Archive for April 2011

One Last Game…

So with our future determined, as Blue Jackets fans, many have turned their eyes to scouting reports, speculation on draft picks, or (gasp!) the usual doom and gloom of CBJ negatively skewed stats. Except for that last one, I am definitely enjoying the conversations (and learning a lot thanks to my intrepid blogging idols – see my blog roll) but I would like to take a second to mark where we are – The Last Game.Now look, I too desperately wish that we were saying just “Our Last Regular Season Game” and that playoffs were on the horizon. And, I will definitely follow the balance of playoff races to the Cup, but, after experiencing the emotional drop off after we realized there were no playoffs in this year’s future, and then facing the sports wasteland that is golf and baseball season (I know many of you are fans…quite frankly, I’d rather stand pad-less in goal while the Sedin twins take shots at me for hours than watch either of these games. I don’t get it.) the stark reality of what no-hockey time is has started coming into focus. And, I’ll miss our home team playing week in and week out.

So tomorrow, I’m headed down to the Arena to watch this team play its final game. Arguably, its final game with this roster ever (we hope!) But, win or lose (please god, let them win) I’m going to try and soak it all in – the chill off the ice, that cool skating sound (when NOT mic’d – who came up with that dumb idea) our boys in their 3rd Jerseys, hopefully a fight (or some DD fisticuffs) and some good ol’ ice hockey. Because, I’ve come to love this game – and this team. And after tomorrow, its gonna be a while till we get them back – so even with all the valid grousing, and torpedoed hopes and dreams, and injuries, and the suspected onslaught of too many Buffalo fans – I’m gonna love being at tomorrow’s game.

Don’t ever forget why you became a fan in the first place – and soak that up – its gonna have to last you for a while… GO JACKETS!

Well I have to post SOMETHING…

So who’s dumb enough to start a hockey blog when they don’t know enough about off-season activity and its not only at the end of the regular season, but for a team that will not be having any kind of playoff appearance?Yep. This Girl.

And thanks to our beloved – beleaguered – Blue Jackets, I haven’t had much of anything to write about other than – so Kris Russel broke his ankle, Nash is out (to make a point to the team? but more on that conspiracy theory later) and RJ remains a beast.

So – since our hockey isn’t worth really talking about, I’m going to point you to two of my fellow bloggers who, lets face it you most likely read anyway, are promoting a new spin on awards given by FANS and not just the press (in the ongoing wake of the controllers vs. the exposers that is the PHWA dispute) – its the 2011 NHL Crowdsource Awards.

So please – to learn more read from MartiniHockey (and seriously, is there any better name in hockey blogging? I think not!*) and from one of my particular role-models, Dark Blue Jacket (and visit his Facebook page to vote)

Go Jackets!

*Combine two of my favorite things – martinis and hockey and you’ve got a fan for life :) 

Kubalik Shows Promise

There has always been crazy amounts of hype surrounding star players drafted in the first five or so picks making their debut in the National Hockey League.  Many people like to gage a players ability based on those first couple games, and some even go as far as critiquing the entire team after those first couple games, deeming the season a success of a failure.  In Columbus, guys like Nash and Filatov had that hype.

But the unsung heros seem to come from the depths of the Columbus draft days, like Matt Calvert (5th round, 127 overall in 2008), Derek Dorsett (7th round, 189 overall in 2006), Kris Russell (3rd round, 67th overall in 2005), Jared Boll (4th round, 101st overall in 2005), Grant Clitsome (9th round, 271st overall in 2004), and Marc Methot (6th round, 168th overall in 2003).  The success of a team can be measured in a handful of ways that are generally not televised or highlighted by the media because of the lack of ‘sexyness’ that it generates.  Sure enough though, Columbus is knee deep in mid draft talent, and over the last two weeks, two more names have been added to the list.

Kubalik showed promise in Columbus’ training camp this year, making decisions hard in a top six that had very little wiggle room (not to mention a hungry Calvert also waiting in the wing).  I support any conclusion that says he belongs in a top six role and may struggle outside of that realm.  I personally agree that players with specific styles are wasted in secondary roles, and Kubalik is no exception.  He spent the year conditioning his talent in Springfield and took to the ice for the first time as a Jacket last night.  No ticker tape parade, no fans expectations waiting to skyrocket at the ring of a post or the crunch of a check.  Just Kubalik, showing the Jackets faithful what he is capable of accomplishing in a Blue Jackets jersey.

Early in the game I saw comments regarding his play become a bit negative on twitter.  Certainly moving to the NHL stage against one of the premier Eastern Conference teams is a daunting task, and getting his feet wet may have included a dunking or two, but by the second period, the line of Calvert – Vermette – Kubalik was far and away the most effective unit for the Jackets.  My favourite talking point of the game for him was watching him chase a defender around their net, forcing a weak pass to the secondary defender on the boards.  Kubalik sprinted and pressed him, who had to make a play back behind the net with Kubalik once again quickly in pursuit.  The puck was finally cleared, with Vermette and Umberger watching on as the rookie jetted from side to side forcing difficult passes.

If Kubalik brought anything last night outside the actual game itself, he brought a very distinct definition of quality drafting to Columbus.  He was drafted 7 picks after his linemate from last night, Matt Calvert.  Another 5th rounder making waves in the Blue Jackets roster, and another successful start to what I believe will be a strong NHL career.

Carry the Flag!

A Tale of a Game Away…

Last night we had the pleasure of going to the Jackets – Caps game at the Verizon center and it did not disappoint as far as experience goes. As I mentioned yesterday, i do think its a valuable exercise to be a visiting fan somewhere, sometime. I also forgot to mention yesterday the camaraderie that comes from finding another visiting fan in the crowd – and you greet each other like long lost best friends with a “Go Jackets!” (I saw a total of 9 CBJ fans in person – a lot more than I expected!)Interestingly it was more fun than I thought – a lot less pressure to win when you’re visiting, and I felt a bit more free to just watch and enjoy the game. And I was proud of our team, admit it or not we had those Caps and their fans nervous and honestly, I saw glimpses of the Mason we all loved during his Calder years. Some of those saves – seen live – were sick and impressive.

Yes, we are officially out of the playoffs but being at an away game made me see some new aspects of the “game experience” we as Jacket fans should be proud of and some we need to bring into play…

Food: advantage Jackets – nothing beats Skyline Chili and Tim Hortons ;) (and knowing the bartender at the kiosk closest to your seats)
Crowd: draw – and here’s why. Ok yeah, there’s a lot of them – but the 3 burst airhorn is entirely too annoying and, while biased, I am excited about the kind of environment groups like “Arch City Army” are trying to bring to NW Arena. Plus, it was a bit – dare I say, refreshing – to see that even the Verizon Center crowd can suffer from cheer-a-phobia and it can be quiet there too. But major props to all the Caps fans, very nice, hospitable and classy even in an OT win
In Game Promos: Advantage JACKETS! Oh Jackets fans – you have no idea how good we got it – I saw two – TWO – total give aways during the game – no chipotle dropping from the sky, no IGS blimp, no fan-cams, no fan-interaction games on the jumbotron and other than that same roulette around the arena thing and that stupid move your arms to vote that should be banned from all sports immediately.
* major props though to the “find the fan in the upper deck and move them to the lower bowl” promo – obviously we need a sell out to make this an option but its really cool
Music: Advantage Jackets. I won’t complain again even about the cover bands. I felt like I was at a Carnival at some point
Arena as a building:draw – because while NWA is newer and has some really nice aspects, major props to the signage and staff. Good people and helpful to someone who didn’t know where they were going half the time.
Arena “district”: advantage Caps. Acknowledging that its DC and that there were more fans total – there was more of a tactile energy running around outside the arena before the game and lots of options for places to hang out from a cool dim sum lounge to a traditional irish bar
Parking: again, its DC but my god, CBJ faithful – be thankful every day when you pull into that spot for only 5-10 dollars and walk maybe 5-10 minutes tops

Overall-we had a really good time, at a nice place and got to watch a good game (thank god!) It was really interesting for this still novice hockey fan to see two such diverse styles playing against each other and take it all in. And, Jackets fans, we’ve got it good in C-Bus at least when it comes to game experience, try bringing someone with you to a game – at least we know they’ll have a good time compared to some other arenas…now lets just get the game on the ice to be of the same quality ;)