Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Two quick goals by the Jackets led to an early time out called by Tortorella. Whatever he said worked because the score for the rest of the game was 7-2 for the Rangers. Mason gave up three goals and was pulled in favor of Garon, who gave up four. Such was the destiny on thsi night Wasted efforts: Gordie Howe hat trick for Boll who had a goal, as assist and a fight (well, actually two fights). For the first time in seven games no assist for Tyutin. Huselius scored a goal and still was -3 on the night. Nash ended the game -4. Yikes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nashville Again

The Jackets lost their 5,273,356 game in a row to the Predators in Nashville. This time it was a 4-3 shootout loss. Close but no cigar. Wasted efforts by Umberger (two goals), Tyutin (two assists) and Mason (49 shots). 49 shots on goal? Dismissed as coincidence: minutes played by Boll (3:45) and Belak (3:54).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Team Winning Games, Losing Russians

After solid back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Mathieu Garon, the Blue Jackets announced that Filatov ha been loaned for the remainder of the year to a KHL team. The former first round pick simply was earning his way onto the ice. It's anyone's guess whether we have seen the last of him or not. Let's hope an extra year of gaining experience and getting stronger will yield a Filatov ready for prime time next season. Disappointing, but a move that will benefit the team down the road. Hopefully...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Kick 'em while they are down

Carolina limped into Nationwide winless in eleven games and goalie Cam Ward went down in the first period. In a dog-eat-dog world, the Jackets took care of business, netted three in the third period to shut down the Hurricanes 3-2. That's what good teams should do - beat inferior opponents. Mason played up to the level expected - unrealistically good. Goals by Nash, Boll, and Filatov powered the team; all goals were scored within a five minute span. Mason even assisted on Boll's goal: Mason to Strallman to Boll (who sped around the defenseman whose stick had broken then went top shelf on Leighton.

A win is a win, but this victory was better than the odd 4-3 win in Atlanta on Thursday. It makes for uneasy feeling when you give up two power play goals, take eight penalties - on the road no less - and only manage 21 shots on goal (compared to your opponent's 35 shots). Luckily it was the Thrashers. Torres had another high energy game, scoring a pair of goals and was generally flying around the rink. Voracek and Brassard had the other goals for Columbus.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Shark Visit
Fascinating game after two periods. In the second period, the Blue Jackets have plenty of quality chances without finding the net for most of the period. Heatley taps in an easy one for a powerplay goal after a smiling Malhotra draws a weak tripping call against Tyutin. Jackets look great on the powerplay but Nabokov holds them off for a minute and a half until Nash threads a shot from the off-wing from a steep angle.

Each time I check the World Series, Matsui is driving in runs. Not looking good for the Phillies.

With the game tied and 10:00 minutes left in the third, Pahlsson rings one off the post that cleanly beat Nabokov. One of those loud rings signaling solid iron. Boll just missed a check and landed head first into the Columbus bench. A bit embarrassing, but he'll make highlights for that gaffe. Jackets again playing well but do not get the goal.

Overtime. Mason's quick glove robs Marleau on a one timer from the top of the circle. Whew! Crossbar and a reaching toe save by Mason keeps the game tied. Shootout. My least favorite change over the last ten years. What's wrong with a tie? Filatov was up first and a Nabokov poke check stops him. Blocker save by Mason. Stralman blasts it high and wide. Boyle nets one blocker-side, top shelf. Nash stoned by Nabokov pad save. Sharks win. Yawn.

Fox Sports Ohio: the time is too hard to read on the screen. Get a better camera or change contrast. Thanks.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Weak Week

Looking back I guess it was a good thing that two games this week were preempted by Cavaliers games. The three-loss week was as bad as it sounds. For most of Friday's game against Pittsburgh, things looked great. The team was playing well and taking it to the Penguins. Then in games's last few minutes, the lead evaporated and next we see Crosb's shot trickle across the line for a shootout loss. Things do not get easier with Washington coming into Columbus today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Competitive Week

The Jackets end the week 1-2, but each game was entertaining for fans and they have withstood an early western road swing. After back-to-back losses at Calgary and Edmonton, teh Jackets defeated the Ducks in Anaheim 6-4. It's fun to prepare to watch each game with a sense that they will win. So this is how Detroit fans feel... feels good.

In Anaheim the team continued to puck the puck in the net at a much improved rate over last year. Antoine Vermette had a goal and two assists and continues to play up to his off-season contract that was derided by many pundits. Nash had two goals (one empty netter) as did Voracek, Teh team did allow two power play goals, the first such goals allowed in weeks.

First week in hockey season that I did not see a single game on live TV. I watched everything from saved files from my EyeTV. If you own a Mac, Google elgato eyetv for more information; if a PC user, then it's like a hauppage card; if a Linux user, you know about all options already, you clever devils (c:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Good Start No Fluke

Yet another win for the rolling Blue Jackets as they down the Kings 4-1 in Columbus. Goals by Chimera, Torres (power play), Nash and Voracek (empty net). The old adage about hot goaltending being key is a wise (and easy) bit of analysis, but it does not completely explain the team's success. A quick look at the penalty killing unit is telling. Here's how the opponents have fared with a power play against the Jackets:

0-5 Los Angeles
0-1 Calgary
0-6 Phoenix
0-4 San Jose
0-3 Vancouver

Hot goaltending and good penalty killing, though obviously related, are not exclusively the result of only strong play by Mason. Let's hope the trend continues. If so, the push to the playoffs will not be as nerve-racking this year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Costly Victory

Solid defenseman Jan Hejda will be out 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee suffered in yesterday's 2-1 victory over Calgary. Hejda was an excellent +8 so far this year and has logged many minutes (21+ against the Flames). With Commodore still out, the Jackets top two defensemen are out. Drink your coffee, Steve Mason.

Nice to see early offense from the expected sources. Nash continues to be hot as Rick assisted on both goals. Huselius netted his second of the season and Stralman's power play goal tied the game. Good to see the team outshoot the opponent (33-23). Let's see the team break the habit of scoring just enough to win because Mayor Mason is expected to shut down his net. Providing a margin of error will take pressure off the young goaltender.

Everyone's favorite bowling pin Boll was back on the ice. Let's hope he can stay clear of the concussions for the rest of the season.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Pick your rarity: the Blue Jackets head on the road out west and win two of three vs. a sellout in Phoenix. Tough choice as both realities are hard to believe. The defense again played solidly and Rick Nash scored again to power (just enough) Columbus to a 2-0 road win. Umberger also scored again, adding an empty-netter to seal the win. Phoenix outshot the Jackets 36-19 but former Oiler Mathieu Garon was up to the task. Yep, they gave Mason a night off. After watching the young guy wear down last year (okay, admittedly mono didn't help), it looks like Hitchcock will rest him a bit more. Good idea.

No Boll or Commodore.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Split Out West

A tough road trip schedule is one that includes stops at Vancouver and San Jose. The Jackets earned a split after beating the Canucks 5-3 and losing to the Sharks 6-3.

When you visit Vancouver, one thing you never expect is to see Luongo get pulled from the net... yet that happened after three quick second period goals by Huselius, Klesla and Filatov. Hordichuk ran Boll in the boards to get a penalty. Jared did not come back; we'll see if the league will review that hit from behind. After two goals by Vancouver brought them back into contention Fedor Tyutin put the game away with a power play goal in the third. The Canucks shelled Mason with 43 shots, but the Jackets held on, on the road, for a rare win in Vancouver. A good win against a solid opponent.

Unfortunately, the Thursday game did not go as well. Heatley earned a hat trick in the Sharks home opener. The enigmatic player has the crowd on his side after a tough off-season trying and finally succeeding in wiggling his way out of Ottawa. Nash, Chimera and Torres scored goals for the Jackets. San Jose netted four in the second to put this game away. Bad sign: Boll was out of the lineup after blacking out on Monday after being hit by Darcy Hordichuk.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Season Opener: Klesla's Big Day

On the day that Rusty Klesla inked a new deal to stay with the Blue Jackets for four more years, he topped off a banner day with a game-winning third period goal to lift the team to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota. Not too shabby, eh? Klesla is the only remaining player from the original team and was the team's first ever draft pick. Steve Mason began the season with another solid effort, stopping 32 of 33 shots. Umberger scored a short-handed goal to open the game's scoring in the second period.

Missing the opener, Mike Commodore is out with a groin pull. He is eligible to play Sunday as he was put on the IR, so the team will miss his play in tough early games against Vancouver, San Jose and Hamilton... oops I mean Phoenix.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tough Preseason Continues

Just saw the video of the ugly fall that Tom Sestito had at the end of his fight with Nashville's Jordan Tootoo. The league has to crack down on the chinstraps to try to prevent injuries like this one. Ten staples needed to close the gash on the back of his head. The video shows his helmet easily pop off when trying to duck under Tootoo's arm.

Add this injury to hard luck Fredrik Modin and the preseason is looking grim. Modin's right knee collided with that of a teammate and now he's out 6-8 weeks. Modin cannot seem to catch a break over the last few seasons.

Quote from Chimera abut the questionable hit that planted him face first into the glass: "(Belanger) said he’s never done that before, that he’s had only one 5-minute major (for elbowing), but the same is true if you shoot somebody. You only have to shoot somebody once to be dirty. It’s a dirty hit and there’s no need for it. My back was turned the whole way." It should be noted that Chimera's chinstrap was also loose.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chimera Injured; Vermette's Contract Extension

Last night Jason Chimera was checked from behind and landed face first into the boards. Before being taken off on a cart, he was down for five minutes, though he gave the two thumbs up signal to the crowd before leaving the ice. This game was not broadcasted so I have not seen a replay. The league has been cracking down on these checks. Admittedly there is some gray area involved since players can make a sudden turn before being hit. Responding to a question about whether the hit was clean or not Rick Nash was quoted as saying, "From my view, it looked like he just had no chance to protect himself... But I don’t know, I need to see the replay and judge from that." Let's hope Chimera, who battled injuries last season, comes back soon.

Howson signed Antoine Vermette to a five-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season. Vermette was instrumental in the playoff push by the team last year. The CBC reported the contract is $18.75 million over the five years, making Vermette under pressure to deliver solid seasons to justify those numbers. A speedy hard-playing player, he seemed to inject energy into the team. Let's hope he can take that great end to last season and extend it over a whole year.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Brassard Gets Contract Extension

Despite the injured-shortened season Derick Brassard was given a contract extension through 2013-2014. Brassard was on his way to a great season when a separated shoulder ended his campaign. In 31 games Brassard had 25 points including 10 goals. His spark brought encouragement for eth future. Little did we know how missed that spark would be come playoff time. The large expanse that separates the Red Wings and the Blue Jackets can be reduced a bit by a healthy Brassard. Good signing at a (relatively) reasonable cost: an annual salary cap hit of $3.2 million. If teh potential shown last season is fulfilled, Howson got a bargain.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sakic Retires

Easy to issue platitudes about Joe Sakic, the quintessential class act who played effectively as a two-way player and in the clutch. His record 8 overtime playoff goals is absolute proof of his remarkable skill under pressure. His career achievements remind me of Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier, another hard-working center who was a terror at both ends of the ice, played his best when it counted most, and won the Conn Smythe trophy.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Thank the gods, Columbus extended star Rick Nash through the 2017-18 season. Captain Rick is set to earn $62.4 million over the term of the contract. The Puck-rakers blog reports that "[t]he deal includes a no-movement clause in the first five seasons, and a modified no-trade clause in the final three."

With Nash on board, some scoring help is needed to continue on the season of progress seen last year.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Draft '09

1. JOHN MOORE 6' 2 189 D 
2. KEVIN LYNCH 6' 1 190 C 
4. DAVID SAVARD 6' 1 200 D 
5. THOMAS LARKIN 6' 5" 206 D 
6. ANTON BLOMQVIST 6' 4" 189 D 
7. KYLE NEUBER 6' 2" 220 RW

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mason Earned Calder Trophy

Steve Mason's 2008-2009 rookie statistics: 61 G, 33 W, 2.29 GAA, 10 SO, .916 SV%.

Steve Mason was awarded the Calder Trophy for the NHL rookie of the year. He had worthy competition for the award, but a strong case was made for his choice. While his stats are excellent, he added intangibles that pushed his candidacy over the top. Appearing in 61 games after taking over for an injured Pascal Leclaire, Mason carried the team to the first playoff appearance for Columbus. The Jackets were in every game because Mason was a shutout threat on any given night.

Recent Calder Winners

2009 Steve Mason, Columbus
2008 Patrick Kane, Chicago
2007 Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
2006 Alexander Ovechkin, Washington
2005 Lockout
2004 Andrew Raycroft, Boston
2003 Barret Jackman, St. Louis
2002 Dany Heatley, Atlanta
2001 Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose
2000 Scott Gomez, New Jersey
1999 Chris Drury, Colorado

Interesting perhaps only to me - contrasting organizations Pittsburgh and Detroit: the Penguins have ridden Calder winners (Lemieux and Malkin) to Cups. Despite the recent success of Detroit, they haven't had a Calder winner for 34 years. The last Red Wing Calder winner? 1965 - Roger Crozier, goalie.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Game 4: Close, But No Cigar

game notes follow:

early power play leads to a Detroit goal. After Tyutin failed to clear the puck, the puck ends up banking off him after a point shot by a wide open Lidstrom was saved by Mason.

Huselius goal on the power play to stem the early tide. Great passes by Russell and Nash to set up Huselius, who beat Osgood top shelf blocker side.

Holmstrom scores shortly after the Jackets had tied the game. He beats Mason on a rebound cleanup after being left in front of the crease. Earlier that play Malhotra hadd been muscled by Datsyuk into losing his stick. This power is nothing new as the Wings have proven to be stronger than the Jackets all series.

Just after the Jackets kill a penalty and Nash loses his skates trying to make a big hit, Cleary grabs a rebound off the back boards and slips it by Mason to make it 3-1.

Fantastic save by Osgood to rob the Jackets will less than a minute to go in the first period. The puck was floating over his shoulder and he flung his blocker and got a piece of the puck. End of 1, 3-1 Detroit.

Beautiful goal by Nash deflecting a Klesla shot past Osgood's skate. An important early goal to bring Columbus within one and keep the crowd loud.

Spectacular goal by Umberger on the power play to tie the game, sweeping in from the point and out deking a defenseman then beating Osgood low to the glove side. The play started with a long clearing pass by Mason.

The unflappable Wings come right back as Hossa scores a pair of goals to grab a 5-3 lead. Foolish penalty by Nash leads to a power play goal on the latter score.

Russell continues his strong play and finishes a coast-to-coast goal after a nifty bewteen the legs pass by Torres to free the young defenseman on the rush.

After Osgood loses a rebopund Modin pokes home a rebound to tie the score with less than two minutes left in the period. A 4 goal second period for Columbus ends with teh score tied at 5.

Win or lose, this sport is the greatest. This game has been nothing but one exciting rush after another with hits, great skating and crucial saves. The pace is swift, almost an anti-baseball focus required form fans.

Scary two minute stretch as the Wings control the puck in the Jackets end. two saves by Mason keep the score tied.

12:58 marks the spot as Mason snaps the glove and robs the Wings Franzen. Wow!

Mark me as one who does not go for the Os-good chanty. Never been a fan of negative cheers. I'd rather yell supporting my team. To each his own. The Jackets are in this game because they have played better, not because of the cheer.

FS Ohio has time to show text message polls but not the out of town scores? I guess I should just be happy to see the game after they preempted the previous game to show a Cavs playoff game.

Horrible too many men on the ice penalty against Columbus with 1:34 left. Despite the excuses offered by the commentators, you have to get off the ice. Franzen scores the go-ahead goal with 46 seconds on the clock, poking in a rebound past Mason.

6-5 final. The fans give the team a rousing ovation before they can leave the ice.

Making the playoffs was a good step this year. This series shows the gap between the good and the teams rounding out the playoff slots. The team weaknesses, well hidden by good coaching and hard work by players, have been exposed under the pressure of the playoffs. More scoring, better center play and dramatic improvement on the specialty teams are needed to improve from this season's soaring flight to the playoffs.

Playoffs are over for the Jackets. It's back to earth, flat as a pancake.
Game 3: No Doubt

At no time during the game did it appear as if the Jackets would be able to mount resistance to the dominant Red Wings. A spirited home ice crowd was little help against the giants on the ice. There is no David to stand up against a team of Goliaths. Yes, the team scored - Umberger the woozy. The goal was meaningless in a game already in hand. Osgood deserves all accolades he can muster. He has outplayed Mason.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game 2: Crushed

The final scoe was 4-0... and the game looked worse than the score.

All you need to know was encapsulated in one TV shot. When Hitchcock called a timeout near the end of the second period, the television cameras focused on Steve Mason. The rookie goalie was hunched over at the waist with glove on his pads, breathing deeply - he was exhausted. After a 4-0 shutout against 39 shots, he should be tired. Chris Osgood stopped all 25 Columbus shots and at points was able to go minutes at a stretch without facing a credible offensive chance. So much for a Columbus goaltending edge.

Early in game three in Columbus on Tuesday night look for the Wings to throw the kitchen sink at the young host team in an attempt to crush the last vestiges of competition out of them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Game 1: Outclassed

The Red Wings flexed their muscles at the expense of the playoff newbie Jackets, winning game one in Detroit 4-1. After a hotly contested first period, the Wings slowly turned on the jets and dominated play at times with their puck-control. A lot has been said about the own-goal by Malhotra: a potentially simple save that evaded Mason because of a deflection. I think that the play certainly was a bad break, but erasing that goal would not have changed the outcome. The Jackets need to pick up their play and force the turnovers that Detroit forced in game one.

In the battle of goalies, give Osgood a nod after 60 minutes. Mason did not play poorly (well, that last one was weak), but Osgood was not the liability that he needs to be fr Columbus to steal a game or two.

Saturday brings a big game. If Columbus can pull off the upset, it makes the games in Columbus very interesting.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's the Wings

After dropping the last two games and see the St. Louis Blues slide on by, the Jackets finish in the seventh slot making their first round opponent the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. After a lackluster end of the season for both teams, look for Detroit to put the screws to the Jackets from the first drop of the puck. Detroit's ability to control the puck can be intimidating, so Columbus must be ready to weather the storm. The star power Detroit throws at opponents is awesome: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Franzen, etc. Though the star list for Columbus is Rick Nash and Steve Mason, that just might be enough.

The most interesting part of this match up is that based on play this season, Columbus has a big edge in goaltending. This season rookie Mason clearly ha splayed better than either Osgood or Conklin. How Mason reacts to the pressure of the playoffs will be crucial to the series outcome. Osgood's experience is a possible ace in the hole. Despite Detroit being the defending champs, there should be no counting out the Blue Jackets because of teh goaltending edge. Not even the most ardent Jackets fan can make the talent case for Columbus over Detroit. However playoff hockey is won with defense and Mason is a game-changer. We'll soon learn if he is a playoff game-changer.

The season series split 3-3. The series will start in Detroit this week. Columbus playoff games... sounds good, if not unfamiliar) to me. Have fun!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


“We did it for ourselves, but most of all we did it for Mr. Mac. We know he’s up there watching. I’m sure he’s sitting in his chair and has a cigar in his mouth.” - Rick Nash speaking of the late owner of the Blue Jackets, John McConnell.

A second hard-fought game against Chicago in a few days ends on a Fedor Tyutin shootout goal to give the Blue Jackets a 4-3 win and, more importantly, their first trip to the NHL playoffs. The team battled back after Chicago jumped to a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Seabrook and Bolland. By the 8:00 mark of the second, the game was tied. Vermettes scored the first Columbus goal then set up Jason Williams. Havlat and Nash scored for each side to send the game into OT. Chicago had a power play in the overtime session, but could not convert.

It is a good thing to have won the game to earn the playoff spot. Stumbling into the post-season rarely is a harbinger of success. The pressure will be off the Jackets when they next hit the ice: Friday in St. Louis then the season finale at home against Minnesota. Saturday's home crowd should better be roaring!

The drought is over! Looking ahead, their likely opponent is Vancouver, a team that has played very well down the stretch and has the game-changing Roberto Luongo is goal. We'll see if Mats Sundin earns his keep in the post-season. They didn't sign him not to be a factor in a Cup run. Captain Nash will have to best Mats and the twins for the Jackets to have a shot at advancing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Backing In

Playing well but losing is not exactly the ideal way to make the playoffs, but we'll take what we can get. Mason is keeping them in games, but teh offense, aside from nash, needs to step it up. Two losses (Nashville and Chicago) garner points in the new era of NHL, so hope is alive. 90 points obviously is a great improvement, but there will be no satisfaction without a playoff appearance. Three games left for the Jackets to claim their own spot. Games left: at Chicago, at St. Louis and Minnesota.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two Big Points

Mason outduels Rinne as the Jackets earn an important victory against Nashville, a team looking up at Columbus in the playoff race. After two weekend losses to the Blues, this game presented Civil War buff Hitchcock with the task to rally the troops and get refocused. Raffi Torres scored the game-winner at 4:05 of the third period and Mason made it stand up. Definitely a playoff atmosphere at Nationwide Arena, the crowd saw both teams put on a show of hard-hitting hockey. Mason played up to the publicity and made some crucial saves in the third period. The teams meet again on Saturday in Nashville.

The win gives Columbus 88 points and leaves them in the sixth seed slot. St. Louis sits in ninth and has 83 points with a game in hand. A win in Nashville should sew up a playoff spot for the Blue Jackets.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lost Weekend

After dropping two games to the Blues this weekend, the Jackets now cling to their playoff spot. Simply put, the team looked flat in the home game on Sunday. The Blues' Mason outplayed the Columbus' Mason over the weekend home-and-home match up. St. Louis has crept into a playoff spot while the Jackets claim to a spot became tenuous. Was teh team looking ahead to the playoffs? No, I don't believe so. The Blues looked hungrier and played harder - they wanted it more. I give the St. Louis management some credit for keeping their young team focused throughout the season despite the long list of injuries.

The next two games are against Nashville - Tuesday and Saturday. It's time to find out whether the playoff run has run out of gas or not. Let's hope Mason picks up his game. The Columbus crowd needs to pick up the team on Tuesday. Meaningful late season games are what we have wanted. It has been fun so far. Nerve-racking, but fun.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Impressive Win Against teh Flames

“We have a pretty good idea that if we’re in the playoffs this is a team we could be playing, so we wanted to have a good effort. We definitely came forward with it, that’s for sure,” Mason said.

At the risk of over-valuing one game, during the push to the playoffs I think you can consider a 5-0 drubbing of the Flames as a big win. Mason earns his 10th shutout of the season moving behind the rookie record of 15 shutouts set by the great Tony Esposito. 15? That record will stand quite a while. Both Nash and Huselius had four assists each. Goals by: Malhotra, Williams (2), Torres and Umberger. Both of the goals by Williams were on the power play. Columbus won the faceoff battle by a wide margin: 44-24.

The second period was filled with brawls and penalties. Boll and Vandermeer earned game misconduct penalties and the referee issued another 40 minutes in misconduct penalties. Describing the game as chippy would be an understatement. Both teams are in full playoff run mode and blew off some steam.

Last week the television guys interviewed Tony Esposito between periods and it was quite fun. He's a regular guy, a straight shooter. He dismissed the idea that Mason is a one season flash-in-the-pan.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

George Lucas Memorial Loss in Tampa
Games notes for this entry. Sloppy looking first period as the Jackets seem a bit off. A late break by Umberger is easily stopped. Flat period for the most part. 2 shots on goal for TB in 1st period.

Shoot the puck! Ahh! Sometimes Huselius drives me crazy. "A little too fancy" said by Gare is an understatement. Later Boll eschews a scoring chance to make that extra pass too. Great flash move to the middle by Nash from the off-wing, but good glove save. The second period starts with 7 minutes of action before the first whistle.

Umberger sets up Voracek with an open net opportunity that is missed. Shortly thereafter McKenna stops Huselius from point blank range on a Columbus PP. Boll wisely doesn't retaliate to a punch to the head and the Jackets get another PP chance. The team looks horrid on the PP: no shots and sloppy play. Terrible period for a team trying to play into the playoffs.

Jackets come out skating hard and fire 8 shots in the first 4 minutes of the period. Hejda's shot from the point is stopped by McKenna but the rebound hits a defender and finds the net for a 1-0 lead. Later Hejda takes a penalty to give the drowning ship a line... and they score. It never fails. Mason screened on the point blast and has no chance to stop Malone's redirect.

Good glove save on a backhand shot. McKenna has done his part for Tampa tonight. St. Louis rings one off the right post behind Mason. Lucky break for Columbus. Late icing by TB leads to a time out with 1:20 remaining.

OT "I have bad feeling about this." Goal knocked in with an obvious high stick called off as a rebound bounces off of Mason's mask and was struck with a high stick. Commodore giveaway in front gives Lecavalier a chance in front, but he shoots wide. Whew. A minute later St. Louis beats Mason on an off-angle, magnificently placed shot that eludes Mason's glove. Outshot 34-17, Tampa wins.

If they play like that against Calgary on Thursday, they'll get run out of the building. Hitchcock has work to do on the day off tomorrow. Not a game you would expect after a two day rest against one of the worst teams in the league.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Three third period goals power the Jackets to a 3-1 win in Florida. Raffi Torres scored the first two goals to push the jackets to a 2-1 lead and Antoine Vermette added an empty netter to seal the game. Mason was solid again in goal though we should give kudos to the Panthers' Vokoun who faced 37 shots and kept them in the game until the end.

The team kept the faith and, more importantly, kept skating when they could not find the net to finally beat a team they should beat - and that's a great sign for a team that has had in past seasons as one its hallmarks the tendency to fall short when the goings got tough. Big game against Calgary later this week after the Tuesday game against the Lightning. With Stamkos starting to play well, let's hope they don't look past that trap game in Tampa.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

OT Win
A fun game to watch as both teams showed spirited play. The Jackets were a bit frustrated as they kept racking up penalties (Tyutiin had four minors) and providing the excellent Chicago power play unit chances. Both goalies looked suspect early then played into form. Each team's penalty killing units had breakaways stopped by the goalies.

After searching I discovered that somehow I never wrote the following: the "On the powerplay!" thing needs to die... now. It seems like a cross to bear for a bad power play team. The players must look forward to hearing that phrase over the P.A. as much as the Obama administration enjoys hearing AIG in the nightly news. Long setup for a bad joke.

Rudy Martzke Memorial Dreaded Glitch Award: Jackets score a goal while TV plays a Quenneville commentary about Martin Brodeur. Dorsett cleans up a Methot shot after a Peca faceoff win in the CHI zone.

Game had its swings as Columbus dominating play suddenly followed by Chicago drumming up scoring chances. Umberger was a tough matcup in the Black Hawk defensive zone all night. Kane stopped by Mason on a delayed penalty situatopn. The kid looks quite nifty tonight - looks like a star-in-the-making (or is he one already?)

Fluky, wild goal by Nash as he fires one in from the corner as a shaky-looking Huet is beaten on a knucklecurve of a goal.
Two 4-on-3 power play chances for Columbus comes up empty. Jason Williams did ring one off the post.
crossbar blast by Jason Williams. Just when Huet looks weak, he makes an unbelievable save to stone Umberger, looking like the ghost of Hasek with octopus legs waving in the air. Early in teh thir period, Mason makes a big save on a CHI PP by sliding across the crease to rob Bolland... or was it Keith? Hard to say as the channel drops off. Ack! Outage for 5 minutes.

The television picture comes back as Huselius rings the post behind Huet. Russell looking great in spots again. Love his skating at times as he has that burst. We need to see that speed more and we will once he gains experience. Dorsett makes a sensational pass from the Chicago right corner that is redirected off the post by Murray. A great hustle play, but no cigar.

Umberger to Vermette for the game winner! Vermette pops Campbell's stick to take the feather pass and finish off the Hawks. Great game for fans as the play was exciting with goals, big hits and some timely goaltending. Nice to grab the two points with only eleven games left. The Jackets have their fate in their own hands. Play solid and grind out wins and they will make the playoffs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Could not pass up a chance to laud Marin Brodeur's setting the all time vicotry record last night. While passing Patrick Roy was inevitable, a comparison shows Broduer's remarkable run in New Jersey. Brodeur has won 553 times in 987 games. Roy won 551 in 1,029 games.

Some commentators may make an argument for Roy as being the better goalie based on some spectatcular seasons, but my money would be with Brodeur and his three Stanley cups and four Vezinas. Let's hope he stays in goal for at least a few more seasons with the Devils. The league needs good guy stars like Brodeur.
4 for 5

Tough week for me (bad sinus infection), but a good week for the Blue Jackets. In a solid test of the team, they came out shining. Winners of 4 of 5 against tough opponents, Columbus has solidified its position in the Western playoff race despite the loss to Detroit 4-0 on Sunday night. By no means are they locks to make the playoffs, but this stretch hopefully was a sign of things to come.

What we learned is how a change of scenery appears to have inspired Antoine Vermette. He has notched six points since the trade and has been as billed - a speedy, versatile player.

The five: W 8-2 @ DET, W 2-0 BOS, W 4-3 PIT, W 5-3 @ CHI, L 4-0 DET

Sunday, March 08, 2009

1 of 5

Crucial stretch of five games starts with a blow out of the Red Wings in Detroit. The Jackets needed this victory, and they played like a team on a mission. The sloppy defense was shored up for the most part and the Captain did what he needs to do for the team to excel - carry it on his back. Nash had a hat trick and Umberger added 2 goals and an assist.

Mason was solid again in goal after cooling off a bit, stopping 44 of 46 shots on goal. Columbus won the close face off battle 33-31. Vermette made his debut and assisted on Jason Williams' goal, his 14th of the season. Osgood got pulled after allowing 7 goals in 23 shots.

Good game and important win, but it's only one game.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Test

The results from next five games will show the real chances of the Blue Jackets to make the playoffs. All opponents are solid teams, in the playoff hunt or leading conferences. The loss in Nashville had a playoff atmosphere, but the result, a 4-2 loss, brings a sense of urgency to the next eight days. It starts tonight in Detroit.

The next five games: at Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh, at Chicago and Detroit.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Trades at the Deadline

GM Howson sought to make a move to shore up the glaring weakness of the team - at the center position. The Jackets traded injured goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick in the 2009 draft to Ottawa for winger Antoine Vermette. Known to be a solid two-way player who possess great speed, Vermette has only nine goals and 19 assists in 62 games this year and is under contract for next season. Howson commented, “He’s a 20-goal guy who’s not having a 20-goal year. Hopefully he’ll provide some energy for us and give us a jolt.” It looks like they will slip him in at center between Nash and Huseilius. We'll see if this winger-turned-center does the trick.

Class act on the way out: “If anybody wants to buy a condo, it’s available,” Leclaire joked.

Today in preparation for the important game against Nashville the team activated off injured reserve defenseman Rostislav Klesla and winger Fredrik Modin.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

game blog
Free form notes taken while watching the 5-4 win against the Kings. Submitted not merely because I am lazy, rather it gives you a glimpse of the up-and-down experience of a fan starved for playoffs... Okay, it's only posted because I was lazy (c;

Hustle goal for Voracek to tie the score in the first period just seconds after Novotny misfired a golden opportunity. Smart play by Umberger to center the puck to Voracek just outside the crease.

Sweet pass from Russell to Malhotra in the slot whose blast was tipped by Raffi Torres... On the power play too.

Long distance seeing-eye point shot by Rome finds the net as Malhotra deflects it in for a 3-1 lead. Euphoria over the goal dissipates as the TV team announces Chimera is to have surgery for his injured groin. Out 4-5 weeks. Sigh.

two quick goals tie the game - the second a weak bouncer through the legs then the Kings add a third in less than two minutes. The defense looks sloppy and Mason shaky. What a weird game. Give LA credit for skating hard and not giving up on the road. Good timeout by Hitchcock as the team appears rattled. Near the period's end Novotny cleans up a Russell rebound to make amends for his early misfires. Good to see the team fight back after the deflating rally by the Kings.

Yikes, Boll flattened by Greene at the blue line. Boll popped right up, buy that will be a highlight.

Malhotra redirects a pass from Nash through Quick's pads. 5-4. He Nash-Huselius-Malhotra line has looked great tonight. Manny is having his best game as a Blue Jacket.

Russell has looked like a solid player all game. Good to see the young guy playing well.

Hmm. icing on LA with 1:28 left. Hard to fathom. Kings pull goalie with a minute left. No other sport has this exciting game-changing strategy. Love it.

Mason draws a delay penalty when his clearing shot goes into the stands. 12 seconds with a two-man advantage but the Jackets hold on.

fun game to watch ends with a win, but that Kings rally left me a bit queesy

Monday, March 02, 2009

Tough Western Trip Ends

If the Blue Jackets wanted a measuring stick for their road ahead, then the recent road trip out west gave them the answer - the offense needs to get better or they will miss the playoffs. Good goaltending alone cannot get them into the playoffs. On Sunday night the Vancouver stopper Roberto Luongo was a bit better than Mason and had the advantage of only seeing 20 shots on goal in the Vancouver 3-1 victory. The playoffs and the chase for a spot are based on a simple formula: limited scoring opportunities against an excellent goalie means a loss. Mason's margin of error is too low right now with the offense sleeping. Vancouver is getting by with scoring from the Sedins and Sundin. Nash alone is not enough.

Misc: Nash had the ony goal for Columbus, but he was also in the penalty box for the first two Canuck goals. Peca left during the first period and did not return. The game was shown on Yahoo - stream worked perfectly for me and was a lucky bonus since Cox Cable showed the Cavs game instead of the Jackets game. It would be great if they showed replays of games later in the night for preempted games, but they don't...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Win in Edmonton

After being handled by the Flames earlier in the week, the Jackets stared at a trip to play the Oilers with two losses in a row on their minds. With so few games left, the team needed to turn it around. Fast. They used the yeoman's work from rookie Steve Mason in goal and earned a tough 1-0 win. A hard fought game with some spectacular saes by both goalies. I can still see that sliding pad-stack save across the crease by Roloson. The game definitely had a playoff atmosphere.

The game's lone goal came from that unfamiliar scoring combination of Boll and Torres. Boll and Torres? We'll take it! After receiving the one-handed clear by Tyutin, Boll hit Torres with a great cross-ice pass from the right wing boards just iinside of the Columbus defensive zone. Torres, who earlier had a scrap with Strudwick, beat Roloson with a shifty move to slip the puck between the goalie's legs. Great to see Torres be the first star back in Edmonton. If he can hit his stride and stay healthy during the playoff drive, the team's chances should drastically improve.

Misc: Another tight game from the defense as they only allowed 19 shots on Mason. Nice to see Methot rack up the ice time. Hard to dislike the Oilers. They play a tough, entertaining brand of hockey.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

4 /13

The Ducks defeat the Jackets in Columbus and one curious statistic says it all: the Ducks score 4 times on 13 shots. 13 shots for the whole game! And 5 for the last two periods. It's hard to fathom that few shots on goal.. and winning. To make the matter more curious, the league's worst power play scores two goals (Nash and Huseilus). Simply a bad game all around for Columbus against a team in the thick of the race for the playoffs and who now climbs to within 3 points of the Jackets. Big crowd (18,628) goes home disappointed.

The Jackets placed defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen on injured reserve, claimed center Chris Gratton off waivers from Tampa and recalled defenseman Aaron Rome from their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shootout Win in Toronto

Mason versus Pogge in a nice young goalie matchup ends for the Jackets due to a fluke goal during the shootout. Call him clever like Inspector Clouseau, in the shootout Jason Williams tried to deke the young Toronto goalie. A good plan, but Williams fanned on the puck. Luckily for the Jackets, the missed puck went five hole. Regulation goals by the guys who are shaping up as the team money players: Umberger, Nash (also found the net in the shootout) and Huselius.

Two goals from Maple Leaf winger Nik Antropov who was called out by GM Brian Burke last week. Was he trying to impress potential trade deadline suitors in Columbus?
Coasting to a Win

Weird game. A win, but weird and nerve-racking. The Jackets beat the Blues 4-3 in Columbus in a game that saw them jump to a 4-1 lead by dominating play then barely hang on as St. Louis outplayed them in the third period. More relief than joy at the game's end. In the battle of the Masons, Steve outplayed Chris and made a late game-saving stop.

With the four goals the Jackets pulled to 159-161 goals for vs. goals against. For comparison see Detroit: 221-170. 221! The win puts the Blue Jackets six games over .500. The last time they were at such a level? Never before. Yes, it has been a long seven years.

Misc: Goals by Tyutin (power play), Malhotra, Nash and Murray. The Jackets dropped Modin back on the IR. Been a tough year for him given all the injuries. Torres was scratched due to the flu.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Making the Case

The Jackets finished the week with two impressive wins against teams who are in the playoff race: a home 3-2 win against the defending Cup champion Red Wings and an efficient 5-1 road win against Carolina. The team now has won four games in a row and has jumped into the thick of the race for the Western Conference playoff seeding, up to #6. Though Dallas sits at #5 with the same umber of points (61), the four slot belongs to Chicago with 70 points. Anaheim at 7 also has 61 points. And it continues. It is clear that barring any strange occurrences the playoffs will not be set until the season finale. The old agade of "Every game counts" is as appropriate as ever. Eyes off the standings and just play hard hockey.

The team is winning through hard work, outstanding goaltending and dedication to the Hitchcockian plan of defense, defense, defense. A good D and a hot goalie can carry a team that lacks offense like the Blue Jackets. If the team can more efficiently convert its power play chances, it will become a tough team to play. Columbus has one goal all season with a 5-on-3 advantage and is last in the league in power play goal percentage. Detroit has more than double the power play goals scored by the Jackets (65-29). Improvement in this area is a must.

The Columbus faithful have been given a rare treat: a legitimaate run at the playoffs. In the game against Dettroit the Nationwide crowd was the largest ever announced at the arean at 18,802. The team has a long way to go to seal a spot in the post-season, but they have provided a real opportunity for excitement for their more-than-patient fans who crave a home playoff game.

It's been fun, and it has been a while since that feeling was in the arena every night.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Sub's Sub

With a 3-0 win in Columbus, Dan LaCosta earned his first career shutout in his second NHL start to help Columbus complete an unlikely sweep of the season series (4 games) against the Avalanche.

LaCosta was sharp all night and made a clutch stop with seconds remaining to preserve the shutout. It is reported that Mason may be ready later in the week. Hopefully he is fully recovered. With the team playing well, it is not time to rush him back. Let's err on teh side of caution.

Goals: Andrew Murray, Jason Williams and Fredrik Modin. The Blue Jackets have won six of seven. Great to see Chimera increasing ice time (12+ minutes).

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Big Win

Christian Backman scored the game winner against San Jose in the overtime period to give the Jackets a 3-2 home ice win. Yes, Christian Backman! Dan LaCosta got the start in goal after Wade Dubielewicz looked shaky in a 4-1 loss to the Oilers earlier in the week. Nabakov nearly stole this game for San Jose and was his usual tough self. He somehow made a stop while laying belly-down on the ice against Modin in the third period to keep them alive for overtime.

Loved the first Columbus goal, by Jason Williams a neat top shelfer over Nabby's glove hand. Nice pass by Huselius to hit Nash in stride for a goal that put them up 2-0. Backman's unlikely game winner came as he joined in an odd man rush in overtime. teh goal was of the clean up rebound variety, but they all count.

The obligatory Boll-Shelley bout came in the second period. A spirited affair that really was for the fans. Shelly's a good guy so I wish him well in San Jose. However the game was good enough that the seemingly stock fight was not needed to fire anyone up. You would not have seen this scrap in the playoffs.

Misc: Backman was +3 for the game. Mason sat out again in his recovery from mono. Give him the rest he needs. Commodore was out with foo poisoning. Another good crowd at home: 18,144. 9 points separates #5 (Ducks) from last (Blues) in the Western Conference. The Jackets, Wild and Oilers sit in slots 8-10, all with 55 points.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dose of Reality

Pulling rookie Mason after allowing three Dallas goals in eight shots was the wise move. What remains to be seen is how the rookie handles adversity even if it is one bad game (following a shutout the day before). The team released news that he has been suffering from mono for three to four weeks, but only was diagnosed last week.

Hmm. Rookie goalie carrying the team on his back has mono and they decide to play him in back-to-back games? Sounds a little like they fear the backup. Wade Dubielewicz, Mall Cop? Nope, backup to Mayor Mason. We'll see what he has to offer. I'm missing Leclaire already.

Good news: Today the Jackets reactivated Rusty Klesla from IR.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Committing to Reality

The day after the Blue Jackets defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit squad in an exciting overtime game, I cannot help but feel tempted to forgo the present and think about the unknowable future. Isn't that like a paranoid fan? What brought this notion?

The 12 year contract signed by Red Wing star Henrik Zetterberg today is worth a cool $73 million deal. I look at Zetterberg and see a excellent player who is clearly a star that deserves the money Detroit was willing to give him. I also look at Zetterberg in comparison to Rick Nash, and I would rather Nash. Yes, Nash got a hat trick yesterday, but this evaluation is not just about one game. With the specter of a contract year next year, it begs the question of whether Jacket management can afford to keep their popular star. With a group of young rising stars (Mason, Huselius, Brassard), will the team be hard-pressed by salary demands? Today it seems unthinkable that they would allow Nash to leave, but the fan speculates about the future, the next game or next season.

The Jackets beat the Red Wings. Good. Baby steps, Dr. Marvin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All Star Break for Mason

After the major snub of not picking the league leader in goals-against and shutouts for the main event, the team has wisely decided to rest their young goalie and hold Steve Mason out of the Young Stars game scheduled for All Star weekend. It's hard to understand the logic behind criticism of this decision since the team announced this week that Pascal Leclaire is out for the rest of the season after ankle surgery. It appears to be sound judgment to rest the rookie goalie who is now forced to carry the team for the rest of the year given that he has had some back issues in the first half.

Last week the Jackets picked up goalie Wade Dubielewicz off waivers. With the backup now a cast-off from the New York Islanders, I think Mason should enjoy the All Star game from his couch. He has earned the rest.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good Week

Even a tough 2-1 loss at home to the Devils on Friday cannot color this week in a poor way. The team is playing solidly in all phases of the game. The cynic in me worries that the fade that began last year around this time will happen again, but we'll see what Hitchcock has up his sleeve. Riding a hot goalie can be fun, as we saw last year with a healthy Pascal in net. Young Mason has been fun to watch for Columbus fans hungry for a playoff appearance.

Another good crowd saw the controversial loss to New Jersey, almost 18000 fans were at Nationwide. I won't rehash the Madden goal, but for those who missed it: Mason had the puck covered for a few seconds, the puck eased out and after the net was dislodged the puck was pushed in by the scrappy Devil (I can't hate Madden; he plays hockey the right way: scrappy, intelligent and hard).

Earlier in the week the Jackets had a very impressive victory against Colorado, winning 4-3 via three third period goals. Huselius has shaken off his concussion by now and led the Nash-less team with three points. Do not dismiss this mini-run and solid play by Michael Peca as coincidental. The veteran has been terrific this season. Jared Boll and Manny Malhotra have recently earned more ice time and been solid as well. Torres is back and once he rounds into shape it should be a welcome jolt of energy. I cannot wait until Chimera comes back. Exciting times in Columbus for once.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hat Trick

At Nationwide Arena, Nikita Filatov scored his first NHL hat trick to power the Blue Jackets to a 4-2 win over Minnesota. Filatov is back with the Jackets after representing Russia at the world junior championships, and his scoring punch is needed with their top scorer Nash out. Voracek had three assists and Peca added another two. Derek Dorsett added a third period goal. Mason was again solid in goal facing only 23 shots.

The Jackets have won seven of their last eight home games. Count me as one who is dying for Jason Chimera's return. His explosiveness had him on course to make this year his break-through season. Hopefully he'll return in the next week or two. Good crowd on a wintry night (16605).

This week brought shutout scores of 3-0: a loss and a win. Both games were against good teams, Detroit and Washington. While the Jackets scored enough against the capitals, it was clear that Mason won the game. Facing 45 shots from the talented Capitals' squad, the rookie fought off back pain that nearly kept him out of the game. Talk about whether it is the system or the goalie (see Puck Daddy's article on this argument) cannot ignore that the rookie's skills are high, as are those of the injured Leclaire.

Hindered by injuries all season, the Jackets are in a tough spot. They need to give Leclaire reps to get his game back on track and increase his possible value. They also need to pursue every victory possible as the playoffs seems to be in reach. I think Howson sees that making the playoffs is not optional at this point. In a down market the long-suffering Columbus faithful need a shot in the arm.


Shame on the NHL for ignoring the cross-check to Huselius' face and subsequent concussion. Reviewing the hit, the player took strides and raised his stick. Not a hockey move, the play had the intent to injure. One can only wonder why the league punishes comments about girlfriends with suspensions and then allow head shots to go unpunished. A horrible precedent to set that leaves one wondering what the reaction would have been if the victim had been a star (i.e. Ovechkin). Count me as one who feels the talk of banning fighting should be far lower on the long list of the things the NHL should focus on. Players using the stick to inflict head injuries should be at the top. Sorry, perhaps third on the list behind punishing free speech and propping up franchises in non-hockey markets.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ugly Loss in St. Louis

The Blues blistered the Columbus penalty killing unit, scoring four goals with the man advantage, and added a short-handed goal en route to a 5-2 win in St. Louis. After a long stretch of dominant play, Mason looked a bit shaky on a few goals. Klesla made a great play in the first period to save a goal. A shot squeezed through Mason and was slowly sliding in when Klesla flicked the puck as it was partially across the goal line. The young netminder may be a bit tired after this road trip, but the Jackets should be thrilled with the overall play from the rookie. A tough loss since the Blues have played so poorly this season. Goals by Comodore and Modin. Nash assisted on both goals. Boll is day-to-day with an upper body injury and did not play. Howson recalled winger Maksim Mayorov from AHL Syracuse on Saturday.

We'll see what the league does to Blues forward David Backes who cross-checked Huselius in the face leading to a brawl and later a game misconduct for Backes. Tyutin drew a game misconduct when he instigated a fight with Backes.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Steve Mason allows an opening period goal then the Blue Jackets make like their opponents and avalanche the Avalanche, burying them 6-1 in a rare road barrage of goals. Goals by Huselius (2), Nash (who also had 3 assists), Commodore, Voracek and Umberger. Nash's goal came on a penalty shot as he went low glove side. The Sakic-less Avs are a ghost of their former champion selves (insert your own snow blower joke here; I cannot do it since I can sympathize with poor Joe - a classy hockey guy who deserved a better final season). Playing in St. Louis tonight should be seen as a must-win. If the new year will bring playoffs, they need to beat teams like the injury-ravaged Blues.

I was tempted to title this entry "Mason Allows Goal, Sent To Minors," but I figured the idiot reporting methods out there would not bother to read the text below noting the joke. After 199 minutes, 19 seconds Mason finally allowed a goal breaking his shutout game streak at three.