Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 23-29+AHL All Star Game Prospect Review

Posted by CBJProspects on January 31, 2012
Prospects / No Comments

Back again folks like last year I decided to wait a day so I didnt have to spread the AHL All Star Game stuff between two posts. Starting off in the AHL regular season the Falcons won 3 in a row for the second time this year and much like back then it was a goalie out of nowhere that won all three. I kid sorta because we all saw what Paul Dainton could do in the preseason, Paul went 3-0 last week with a 1.67GAA and a .947 save percentage. Leading the way for the Falcons was Martin St. Pierre with 3 assists giving him 32 on the year which is fifth in the AHL. Alexandre Giroux had 2 goals to give him 15 this season. Other Falcons with multiple points were Matt Calvert with two assists and four players with a goal and a assist were Dane Byers, Maksim Mayorov, David Savard and Cam Atkinson. All right keeping the update on Chicago brief,(like i always claim to then dont)Steven Delisle played in one game for Chicago last week playing in the Express’s overtime loss to Cincinnati.

Boone Jenner-Oshawa Generals(OHL)
Stats 35GP 18-22-40 +4 53PIM
Boone played in two of the Generals three games last week missing the team’s last game as a precaution after a hit(according to Rob Mixer and Oshawa PR). Boone had a assist in the teams’s loss to Brampton.

Dalton Smith-Ottawa 67s(OHL)
Stats 38GP 14-9-23 -3 59PIM
Dalton had no points in the 67s three games last week with the team going 2-1 last week.

Brandon Archibald-Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
Stats 47GP 1-11-12 -6 52PIM
Kind of a light week for Brandon and the Spirit with only two games played. Brandon played in both games picking up no points.

Lukas Sedlak-Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
Stats 37GP 16-23-39 +17 38PIM
Lukas played in four games after going scoreless for a third straight game Sedlak erupted for 6 points in his next three games with two goals and 4 assists. Starting off against Val’D Or Lukas had his third three point game of the season. Then it was off to Rouyn-Norandna to take on the Huskies, in that game Lukas had a goal and a assist for his 11th multi point game of the season. To finish off the road trip it was back Val D’Or to take on the Miners(im guessing, the team’s name is in French but it has a pickaxe in the logo) Lukas had a assist in that game giving him 12 points in his last 10 games. Last week in the four games Lukas won 63% of his faceoffs.

Petr Straka-Rimouski Oceanic(QMJHL)
Stats 37GP 10-14-24 -7 23PIM
In two games last week the Oceanic went 2-0, Petr only had a assist(about 30 seconds in) in the Oceanic’s win over the Halifax Moosehead.

Mathieu Corbeil-Saint John Sea Dogs(QMJHL)
Stats 37GP 28-9 2.46 .906Sv% 5SO
Mathieu decided to rewrite the the Sea Dogs record book last week first setting a new season/career record for shutouts then in the next game with his 28th win of the seaosn set new Sea Dogs record for wins in a season. On Friday night in a game against the Sea Dogs rivals the Moncton Wildcats the Jackets prospect getting something you dont hear often he got help from a Red Wings prospect. Wings prospect Tomas Jurco scored with 8.5 seconds left to give Corbeil his 5th shutout and record tying 27th win of the season with a 1-0 win. Then on Sunday the Armada came to Harbour Station in that game Mathieu made 33 saves in a 6-3 win to collect his 28th win of the season. This game must of been a weird one because according to one media outlet Mathieu had 126.Sv%

Quickly Michael Chaput didnt play in either of the Shawinigan’s games last week serving a suspension for his actions in a brawl in the team’s game against Gatineau. Michael will be back in the team’s next game.

Austin Madaisky-Kamloops Blazers(WHL)
Stats 50GP 10-28-38 +15 54PIM
The Blazers started the week on a bad note Kamloops’ nine game winning streak was snapped with a shootout loss to Kelowna. In the loss Austin had a goal scoring his tenth goal of the season also adding a assist then missing in a shootout. After that game the team loaded up the boat…what?? When the team head down to Victoria first its a bus then onto a boat with the bus(I had to ask) then to finish off the trip. In the two games against the Royals Austin had no points.

Oliver Gabriel-Portland Winterhawks(WHL)
Stats 17GP 7-6-13 +5 24PIM
Oliver like Boone played in two of his team’s three games last week also missing a game as a precaution when he was injured in practice. In the Hawk’s wins he did play in Oliver had a goal and two assists(24 seconds and 1:40 in the video). The two assists came in a win over Everett then he was injured in practice missing a win over Spokane then in a win over rival Seattle Gabriel scored his seventh since being returned from Springfield.

Thomas Larkin-Colgate Red Raiders(ECAC)
Stats 24GP 3-8-11 +10 28PIM
Thomas Larkin and the Raiders faced off with Cornell and fellow Jackets prospect Sean Collins. Larkin was the victor in the series with the Big Red. Larkin went scoreless on Friday in a 2-1 win but on Saturday in a come from behind win Larkin had his third multi point game of the season scoring a goal and a assist. The goal(4:35 into the video) was a empty net Larkin launched from his own goalline, the goal was his first since October 29th his 3 goals lead the Raiders defensemen.

Sean Collins-Cornell Big Red(ECAC)
Stats 21GP 7-8-15 E 4PIM
As noted above Cornell faced off with Colgate with the Raiders sweeping the Big Red. Collins scored his career high matching seventh goal of the season(same video as above about 1:50 in) for the third year in a row.

In the not playing file Kevin Lynch and Michigan were off last week and as has been the usual lately Martin Ouelette didnt play in either of Maine’s victories last week.

Trent Vogelhuber, Will Weber-Miami Redhawks(CCHA)
Stats TV 26GP 2-8-10 E 41PIM WW 28GP 0-3-3 -3 28PIM
In the Redhawks split with Northern Michigan again as has been the norm Trent was the only prospect to pick up a point. Trent had a assist on the game winner in the team’s 6-0 win on Saturday. I’m giving @robmixer a lot of credit this post(if youre a Blue Jackets fan and not following him you might as well call yourself a Red Wings fan!) back to Mr. Mixer he and the Blue Jackets TV crew were down in Oxford and did a story on the Senior Captain.

Seth Ambroz, Jake Hansen Minnesota Golden Gophers(WCHA)
Stats SA 28GP 4-3-7 +1 41PIM JH 29GP 10-17-27
The Gophers had a home and home with in state rival St Cloud St last weekend with the Gophers earning the sweep(i had to, dont block me Buckeye fans ;) ). On Friday Jake Hansen had something to do with both Gopher goals, scoring the first then assisting on the second goal. jake was named first star in the win. Then on Saturday Jake had a assist on Sam Warning’s(great hockey name IMO) game winner. Seth Ambroz went scoreless on the weekend. Next week is a big one as the Gophers travel to Denver to take on the Pioneers in a battle of WCHA titans.

Drew Olson-Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Stats 26GP 1-2-3 +4 43PIM
Olson did his usual going scoreless but something odd did happen as Duluth went winless for a weekend for the first time since October 14-15 with a tie and a loss.

TJ Tynan-Notre Dame Fighting Irish(CCHA)
Stats 27GP 11-25-36 +2 22PIM
It was a long trip for TJ and the gold domers as they traveled to Russia…uh I mean Alaska(close enough). On Friday night TJ scored his 10th goal(1:15 in) of the season picking up a bouncing puck in front of the Nanook(Im not kidding) crease then adding a assist(its later in the video but i dont see Tynans involvment). On Saturday TJ added another goal his 11th goal(1:30 in, nice editing job just after Tynan gets rocked) of the year hooking up with his partner in crime Anders Lee. TJ was named second star in the Irish win.

Mike Reilly-Penticton Vees(BCHL)
Stats 37GP 18-42-60 32PIM
Mike missed the Vees 26th straight win in a victory against Merritt still working back from a injury but then returned for a home and home against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks(still great name). In win number 27 Mike scored his 18th of the season and 11th on the power play also adding a assist. The next night the Vees traveled to the jungle and the Vees finished off the sweep to make it 28 straight. Mike had two assists in the win to give him 42 on the year which is tied for fourth in the league tied with teammate and son of his coach at Minnesota Mario Lucia.

Anton Forsberg-MODO(Sweden)
Stats 10GP 3-3 .898Sv% 3.26GAA
Anton was back with the big club last week starting the team’s game with Brynas. Brynas made it 3-2 and MODO coach Ulf Samuelsson(yep that Ulf Samuelsson) decided to pull the 19 year old BUT MODO ended up losing the game 5-3 with Forsberg getting a no decision, nice move coach how about giving the kid a shot.

All right last but not least lets talk about the lone Jacket All Star(sorry Ryan), after playing in the Falcons three games scoring his team leading 24th goal of the season Cam was off to Atlantic City for the AHL All Star Game. Gotta love the minors sounds like most of the players got to New Jersey with just enough time to check in to the hotel and get to the rink. Cam took part in the Skills Comptition competeing in the shoot and score relay teaming up with Binghamton Dman(? good call coach) Mark Borowiecki(3G) and Connecticut (Fail) Whale RW Mats Zuccarello(21G). The shoot and score relay all three players must touch the puck before shooting on the goalie and they have a set amount of time(I forget sorry) to shoot as many times as possible. Each player took one shot and Cam was the only one of the three to score. Then he took part in the breakaway relay in which a group of six players shoot on a goalie. Cam was part of a group that featured Ray Bourque’s son Chris, Mark Barberio, Kings first round pick Thomas Hickey and the Miami boys Carter Camper and Andy Miele. All six were stopped by Western Conference goalie Yann Danis. Cam started the game with league scoring leader Keith Aucoin and the player Cam will be neck and neck with for the goal scoring title Norfolk’s Cory Conacher. Cam had a assist on Kyle Palmieri’s first period goal, the game that looked like most All Star Games with the East taking a 6-2 lead after the first. But the game ended in a 8-7 shootout loss.

Well Ive rambled enough as always I thank you for reading and i’ll see you next week.

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Columbus Should Build With Jeff Carter

Posted by Canadan82 on January 31, 2012
Team Discussion / 18 Comments

As the trade deadline approaches, it doesn’t surprise me that Jeff Carter’s name is quickly thrown around as a guy worth sending out of town via trade. So much speculation has been presented by media this year regarding his interest in the organization, yet for some reason, the conversation is rarely connected by something he has actually come out and said.  I can understand why a lot of people don’t have a connection with him and assume the negative end of the story, but for a team riddled with inconsistency, why should so much be shouldered by him?  When looking to build on players, a potential forty goal scorer is a great start.

To begin this piece, I want to point out something relatively obvious.  Carter has been struggling this year.  Injuries, including a nagging foot, and a separated shoulder have kept him from gaining any form of competitive edge, and forced him out of the lineup for 19 regular season games (just shy of 40% of the regular season).  Despite all of his time injured, he still managed to score ten goals, which laughably remains second on the team.  I’ll get more into this later on in the post.

To suggest he has had a fair look in Columbus is ridiculous; Injuries, very little time to build chemistry, and a depth of speculation that is quite embarrassing even for Columbus.  While I am far from personally faulting him for an off year, I thought it would be good to take some time to compare his pros and cons in order to gain a better representation of why I think he should be a part of this organization for years to come.

Pros

- I find it strange that so many folks in the media are claiming his contract is a ‘tough pill to swallow’ for teams interested in him.  In my opinion, especially in Columbus, it’s a huge plus.  He is signed for a decade, at a cap hit of roughly 5.27 million dollars.  That is less than ‘stud’ defenseman James Wisniewski, 2.5 million less than Rick Nash, and just over a half million more than Umberger’s five year extension that is about to kick in next season (Umberger has three more points in fourteen additional games, and has arguably been one of Columbus’ biggest on ice disappointments this year).  Not only is this contract entirely reasonable, it solves Columbus’ major issue with bringing in free agent talent without having to overpay.  –Don’t even get me started on that

- With that cap hit, comes the potential of a forty goal scorer (not named Rick Nash).  With the exclusion of this year, Carter has averaged just over 38 goals per season over his last three years, with his career best 46 goals coming in the 08/09 season.  For a team in great need for offense, it shocks me that such a player would be not given a boatload of chances in order to recover from injury, and his relocation.

- Finally, his play with the puck.  For years, Columbus’ best option on ice for ‘wow’ moments have been at the hands of Nash.  Even in his limited time on ice this year, Carter has impressed me with his ability to shift past defensemen with a quality deke, or take a tremendous wrist shot that can fool a goalie from any angle.  Frankly, his on ice capacity with the puck is one of his greater assets, and worth watching regardless of his output.  I have demanded for a long time that this team put emphasis on an entertaining on ice product rather than a boring, structured (read: Hitchcock) style of play.  I think Carter can bring that element just as well as Rick Nash when he has the puck.

Cons

- He’s not a media darling.  Despite all the controversy, he has not seemed even remotely inclined to get his face in the middle of it.  And such is life. Some players, like the Wiz, are great for a sound bite or twenty, while others are more designed to simply play the game.  If Columbus was pursuing another guy to win over the fan base with riveting interviews, Carter was clearly the wrong choice.

- He was openly disappointed about his trade.  But let’s be honest, if you committed to something for over a decade at a discounted rate, only to have that connection removed, wouldn’t you feel the same? I can understand his disappointment when he was dealt from a team primed to make the playoffs to a team struggling to find its’ identity, and unfortunately he has not been able to allow his on ice play do the talking for him this year.

- He’s not (or at least doesn’t appear to be) a vocal leader.  Again, some top tier  players are designed to take the team on their shoulders verbally or mentally (see: Toews, Nash), while others tend to focus more on their own game, and I feel like Carter is more in that second classification.  With that said, I personally don’t believe he was brought in to be a vocal leader. He was brought in to be a scoring threat, and a potential number one center than Columbus has lacked for so long.

It’s with those assumptions in mind that I think Carter is worth another year of consideration before making a deal.  I support the opinion that behind Nash, he would stand to be the teams best asset for trade, but his on ice production could be more valuable than his return at this point.  I look at next year, and I see a team that could be cleaned out at the bottom end (3rd and 4th line), and overhauled defensively and in net.  With that in mind, I think the following line considerations should be made rather than bolstering what I believe to be a potentially successful offense:

Nash – Brassard – Carter
Top 2 pick – Johansen – Kubalik/Atkinson
-OR-
Nash – Brassard – Johansen
Top 2 pick – Carter – Kubalik/Atkinson

That is an assumptive top two pick of course, but at this point it would take a pretty impressive turnaround for Columbus to fall out of a top two pick.  This would potentially bring in Nail Yakupov or Mikhail Grigorenko who have presented themselves as top quality talent, worthy of a second line start in the NHL.  This roster move also bolsters the third line with Umberger, and allows Columbus to part ways with players like Pahlsson(2.65mil), Huselius(4.75mil), Prospal(2.5mil), and potentially Vermette(3.75mil), which could open the door for defensive or goaltender spending on the cap.  Removing those four alone would generate 13.65 million in cap space, with only Pahlsson to replace in the current lineup (based on my suggested line combos above, and the entry level cap hit for Yakupov/Grigorenko).

I also recognize there is little visible chemistry between Nash and Carter, but given Brassard’s play of late with Nash, I believe that Carter could move to wing (where he has been very successful in the past) and Brassard’s speed would help to push the pace.  This gives a playmaker like Brassard the ability to look to both wings as scoring threats, and can seriously open up space in the offensive zone.  If that doesn’t work, Carter can slide down to the second line and create offense where Columbus isn’t used to seeing it.  provided he is given players on his wing who can get the puck on his stick, he can enjoy a year of playing secondary defenders and exploiting second rate defensive mistakes.

In short, I think Carter deserves a full, healthy year look before Columbus gives up on him.  While I can see the positive out of dealing him for prospects and budding talent now, I believe it comes at a time where knee-jerk reactions are only going to work against the short term success of this franchise.  Give him time to build some chemistry within the team, and get to know the city of Columbus better.  He may eventually fall in love with it.

Carry the Flag!

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It Starts at the Top

Posted by The Coach on January 27, 2012
General Manager / 2 Comments

There has been a lot of commotion in #CBJ-land the last few days over the protest to be held at Nationwide Arena this weekend. I’ve mostly stayed quiet on this topic, as the protest seems very absurd to me. Among the problems are the time and location (at a place void of any decision makers or fans on this particular date), as well as the targets of the protest. The protest is aimed at convincing Blue Jackets ownership to fire President Mike Priest and General Manager Scott Howson. The problem is that this will not solve the issues facing the Blue Jackets.

Say what you will about Scott Howson, but I still believe he is a good GM and should oversee the rebuild of the roster. Similarly, I believe Mike Priest may be a competent businessman who is well suited to running a major company. Both have taken a lot of heat for decisions that were made under their command, and rightfully so. However, little attention has been paid to those around Priest and Howson who are supposed to help them with these decisions. In Aaron Portzline’s scathing article the other day, he mentioned the lack of experience in the Columbus front office. He was on the right track, but he did not take this idea far enough.

In my opinion, the relative inexperience of the Blue Jackets hockey operations staff is what has crippled this team on the ice. Many fans have clamoured for a “hockey guy” to take Mike Priest’s role as President. However, the NHL has grown too advanced for most “hockey guys.” There are far too many parts of running a team to put a former General Manager, with no business experience, in charge a multimillion dollar company. For evidence of how this can go wrong, just revisit the Doug MacLean era. The team is still paying for his mistakes, and will be for probably another decade (or at least until Anze Kopitar retires).

No, a businessman like Mike Priest is who should be in charge. However, he needs someone advising him on the hockey side of the team. This is where Craig Patrick should come in. His role should be to advise Priest on hockey matters, and provide Howson with someone to bounce ideas off of. This would provide the President’s office with both the business and hockey know-how. Now I am not familiar enough with Priest’s work to say whether or not he is the right guy for the job, but he is more what is needed as President than someone like Patrick.

As for Howson, I believe the GM of an NHL team in the salary cap era should be someone like Scott Howson. He is a lawyer, who views running a hockey team from an asset management perspective. This is the right approach to long-term success, and has proven so based on the success of many other teams that have taken this approach. The problem is that Howson is relatively inexperienced on the talent evaluation side. Were Howson surrounded with hockey veterans providing opinions based on decades of experience, this would not be a problem. Instead, the Blue Jackets front office is filled with rookies. There are more law degrees in their front office than there are ex-NHL players. Disregarding Craig Patrick and the basic scouts, the other eight members of their hockey operations staff have a combined nine years of pre-Blue Jackets NHL front office experience (seven from Scott Howson) and eight years of scouting experience (all from Paul Castron). The rest of the people that Howson has to lean on for insight received their first NHL front office job from the Blue Jackets.

Matt Wagner at the Cannon compared the dearth of experience in Columbus to the four former GM’s employed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a good comparison, but what he doesn’t mention is the crux of why these issues are not Priest or Howson’s fault. Money. This all comes down to money. As I mentioned, most of the Blue Jackets front office started out with the Blue Jackets. Howson is a first time GM. Assistant GM Chris MacFarland got his first job in Columbus. Director of Amatuer Scouting Tyler Wright was in player development with the Blue Jackets straight from playing in the NHL, and had never written a single scouting report before this season. Compare those men to Dave Nonis, Rick Dudley and Cliff Fletcher. In terms of hockey knowledge, it’s a landslide in favour of Toronto. That knowledge also costs a hell of a lot more. Just like any business, it is much cheaper to hire someone for their first job than to bring in someone with a wealth of experience. This is where ownership comes in.

Scott Howson and Mike Priest have a budget to work with. How much of that budget is spent on the hockey operations staff comes from Priest and the owners. It’s likely that those three aforementioned Maple Leafs staff members make as much as the entire Blue Jackets hockey operations staff combined. It’s also likely that Scott Howson, as a rookie GM, is one of the lowest paid General Managers in the league. The amount of money spent on hockey operations staff severely handcuffs how much experience Scott Howson can surround himself with. The Blue Jackets are currently operating without a Director of Player Personnel, Director of Pro Scouting or Director of Hockey Operations, positions occupied by hockey veterans in most organizations. Scott Howson is the General Manager and Vice President of Hockey Operations. The Maple Leafs have two Vice Presidents of Hockey Operations, neither of whom are Brian Burke. It would be very simple for the Blue Jackets to hire four hockey veterans, as the Director of Player Personnel, Director of Pro Scouting, Director of Hockey Operations and Vice President of Hockey Operations. Craig Patrick would stay on as Special Advisor, and this new team would provide the advice that Mike Priest and Scott Howson have needed. Only then can we truly judge whether these men are worthy of their positions. If this protest is successful, all that will be accomplished is running two men out of town who will undoubtedly be replaced by similar people, with similar inexperience, and surrounded by a similarly inexperienced hockey operations department. In other words, the problem won’t be solved, just covered in a different coat of paint.

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Ok FINE…You May Have My $.02

Posted by AlisonL on January 27, 2012
CBJ Blog Community / No Comments
I tried to keep my mouth shut. “I won’t write about this”, I told myself. “Let the chips fall where they may”, I said.

But everyone and their cousin has come out one way or another regarding the upcoming CBJ Protest tomorrow, so, now I’m a lemming – here ya go.
I’m not going to the protest tomorrow.
First, I think its important to point you to the definition of this event. I read this post to understand what the event intends. From some comments/tweets/etc. that I’ve seen since, seems not everyone has read this. Here is what Light the Lamp has to say. If you’re gonna “fight”, at least know what you’re fighting for, Ok?
Second, let me point you to may posts that I feel clearly and eloquently express almost all aspects of my opinions about this Protest. If you have not already read them: first, from Martini Hockey, next, from Fire That Cannon, and of course, from my CBJ Yoda, Matt Wagner over at The Cannon. Basically, just read those and then imagine me say “Yeah! What he said!” over and over.
But there are a few other things I also wanted to make clear when it comes to me and what I think: I know a few of the people who started this event – I hold every single one of them in high regard, and I praise their ability to put together an event quickly, communicate effectively, and demonstrate a continued passion and commitment to the Blue Jackets. In no way, shape or form do I judge a single person for their decision to go or not go to the protest.

But here’s what gives me pause (in addition to my personal beliefs as noted above). Last night, I went out to dinner with a girlfriend. We go to the same place every week. The people there know us. As its a small place,  patrons and staff alike will often talk about “the topic of the day”.
I was hardly in the door when I was asked – by people who don’t even follow sports – “what is up with this protest thing down at Nationwide?” Let me just say their impression is not favorable. So add that to the list of reasons I won’t be there. You see, one of my hopes that I’ve written about many times is to introduce people to the game of hockey and the Blue Jackets. We need to remember that this whole thing is being viewed by sphere’s of life waaaaay outside just CBJ fandom. Even waaay outside NHL fandom. And, if we’re trying to bring attention to hockey, this might not be such a hot idea. Today on twitter people were even debating exactly what Scott Howson’s job was. And that’s understandable, but to send a message, please try to make it effective and coherent first.
Look. I know. I’m the girl who organized a large letter to the players earlier this year. I get it. I get feeling this way. I hit a new low when word of a possible Carter trade hit earlier this week. But, I just can’t accept that the organization is ignorant about how bad it really is. Nor, can I demand change for change’s sake. I want to see options, opportunities and solutions presented. Then I’ll have an opinion. Maybe that’s just me…
At the end of the day, sad but true, NHL Hockey is a business. And ownership wants your dollars…not your two cents. Not happy with what’s going on? Take your dollars away.

Building a Winner Through the Draft

Posted by Canadan82 on January 25, 2012
Team Discussion / No Comments

There has been a lot of dissatisfaction about the Columbus Blue Jackets record this year.  They sit in 30th in the National Hockey League at 13-30-6, nine points off 29th ranked Edmonton, and are currently riding a four game losing streak.  It comes at no surprise that the fans are at their wits end with losing, and yet, all this losing could be the best thing Columbus has done since drafting Rick Nash.

What I have compiled below is a collection of teams who utilized the draft (more than likely unintentionally) to produce teams far stronger than their General Managers could trade for.  In fact, in every case, they provided the foundation of the team through drafting franchise players at extremely high picks.  What Columbus has failed to do, is play poorly enough to achieve a franchise level player. Drafting players like Voracek (7th) and Brassard (6th) certainly provide the opportunity for growth in the long term, but they don’t do a great job of producing players the team can build around.

If you want a comparison to Jake and Brass, consider who was drafted prior to them in their draft years.  For Brassard, it was a collection of sturdy talent. Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Niklas Backstrom, and Phil Kessel.  Up until Brassard’s pick, I would probably be comfortable in replacing him with at least 3-4 of the top five picks that year.  When you consider the impact of a player like Toews or Backstrom vs a player like Brassard (or Okposo, Mueller, Frolik – who were drafted after him) you can quickly see the difference between a player with the potential to become a top line player, and a pick who immediately becomes a player of relevance on a team.

In Voracek’s year, the top tier picks were more limited, but drafting first or second overall provided the rights to Patrick Kane, and James Van Reimsdyk.  Now, “Reimer” did not really jump into the top of Philadelphia’s system out of his draft summer, but Patrick Kane most certainly did.  He became a franchise player for Chicago, and was pivotal in their cup win.  As you can see, once again, being forced to wait until the 7th pick did not allow Columbus to draft a franchise player.  Simply a player who had the potential of being a top line forward, but more realistically, a strong second line player.

Let’s move on to a couple of examples of teams building through the draft:

Chicago

Longest Cup Drought :: 49 years
Playoff Drought :: One appearance in 10 years (1st round exit)
Worst year in Process :: 20-43-11-8 59pts
Worst Attendance Year :: 12,727 – 07/08
Draft Results :: Barker (3rd) Skille (7th) Kane (1st) Toews (3rd)

Chicago was a team who went through tremendous hardship during their ten years of mediocrity.  One playoff appearance, major ownership battles, blackouts, and no real identity.  Yet during that time, they were able to draft three times in the top three slots.  It brought them two top tier players (who are definitive franchise players) and a couple of other quality depth players. I will note that Barker’s draft year was relatively terrible for talent, and he was third only to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Talk about a drop in quality!!

They suffered a great deal in order to get their franchise on the right track, as well as making relatively bad deals like the Brian Campbell contract (read: way worse than Wiz’s contract) to the point where they actually had to purge half their depth after their cup year.  With that said, their patience paid off, and they are now a deep team with strong, fan favoured players locked in for years.

Pittsburgh

Longest Cup Drought :: 24 years
Playoff Drought :: four straight seasons
Worst Year in Process :: 22-46-14 58pts
Worst Attendance Year :: 11,877 – 06/07
Draft Results :: Whitney (5) Fleury (1) Malkin (2) Crosby (1) Staal (2)

It’s hard to believe a team as strong as Pittsburgh was so bad for half a decade.  Four seasons out of the playoffs, including a 58 point season at their low point.  Another team steeped in ownership issues, money issues, building issues, and fans dwindling down to under 12k in the 2006/2007 season.  When you look at a team who really struggled to regain their footing, you may as well look no further than the Penguins.

With that said, they made their fortune in the draft.  It wasn’t a matter of tremendous deals by the General Manager, or a free agent acquisition that vaulted their excellence.  Ryan Whitney, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jordan Staal.  Five players that would probably be on any GMs wish list.  To their credit, they managed to find a tremendous coach in Dan Bylsma, but this is a prime example of becoming a legitimate contender through being terrible. A franchise goalie, a franchise captain, a franchise Russian. What more could they possibly have asked for?

Edmonton


Longest Cup Drought :: 21 years and counting
Playoff Drought :: This will be year 6
Worst Year in Process :: 25-45-12 62pts
Worst Attendance Year :: None. 100% every year. Go Canada
Draft Results :: Gagner (6) Hall (1) Nugent-Hopkins (1)

Edmonton is an interesting example because they are right at the forefront of the process. Two years into drafting the top pick overall, and well on their way to potentially finishing in the bottom three again this year, which will get them either a top tier defenseman, or another elite scoring forward.  I included Sam Gagner at 6th overall as a prime example of the difference between 1st and 6th. Gagner is a decent depth forward for Edmonton, and is fairly comparable to our very own Brassard.  His development is long, and his plateau is hard to anticipate. On the other end of the spectrum, Taylor Hall is a sure fire franchise player, an elite scorer within weeks of entering the NHL, and a franchise player.  The same appears to ring true for Nugent-Hopkins.

A credit to the fans in Edmonton for not faltering in attendance, or generating a bunch of ‘we deserve better’ campaigns.  They comprehend that building a winner the correct way takes time, and Edmonton, unfortunately, was extremely low on viable assets at the beginning of this process.  I will say though, in terms of comparing, they allow their youth to factor into games, and it probably makes the losing a fair bit more exciting.

So back to Columbus. For arguments sake, I’ll set it up the same way:

Longest Cup Drought :: 10 years and counting
Playoff Drought :: 7 years
Worst Year in Process :: 22-47-8-5 57pts
Worst Attendance Year :: 13,658 10/11
Draft Results :: Brassard (6) Johansen (4)

I left off Nash, and really only added Brassard in reference to comments made earlier because they were not in the same scenario that my case studies were in prior to this year.  The Jackets have made a history out of drafting 6-10 each year, and simply have not played bad enough to build through the draft.  Their scouting department takes a hit every year for not striking gold in the middle of the first round, and while I can understand the disappointment, I also recognize that those complaints aren’t exactly fair or realistic.

What they need to do, quite frankly, is lose.  If they are going to be a team like Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Edmonton who is actively building through the draft, the Jackets need to play bad enough to acquire at worst, a top three pick.  Depth is great, and players like John Moore(21st) and Derick Brassard (6th) will do well to help the team in the long run, but they need a small group, even if it is only two players, who are defined as franchise level players upon their entry into the NHL.

The Jackets are nowhere near tolerating the droughts of some NHL teams in terms of winning a Stanley Cup.  They are undoubtedly one of the least successful in terms of making the playoffs, but the proper build is what will change that for the long term. Rather than paying into free agency, why not develop talent.  Stop bringing in bandaids, and let the youth create an identity for the team and the franchise, not unlike what Edmonton is allowing.

If we expect a winner, it’s time to reconsider the strategy. But if that strategy is going to be to build like these teams, get ready for at least another year of disappointment.

Carry the Flag!

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Time to Turn the Page in Columbus

Posted by Canadan82 on January 24, 2012
Team Discussion / 2 Comments

At some point, after the bitter pill of another loss is swallowed, the patience deteriorates into extreme dissatisfaction.  For me, last night was simply that kind of night.  It was right around the point when the first period finished, with the Jackets surrendering twelve shots to the Predators in the first period while only mustering three of their own.  walking into the dressing room without a pulse, without a goal, and me without patience.

This has been written before.  The Jackets lost, and they never really had the on ice presentation of threatening to win at any point in the game. Sure, Nash made a tremendous play to tie the game at one apiece, but there would never be another scenario where I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of a goal.  They lack confidence.  They lack resolve.  They lack a lot of things.

I’d call this a recap but there really isn’t much point in recapping something that has been repeated over, and over, and over again this year.  Instead, I am going to offer this: I’m ready for the purge.

Steve Mason

It is time for him to find a new home.  Not because I am in the percentage of Jackets fans who want to throw a large portion of the Jackets failures on his shoulders.  I want him gone because this team doesn’t have a backbone when he’s in net.  I ran these numbers on twitter last night, but I will go ahead and share them again here.

In the Last Six Starts by Mason
- Team has averaged 1.0 goals for
- Team has averaged 32.66 shots on the opposing net (196 total)
- Team has allowed an average of 27.5 shots on net (165 total)

In the Last Six Starts by Sanford
- Team has averaged 2.33 goals for
- Team has averaged 25.67 shots on the opposing net (154 total)
- Team has allowed an average of 29.0 shots on net (174 total)

For reference, the worst team in the league in goals for is Los Angeles who average 2.1 goals per game.  What I see above is a team who can’t execute with the puck, yet are more offensively inclined when Mason is in the net.  I don’t have an impressive chart to show the quality of goals being scored by the opposition, but that’s not exactly my point.  I am NOT here saying Mason is playing to the level of a top tier NHL goaltender.  I am simply contesting two things.  First, even if he was, he would still only be around 1-5 over his last six starts, and second, this team flat out doesn’t have the ability to give him room to build the necessary confidence.

With all that in mind, I hope they deal him to a team who can properly groom him into a top tier player, because I think that ability is 100% within him.  I see this as a benefit for Mason as a person, and I see it as a benefit for this insanely fragile roster who can’t seem to play quality hockey in front of him.  Get rid of the excuse they think they have for playing poorly, and finally, the blame will rest entirely on their own shoulders.

Vinny Prospal

I am neither a Prospal lover or a Prospal hater, but he has more than served his purpose in Columbus.  While his early season determination and style benefited the Jackets, his compete level has dropped significantly since the beginning of the season and teams will get less and less interested in him (in my opinion) the longer the season goes on.  He is no longer a quality factor on the opposite wing of Rick Nash, and is often trailing in the play rather than being on the far side as a passing option.

I recognize this opinion won’t be a popular one and I am fine with that, but just as I called out Nash earlier on in the year (he’s playing very well of late), I am fully prepared to call out Vinny and simply ask this: When was the last time he did something to merit the high praise he gets? — It’s time to allow him the ability to move on, and provide the Jackets with a mid to high end pick or prospect from a team in need of depth scoring for a long playoff run.

Vermette – Pahlsson – Huselius – Clitsome – Etc

These are all players (well, maybe not Clitsome at this point) who may benefit the Jackets more in their return than what they are producing on the ice.  Vermette is a tremendous faceoff winner who could be highly sought after by a team struggling on the draw.  He is also capable of playing a top six role with a great deal of penalty killing experience.  Pahlsson is a shutdown specialist who serves a large purpose for any team trying to be more proficient defensively against the top teams in the league, and Huselius (when not injured) provides and excellent injection of scoring when given a couple players to feed him the puck.

These are all players who should provide ample return.  Huselius is an interesting example because of his injuries, and because I wouldn’t hate seeing him return, but he’s an aging forward who would probably enjoy a cup run.  For the others, it is simply making room for off-season additions this summer.

I don’t expect Howson to start making the trades I have hoped for all year.  It is not the time for that, and it is something I’ll address again in the off-season.  What I am interested in, is a roster depleted by ‘deadline’ deals in a sellers market.  As much as I am sick of the losing, for some strange reason, I would feel better if it were because they dealt away their depth talent for futures.  There is no point in watching games like I had to endure last night with a ‘full’ (give or take 20 million in injury players) roster.

I have almost completely moved on from this season.  My ‘fandom’ isn’t being questioned or anything, I just have no emotion for the losing anymore.  I look at teams like Chicago, Edmonton (still) and more notably Pittsburgh, and I see cities that were absolutely terrible for years, only to receive high end picks and acquire franchise player after franchise player:

2003 :: Pittsburgh :: Fleury (1st)
2004 :: Pittsburgh :: Malkin (2nd)
2005 :: Pittsburgh :: Crosby (1st)
2006 :: Pittsburgh :: Staal (2nd)
2006 :: Chicago :: Toews (3rd)
2007 :: Chicago :: Kane (1st)
2010 :: Edmonton :: Hall (1st)
2011 :: Edmonton :: Nugent-Hopkins (1st)

As you can see, these three teams benefited enormously by drafting in the top spots.  I listed eight players and every single one of them, aside from maybe Staal, are top tier franchise level players (or have the appearance of such).  It is a painful process to suck as hard as a team like Pittsburgh did for four years, but their turnaround is nothing short of phenomenal.  A franchise goalie, two franchise centers, and a top six center.  Talk about being given their future without any real drafting/development/trading/signing.

I bring that up simply to say, be patient.  Don’t watch to lose, but don’t get upset when the Jackets do lose.  It can only bring good things in a season that is beyond repair.  In the meantime, it is time to watch this team as it is dismantled, and hope that the experiences by the younger players like Savard, Moore, Kubalik, Atkinson, Calvert, and Johansen benefit them in the future. It’s time to stop playing Nash with the likes of Vermette and Prospal, and start playing him with up-tempo players like Brassard who will help Nash to play at the speed that suits him best.

Carry the Flag.

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Heart Rate: “Pieces of Flair”

Posted by AlisonL on January 23, 2012
Team Discussion / 3 Comments
Office Space. Only one of the best movies ever. Its chock full of eternally quotable scenes. And, when we first heard from new “interim” Coach Todd Richards it immediately called the movie to mind once again. One of the first points Richards was sure to make was that this was an opportunity for players to earn their way: playing time, line positioning, recognition, keeping a spot on the roster…all of that was implied as out there to be earned. In a way, Richards was challenging the players to go above and beyond, to add “pieces of flair”.I’ve included the scene below for your reference, but it does ring true. While the movie is totally tongue in cheek, at various points this season, this is what some of the fans – myself included – have asked for: show us that you’re going above and beyond. Show us you’re not just going through the motions. And do all this because you want to.

So Far Richards seems to be holding true to his word. Brassard, who’s arguably playing without the weight of the world on his shoulders any more has been elevated to the top lines – and he’s playing like he wants to stay. Derek Dorsett – long beloved here ;) – and known for his work ethic has been awarded the “A” and was selected to take part in the shoot out this past Saturday versus Detroit. Now – you know I’d love a team full of Dorse’s any day – but that choice was probably based a lot more on heart and his “never quit attitude” versus pure skill. (LOVE YOU #DD!!!! ;) )

Arguably, many of the players are taking note. While we’re still not sure that we’re not just still in a “new coach bump” we’ve seen better and better play (even if the record doesn’t totally reflect that). And comparing practices I’ve attended under Arniel vs. under Richards, the team is definitely more engaged, and showing more desire.

So, I thought I’d offer a nudge. A word of encouragement if you will to our boys…we’re playing Nashville tonight – and while the outcome of this season is pretty much cemented, the effort and “heart” from our players does not need to be equally doomed. So why not give it to those dang Predators just one. more. time.

Who will come up with their extra pieces of flair tonight?

#CalltoArms

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January 16-22 Blue Jackets Prospect Week In Review

Posted by CBJProspects on January 22, 2012
Prospects / No Comments
Well seeing as I didnt recieve a DM or a fax(BTTF2 reference anyone?) with YOURE FIRED!!! on it so I guess I better get going.
It was a ROUGH!!! weekend in Springfield not only did both goalies have GAAs a bit under 5 and save percentages in the low 80s. The Falcons went 0-3 last week getting outscored 15-10 allowing nine of those 15 in the first period. Leading the was Andrew Joudrey with 2 goals(6,7) and a assist, Ill admit even I forget about Joudrey being down there or at least I have to check if he’s under contract with the CBJ which he is. Other Falcons with multiple points include every Jacket fans favorite Mogwai Cam Atkinson who scored goals 22 and 23 last week moving him into second in the AHL in goal scoring. Alexandre Giroux and Nicholas Drazenovic each had a goal and a assist while 4 Falcons had 2 assists including Dane Byers(gotta love the NHL-AHL justice system) Maksim Mayorov, Martin St. Pierre and Brett Regner. Now let’s get negative the Falcons goalies were abysmal non Blue Jacket property Manny Legace went 0-2 with a 4.79GAA and a .811 save percentage playing in all three games, he started off allowing 5 goals in not even half a game a game in which ex Miami Redhawk Andy Miele had 3 assists on his bobblehead night no less(life size I hear). Legace then at least played the whole game on Sunday(the only Falcon goalie to do that this weekend) allowing 4 goals on 19 shots. Now to Mark Dekanich…Mark Dekanich the guy we thought might help the Jackets season. Dekanich after stopping 14 of 14 in the game in which Legace allowed 5 Mark got the start against Albany and made it through the first period(to quote Mork from Ork “heavy sigh”) Legace closed out the game stopping 18 of 19. What had to make this game sting even more is that Scott Howson was watching this brutal outing for Dekanich.
Lets keep the ECHL update brief the Express went 1-1 last week with Steven Delisle being the only Jacket prospect to play in either game. Allen York served as AHL goalie Peter Mannino’s backup. Delisle played in Saturday’s loss to Cincinnati a game in which he was a -2 with no points after being sent down earlier in the day. I feel bad for Allen and Steven or as they should be called now the yo-yo boys after both have been piling up the frequent flyer miles. Im considering this season a wash for Allen since he cant seem to get settled in with a team either because of injuries a level higher or some AHL team in Canada sent down its third goalie.
Boone Jenner-Oshawa Generals(OHL)
Stats 33GP 18-21-39 +7 53PIM
It was a 3 in 3 weekend for Boone and the Generals starting off with a quick one game road trip to Ottawa for a game(highlights about 1:10 in) against fellow CBJ prospect Dalton Smith and the 67s. Boone had a assist his 20th on the game’s opening goal Nicklas Jensen’s 1st shorthanded goal of the season, the Generals lost that game 8-3. The General’s next game was the Boone Jenner Show(needs a theme song) Jenner picked up his first career hat trick then adding a assist and was a +5 and of course was named first star. Oshawa finished the weekend with a 3-0 win over Barrie but Boone had no points in the win. So here’s how Boone’s weekend ended up a 2-1 record for the Generals and Boone had 3 goals and 2 assists and was a +6 with six penalty minutes.
Dalton Smith-Ottawa 67s(OHL)
Stats 35GP 14-9-23 -3 57PIM
In three games last week Dalton continued his strong play of late picking up a point in each of Ottawa’s games last week. The 67s started the week in Peterborough and in the 9-4 romp Dalton scored his 13th of the season. Next it was back home to welcome the Generals in the 8-3 Ottawa win Dalton scored 14th of the season on the power play also adding his eigth assist on teammate Tyler Toffoli’s 35th of the season. On Sunday Kitchener came to town and the 67s finished off the weekend with its closest win of the weekend taking a 4-3 descision from the Rangers, Dalton had a assist in the win. With points in all three games Dalton is now on a four game point streak and has five points in that span.
Brandon Archibald-Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
Stats 45GP 1-11-12 -6 52PIM
It was rough weekend for Brandon after missing the Spirit’s shootout loss to Barrie with a injury, Brandon played in “one of the weirdest hockey games he’s ever been part of“. Which I can understand I mean how many 9-8 hockey games have you seen. The Spirit were trailing 5-2 the team exploded for five straight in the second. Brandon had a assist in the wacky Spirit win, I think it shows how rough of the years been in Saginaw is that Brandon’s 12 points lead the Spirit D in scoring while the team’s leading scorer has 56 points. Then in a game against Mississauga
Brandon suffered a injury when he took a slapshot of the calf and was seen on crutches after the game.
Lukas Sedlak-Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
Stats 33GP 14-19-33 +12 38PIM
Me and my big blog after raving about Sedlak’s strong play of late he went pointless in the Sag’s 2 games last week but won 59% of his faceoffs in the team’s two games.
Petr Straka-Rimouski Oceanic(QMJHL)
Stats 35GP 10-13-23 -7 21PIM
Petr Straka went scoreless in the Oceanic’s two games last week a win over Chicoutimi and a loss to Baie-Comeau.
Mathieu Corbiel-Saint John Sea Dogs(QMJHL)
Stats 35GP 26-9 .905SV% 2.05GAA 4 Shutouts
I was wrong last week when I said Corbeil would sit one game because of his backup earning a shutout in his last start but as usual I was wrong. Mathieu got the start against his old team the Halifax Mooseheads and Corbeil stopped 29 of 32 to pick up his 26th win of the season. When Rob Kunz asked me on twitter about the CBJ goalie prospects I told him Corbeil plays on a juggernaut and seeing as Corbeil has won 39 games in Saint John after winning only 18 in Halifax. Corbeil then didnt play in the Sea Dogs win over Acadie-Bathurst.
Michael Chaput-Shawnigan Cataractes(QMJHL)
Stats 39GP 12-31-43 +26 33PIM
In the Cat’s win over Quebec Michael earned his 31st assist of the season in his 38th game of the season after having 34 in 62 games last year with the now deceased Lewiston MAINEiacs. Then in Shawingan’s loss to Gatineau with only 37 seconds left in the game it got nasty when one of Chaput’s team crashed the goalie a little to hard in the Olympiques eyes leading to a full on line brawl earning Michael the normal major and 2 game misconducts.(Chaput is number 62 in the video). Time for a quick plug at the start of the year all players on Shawinigan had to shutdown there twitter accounts but for some reason there all back until the playoffs, you can follow Michael at @MichaelChaput62.
Austin Madaisky-Kamloops Blazers(WHL)
Stats 47GP 9-27-36 +16 52PIM
Ok this weeks stats and last weeks arent gonna add up because the WHL decided to add a few assists to Austin’s totals(not that he’s complaining). Onto this week, in 3 wins last week part on a 9 game win streak. Austin had a assist last week and that came in the Blazer’s biggest win of the season in a battle of the top two teams in the WHL.
Oliver Gabriel-Portland Winterhawks(WHL)
Stats 15GP 6-4-10 +2 24PIM
In three games last week Oliver had three goals all in a game against the top team in the WHL(at the time) the Tri-City Americans. Oliver had his first career hat trick(goals 1,2,3) and fourth 3 point game of his career in the Winterhawks franchise record 17th straight home win. After that it was off to Spokane for a two game road trip in which the Hawks lost both by a combined score of 11-3.
Thomas Larkin-Colgate Red Raiders(ECAC)
Stats 22GP 2-7-9 +6 30PIM
In the Raiders tie with Harvard and overtime loss to Dartmouth Larkin had no points and 2 penalty minutes in the tie with Harvard. Thomas hasnt had a point since late November.
Sean Collins-Cornell Big Red(ECAC)
Stats 19GP 6-8-14 +5 4PIM
Cornell added to the nation’s longest unbeaten streak(4-0-3) with a win and a tie last weekend beating Dartmouth in OT and then tying with Harvard. In the win on Friday Collins added to the longest point streak of his career when he had a assist for the fourth straight game, the eight assists tie his career high from last year. The streak was snapped in the game against Harvard.
In a quick they didnt play update both Martin Ouelette or Mike Reilly didnt play last week. Ouelette hasnt had a start since November 11th and since starter Dan Sullivan is also a Sophomore I’m not sure what Ouelette should do. Mike Reilly is still out with the injury I talked about in last week’s post. According to Vees broadcaster Fraser Rodgers Mike was re-evaluated today(1/23).
Trent Vogelhuber Will Weber-Miami Redhawks(CCHA)
Stats TV-24GP 2-7-9 E 43PIM WW-26GP 0-3-3 -4 26PIM
Miami swept Western Michigan last week outscoring the Broncos 7-1. Both Trent and Will went scoreless in Friday’s overtime win. Trent picked up a assist on Saturday his first since January 6th. Will Weber had no points on the weekend but was a +2 as was Trent.
Kevin Lynch Michigan Wolverines(CCHA)
Stats 26GP 4-4-8 -2 26PIM
Kevin Lynch went scoreless for the third straight weekend in Michigan’s split with Notre Dame. The Wolverines are done until February, Lynch had no points in January and was a +1 with 2 penalty minutes.
Seth Ambroz Jake Hansen-Minnesota Golden Gophers(WCHA)
Stats SA-26GP 4-3-7 +3 41PIM JH-27GP 9-15-24 +12 34PIM
The Gophers faced off with the Colorado College Tigers earning a split. Jake Hansen was the only Jackets prospect to earn a point when he had a assist on Nick Bjustad’s team leading 20th goal of the season. Jake and Seth played on the same line on Friday with Eric Haula centering the duo.
Drew Olson-Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs(WCHA)
Stats 24GP 1-2-3 +4 41PIM
S.O.P for Olson no points couple of penalty minutes on the weekend, the only minor change of pace is he was a minus for the first time since November 5 Olson had been a +10 since then.
TJ Tynan-Notre Dame Fighting Irish(CCHA)
Stats 25GP 9-24-33 +2 22PIM
Tynan and the Irish welcomed Michigan to town earning a split the Wolverines. In the game Friday TJ Tynan had 2 assists his fifth straight game with a point(even though he missed one of the Irish’s game because of the WJC). The game was Tynan’s 10th multi point game of the season. The Irish lost the game on Saturday in which Tynan went pointless snapping his streak.
Anton Forsberg-MODO(Sweden)
Stats-Main Club 9GP 3-3 .899SV% 3.08GAA U20 Team 3GP 2-0-1 .904 2.59GAA
Anton played games at both levels for MODO last week winning both games. On Wednesday Forsberg started against HV71 winning his 3rd game of the year stopping 32 of 33 in a 4-1 win over the Chainsaws(HV stands for Husquavarna the chainsaw company, sounds cooler). Then on Saturday it was back with the junior MODians…MODOrs…nevermind, in the win Anton stopped 31 of 32 to win his second with the junior club.
There you have it folks another week in the lives of the Jackets prospects as for next week the highlights are the AHL all star game that Cam Atkinson will be taking part in plus we have a big series in the NCAA with Thomas Larkin and Colgate facing off with Sean Collins and Cornell in a home and home.

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Looking Back at Day One of the 2011/2012 Season

Posted by Canadan82 on January 20, 2012
Team Discussion / No Comments

This summer marked the first real time in Blue Jackets history where the fans really and truly got what they wanted.  A number one center to play with Rick Nash, which had been the talk of the ‘needs’ list for over half of a decade.  A top tier defenseman that could generate offense with the puck and quarterback the struggling powerplay.  Another top tier prospect that could electrify the fans and become a franchise player alongside Rick Nash.

We got Carter.
We got Wiz.
We got Johansen (in the lineup).

The excitement, at least for me, was palpable. I attended the last pre-season game against Minnesota and then went on to attend eight of the first ten home games.  If you folks missed it, I would like to share a couple of my experiences because they really engaged me in the team.

First, the pre-season video which I enjoyed prior to the Minnesota game:

http://nhl.cdn.neulion.net/u/videocenter/embed.swf

I don’t have enough good things to say about it.  “I’m coming home” followed by images of the city and guys working like crazy to get better.  While I may not be a fan of the rapping in the video, the message was clear and it truly got me excited for the season.  The passion that video produced in me was enough to get me riled up for opening night, which is a different story.

Second, the opening night video and introductions:

http://nhl.cdn.neulion.net/u/videocenter/embed.swf

The music was pretty much perfect.  “Learning to walk again” with flashes of the city, the fans, the team, the pride that goes into attending a Blue Jackets game with a jersey on.  The guys coming out and having the sheets drop to them at center ice.  There was so much to embrace and watching it again last night still gives me chills.  From section 105 I watched this video, and then went home to youtube and had that song on repeat for days.  To say it had an impact on me would be putting it terribly lightly.

There is no real purpose to this post beyond taking a little trip down memory lane on this season, and sharing a couple of intros that I believe were tremendously done by the Blue Jackets organization.  I hope they can find a way to top themselves next year, because I can’t wait for that feeling of hope/optimism to return in a big way for the 2012/2013 campaign.

Carry the Flag!

Tags: ,

Game Recap :: Columbus vs. Nashville 1/19

Posted by Canadan82 on January 20, 2012
Game Discussion / No Comments

On a snowy Thursday night in January, I was ready to forgive the small crowd at Nationwide.  I had an opportunity to make the 1.5 hour drive and backed out on account of the weather, but 17,233 other folks braved the storm and the team record in order to watch them play.  “Gotta See it Live” in full effect apparently, and if you’re one of those who did attend, I commend you.  17k for a weekday game of the 30th place team (by seven points) is darn near unheard of.  The legitimacy of Columbus as a hockey market continues to grow.

Unfortunately the team didn’t do the crowd any favours on the scoreboard, but they did manage to make a game of it, including a third period that saw them outshoot the Predators by a big margin (shots were 18-8).  Full marks to Rinne who played a tremendous game of hockey, but more on that later.  I did not like what I saw in the second period, as the Jackets were outshot and played a completely different game from the first.  Fortunately for those watching, it was short lived, and they found life again for the final frame, but it seems like the same old story for Columbus, where they simply can’t put together a full sixty minute effort.

It was a shame to see all of those rebounds find their way back into Rinne.  Once again I will say his capacity to keep pucks out of the net was extremely high last night, but there were a couple of occasions where a raised puck or a puck shot in a better direction would have easily beat him.  In fact, Nash had two specifically exciting opportunities, but the reactionary decision was to hammer them on net low and hard, and unfortunately they were stopped.

Derick Brassard was about as notable as you can get in a game playing beside Rick Nash.  He controlled play when the puck was on his stick, finding creative ways to get the puck on net (he had five shots) and get his entire line into the offense.  Beyond that, his efforts last night continue to build on what has been a fantastic turnaround in his season, and one that hopefully removes his name from the trade block.  He was given the third star by FSN Ohio for yet another extremely solid performance.

Rick Nash is also worth talking about.  Not only was he relevant on the puck (for the most part), he was positioning himself in front of the Nashville net and hammering at rebounds.  If you haven’t read it from me before, I am a HUGE proponent of getting his big frame into the low slot/crease area in order to generate offense, and while he didn’t score, he had some tremendous opportunities.  I am going to put that one on Todd Richards since Nash hasn’t been there all year, and once again hope for more of the same moving forward.

Just as the offensive game was slightly to moderately disappointing despite quite a bit of effort, so was the defensive zone and goaltending.  I thought Mason played a convincing game, letting only a cross crease one timer and a tap home on the powerplay get by him.  I have created a benchmark of expectations on the netminders based on league averages, with Boston and St Louis leading the pack at 2.0 and 1.9 goals against per game on average.

With that in my head, I really don’t expect Mason or Sanford to play at the top of the league average, so anything below three goals allowed is pretty much accepted.  Two goals that were pretty much un-save-able, and another twenty-two saves in the game giving him a .917 save percentage at the end of the game.  If I am looking back to the #CBJ twitter feed meltdown prior to the game starting on account of Mason getting the nod, I think .917 is nothing short of sparkling, especially considering Mason had about as much chance of saving the third goal (empty netter) as he did saving the first two that got past him.

To the defense, I can probably give them a pass.  Nikitin/Tyutin had one truly bonehead play together in the second that lead to the first goal, which happens, but I won’t throw their entire night away on one play.  Moore was well out of position on the second goal, but again, it’s one play in a long game where they appeared to be quite strong defensively.  All except for David Savard, who had a number of truly unfortunate plays that lead to turnovers, and shots on Steve Mason.  With Clitsome being benched for the last handful of games, you have to wonder how much mediocrity Richards will tolerate out of Savy before he sends him down to Springfield to iron out his game.  He has had a very up and down year.

Quick Notes

- Brett Lebda signed today to a one year contract after news of Martinek being out for the remainder of the year.  That deal puts him on the NHL roster, leading me to believe that Savard will be heading to Springfield very soon.  John Moore and Aaron Johnson are the other two way defensive contracts on the team, but I don’t see either being sent back.

- I still can’t get over seventeen THOUSAND people on a Thursday night.  I give this fan base so much credit for sticking with them through the truly bad times and being passionate regardless of their record. It’s time to bring a winner to Columbus.

- The Jackets are now on a six game road trip.  They will not be back to Nationwide until February 7th against Minnesota.  That’s a long time to be away from home, and I can’t help but wonder how many of these players we won’t see in a blue jersey again.  It’s a troubling thought, but per usual, it’s the way it goes when you have their record.

- Rick Nash will be getting his jersey retired this evening by his former OHL team, the London Knights.  I find it great that junior clubs do that, and Nash is a tremendously storied player with his Richard, an Olympic gold, etc. Here’s hoping they can add ‘that other trophy’ to his list of accomplishments within his current contract length.

Carry the Flag!

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