. He tinkered, the team improved, and they were a top-10 NHL team the season after the playoff run. Of course, nobody remembers that because the goalie (Steve Mason) was such crap and the club couldn't claw out of the basement. The problem with Scott Howson was that he then bailed on his plans and decided to make brash moves (keeping Mason) and stupid moves (getting Jack Johnson).

    Here we are once again, watching the team drastically improve over the supposedly-but-not-really good year before, but getting unlucky in the goal department (nobody except me and Jay32600 will tell you that the Jackets were probably better than the Pens for anything at even strength on Friday). While I can't defend the Boll deal, Jarmo has yet to show any other stupid decision-making skills. Bob is still near-to-above average (something more than we could say for Mason in anything other than two months in the playoff year) and the team is shooting more than the year before. Adding a "leader" doesn't will in goals. He won't make percentages bend the right way. Shooting even more pucks will eventually right the ship.

    1. If time ever permitted, I'd take a look at shot counts in the pre-"grit" Scott Arniel days when he threw all but one lone defenseman into the rush. I recall shot numbers being high, but results were low. I'll agree with you to a point, but the key to me is quality, not quantity.

  3. Richards biggest weakness plays right into the Jackets' biggest weakness. How are the forward lines supposed to develop any chenistry - which is achieved by playing alongside the same players night after night - when Richards seems to change his lines every other shift? Let's be honest, the Jackets, this year, are, at best, a bubble team. Everything has to go right for them, and they need to catch a few breaks, for them to make the play-offs. Constantly f*cking with the forward lines is not helping at all. Richards needs to settle on his forward lines and leave them alone. Basically, let the guys play and get used to each other. To cite a glaring example, the Penguins are one of the elite teams of the league and, except for minor tinkering in the off-seasons and at the trade deadlines, they're forward lines have stayed the same over the last several years.

    1. OK Grouch, now you've got me wondering if I picked the wrong historical comparison.

      Should I have recycled the Scott Arniel lineup bingo card instead?

    2. hehehe No, but, maybe, you just missed the comparison?

    3. "To cite a glaring example, the Penguins are one of the elite teams of the league and, except for minor tinkering in the off-seasons and at the trade deadlines, they're forward lines have stayed the same over the last several years."

      Well, in fairness, if the Jackets had Crosby and Malkin up front, it wouldn't matter nearly as much how they lined up. This isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

  4. In all seriousness, I'm not that worried. We have more of a problem of getting unlucky, at least from what I've seen (I didn't see the games this weekend either). I agree with zekebud that the team needs to put more pucks on net. From the games I've seen, the Jackets are shooting the puck at the frame of the net, and they seem to be missing the net wide a lot. What we are seeing right now reminds me a lot of the first 15-20 games of last season. If this is any indication, I wouldn't worry.

    That said, if the team can't make it to .500 by New Years, we might have some trouble.

    1. Interestingly, a commenter at the DBJ Facebook page highlighted that the standings point totals for the team for both last season and this season after 13 games are identical: 10 points. You might be onto something with that comparison to the first 15-20 games of last season.

      And yes, sub-.500 at New Year's would not be good whatsoever. But at least the team has the All-Star Game to use to sell season tickets again.

      Lastly, shots. Quality has to come into play as well as quantity. Scott Arniel pushed quantity, too, and look where that got him.

  5. so you wrote a blog post based on twitter responses??? that seems like a valid forum...

    1. An anonymous commenter questioning validity. Gosh, I love this blog sometimes. The irony can get so deliciously thick.

      But hey, I'll bite.

      Permit me to answer your question with a question: If I had lied and said I watched every minute of every game, would my discussion of the 2013-14 Blue Jackets thus far be any less valid?

  6. In reality, we are missing 3 top 9 players that will or have contributed significantly...this team is not in dire straits as this is put and Jarmo and Howson are not the same person...a small trade for another top 9 scorer would be nice, but this team is built right and when playing together competes hard...

    1. Obviously Howson and Jarmo are not the same person. At the same time, put aside the hype and look at what they have actually done.

      I'm all for competing hard. I'm also for winning. And I'm aware that the two can be mutually exclusive. I'd like that to not be the case.

      If you're saying that the Blue Jackets are down three top nine players, I'll presume that to be Matt Calvert, Boone Jenner and Nathan Horton. Horton hasn't done anything on the ice yet for the Blue Jackets, so it's hard to quantify his value. He might click with the team, he might not. Calvert appeared to be having a decent start to the season before getting hurt, but he never registered on the scoresheet in the three games where he saw action. Boone Jenner at least had a couple of goals in his nine game appearances, so it's fair to say that the team misses him.

      Now let's look to Pittsburgh as a model, shall we? They didn't have James Neal (36 pts in last year's lockout season, 81 points in the full season prior). They also didn't have winger Beau Bennett, winger Chuck Kobasew or defenseman Rob Scuderi, all contributors in some form or fashion this season. Also... because their backup goalie, Thomas Vokoun, was hurt, they had to play a rookie making his third NHL start ever to avoid exhausting starter Marc-Andre Fleury. They had every excuse in the book to rationalize a poor performance or a loss yet, strangely, they shut the Blue Jackets out.

      I'm not jumping off of buildings yet. I just said that the Blue Jackets are struggling to be good, need some reliable scoring and could stand to have a kick in the pants on occasion from someone who can't be ignored - like a veteran who can show them up on the ice if need be - until they figure out how to win consistently.

  7. You can blame Jarmo and continue to sh*t on Howson, but the problem is in the owner(s). The team does not have an owner who gets pissed off when they lose and continue to lose. The team needs an owner who pounds the table in anger after a loss, who calls up John Davidson and tells him he wants things fixed now. An owner who has a team that is part of his portfolio instead of a point of pride and competitiveness is not the kind that the Jackets need. Maybe the owner has to ask questions, like why are you paying Umberger so much money to play third line? Or how many giveaways can the Wiz have before you do something about it?

    If the team fires Richards after such a short period of time, they won't get anyone to coach here. Laviolette won't consider coming to Columbus for less than $10 million. There is a reason why Guy Boucher chose not to come here and it starts with the "who cares, we got our Arena deal" ownership.

    Sure, certain players need to step up or leave right now. And the team needs to elect players that complement the key players that they have now. Gaborik is our scorer, so find a player or two that can feed him the puck and take his passes. If Jack Johnson is the cornerstone of the defense, then get some solid, stay at home guys to fill out the roster.

    1. One other important item. Both Howson and Kekalainen inherited coaches, as you pointed out, but I would argue that both GM's were hired out of order. When MacLean was fired, the team should have kept an interim coach in place until they hired Howson and then let him select his own coach. Kekalainen should have also been allowed to hire his own coach, not go with an untested interim guy. I'm not sh*ting on Richards here, but arguing that a process needs to followed.

    2. Bob - On your first piece, I never once considered the role of ownership in the current situation. I actually am kinda soft on ownership, seeing as they've lost so much money on the CBJ over the years yet, to the best of my knowledge, have not seriously considered moving the franchise to a more profitable location. Also, JPMac has opened the checkbook for John Davidson (a new position on the team) and took the team all the way to the salary cap at Scott Howson's bequest when the team brought Jeff Carter in. So I see an ownership group that I think wants to do the right thing...but isn't always getting the best advice.

      No argument on the inherited coaches, but I do find it interesting that the new GMs seem intent on forcing their "square peg" coaches through round holes.

    3. DBJ, spending lots of money does not equal a drive to win. (See Adam Foote.) My point is that when Jarmo or any GM says they want to sign a player, the owner needs to question them, ask for justification, etc. A few simple questions would have stopped the Carter debacle and saved everyone a lot of headaches. I am slightly worried that we may be in for another era of being lulled to complacency by a powerful executive the way Doug MacLean got away with. MacLean had four years of unquestioned authority, nobody challenging him, nobody offering a second opinion. If I was John Davidson, I would rid the team of the carryovers as fast as possible, even though it would mean eliminating a lot of easy excuses.

      One final point about money. Columbus always has to pay more for free agents and now coaches. That is the legacy of Doug MacLean that will haunt the team for years to come. We are not the desired destination of the stars, the city that Canadian boys dream about, the venue that the hockey media promotes. We have overpaid in the past (see Adam Foote) and will have to keep doing so until we start winning.

    4. Bob - Simple questions sometimes elude our friends on Nationwide Boulevard. Things like, "Are we destroying all these kids that we're drafting?" or "Doesn't that blow-up Boomer look like the biggest phallus you've ever seen?" The Jeff Carter question would be another good one.

      You have an excellent point regarding the crowd-quieting effect of powerful executives. Not sure that it's deserved. Just because we have a HoF'er in the front office doesn't automatically mean that the team is going to win.

      On overpayment: The team overpays because they have to keep going to free agency...because they can't develop kids properly. Blame whomever you want - MacLean, Howson, Jarmo, Stinger, Leo, the Mr. Mac's - but this franchise habitually puts kids into the worst situations and then leaves the fans disappointed when they implode. (That was kinda part of my point with this post.)

      Love your insights. Keep reading and commenting. I enjoy the dialogue.

  8. Looking back is probably a good idea, but lets look at one other factor of our great long run last season: We were healthy. Matt Calvert's speed and pursuit was a lot of our sucessful forechecking. Jenner looks like he can be healthy. Okay, we didn't have Horton, but Nikki 6 was a lot better last year than he's shown this year. Boller was healthy. And Bob played better than any goalie can be reasonably expected to play. We started the season looking with offense and defense coming from all four lines. Today's practice had DMac on the third line and Chaput centering the grinders. I like Chaput, but he really needs more time in Springfield, yet here he is because there is no one better.

    This team needs to roll four lines in all situations because that wears out other teams, one reason so many of our goals came late in the game last year. Right now we really can't do that. JJ hasn't been so good as he was last year, along with Nikki 6. Ryan Murray may make up for both of them (and more) but not yet. And we're cold. We've gotten a lot of shots, few have gone in. That can swing in a moment.

    Getting great players overnight isn't something that's going to happen. Top six help is really a couple years away as Wennberg et all, are still minor league players with talent. You can say to Jarmo "go get someone", but there ain't man unsigned somebodies left to get.


    1. FlaggerX - I do not disagree with you. I doubt anyone would say that the team DOESN'T need to be able to roll four lines.

      I get your assertion regarding health, but my reply to a comment above argued that the Pens were perhaps less healthy as a team yet still shut the CBJ out. Seems to me like there's something else in play.

  9. I get real tired of everyone having opinions that don't seem to come from what happens on the ice. The Penguins will make you look silly, very quickly, if you let them. Yes, Pittsburg beat us but don't they beat most teams? Do you really think this squad is talented like Pittsburg? Right now we are a bad break and a soft goal or two from where we need to be but all I hear and see is seemingly educated assertions that are just not based on reality.

    The GM, the owner ?? You want Al Davis or George Steinbrenner- SERIOUSLY? You want to trade away our young promising defensemen when this organization has been trying to have young and promising defensemen for years? I liked Prospal but at some point you do have to move forward and it's not like other teams brought him in. I agree with Zekebud and the Old Grouch when they say it really was closer then you think and Pittsburg is very good, I think Richards seems to send players out one at a time with no congruity, and we are not as good as fans were led to believe, last year, by the play of a hot goaltender which is the only real comparison between last season and the playoff squad. Bobrovsky, however, is not Mason and has not been that bad, seriously! It is easy to blame a goaltender, or a 7 million dollar player or even the coach, gm and owners but the reality is this is a tough sport that requires a ton of effort, a willingness to take real punishment and teamwork.

    Gaborik has put up plenty of points despite playing with someone different, seemingly, every shift but all I hear is he needs to step up (really?). I hear Bobrovsky isn't consistent or as good as last year (Duh- last year was ridiculous!) Umberger is on the third line (well yeah)? Dubinsky is the man and if they all were like him (They said this about Umberger as I scratched my head)? If we can just be .500 when we get Horton? I just cringe because it all tells me people aren't getting it! This is why you get Boll for 3 years!

    This is who Umberger is and he's older and slower (was an overpaid 3rd liner from the start). Bobrovsky got incredibly hot last year. Dubinsky is basically a slightly more talented Umberger but just not talented enough to expect consistent offense from. Gaborik is a talented player but is getting older, has taken a ton of punishment over the years and is on pace for a pretty decent season anyways. Horton is a nice player but isn't an offensive powerhouse? Horton will help, sure, but he isn't going to take over games any more then Gaborik will or really should (this isn't basketball?). The same people said this about Rick Nash and would probably be disappointed in Sidney Crosby. Our defense is young and also relies heavily on JJ and Wiz, who are known for huge lapses in defensive play. They have also been clearly trying to be more offensive leading to lapses, turnovers and goals against.

    But frankly this is still the most talented, fun and well built team the Jackets have had. For those of you that expected the hot play Bobrovsky gave us last year then welcome to reality. If you figured the Eastern Conference was going to be easier, based on past record, then welcome. If you believe that goal scorers are easy to find and we just need to go get them then you don't get why they are taking chances on Carter, overpaying Wiz, Umberger or taking chances on the oft injured Gaborik and Horton. All moves we need to make and frankly had to make to try to be better. If this was easy then wouldn't all the teams be Detroit?

    1. CBJMAD - First off, you would have seen that I'm not upset that the CBJ lost to Pittsburgh had you read to the end of the post. To quote: "Am I upset that the team lost both games to what arguably is the best team in the Eastern Conference? Not in the least. The Blue Jackets aren't a great team. Right now, they're struggling to become a consistently good team. The CBJ aren't going to win all 82 games, so losing a couple to the Pens isn't going to have me jumping off the AEP Tower at Nationwide Arena." So let's put that past us, shall we?

      My critique is not based off of one weekend's worth of play. It's based off of the team's behavior and performance since roughly July 1. I think that Jarmo (and perhaps Davidson, but I'm not clear on how long of a leash Jarmo is on) made strategic errors in the offseason - one of which I explicitly warned about at the beginning of July. I think that those errors have come home to roost in the first part of this season.

      The team can't score enough goals to win even half of their games, and they all too often lack focus and intensity on the ice. Those conclusions, CBJMAD, are observations by myself and others whom I respect after watching on-ice play. The team is not scoring enough. That's an on-ice observation. The team looks flaccid out there all too often and lacks intensity. That's an on-ice observation.

      To address some of your other comments:

      1) RJ Umberger makes a lot of money and does not play at a level commensurate with it. As a ticket package purchaser, I think I'm within my rights to suggest that my money is not being well-spent. Earlier in his CBJ career, he played up to his contract in my estimation. Now, he's not.

      2) The Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division is widely acknowledged to be the weakest in the NHL at this point. I suggested in the past that the CBJ will have an easier road to hoe if they got out of the old Central Division, and inter-divisional records suggest that I am correct. If the CBJ can't win here, should we look at soccer-style relegation to the AHL to find some wins?

      3) I do not believe that I have criticized Sergei Bobrovsky. I've offered sarcastic comments about the level of over-reliance on Bobrovsky from the CBJ's under-scoring forwards, but that's not a shot at Bob at all. And I also expected that Bob would regress slightly, if only because the CBJ's abandonment of the "all-in" defensive scheme in the name of (as yet unrealized) offensive production leaves him more exposed.

      4) If your team has glaring needs in one area and an oversupply of talent in another area, it is perfectly reasonable to entertain notions of reducing a glut to address a deficiency. This isn't a matter of squirrels hoarding nuts for the winter...unless you're considering this season lost already, and that's another issue altogether and one I choose not to entertain.


    2. 5) Have I criticized Gaborik? Please point out areas where I have done so. Sure, I'd like him to score more...but he's the team's leading scorer.

      6) You are not the first person to criticize Richards' line combination shuffling in light of this post. I need to consider this further before commenting.

      7) I never said winning was easy. There are 30 teams in the league, and 14 won't make the playoffs. 29 won't win the Cup. But Columbus has two broad-shouldered, likely well-compensated, management-level executives who are talking about piling on the points (I paraphrase, but that was Davidson's early-season video clip). Great. Where's the pile? Did I miss it somewhere? For after 13 games, the team has precisely the same number of points as it had in the 2013 season: 10. Is it not fair to say that I expected better?

      (And let's be fair here: I have been and remain on record that my goal for this team is .500 by the time Nathan Horton joins the lineup - a point for which your objection as well as the linkage to Jared Boll's contract confuses me. Anyway, that would be 13 points. They're 23% behind a .500 pace right now. Not the end of the world, but certainly enough to suggest that an early season personnel correction should be entertained unless you're cool with trending toward a 63-point season in the NHL's worst division.)

      Thanks for your thoughts. Keep reading!

    3. I do read and respect your blog and opinions DBJ! I am also a little embarrassed and flattered you took the time to respond to my rant. I was not even specifically directing this at you and wrote this after spending some time catching up on the blogosphere (after spending the weekend with my own girls), comments and even from an interview Porty gave yesterday on the radio.

      I also believe we are more like minded than not. I think the difference is with expectations. I do think you have every right to expect more of this team but I probably disagree with how much. I think this team is a lot closer to the team that struggled out of the gate last year then the one that had a goalie almost steal a playoff spot. So I believe we are pretty close to my expectations or just slightly disappointing. I am also encouraged by many of the things I see so far and think we are a break or two from being where you would like?
      1) Never has and symbolizes all that has been wrong! How we have had to reach! 2) Weaker conference does not make us better 3) Agreed (Porty and others did) 4) Again- expectations for this year and not wanting to give away assets still to be determined and so hard to come by for what, to squeak into the playoffs? 5) Nope but again Porty and others (including Jarmo apparently which is just a non negotiating tactic) 6) Just don't get the constant tinkering and disagree with many combinations 7) Hmmm, you mean he sold expectations? Look, this team is better but is not the team Bobrovsky made it last year and that was being sold for this year.* I believe that they could and should have the 13 points you expect but for a few bad breaks. I also caution that Horton is not going to be as big a difference as is being sold or entertained. I also still see no reason to trade away tomorrow. I really do believe they are showing signs of improvement and are just dealing with the realization that their goalie is not invincible.

      *I think the Jared Boll contract is just management placating the fan base

    4. Ah, I see CBJMAD. If nothing else, you now know that we read and pay attention to comments posted around here. At least as they're not clothing ad spam from China. (We get a lot of that with the "Jacket" thing in the blog name.)

      Here's a sad little secret. While I try, time constraints let me read precious little about the Blue Jackets outside of this blog and FOX Sports Ohio. I'd love to read every CBJ blog religiously, but I am swamped on the familial front.

      As for Porty, here's the catch: Once the Dispatch went behind the partial pay-wall, I pretty much stopped reading their work. I acknowledge that I'm probably missing a key piece here or there - sounds like the Jarmo comments would be one of them - but I figure that 95% of the important information will get out into social media within a few minutes of his posting. I'd subscribe to the Dispatch except for a couple of reasons: 1) It's a way-overpriced product in my estimation, and 2) The Dispatch has been merciless over the years to my wife's employer and thus we do not subscribe on principle.

      So lumping my opinions in with Porty, or perhaps even other CBJ bloggers, is actually quite off-base. But you didn't know. Now you do.

      Past that, I also sense that we're on the same page more often than not. These are very frustrating times for Blue Jackets fans. I hate to use the term "sold a bill of goods" yet, but a season-breaking continuation of this loss streak will change my tune.

      With every early season loss, the "must-win" quotient rises. Pittsburgh already has 22 points. Toronto, Tampa and Detroit all have 20. The Blue Jackets have been stuck at 10 for a week or so now. It's going to take 90+ to get to the playoffs, I presume, so the boys in Union Blue need to get it in gear ASAP.

  10. I thought we played Pittsburgh well. We lost both, obviously, but as Will Graves pointed out, in the first game "Columbus controlled most of the first period, sending 15 shots at Fleury. It was one of the rare times the Penguins have been on their heels at home." Also, "the Blue Jackets became only the second Penguins' opponent to top 60 shot attempts in a loss at Consol Energy Center on Friday night." That's dam good against the best (maybe second-best) team in the league. I know there are no points for effort, but we certainly didn't embarrass ourselves. We're 5 points out of Second Place in the Metropolitan. Breathe in, hold it, hold it, breathe slowly out, hold it, hold it. I think were the second best team in the Metropolitan and I think we'll prove it as we move forward. I really Miss Calvert. He was my favorite player last season and I was really looking forward to watching him hustle this season...his return will provide a spark. Go Jackets! -shmoopatties

    1. 1) I had to Google Will Graves to see who he is. Apparently he's an AP writer, most likely working out of Pittsburgh since I've never heard of the guy.

      2) I'm not panicking. Nowhere close. If you think I'm panicking right now, you'll be greatly entertained when I actually am.

      3) Calvert seemed like he had something special going this season before getting hurt. I'm a bit surprised that he made it into the top six forwards discussion, but there's no doubting his motor.


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