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...