Hello all – time to recap how our CHL prospects did last round. Overall we had five prospects playing in the conference semifinals with three moving on which will provide another prospect matchup in the OHL Western Conference Final.
Oscar Dansk didn’t play in any game of the Otters four game sweep of Sault Ste. Marie and, unless Devin Williams falters, I didn’t see Oscar making an appearance in the Western Conference Finals against Guelph (Editor’s note: Oscar did start the game last night with not so great results – we’ll have more on that in our next update)
Kerby Rychel-Guelph Storm (OHL Western Conference)-Won Series 4-1
Round Stats 5GP 1-5-6 +4 2PIM
Playoff Stats 10GP 2-11-13 +7 8PIM
Kerby and the Storm faced off against the London Knights and picked up a 4-1 series win. In game one Kerby put the icing on the cake of a 6-4 win when he scored an empty net goal with only 10 seconds remaining. The goal came when London’s mammoth Russian Nikita Zadorov played the puck and cleared it…right to Storm forward Jason Dickinson who skated in drawing the attention of two Knights. This allowed him to find a wide open Kerby who scored for his second of the playoffs. Kerby was held scoreless in game two – a 7-2 Storm loss. The Storm is 1-2 in the playoffs when Kerby is held off the scoresheet.
Continue reading CHL Playoff 2nd Round Recap
So a 4-3 game one loss is in the books. I guess you could call it a moral victory, although I would call it a missed opportunity. Marc-Andre Fleury was as shaky as advertised in the first half of the game, the game was more or less even at 5 on 5, but the Penguins powerplay and a few key mistakes brought down the upset attempt. I’m only going to breakdown two goals completely, as for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot of hidden elements in most of the goals. The Jackets opened the scoring with a huge individual effort from Brandon Dubinsky (although Jack Johnson scored the goal). The Penguins followed that up with a Jussi Jokinen goal that resulted from Sergei Bobrovsky misplaying the puck, Fedor Tyutin misplaying the puck, Derek MacKenzie letting his man go (probably thinking Tyutin was going to corral the puck), and Bob being a little out of position after scrambling back into the net. The Jackets grabbed the lead right back on a Mark Letestu powerplay goal. I like the puck movement on that goal, really spreading out the zone and forcing Fleury to move. The goal ultimately came off a scramble that saw Fleury needing to move across the net. They have to keep that up. MacKenzie made up for his earlier gaffe, with a great individual effort on the PK to take the puck from Kris Letang and beat Fleury on a breakaway. The Penguins made it 3-2 on a powerplay goal by their second unit, off a great tip by Beau Bennett. I would have maybe liked to see Dubinsky pick up Bennett as he comes across there, but no major mistakes on that goal.
Continue reading Goal Breakdowns: CBJ vs. Pit Game One
The Blue Jackets marched into Pittsburgh last night and for 23 minutes of play looked like world beaters. They were skating hard, they were checking brutally, they were very clearly matching and over matching the Penguins’ efforts. A beautiful finish by Jack Johnson from an even more beautiful pass by Brandon Dubinsky. A powerplay that was eager to respond to the Penguins’ own notch just under a minute earlier. The Jackets finished their scoring on the night with an amazing effort by Derek MacKenzie who made Kris Letang look like a fool and potted a SHG in his first career playoff game. Somewhere past that though, the Penguins either adjusted or the Blue Jackets let off the gas; via mental mistakes or physical limitations; and managed to walk out of Consol with a 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
This was my first ever NHL playoff game. I wasn’t here for 2009’s quick and embarrassing exit, but I can tell you that this had me pacing, watching something else out of nerves for a few moments…and then coming right back to it. One of the saddest things in the world is seeing your team score a SHG to go up 2 goals in a playoff game and not having someone to high five. I won’t lie, when I saw the scoreboard and the “Eastern Conference Quarterfinals” graphic below it I started tearing up. It’s a beautiful thing.
3rd Star: Jack Johnson
Jack scored the first goal and he did it looking pretty suave but he took a penalty that led to a Penguins goal and that wasn’t a good move on his part. But if we were going to give a single star to the Blue Jackets, I would probably have given that star to Derek MacKenzie. His short-handed goal let the air out of the arena and put a smile on an entire state’s face.
Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ PIT Game 1
The glass is now full. Raise it, take a hearty swig and savor the taste. It is the taste of hard work, perseverance and success.
“People waited for us to falter this year…and this team never did.” ~Todd Richards
They could have faltered when Bob went down for six weeks. But they never did. They could have faltered when Gaborik went down and it became clear that he wouldn’t be much of a factor this year. But they never did. They could have faltered when Horton went down and they faced a brutal stretch of games with the season on the line. But they never did. Consistently, throughout this remarkable season, the Blue Jackets faced stern challenges that many did not expect them to meet. Consistently they stood and delivered.
It is the taste of pride, anticipation and hope. No matter what happens next, the Blue Jackets and their fans can take great pride in what has already taken place. But we know that with this team, we can anticipate more. There is youth. There is talent. There is an undeniable chemistry. There is hope.
The glass is full, but it’s OK to keep pouring. Let it spill over the sides. There’s more where it came from. Catch the runoff with your tongue and have a taste. It tastes great, and it is more filling. It is the taste of playoff hockey.
It’s pretty crazy to think about how much has changed since the Jackets last playoff appearance. Steve Mason was the savior. Rick Nash was the franchise. Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek were the future. RJ Umberger looked like a steal. Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda were a beloved shutdown pair. Ken Hitchcock was coaching them up. Scott Howson looked like a genius. Well Mason is the savior in Philadelphia. Nash is the franchise in New York. Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard are the present in New York and Philadelphia. Mike Commodore is somewhere. Jan Hejda is a beloved shutdown defender in Colorado. Ken Hitchcock is coaching up St. Lous. And if you are paying attention, Scott Howson actually still looks like a pretty good GM. Make no mistake, this is Howson’s team. He brought nearly every single player on this roster into the organization. The most prominent player expected to play in this series that was a Jarmo/JD pickup is probably Blake Comeau. Both goaltenders were Howson pickups. Seven of the eight defensemen who might see time were Howson pickups (Nick Schultz being the exception). Comeau, Jack Skille and Corey Tropp are the only Jarmo pickups at forward (plus the injured Nathan Horton). I’ve already dwelled on this more than I planned on, I just wanted to make sure it was out there that this team was built by Howson. Moving on.
The Pittsburgh Penguins. Funny how the Jackets first two playoff opponents have been Detroit and Pittsburgh. I know some fans are concerned about Pens fans taking over the building. Think back on that last playoff series, and remember the atmosphere. Nationwide was rocking with CBJ fans, and I expect the same this time around. If Detroit fans couldn’t overtake the rink, I don’t see how it should be much different this time. As for the on-ice product, I expect this to be a very close series. At even strength at least. The two teams are actually very close when it comes to 5v5 play. In shots for percentage, they rank 13th (Pittsburgh) and 14th (Columbus). In Fenwick Close, they rank 12th (Columbus) and 16th (Pittsburgh). In Corsi Close, they rank 13th (CBJ) and 16th (Pit). In goals for percentage, they rank 8th (Pit) and 12th (CBJ). On other words, the Jackets are slightly better at controlling the play, while the Penguins score a tiny bit more. Which makes sense, considering the talent they have, as Crosby, Malkin, and others have shown they (and their linemates) can consistently score on more of their shots than league average. But then again, the Jackets have Bobrovsky. Like I said, this should be a very close series at even strength. Pittsburgh has been quite a bit better on special teams than Columbus. So on the surface, the edge lies with the Penguins. Let’s look deeper, comparing the forwards, defense, goaltending, and special teams. And maybe we’ll see how the Jackets might be able to pull of the upset.
Continue reading Playoff Preview: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh
Greetings all! Back again with the week in review for the Blue Jackets prospects, ok two weeks but the CBJ were so busy last week and it would have been a light update from me so my superiors said I could take some time off.
Starting off in Springfield, two weeks ago the AHL decided to make it “lets screw with the Falcons normal routine” week as the team opened with an 11AM game followed by a trip into THE FUTURE… or St John’s Newfoundland where it’s an hour and a half ahead of Eastern Standard Time. We begin in Bridgeport, CT for a game against the Sound Tigers. Anton Forsberg made his North American debut in net. In the first, the Tigers’ goalie tried to play the puck but he fired it right into Dana Tyrell who found Jake Hansen who beat Poulin back to the crease to make it 1-0. Three minutes later, Marko Dano struck for his first North American goal when he took a pass from Cody Goloubef and snapped off a shot to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead. Late in the third, the Sound Tigers spoiled Anton’s shutout bid before Cody Bass scored an empty netter. In the 3-1 win Anton Forsberg made 25 saves and was named second star with Dano being named first star.
Continue reading March 31st-April 13 AHL/European Prospect Review
OK everyone, we’re in the playoffs. You know what that means, right? Playoff beard time! Just to make things interesting, here at the Union Blue we’re going to offer up an autographed puck to two lucky fans who participates in this time-honored playoff tradition! The rules are simple:
- Once the regular season ends, no shaving. It’s bad luck. If you want to start from clean shaven, get that last shave in now because hopefully you won’t be using that razor and Barbasol for a while!
- You must submit a before and an after picture. Before picture can be submitted any time before puck drop of the 1st playoff game. Copy @TheUnionBlue and apply a hashtag of #beardbrigade. After pictures can be submitted within one day of our elimination or hoisting the cup.
- I understand that some of the members of the community may have challenges in growing a playoff beard for reasons of gender or age. Don’t worry, you’re not left out! Submit a before and after as well and get creative with what you make your beard out of! Cotton balls? Sharpies? $1 cotton candy? Anything goes!
- Winners will be chosen by resident Union Blue beard experts based upon sheer beard volume, beard styling, originality with bonus points going to those who show the most pride in their work in progress!
Also, let’s see progress pics along the way! Any time you want to show off your finely quaffed face fur, let’s see it! Best of luck everyone, can’t wait to see your submissions!
HOW BOUT THEM JACKETS? What a game. Tuesday’s game marked the final regular season home game for the Jackets and let’s just be real, how good does it feel to say that and have to point out the difference. For those of us who have followed this team for many a year it’s truly a pleasure – and for fans “new” and “old” tonight was a real hum dinger. Phoenix was in town also fighting for their playoff lives and what you saw tonight was just a taste of legitimate playoff hockey can be. After a slow first period, both teams delivered a gritty play, swallowed whistles, intense crowd, atmosphere for days…and an OT winner. More than the sweet sweet emotion of the entire game for the team to come back from a late late tying goal only two games after losing a game in similar fashion shows exactly what this club is capable of. Let’s get on to look (and celebrate) the three stars per NHL.com tonight.
3rd Star: Boone Jenner. Yep. 19:35 on ice, 53.8% Corsi and one very big goal to start the scoring. Ryan Johansen is in the spotlight but don’t sleep on the young Jenner who is bringing a man’s game in a first year NHL player’s body. Perhaps most impressive to me was when Boone’s composure cracked for just a bit after Doan went after him. Boone leads the team in drawn penalties – his composure is unreal. When Doan came after him, and Johansen had to hold the Coyote back, you saw Jenner respond. It was a flash of emotion from a very controlled player. He got himself back in check quickly but this guy gets it and he cares quite a bit about making this team a winner. After losing his opposite winger when Horton went off with an injury, Jenner steadied the Johansen line and was a big body and a big presence all night. Continue reading Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: Phoenix @ CBJ
The Jackets took down the Isles in a slightly early evening affair (not many 6pm starts). It was something if a strange game, very un-Jacket-y, with the majority of the teams four goals coming on the powerplay. The shots, shot attempts, and pretty much every stat were pretty close. This confuses some people, but we’ll get to that. Faceoffs were the one big difference, as the Jackets finished with 65% of the draws in their favor. Oh yeah, the score was also pretty different.
Third Star: Mark Letestu
Letestu was solid tonight, finishing with an assist on Boone Jenner’s game opening marker, and a goal capping off a fantastic passing play. Oddly, I didn’t feel like there were many standouts tonight (other than the guy I’ll talk about next). I just felt like most of the team was solid. I did like seeing Letestu being engaged physically, especially the nice hit he laid on Cal Clutterbuck (just before John Persson took out Derek MacKenzie for no reason, then slashed him while he was on the ice).
Continue reading Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Islanders
Hello all! With the CHL playoffs second round getting under way this weekend it’s time to recap how our eight CHL prospects did in the first round.
Oscar Dansk-Erie Otters (OHL Western Conference)-Won Series 4-1
Series Stats 1GP 0-0 .800Sv% 6.56GAA
Oscar and the Otters opened the playoffs against the Saginaw Spirit in a 3-6 matchup. Otters coach Kris Knoblauch decided to go with backup (1B?) Devin Williams who is a native of Saginaw but you hope a coach wouldn’t start the local boy for that reason only in the playoffs. Luckily, the move worked. The Otters got off to a 2-0 lead before letting Oscar start game three. Oscar got that start and, well, it wasn’t his best night. He was pulled for the third time in four games after allowing five goals on 25 shots. Williams entered the game but unlike the other times, the Otters couldn’t come back and lost game three 7-6 in overtime. Here are coach Knoblauch’s postgame comments on Oscar along with a quick comment from Oscar on his recent struggles. The Otters won games four and five and advanced to face the West Division champs – the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. These teams have met twice in the regular season with Erie winning 3-0 with Williams in net and then getting blown out later in the season.
Kerby Rychel-Guelph Storm (OHL Western Conference)-Won Series 4-1
Series Stats 5GP 1-6-7 +3 6PIM
Kerby and the Storm faced off against the Plymouth Whalers and fellow CBJ prospect Gianluca Curcuruto in the 1-8 matchup. Kerby didn’t earn any points in the game one win but collected his first career playoff multi-point game in game two – a 3-0 victory. In the first, Kerby took a pass from Zack Mitchell to start a bang bang passing play with Matt Finn finishing the play. Kerby’s second point was an odd one as a Guelph player kept the puck in, Kerby stopped it allowing Nick Ebert to pick it up and fire a shot that went off a Whalers skate to make it 2-0. After being held scoreless in a game three loss, Kerby got back on the scoresheet in game four. In the second, Kerby started a rush up ice getting the puck to Justin Auger with Auger finishing it in a 7-2 win. Game five was a big one for Kerby – he pretty much put the team on his back and collected four points in a 8-3 win. Kerby’s first point came late in the first. It’s hard to tell if he was trying to do the between the leg shot or a pass but whatever it was, he got the puck to Ebert who banged a shot past the Whalers goalie. Kerby’s three point third period started when after a board battle the puck went to Kerby who tapped it to Zac Leslie. Leslie passed it back to Kerby who unleashed a howitzer to make it 5-2. 1:31 later, Kerby worked a give and go with Ryan Horvat that Horvat finished. Later in the third Kerby curled to the point and made a pass to Scott Kosmachuk who seny a crosscrease pass to Nick Ebert whose slapshot made it 8-3. Up next for the Storm is a matchup with the London Knights. The teams met six times in the regular season splitting the series.
Continue reading CHL Playoff 1st Round Recap