Well that was a hockey game. A complete 60 minute effort from the Jackets roster made for a an exciting and rewarding game for everyone who took it in. And HUZZAH! The yo-yo W-L-W-L pattern was broken in spectacular fashion with a shut out for McElhinney. While the crowd was sparse, those who braved the winter storm certainly found the effort to get downtown worth the while. There’s some lingering worry about Wisniewski and Calvert who both left the bench before the game is over, but let’s take tonight at least to celebrate the work of a team that didn’t stop. And we get to run our first official Game in One Picture! Read on!
3rd Star: Curtis McElhinney
You can’t underestimate the importance of a strong showing from McElhinney is his first outing as the go-to ‘tender with Bob on IR. Curtis delivered in spectacular fashion! While he certainly plays farther out of the net than Bob-ites may be used to seeing, he stopped all 20 shots he saw – including 4 from power plays – and inspired some strong play in front of him from the defense. To be honest, it was surprising that the goalie didn’t walk away with first star honors considering what was on the line.
2nd Star: RJ Umberger
Tonight marked RJ’s 400th game as a Blue Jacket and he clearly wanted to mark that moment in more than one way. He did what he’s supposed to do with some physical play – taking two penalties – and then notching a goal and an assist. The goal was mainly due to a beauty of a pass from Foligno but the genuine joy on RJ’s face after the puck went in made you genuinely happy for the guy. A big contributor tonight – worthly of notice.
1st Star: Nick Foligno
Remember last year when the Foligno trade was the one forgotten in the wake of the Nash blockbuster? Well #71 is certainly showing himself to be worth getting. He played a worthy 18 minutes and went 1-1-2. The assist to Umberger was amazing and perhaps would be garnering even more buzz if we all still weren’t basking in the glow of his highlight real goal versus Tampa Bay earlier this week. Foligno seems to be a key driver of this team both on and off the ice and his name is entering the conversation for future captain. I’m still scratching my head a bit as to why McElhinney isn’t number one, but if Foligno is going to take it away, that’s ok.
Game in One Picture
Stud: Boone Jenner
Remember when we were debating if Boone should spend a year in Springfield? Yeah me neither. This guy was buzzing all night – putting in the work. He was finally rewarded with a 3rd period goal, after 13 games without one, and this is a guy who certainly speaks to the identity the Jackets are trying to build and shows he can be a key part of the future of this team.
Dud: Mother Nature
We know the team is struggling, and we know that the only thing that consistently puts butts in seats, but after a low turnout Tuesday, did ya really have to pummel us with “snowmageddon 2013″ to even some of the most ardent fans at home? Ah well – the fans who did show up got to see something great…let’s just hope there’s manageable weather for all home games in the foreseeable future.
Welcome to a new feature here at The Union Blue. After every game someone from the tUB team will be giving their quick hit thoughts on the three stars of the game (per the NHL), as well as one stud or dud of the night not reflected in the stars (which might not necessarily be a player). So feel free to chime in with who impressed you tonight, who disappointed, or who you want to see run out of town. Unfortunately, we picked the worst Jackets game of recent memory to debut this. Lucky me, I had to stay up through this crapfest. So let’s make this one quick, as the stars of tonight’s 7-0 loss to the Oilers are:
3rd Star: Ryan Smyth
Always loved Smyth. The wood stick, the brutal skating, it’s like watching my old man play. And yet he somehow dropped three points on the Jackets. Good hustle boys.
Continue reading Stars of Night: CBJ @ Edmonton
In the wake of home-and-home losses to Pittsburgh, the usual cacophony of reactions are evident — ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Today, we’ll try to take a relatively dispassionate look at the club, the recent efforts, and dust off the crystal ball for some thoughts as to what might come down the pike.
First things first, however. Shortly before game time, I caught a TSN tweet indicating that Gary Bettman was at Nationwide for the game, and a second tweet indicating that he was in the company of Mayor Coleman. Rudimentary arithmetic led me to one conclusion — All Star Game — a fact confirmed about 30 minutes later, when the lights dimmed, Greg Murray advised the crowd of a special announcement from John Davidson, who then appeared on the scoreboard screen with Bettman. The announcement that the 2015 All Star Game was coming to Columbus on January 24 & 25, 2015 was almost an anti-climax at that point. Still, it was terrifically positive news for the franchise, the city and the 18,634 assembled fans. The NHL made good on its promise to “do right” by Columbus after the lockout trashed the All Star Festivities for the 2013 game.
The most surprising aspect of the announcement was the timing. Traditionally, the venue for the All Star Game is announced in January, or at least in conjunction with GM meetings. That the announcement came so far in advance is a credit to both the NHL and the progress that the organization has been making at all levels. Kudos to all concerned, and Columbus fans can now tuck those 2013 All Star Game pucks away, waiting for them to appreciate in value. (Just kidding…sort of) So with that issue put to bed, time to return to the ice. The intent here is not to provide a game summary of the Pittsburgh battles — @Canadan82 does that extremely well — but to look at the higher level issues, positive and negative, that are emerging as this fledgling season moves forward. The two games vs. the Penguins do highlight some of the issues in stark relief.
Continue reading Observation Time — All Star Style
Before digging into the substance of the post, I must provide an apology. As many of you know, we just returned from a two-week vacation to Maine, Nova Scotia, PEI and Quebec. (Articles forthcoming during lulls in the hockey action). The down side of the vacation was that we missed the start of the season, and in our absence, the Blue Jackets posted a 2-5 record. Since our return last Saturday, they are 3 – 0. Just sayin’. Anyway, notwithstanding any dubious claims of causation, I promise to never again allow vacation to interfere with hockey. Mea culpa . . .
Let’s turn to the matters at hand. The Blue Jackets now have 10 games under their collective belts, which equals 12.19% of the season. Instead of relying on Twitter summaries or online post-mortems of the games — as we were compelled to do on the cruise — I’ve seen the live, in-person product on the ice for three games. Combined with some statistical review, I’ve got all I need to provide a first review of the good and the bad, and some indications of what might be forthcoming.
As of Sunday morning, the Blue Jackets are 5-5-0, with 10 points, but working on a three-game winning streak. The record might not be what some had hoped for, but represents a significant improvement over the 3-6-1 start last year, and light-years ahead of the 1-8-1 start in 2011-2012. More importantly, the club was able to shrug off a miserable four-game losing streak and post truly solid efforts against Vancouver, New Jersey and Toronto.
Continue reading The 12.19% Solution
Searching for the panic button? A 2-4-0 start from Columbus starts another season in familiar, mediocre territory. Two straight games with only a single goal, injury and ‘scratched player’ problems, and a distinct sense that 100% is not applicable to this roster. Feel free to hit the reset button on NHL 11 and start the season over whenever you feel like it.
The trouble began last night just before the five minute mark (after a handful of whiffed shots on great scoring opportunities for Columbus). Despite being on the penalty kill, the Blue Jackets applied enough pressure to allow Subban to fire a pass through the middle to a wide open Bourque, who skated in alone on Bobrovsky and beat him for the 1-0 lead. Now, I can understand that sometimes breakaways happen, but this team is starting to make a really bad habit of giving them away on a nightly basis. To make matters worse, they allowed on when they were a man short, when their entire game plan is to protect their own net. As a fan watching that, it’s infuriating.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ Montreal 10-17
The first puck of the 2013/2014 season dropped last night around 7:15pm in a packed Nationwide Arena. With another impressive fan showing to start the season, many were expecting the same ultra high level of intensity we enjoyed for much of the short 2012/2013 season. What they got was a different looking roster, a different looking team, yet an eerily similar result.
The Flames are not exactly an offensive powerhouse. They have a decent compliment of forwards, but it is not the type of team you see on the ticket and think “this is really going to be a tough battle for Columbus.” Really, it was the perfect type of team to bring in for the home opener to get some momentum built for the start of the season. Unfortunately for those who share that mindset, they were witness to pretty even play between both sides, with a lot of ‘feeling out’ from the Blue Jackets players and their linemates.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Calgary 10-4
As Blue Jackets fans, I’m sure you’ve read a lot of prognostications on the CBJ’s season. Most of these (including my own) have harped on the issues the team could have this coming season. Regression from Sergei Bobrovsky. Not taking enough shots. Not controlling the play enough. A lack of goal scorers. There is one x-factor that could render two these issues moot, and turn two of those issues into strengths. If you read the title, then you can probably guess that I’m referring to Ryan Murray. In my opinion, Murray is the key cog in whether or not the Jackets have a successful year. Yes, Marian Gaborik scoring 40 goals would be huge. As would and early return from Nathan Horton and 25 goals in 60 games from him. Bob staying true to last seasons form would also be great. Boone Jenner sticking on the top line and being a Calder candidate would also be a boon to their chances (sorry, that joke was terrible). However, none of those will have the same impact as what Murray could do.
Continue reading The X-Factor: Why Murray’s Preseason OT Winner is Exciting
Have no fear, we’re not about to start humming Nadia’s Theme here (if you don’t know what that is youngsters, Google it), but with the NHL’s first games in the books, Patrick Roy’s inaugural tirade dully documented, and Nationwide Arena gearing up for its own debut tonight, it’s time to get down to the business of hockey in earnest.
The young, of course, are the Blue Jackets players themselves, who once again will be in the running for the youngest team in the league. How young? Only five on the roster (McElhinney, Gaborik, Tyutin, MacKenzie and Umberger) have ages beginning with a “3″, and two (Murray, Jenner) entered their 20′s. Feel old yet? No? Let’s try this one — not a single Blue Jacket player was alive for the USA’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. I’ll wait while you retrieve your hearing aids and shawls . . . More on this in a bit. Continue reading The Young & The Restless — Hockey Time in Columbus!
Hello Jackets fans! I figured I’d give some thoughts on each player that played for the Jackets in Traverse City. Given the many players involved and differences in playing time, some of these thoughts will be brief, other a bit more. So, without further ado:
Alex Aleardi (Invite Signed by Springfield) Stats 4GP 1-1-2 E 4PIM
I called Aleardi the Energizer Bunny. The guy is always moving and he scored a pretty shorthanded breakaway against Buffalo. I definitely saw him as one of the team’s top forwards. Alex’s strong tournament led to him being the only invite from Traverse City to earn an invite to the Jackets Main Camp.
Josh Anderson (2012 Draft) Stats 4GP 1-0-1 E 11PIM
Josh was a monster up in Traverse being physical as expected but also showing he has hands that can be used for more than punching.
Matej Beran (Invite) Stats 2GP 1-0-1 -1 0PIM
I cant say much about Matej, he only played two games and saw fourth line minutes. The lone positive point is he did score the Jackets only goal in the 7-1 loss to Dallas.
Continue reading Quick Thoughts on CBJ Players in Traverse City
The Jackets were shellacked by the Dallas Stars 7-1 Monday night in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament earning a fourth place finish. I don’t want to go into the full-on gory details because this one was ugly.
The CBJ were in a 3-0 hole halfway into the period as a result of three absolute lasers from the Stars. The first goal came on a five on three; the second happened just a minute or so later. Taylor Peters would score later to make it 4-0. The Jackets would show a sign of life when Dalton Smith would take on (totally jump him off a faceoff) Stars’ mammoth first round pick Jamie Olesniak and earned himself a roughing minor.
The Jackets would actually have a much better second period outshooting Dallas 11-5 with the Jackets having 1:38 of a five on three power play. While on the man advantage, Oliver Bjorkstrand did find two or three prime chances at the side of the net. But the prospect team could not convert and the Jackets would allow Alex Chiasson to score making it 5-0.
In the third, two Dallas players broke sticks and caused another five on three and finally Matej Beran would tap in a rebound with Dakota Mermis and Justin Sefton also picking up their first points of the tournament. The Jackets would allow two more goals – both being unassisted and Jamie Olesniak’s goal coming off a rebound into an almost empty net (someone had to shoot it right?). Jordan DeKort made his tournament debut stopping 17 of 24 in the losing effort.
It was one of those games where no one stood out. You could tell Boone Jenner was not in a good mood as the game got out of hand and he started hitting anything in green. Dalton Smith had a rough night – or at least a night an anger management class wouldn’t approve of. He almost getting in a fight early, then finally did engage and also caused an offside call because he was hitting someone as the puck left the zone. On a bad note invite Dakota Mermis appeared to suffer a injury when he checked a Stars player near the bench going straight to the locker room not moving his arm at all. Boone Jenner would serve as the Blue Jackets captain with Ryan Murray and Michael Chaput serving as Alternates.
Continue reading Update from Traverse City: Jackets Finish Fourth in Tournament