Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Final Nail?

A disappointing 4-1 loss to Detroit in Columbus just may be the final nail in the coffin of the season for the Blue Jackets. Detroit outplayed the Jackets en route to their 50th win of the season. Nash scored early in the third period after two first period power play goals had the Wings up 2-0. Hasek outperforms Norrena on this night though he only faced 12 shots for the whole game. Detroit has moved their game up a notch in preparation for the playoffs, and that notch is one level higher than the Blue Jackets can play.

With Fritche, Boll and Russell out, the team looked tired and outmatched. They sorely miss Foote's leadership and blue-line play. It has been a long season and Nashville comes to town on Tuesday. It would be a morale booster to shut down the Predators, their chief nemesis, and hurt Nashville's playoff chances. Looks like spoiler is the final role for the team this year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Tease

The Jackets win another home game. This time Norrena gets a shutout and Manny Malhotra scores two goals to power the team to an impressive 3-0 win in Calgary. The anticipated battle lived up to (Columbus) expectations and further clouded the playoff picture. Tempers flared at a few points due in no small part to a slash to the back of the knee of Boll in the last game. Late in the third period Boll and Craig Conroy squared off and the guys really pounded each other. Norrena was again in goal for a concussed Leclaire, and again he came up big. On Sunday he made 43 saves en route to a 4-3 win against Detroit.

With the team now seven points out of the last playoff spot, playoff chances are slim. The tease is seeing them play so spiritedly at season's end. It is clear now that the long lull after the all star break was the season-killer. Certainly I hope they can slip into the playoffs, but given the number of teams to pass that reality is unlikely. How big was that loss last week to Chicago? They cannot afford such indiscretions again.

Monday, March 10, 2008


These days when Tampa Bay comes to town, you should expect a win. The Blue Jackets played a hard-nosed game on home ice and put away a game Lightning squad. Hard to dismiss a team with St. Louis and Lecavalier, but the former league champs are a shadow of their former selves. Two third period goals clinched the game and Novotny sealed the deal with an empty netter.

No crowing over this victory. With only 60 points, Tampa Bay staggers to the end of the season, hoping for a good draft pick. The Jackets hover just above the good draft slot and just below playoff level. Like all fans I see the utility of a high pick. However I do not like seeing the guys not try and, to their credit, they have not given up.

Misc: The Jackets finally got the monkey off their back by scoring a power play goal. Vyborny and Chimera had PP goals. Klesla was +4 for the game. The team needs one point to tie their franchise best of 74.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another Tough Loss to the Oilers

The Blue Jackets lost in overtime 2-1 to Edmonton. Another exciting game with Columbus looking great at times. The Jackets end the game out-shooting 31-17.

The life of a pro example #236. Dan Fritche runs the gamut from hero to goat game in a few minutes. First, he scores the tying goal with one second left in the game to force overtime. Two minutes into the extra period, he turns over the puck in the Jackets zone and Cogliano sneaks a 5 hole shot past Leclaire.

The Jackets horrid streak on the power play continues. The team has not scored in its last 30 tries. Edmonton went 1-2 on the power play.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Calgary 1 Columbus 0

Exciting game on the road against Calgary. Battle of the goalies: Leclaire versus Kiprusoff. Weak blocker side goal on a broken play gives the Flames the first goal of the game, netted early in the third period. Kippy played spectacularly, capping off the night by stoning Hainsey right in front of the net with just a minute left to cap a great evening. More scoring chances for Columbus than Calgary, but the one goal stood up. Hard not to like the Flames and their hard-nosed style.

Hard not to like Andrew Murray: a hard-playing scrapper with good energy. Murray, Chimera, Fritche and Boll make it a chore to play the Jackets.

The league worrying abut scoring should have seen this game: spirited and physical play. No goals did not mean a dull game. But what do I know? I just like hockey. Why cater to me?

The Jackets have now gone 0-26 in 8 games on the power play. You won't win many games on the road with that stat.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Big Road Win in Vancouver

The Blue Jackets capped a late rally to beat the Canucks 3-2 on an overtime winner by Jason Chimera. Dick Tarnstrom had two assists as third period goals by Andrew Murray and Rick Nash forced overtime. Leclaire out-duels Luongo in an exciting game that looked grim after two periods as the Jackets were down 2-0.

With Foote's departure, we are seeing Jan Hejda step into the role of blue line stalwart. Howson's gambit to bank on his mix at defense makes it vital to get steady play and big minutes for the 30 year old Czech. He seems up to the task for now. Seeing Kris Russell take a step up next season is as vital as the need for Hejda to rise. Both turns upward are conditions precedent to the Jackets making that push into the playoff ranks.