Archive for the Standings Category

The Glass is Now 3/4 Full

It was three months ago and some change, December 5th to be exact, when I sat down to write for the first time here at The Union Blue. On the day prior  CBJ fans had suffered a significant lower body injury when it was announced that Bob was going to be out for 4-6 weeks. Gaborik was already out and Horton was at least a month away from being in. Things looked bleak. Looking though my blue tinted glasses, I somehow mustered up the courage to declare that the glass was 1/3 full.

cbj-metropolitan-cocktailI’m ready to upgrade my assessment. The glass is now 3/4 full. Actually, after the Blue Jackets clipped the Red Wings last night at Nationwide, the glass is now 77.7% full. What’s in it? A Metropolitan of course.

Three months ago, the Blue Jackets were three points out of  third place in the Metro. But as I noted back on December 5th, if the CBJ were in any of the other three divisions, they would have been 10, 13 or 15 points out of that third spot. That was all the oil I needed to keep the flame of hope burning. Three months later, the Blue Jackets are sitting in the third playoff spot in the Metro, only a point out of second. And the flame burns as brightly as it ever has during the season. I’m not going to say that I told you so (although I realize that by saying I’m not telling you that I told you so it actually sounds like I am telling you that I told you so).

The Metro has become a bare knuckle brawl, but we kind of figured that would be the case. The Jackets have 73 points, one point behind the Rangers and the same point total as Philly. New Jersey and Washington are right there with 71 and 70 points respectively. Meanwhile, the Metro is catching up to the other three divisions slightly in terms of the point totals for the top three teams in each division. Still, if the Jackets were in any of the other three divisions, they would be 4, 9 or 16 games out of the third spot.  And that’s after going 23-14-2 since December 5th. So the Metropolitan is certainly the drink of choice.

It’s not party time yet, which is a replacement cliche for “there still is a lot of hockey left.” So no sipping. In fact, put the glass down so you don’t spill any of it.  There is a 77.7% chance the bartender will be by to top off your glass very soon. And then we’ll drink.

The Glass Is At Least 1/3 Full

When news broke yesterday that Uncle Bob will be out four to five weeks with a groin injury, many Blue Jackets fans experienced sympathy pains in their groins. Some will see this as the death knell for the Blue Jackets’ chances of making the playoffs.  Not me. I’m going glass half-full, or maybe more like  1/3 full.

Yes, losing Bob will cause a significant increase in month-to-month sales of over-the-counter acid reducers in the Central Ohio market. But before panic sets in, let’s acknowledge that when Realignment finally came to town, it might as well have come dressed like Santa Claus riding Gary Bettman like a reindeer.  The Blue Jackets got an early holiday gift this year when they punched their ticket to to the Eastern Conference. Now that they have settled into their first season, they find themselves in the middle of what looks to be one nasty pillow fight.

Great moments are born from great opportunity. And opportunity, Blue Jackets fans, is called the Metropolitan Division.

Continue reading The Glass Is At Least 1/3 Full

Losing Streaks, Great Attendance, and Confusion

Last week I touched base on the playoff possibilities that still remained for the 2011/2012 season and shared some of the records that would give Columbus a shot of making the playoffs.  I determined based on the current point trends of the bubble teams that the Jackets would need about  96 points to make the playoffs, and that a record of 36-11-2 would get it done.

Since writing that piece, Columbus has gone 0-2-1, two games of which they absolutely should have won.  It’s nothing new.  My optimism in that post was limited, and their new ‘bubble’ record of 36-9-1 gives an even more clear indication of how impossible the playoffs will be for them this year.

Their current slide is six games long.  0-5-1.  They have not won in regulation in over a month now, and have done a tremendous job of coughing up leads at various times of the game.  They gave away a three goal lead against Nashville last week, and all but stopped being offensive last night against Calgary, giving them the open door to tie it (Yes, that was captain Jerome Iginla hanging out in front of Mason with the puck, completely undefended) and head to a shootout that lead to even more disappointment.  They also only managed one goal on twenty-eight shots, making Kiprusoff appear to be one of the greatest goalies in the league (he’s not).

The one real bright spot of this abysmal slide is that people continue to show up for games.  Here are the totals from the last five home games including their day of the week (usually weekends are stronger than weekdays)…

Calgary :: 16,985 (Tuesday)
Tampa Bay :: 16,108 (Saturday)
Los Angeles :: 16,090 (Thursday)
Vancouver :: 15,808 (Tuesday)
Boston :: 18,175 **sellout** (Saturday)

That is an average of 16,633 during that stretch, and compared to league averages puts them in the top 2/3 of the NHL on average.  Not bad considering the highest they can climb on the attendance chart currently (capacity in other buildings is substantially more) is 15th.  It brings me to a couple of conclusions:

1 – The team assumes they have the time to ‘let the team sort itself out’ without making changes.  As much as I want something to be done, and as much as I assume the entirety of the organization wants the team to win, I cannot help but think the current attendance numbers are buying both Scott Arniel and a couple of top six forwards time to figure something out.

2 – Columbus fans are suckers for punishment.  Don’t take that the wrong way.  I am openly impressed that people continue to make the trip to Nationwide to watch them give games away to teams who SHOULD be inferior on paper.  I personally haven’t seen a game live since the pathetic loss to Chicago (6-3) in mid November, and each time I almost go but back out at the last second only to watch them get throttled again, I find myself less and less upset about the decision.  Maybe that makes me a bad fan (the drive is an hour and a half both ways to get there), but then again, maybe I just want a sign from management that they won’t tolerate the losing.  **In my defense, I attended eight of the first ten home games of the season.. There is only so much an out of towner can take!

3 – This continuous drubbing from various media morons suggesting Columbus isn’t a hockey market should probably end soon.  Eventually they will start sympathizing with the Columbus fan base (who appear to be awesome) kind of like Tom Reed has been doing, wishing for a team to actually show up and play for an entire year.  Tom is absolutely right, in that this fan base deserves a winner.  They have proven time and time again that Columbus belongs in the NHL, despite the team on the ice.

I have been hunting for positives in a sea of negativity, however as the losing continues, the likelihood of positivity or optimism has become a bit unrealistic.  I am going to hope for a couple wins this week in order to get a reasonable roster review up early next week, but the longer the season goes like this, the less the points mean to the team.  Suddenly, losing is a celebration to avoid moving out of the league basement.  I think the best we Blue Jackets fans can hope for is a quality trade or a new coach with a new perspective in the coming weeks.  While I love this team on paper, they are some kind of mediocre when they hit the ice.

Carry the Flag.

Playoff Possibilities in 2011/2012

While I tune into every single Blue Jackets game with the hope of seeing a win, it would be dishonest if I claimed that I celebrate goals now the same way I did a year or two ago.  Maybe it’s the jaded expectation of seeing a lead evaporate or the anticipation of a third period collapse, but the passion into my living room shaking “GOOOAAAL” celebrations have most certainly taken a backseat to the season we as fans have been forced to accept as ‘regular’ this year.

It got me wondering though.  If the Jackets came back from Christmas and snapped into some of the best hockey they’ve played in their existence, would there be any possibility of the playoffs?  It’s a reach, and that’s fine, but I’ve heard people comment about selling a team short, and if I am going to watch these games, I may as well do so with some ridiculously blind optimism.

So I went back to see what the bottom end teams got into the playoffs with over the last couple seasons in the Western Conference.  Here are some previous year standings and some number crunching:

2010/2011

If Columbus were to play into this schedule, they would need to manage 76 points in their remaining 49 games to beat out in this case Chicago, with 98 points and a ‘tie’ for 7th.  A record that could accomplish that total would be something around 37-10-2.  To give some perspective on that kind of record, the two best teams in hockey right now are the Philadelphia Flyers (21-8-4 46 pts) and the Chicago Blackhawks (22-9-4 48 pts).  Columbus would need to better them significantly in order to achieve the record needed to make the playoffs in this scenario.

2009/2010

If Columbus were to play into these standings, they would need to manage 74 points in their remaining 49 games to beat out in this case Colorado, with 96 points and sole possession of 8th place.  A record of 36-11-2 would accomplish that total.  To give some perspective on that, they would need to win three out of every four games for the rest of the year (wouldn’t that be nice!!).

2008/2009

A finish of this point structure would give the Jackets the best opportunity, needing only 70 points to make the playoffs in this year, they could finish with a record of 33-12-4 and still beat out in this case Anaheim to do so.  While this scenario would be the most ideal, it would still provide one of the most exceptional comebacks in NHL history in order to make it in.

One final process I looked into was to consider the current bubble teams and their point per game totals to possibly provide a potential finishing number for the year.  Here is what I found their results to be:

5th: DET – 43 pts in 33 games (1.30 ppg) = 106.85 pts in 82 games
6th: STL – 42 pts in 33 games (1.27 ppg) = 104.36 pts in 82 games
7th: DAL – 39 pts in 33 games (1.18 ppg) = 96.91 pts in 82 games
8th: NSH – 38 pts in 33 games (1.15 ppg) = 94.42 pts in 82 games
—————— Hitchockian Invisible ‘bar’  —————————
9th: PHX – 39 pts in 34 games (1.15 ppg) = 94.06 pts in 82 games

Basically I took the current point total of each team and compared that with the total games played to get an average point total per game played.  The pace of these teams appear to provide Columbus with a scenario more like the 2009/2010 finish we reviewed above.  Phoenix would essentially lose out to Nashville in this case, as Nashville appears to have a slight advantage and could be more inclined to finish at 95 points, leaving Columbus the need for 96 in order to take sole possession of 8th place.

A site I really enjoy reviewing is the playoff chances that Sports Club Stats provides.  They provide not only a general percentage of the teams likelihood of making the playoffs, but also percentages on what position the team will finish out the year in.  In their case this year, at this moment, they have been given the following percentages to finish:

5th :: 0.0000161%
6th :: 0.000774%
7th :: 0.0036%
8th :: 0.0134%
9th :: 0.0475%
10th :: 0.14%
11th :: 0.432%
12th :: 1.405%
13th :: 5.359%
14th :: 32.966%
15th :: 59.625%

They also provide every single W-L-T record that would get them into that projected position.  It is a tremendous site and I strongly recommend you take a look, as it provides much better statistical insight than I could ever offer.  In any case, I think realistically the Jackets are looking at a finish in the bottom three slots in the Western Conference, pending one of the greatest displays of success I have ever seen during their final 49 games of the season.

I hope this piece is more interesting than it is depressing.  Obviously with only 22 points in 33 games played, the expectations for success diminish substantially, but it doesn’t leave out the possibility of some exciting hockey down the stretch.  At the sixty game mark I am sure it will end up being more of a ‘likelihood of finishing last’ piece that goes up, but New Jersey found some incredible success at the midway point of last season, giving me at least some insanely optimistic thoughts that Columbus could still turn this season around with the right move (*cough* coach *cough* top six forwards *cough* legit top two defender *cough*).  Until then, I’ll keep my eye out on the top tier prospects and look forward to a better future.

Carry the Flag!

State of the… Jackets

Once again the crickets have fallen on CTF.  I would apologize, but I cannot tell you folks how many times I have begun a semi rant on the team for packing it in, but I know the Jackets get enough bad press as is.  My goal is to try and stay constructive, and I can certainly agree that ranting about them is not all that constructive.

Since I last discussed the Jackets, they have been blown out at home three times, with a goals for of 1, and a goals against of 9.  Their ten game record is 2-5-3, and their current ‘stretch’ of bad games looks like this:

Now, off to the more relevant topic at hand, and that’s what the rest of the season will bring.  Here is the current league wide chart at least that is relevant to the CBJ and their finish;Like I said, I am not looking to be a giant downer.  These stretches of games do happen to even the best of teams, but it has to be as emotionally draining for the team as much as it has been for myself as a fan.  Hard to believe that prior to this specific stretch of games, we watched the trade for Lepisto and Upshall go down thinking we would see the Jackets get into better position to fight for a playoff spot not long out.  Follow that with 13 losses out of 15 games, and a fanbase left demanding and wanting more, and myself generally speechless about what really can be done in the last handful of games this year, short of wait and see where the Jackets will be drafting..

As you can see, it is pretty tight around 20-24.  Obviously looking at the standings and considering how many games the Jackets should lose before gaining a great pick is awfully negative, but I think it is worth watching.  Three wins from the Islanders and the Jackets could be looking at a top five pick, in a draft that most would argue is really quite shallow.  Then again, it would be interesting to see whether Howson will take advantage of the draft and try to deal for a quality defender before draft day.

Personally, my dedication towards watching the games has wavered.  While they are on, I have not been following the game with great focus.  I intentionally opted to not make the trip last Sunday after watching them get shutout by Detroit the previous Thursday (a very thankful decision) and was half expecting their third straight time being shutout at home against Vancouver.  Thankfully for the generally strong attendance, RJ popped one in over Schneider’s shoulder, breaking one of the lowest of lowpoints of the season.

But cheer up Jackets fans.  The season will end soon, and with it, comes quality playoff hockey and and more change for the team moving forward.  Feel free to offer your suggestions for upcoming changes, as I intend to provide my suggested defensive changes within the week.

Carry the Flag!

CBJ Playoff Push – 2/28 Update

After a stretch of a few nights where outcomes simply were not doing any favours for the Blue Jackets, Monday night finally showed some promise.  As the race continues to simmer in the Western Conference, Columbus still remains four points out of a playoff spot with a game or two in hand on most of the teams involved in the race.

Tonight will mark an extremely large challenge for the club.  Playing the Western Conference leading Vancouver Canucks IN Vancouver will be an extremely important game for both the team mentality, and a test for what could very well be a first round opponent for the Jackets this year.  Inserting Rivet as the 6th defensemen with Stralman down should be a nice shakeup for the defense, as I assume the newly acquired Lepisto and Upshall will not dress with the team until the Edmonton game Thursday.

In any case, here are the updated standings:

Results from Monday, 2/28:

Chicago defeats Minnesota 4-2: In another game where 0 points would have been the favourable award, this was the kind of game where simply not going to overtime would be a benefit for Columbus.  In any case, an odd-man break leading to the 4-2 cushion short handed with just over a minute remaining gave Chicago the win, and a boost into a tie for 5th at 74 points.
Detroit defeats Los Angeles 7-4: In a very awkwardly one sided game (7-1 at one point), Detroit took full advantage of the Kings somewhat mediocre defensive effort, and poured on the offense.  At 84 points, it benefits Columbus for Detroit to steal points from Western foes, as they could very well be out of reach at this point.  In any case, LA remains at 74 points, tied for 5th.

Games that matter – 3/1:

Calgary at St Louis
Dallas at Phoenix
Nashville at Edmonton
Columbus at Vancouver
Colorado at San Jose

I’ts a night of underdogs, and I for one will be glued to the TV.  Carry the Flag!

CBJ Playoff Push – 2/27 Update

In terms of ‘best possible outcomes’ for the Blue Jackets playoff chances, Sunday could certainly use a do over.  Steeped with anticipation over a solid rematch with the Predators, I sat and watched in utter disbelief as they slowly missed out on two points that many would believe were easily obtainable in this game.

Updated Standings including 2/26 games:

As you can see, the hit was rather harsh.  Columbus failed to advance themselves to 70 points, which would have settled them two points shy of the 8th place Chicago Blackhawks.  It comes as a rather clear reminder that no team will make this push easy for the Jackets this year.

Other games that mattered:

Blackhawks defeat Coyotes 4-3 (SO): Ideally, a victory by the Coyotes in regulation would have been preferable.  At 75 points heading into Sunday’s game vs Chicago’s 70, it would be far more realistic to want Phoenix to carry on winning, and teams like Chicago to lose in the process.
Flames defeat Blues 1-0: While St Louis is only three points behind Columbus, it is not a matter of finishing ahead of them at this point.  If Columbus wants to make the playoffs, the success of St Louis should be essentially irrelevant at this point.  Calgary, sitting only three point ahead of Columbus prior to this game, would have done well to be defeated, keeping them only two wins away from being vaulted.
Ducks defeat Avalanche 3-2: With the Avalanche well out of a playoff spot at 59 points, it would greatly help the Jackets if they stole a few wins from conference opponents like Anaheim, who were only one point ahead of Columbus heading into this game.

2/28 Relevant games:

Blackhawks at Wild
Red Wings at Kings

CBJ Playoff Push – 2/25 Update

Considering I have spent a substantial amount of time hovering around the league standings are games finish each night, I thought it might be of good worth to update everyone who reads (or I suppose anyone who reads) the blog.

Here are the Western Conference standings with the 2/25 games included;

Here are the CBJ playoff push relevant games played today;

Kings defeat Avalanche 4-3: The win for Los Angeles pulls them 6 points ahead of the Jackets, but Columbus does have two games on them.  Ideally, with the Avalanche nine points back on Columbus, the win would have been far better going the other way.

Stars defeat Predators 3-2: This is one of those games where Columbus would have benefited by somehow a 0 point game could have been awarded.  Dallas and Nashville were both sitting at 70 points, 2 ahead of the Jackets before this game began, which essentially meant that as long as the game did not go to overtime or a shootout, it would be a good result for the CBJ push.

RedWings defeat Sabres 3-2(SO): Color me bold and overexcited, but I am going to leave all teams, top teams included in this review.  Unfortunately, Buffalo could not take advantage of a 2-0 lead, losing to the Red Wings in a shootout.  Detroit now 14 points ahead of the CBJ, all will likely make it impossible to eclipse them this year.

Bruins defeat Canucks 3-1: I’ll be even more brief about this one…  At 87 points, the Canucks would have to have a monumental collapse if they were to ever compete with the Jackets in the standings this year.  That said, we may have had a nice preview of the cup finals in this game.

Relevant games Sunday are as follows (with bold being best option for the win);

Blue Jackets vs. Predators
Coyotes vs. Blackhawks
Blues vs. Flames
Avalanche vs. Ducks

Carry the Flag!!

Three Games Left

Familiarity was thrown out the window quite a few weeks ago.  What is left, at least from the outside looking in, is instability, and uneasiness.

The Jackets found themselves on the wrong end of the overtime column against the Blackhawks Saturday, marking their 4th overtime/shootout loss in the last seven games.  Rather uncharacteristic for a team that lost only six games after regulation throughout the rest of the season, and it is certainly making me wonder if they are beginning to question their abilities on the ice.
Steve Mason was stellar again, but a lack of Jackets offense caused the game to go into the extra frame, which proved to be too much for the Jackets.  A breakaway goal by Versteeg was enough to get me angry at the Jackets and really only see the negative in that game.  For a team that prides themselves on the defensive aspects of the game, they have been turning the puck over and coughing up odd man rushes more than I think Hitch can even comprehend.
I do not think they need more than one more victory to make the playoffs, but realistically, do the Jackets really want to flop into the playoffs with a losing streak, and face one of the strongest opponents in their first playoff series?  Do they want to throw away all their hard work to get into 6th place and finish just barely in?
I am often asking more of the Jackets than most would, but I think having the expectation of a playoff caliber team playing the next three games is quite reasonable.  How are you Jackets fans dealing with the overtime madness?
Carry the Flag!

Standings Update.. March 17th

It is that time again, after a dramatic week of hockey and a dominant performance from the Blue Jackets.  Time to see where they stand with only a small number of games remaining in the season on this fine St. Patrick’s Day afternoon…
The Jackets remain in 6th place, with 3 points separating them from 7th place Nashville, and 3 points separating them from 5th place Vancouver.  Now, based on the week they had, optimism would have hoped for a better result, however, Nashville and Vancouver are both playing strong hockey, and will likely remain above the red bar by years end.  Both have 7-2-1 records in their last ten games, which is only slightly better than Columbus’ 6-4-0.
But let’s make it interesting.  Chicago was considered practically untouchable in the early stages of the season, remaining unquestionably in 4th only because of how well Detroit has played.  But now on a 3-6-1 slide, and a game against Columbus the coming weekend, the Jackets have a chance to really gain some ground to try and finish second in the division.  This could be huge for not only the teams optimism, but the fans as well.
Finally, the random tidbit.  St Louis has also been on a tear recently(7-3-0), and are currently making a strong bid for the post season as well.  Could this be the first time in Columbus’ history not only they make the playoffs, but their entire division makes it?  It would certainly make for some interesting articles and discussion from the round tables, and one very rival filled post season in the West.
Carry the Flag (and wear green)!