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.

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