Sunday, December 26, 2010

6 of 7

The Jackets have now lost six of seven after tonight's 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Blackhawks. They fired Ken Hitchcock for a slump after making the playoffs. Well perhaps it's not the coaching. The league's preposterous points system keeps the team artificially looking like it's in the race, but we should know better. Time to beat the dead horse - No offense means no meaningful playoff expectations. With no prospects for change, its already time to think about next year. Sad.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Downward Spiral

Four in a row. Losses. Poor play, often masked by superb goaltending, rises to the surface. If the game turns on one play, the team is making the wrong choice. Klesla's gaffe leading to an easy goal in Vancouver, squandering a game full of great saves by Garon, comes to mind. Tuesday is Calgary, in a down year and a Western conference member, in Columbus and it feels like a must-win to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Up and Down

WIn one, lose one. The team beats the Rangers then loses in OT to Calgary. It's a maddeningly inconsistent team. Filatov to minors, Huselius off of injured list. Crowds will not return to Nationwide until the ship steadies and while I hope for success, how does one conjure the belief that the offense will get better? Based on what changes?

We'll see what happens in Vancouver. As always, pray for solid defense, a Nash goal or two and magic from the goalie, be it Mason or Garon.

Friday, December 10, 2010


4-1 loss in St. Louis where the team inexplicably decided to wait to the third period to show up. Power plays turned this game: the Blues went a remarkable 3-3 while the usually hapless Jackets went 0-8. Still 29th in the league in power play efficiency, the team's struggle with the man advantage is just an extension of the overall poor performance on offense. The penalty kill unit has now slipped to a disappointing 23rd place. Special teams like this will yield no playoffs.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

OT Win

Last minute goal from Nash with Garon pulled ties the game in the third and the Jackets win the shootout. Great work by someone (Umberger, I think, getting mashed but holding his ground) in front of the net as Nash inched closer before netting the tying goal, his 14th of the season. Early goal for Russell, who joins the rush and converts a nice pass from Vermette. With the offense lagging, the defensemen need to step it up. Garon only faces 16 shots (and gave up a softie on Richard's shot that somehow got through his glove) as Columbus outshoots Dallas 29-16. Wilson's wrister beats Lehtonen blocker side for the win in the shootout.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Stampeded 5-0

Describing the effort against the Sabres in Buffalo as poor would understate the matter. Rick Nash said, "We just didn’t seem ready from the start. It was a poor effort.” Umberger noted, "“Too many guys on vacation. It was probably our worst effort in a while. We’re not going to win any games like that.” The Jackets managed only 19 shots on a bored Ryan Miller. A horrible, horrible showing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

After sleeping for a couple of days due to a bad head cold, I was going to write of the sweep at the hands of the Red Wings. That was until I opened my RSS reader.

Yesterday Jim Kelley died.

You'll see obits noting his Hall of Fame career at the Buffalo News and Sports Illustrated. I first read his columns when I was in college and living in Buffalo. Pick a column and you'll see what is obvious: he cared deeply about the issues around hockey and sport in general. The sport has lost a champion who never skated in the league yet managed to contribute as much as many Cup-winning players. Rest in peace.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NHL iPad app

Quick take: a good start but missing details that make a good app. For instance, full scoreboard shows all scores but doesn't link each game to boxscores. While full scoreboard scrolls nicely, the nightly one at the app's main screen required clicking to advance to more scores. Some stability issues as well. Overall I like the app but there is ample room for improvement. Updates please.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Great game against the Wings despite the loss. Howard and Mason shine in the early season playoff-intensity feeling game. The first period had a game's worth of spectacular saves. Lone Jackets goal by Vermette comes after a Umberger forced turnover in the Detroit end. Though Boll fails on the penalty shot in the 2-1 loss, kudos to the big guy for showing skills aside from boxing. With dedicated fighters approaching extinction, Boll has to pick up his overall game. If he can develop into a lesser Clark Gillies, then the Jackets will be thrilled.

Misc: 28th place power play will not carry them into or far in the playoffs. Filatov, the healthy scratch after missing a meeting, was back. The Wings may have slipped a bit, but they are fun to watch. That's the way to play hockey. 

Admittedly jaded comment: Sure they beat the Isles the other day, but it took overtime?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Four in a Row

The Jackets continue their impressive play beating nemesis Nashville 2-0 in Columbus. Nash and Commodore scored the goals and Mason earns the shutout, stopping 27 shots. I can get used to seeing Nash net those off-wing chances and Commodore join the rush to score. With Mason and Garon the team has a solid foundation that can get Mason some rest without the drop off most teams will face when playing the backup goalie. Despite the hot team, Attendance, though slowly rising, is still low as only 10,000 showed at Nationwide.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shutout Win in San Jose

Garon earns another shutout as the red hot Blue Jackets head home after an unprecedented western road trip. Nash, who had a hat trick in San Jose, is on fire as the team heads home for a few days of rest. Nash has scored goals in his last five games. On the trip Commodore had three points in two games after missing 13.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Big Win

The Captain scored the goals to seal the 5-3 win over the Kings. This victory was needed to put a stamp on the solid start of the season. Hopefully fans will climb aboard the wagon with more wins against good teams.

Misc: Boll scores again and Commodore returns and even tallies an assist. Klesla and Murray had the other two goals for Columbus. Mason held his own against 36 shots. Methot and Klesla were both +3 on the night. Eventually the lack of scoring by Filatov has to be addressed, though the young forward is +2 on the season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Up and Down

The Jackets continued their Jekyll-and-Hyde season last week with big victories (8-1 over STL; Voracek sheds the monkey with two goals and Boll Goal) and big losses (5-1 against Colorado; they simply cannot beat the Avalanche). After four days off, the team should be fresh for tonight's game in LA against a game Kings squad that leads their division with gaudy 12-4 record. Which Jackets team will show up?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Another Garon Shutout

Brassard's first period goal off a Nash pass is enough as Garon continues his sharp play. Methot's point blast off a face-off win and Umberger's empty netter were the other tallies. Good positioning for the forwards were a key today. Methot scored with a screen I'm front and Brassard was in position when the pass, likely intended for Voracek, found it's way to him. Nice to see hard work pay off.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Solid Effort

Another home win for the Jackets arises from a familiar pattern: good goaltending and barely enough scoring. This time it was Mason's turn to shine. He played well against the plucky younglings from Edmonton. Hall deflected a shot by Mason for his first NHL goal. Continuing the youth theme, Filatov scored the shootout winner going top shelf with the backhand.

Earlier in the game Filatov had a breakaway off a slick feed from Boll, but he failed to lift the backhand on the same stick side. Methot continued his strong play, dealing a few hard hits. Strallman had two good chances, but cannot seem to buy a goal. His blast from the point rang off the post and later he nearly squeezed one through Dubnyk's pads, leaving the goalie looking back to see if the puck made it through. No such luck. The Olier goalie has a solid game robbing Nash on two occasions (though Nash did score in the shootout).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Jackets fans should be grateful that the team has a capable backup in Garon. He was instrumental in the 2-1 victory against a tough Flyers squad. After building a two goal lead, the team held off the awakening of the Flyers in the third period. Another solidly played focused effort that gave the crowd something to cheer about.

Only one visit per year by Philly is a big disappointment for fans. Playing St. Louis 500 times doesn't make up for it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Three unanswered goals in the second to third periods erase a 2-0 Chicago lead and provides the margin of victory for the blue jackets. An impressive road win against the Blackhawks thanks to a solid effort by Mason and a gritty resolve not to give up. An unexpected victory for the Blue Jackets who were stale on home ice, but they fought back and played an excellent game on the road. More efforts like this are needed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yahoo recap summed it up well: "… In two power plays over the first two periods, Columbus had no shots—and gave up a goal. " Friday's crowd was only 10,000 but luckily they were vocal during the 6-2 loss. The team is perilously close to losing the fans very early in the season. This sourness is what happens when a team underperforms in a season then do not bring in players to significantly change the team. The fans are angry and not easily fooled.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home Sweet Home

An entertaining, close checking game in Columbus. First goal was an exciting pure hustle tally by MacKenzie who went five hole as he was being crosschecked into the ice. Nash's better to be lucky than good bank off the defenseman's skate made it 2-0. An early third period Anaheim goal made the game interesting until a Nash empty-netter iced the game. Very solid performance from Mason especially in the scoreless first period. Nice to follow the win against the Wild with a home ice win.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home Opener

Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski plays charades with everyone's favorite, New York Rangers  Sean Avery. I think James was trying to get across something about his favorite porn star or perhaps he was simply symbolizing the chances of the Islanders franchise this season. Going down. His punishment from the league? A two-game suspension. 

On the same day the league gave Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson a two game suspension for his hit from behind on Buffalo forward Jason Pominville.

After the off-season bluster we now know it's business as usual for the NHL. The precedent set: a hand gesture is as bad as a hit from behind against a defenseless foe. New record for disgust in a season. 

The Jackets open against the champs tonight. I'm interested to see how the new Chicago mix looks and how the Jackets compete against an elite team. Two early shots off the post by the Jackets. Stalberg beats Mason glove side. Off to watch...

Update: Blackhawks steamroll Jackets 5-1.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shark Week

The scheduler put the Jackets in a tough spot. Open in Sweden against a tough Western team. Gaining a split with San Jose is a moral victory as a season opener. Mason looks to have hit the ground running, making clutch saves. We will see if they can keep it up especially after the short European vacation.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

On the Eve of the Season

What a difference a year makes.

There was optimism at last year's opener. The run to the playoffs added some needed life to a franchise that had never sniffed the post-season. However last season ended with a thud. Lost were the gains of the previous campaign. Before season's end the GM jettisoned the only coach to lead them to a playoff series. After the magical rookie season, Mason's feet were of clay.

The Jackets limp into this year humbled and hopefully hungry. No major changes for the team that fell from race has led to soft tickets sales. Th team needs young Filatov to come back from his KHL hiatus and carry his weight on both ends of the ice. The need for a fast start is a given.

On your marks...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Preseason Blahs

Not into the training camp scene. Too few changes to be optimistic about the coming season. The plan appears to be: hope the kids step up, Filatov must star and Mason must stand on his head every game.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Same Old Song

Again with the Red Wings. Yes, they are better than the Jackets. Yes, they skate circles around them at times. And yes, the Jackets got hosed by a bad call.

The skinny: ref calls no goal, replay shows Bertuzzi in the crease angling his foot back to deflect the puck off his skate then inexplicably the call is overturned. Tough to swallow when you lose 3-2.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


With two more goals by Rick Nash you'd think it would be an inopportune time to state he is undervalued. It's not and he is. Nash capped off an all-around game by diving to free the puck in the last seconds. Yeoman work on the penalty kill, taking the body when needed and getting those goals.

Beautiful feed from Umberger led to Nash's second tally. Nice to see RJ give it up for the setup. Back to .500.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

After the pressure lifts

Now that the games don't matter for this year, the team gets it rolling. We're left with some questions that spring forth from this puzzling season:

  • The team is 9-5-4 since Noel took over for Hitchcock. Is he the answer for next season?

  • As of late Steve Mason has been playing well, defeating the Blackhawks twice down their stretch run. His goals against average is still almost a point higher than last year. Is it the sophomore slump or is this late run what we should expect next year?

  • Is this the year that Russell turns the corner and realizes his potential? His plus/minus is at even over the course of the year. In years past, he was well below break even. Will next year see him push into the positive side?

  • Brassard must come back stronger next year. He has 8 goals in 73 games this season after having 10 goals in 31 games before injury.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wait Til Next Year

Howson cleans house by trading a few expiring contracts. Good luck to Raffi Torres in Buffalo. Now the team plays out the string to what will be dwindling crowds. So much for building on last year's playoff run.

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Friday, February 19, 2010


Canada hosts the U.S. on Sunday in the biggest game so far and it is decided to put the game on MSNBC. I look for the deeper, more talented Canadian team to win in the game after the scare from the Swiss. Miller hasn't been tested yet, but he could be the X factor.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Solid Win

First period only yields one goal: despite tight coverage by a defenseman, Nash outmuscles the defender and redirects a pass to put the Jackets into the lead against the Sharks. Mason looks sharp, making several stops on close chances. Steve Mason finishes with another shutout and now three straight wins bringing visions of last season. Spectacular save on Lalime late in the game with another glove save after a left-to-right slide across the crease. Beautiful. Wake the kids as Voracek scores for the first time since last year! Vermette scores an empty-netter. When asked about tonight's win during the post-game interview, Mason said, "It's huge. You want to play your best agains the best teams in the league." Amen.

Too bad the Olympics are coming. It will be interesting to see if the team can build on this new found momentum. No playoff dreams at this point, but the team is playing hard, exciting hockey.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The shoe drops

Hitchcock gets canned and the death watch ends. Not sure celebration is in order as we watch the only coach to lead the team to the playoffs walk the plank. No question the team is floating seemingly rudderless. However is it the coach or the players or the GM? Hard to fire the players. Good luck Ken.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Treading Water

Another week that the Jackets end marginally better in wins by going 2-1. At this rate they will qualify for the playoffs by 2013. Wins against St. Louis should not excite at this point. The slowed schedule leading to Vancouver begins and the team can soon reorganize and see if the staff can recharge the troops over the break. Coming out of the break without hard-charging will signify the true end of the season. We'll see if Hitch and Howson are up to the task.

Near the break the Jackets are 22nd in attendance.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Something to build upon?

Even if this victory leads into a loss, a Jackets fan must savor even a home ice victory against Nashville. Their arch nemesis, Nashville has owned Columbus since the inception of the Jackets franchise. It was the same story line we grew familiar with last year: Mason toes the line and keeps the wolves at bay. Goals by Brassard, Huselius and Modin were enough as two third period Nashville goals were too little, too late. Shots on goal: Nashville 31, Columbus 17. 17?

Signs of the apocalypse #783: +/- for the year has no one in the team's top 15 in scoring on the positive side (Nash -13, Huselius -13, Vermette -8, Umberger -16).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wait 'til next year

Another week set to gain ground ends with a loss. 2-2 last week after a weekend loss to Minnesota. The hard play of last season simply is not there. There is no magic in goal and the team still lacks scoring weapons. No news there. 180 goals allowed! Only Toronto has allowed more goals. Tough to get excited about the team these days.


The decision to suspend Patrice Cormier for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs by the QMJHL for his hit on Mikael Tam hopefully will send s signal to players. Let's not downplay the suspension by labeling it merely a beacon: Cormier deserved a long suspension for such an obvious attack. Hopefully the NHL will take heed and learn from the juniors about how to handle such shenanigans. I applaud the Devils for announcing that they won't try to skirt the suspension and dump him into another league.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Three games to show where they stood. Three losses. Getting close to games becoming less interesting than considering who is available in the next draft. From playoffs back to doormats in six months.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Three in a Row

Winning three in a row a week after not winning for a month is a bit like Packer fans celebrating the offensive show in Arizona today. Okay, the offense did great... but you lost the game. Kudos for the Blue Jackets putting together a solid run of wins... though their slot at fourteenth place in the conference has not changed. Streaks have to start somewhere, and for that I am grateful. And skeptical.

The positive signs are there: solid goaltending, veterans playing tougher and good special teams. Raffi Torres scored his 13th goal in a solid season and managed eight shots on goal. Mike Commodore hit the ice and logged 20 minutes. Garon is doing his best Steve Mason impersonation, shutting down Dallas . The penalty unit is doing its job, allowing no goals in 16 chances during this three game streak.

Road games versus divisional rivals this week will be the real barometer: Tuesday in St. Louis and Thursday in Chicago. Two wins this week and then we can call the recent play a trend.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Chimera, Commodore and a Win

Haven't had a chance to comment on Jason Chimera's trade. I have mixed feelings about the trade as Chimera was a hard-skating, lunch bucket sort of player that was easy to cheer for by fans. Admittedly he never seemed to stay healthy long enough to utilize all the potential that he showed in glimpses. Stabilizing a team in free-fall was an obvious need. I'm wait-and-see if the trade of a popular, tough and skilled player will be a good thing.

Why the Jackets are having trouble reason #357: Mike Commodore - "My legs aren't there. I will go for any type of explosive stride to close on a guy, and there's nothing there." Not exactly the sort of quote you want to read from your best blue-liner.

Solid win on the road in Edmonton on Wednesday. Goals by Umberger (14), Huselius (14), Vermette (12) and Hejda. Hard to believe that on a team that does not score often that they may have four guys who score 30+ goals. Odder that Garon's GAA is better than Mason's. Yikes...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


So how did Hitchcock go from playoffs to rumor mill grist? Losing does such things. What this season hasn't done is invalidate the team's run last year. Ken didn't slip into senility in the off-season. Coaching is overrated in most sports, and hockey is no exception. Players carry the day and coaches sometimes make a difference over the long haul.

The biggest difference year-to-year from 2009-2010? Mason. It's as simple as that. To put that pressure on a young person is tough, but the conclusion is inescapable. The Jackets rode his cape into the playoffs and they occupy the bottom now based on the absence of magic. Firing Hitchcock or blaming Mason as the sole source is as easy as it is unfair. Howson has to face the fact that the dearth of scoring is on him, not Hitch. To expect Mason to work under the pressure of shutout or loss is untenable.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


I moved and have not seen a game in over a month. Good thing because the Jackets have hit the wall. After the great start, the team has won three times in 23 games and, even more frightening, hasn't scored more than two goals in their last 10 games. Mason should sue for non-support. Not sure it's a good thing, but the cable guy installs a line this week.