The Jackets headed into New Jersey with a lot of historical baggage. Their record against the Devils this season has been hellish. Dubinsky’s return was certainly welcome although it seemed apparent that the CBJ were embracing the tank by starting the game with Boll on his wing. I’ve got to give it to the squad, they really executed well tonight. Perhaps the best thing to see was that after taking the 1-0 lead early in the game, the Jackets didn’t seem to let up and allow a quick answer from the Devils. Continue reading…
The Jackets dropped a 5-2 decision to Montreal, although that maybe wasn’t even the biggest Jackets related news of the day. Shortly before puck drop they announced they had dealt Nathan Horton‘s back to the Toronto Maple Leafs for David “Wendel” Clarkson. I’ll address that trade a bit later. As for the game, the Jackets took on the powerhouse Canadiens, and it didn’t go super awesome. After falling behind quickly, the Jackets evened it up just as quickly, before falling behind again almost as quickly. That third goal was one of the rare NHL goals that are almost entirely on the goaltender. After a brutal turnover by Curtis McElhinney, he then struggled to get set for the shot, and then let the puck go right through him. Not great. The game was never really in doubt after that, until a brief period after Marko Dano made it a two goal game but before the Canadiens iced it with an empty netter.
3rd Star: Marko Dano
I was all prepared to write about Dano bailing out on the first Montreal goal (gotta get in that shooting lane, no excuses there), and compare it to Brandon Dubinsky going hard to the net, scoring, and getting hurt. Was going to be something about about the difference between needing to win and wanting to win. Well then Dano plays the rest of the game like his pants are on fire, scores the second goal to get them back in the game, and even had a play he didn’t score on that was quite similar to Dubi’s play earlier. So now I don’t know what to think. No excuse for his work on the Subban goal, so I guess kudos to either himself for getting his ass in gear, or whatever coach kicked his ass in gear.
This is the kind of game that reminds you exactly why we love the sport so much. While this game lacked some of the snarl of last year’s Philly-Columbus matchups, it had a few storylines with both teams trying to see if they can claw back up the rankings at all for the playoffs as well as the celebration of former Flyer Scott Hartnell’s 1,000th game. It had drama – as there were some interesting non-calls and the culmination of the Jackets storming back from a 3-1 deficit to ultimately win 4-3 in overtime.
It was a fun night and a great way to send off the home team before they hit the road for their next 5 games. Let’s take a look at the three stars as named by NHL.com:
If you only saw the opening and closing of the Jackets 4-3 loss to the Kings tonight, you might think they played a pretty good game. You’d be wrong. Despite a strong opening couple minutes, halfway through the third period this looked like one of the Jackets worst games of the season. Fortunately they picked it up, David Savard scored late, and they made an exciting game of it by the end. But man were those middle 48 minutes atrocious. Just embarassingly terrible. They were clearly not in the game tonight. They twice gave up a goal immediately after scoring one themselves. This isn’t a loss to be blamed on injuries, like many this year. This game was about one team clearly outworking the other. The scoreboard may look close, but the 44-26 shot differential tells a clearer tale, especially when you consider the Jackets picked up the final four shots of the game, and outshot the Kings 12-8 over the final ten minutes (in other words the shots were 36-14 with 10 minutes left).
3rd Star: Scott Hartnell
Many congratulations to Hartnell on his 1000th career game, and his goal was a beauty.
A slow first period for both teams lead into an interesting second period before the Jackets pulled away from the Minnesota Wild for a 3-1 win. It was a close game in every facet, from shots to faceoff wins, to blocked shots, and powerplay goals. A huge save by Sergei Bobrovsky on a penalty shot and a crucial kill on a four minute powerplay by the Jackets allowed them to maintain the 1-1 tie going into the third. From there, the Wiz-bomb took over, with a goal and tipped in shot providing the winning margin.
3rd Star: Zach Parise
Parise had a pretty solid game, doing everything for the Wild. He’s a very strangely rated player at this point in his career. I can’t decide if he is underrated or overrated. I feel like he doesn’t get discussed as much as he should when talking about the top two-way players in the game. But at the same time, he’s not the superstar he’s sometimes made out to be, and not the offensive force some seem to expect him to be. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an awesome player, but he was also on the losing side of the biggest play of the game tonight.
The last few games have provided plenty of goals for and (mostly) against which to look at in further detail (21 goals against and 15 goals for in only five January games). I’m only going to break down two goals though, one against the Blue Jackets during their 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders, and the game winning goal by the CBJ against the Dallas Stars. Now let’s get down to business.
The start of this game had me battling semantics. You could probably slice the “start” in three ways. In one way, it was pretty good. The Jackets got a good jump off the opening draw, forced the Avalanche back into their own end, who ended up icing it. That’s a pretty solid way to start off the first faceoff of the game. Another way you can slice it, is to look at the first period. That first period is probably the most dominant period the Jackets have put together this season. It was a master work of Blue Jackets hockey, keeping Colorado in their own ice nearly the entire frame. The Avs took their second shot of the game 1:07 in, yet didn’t pick up their third until their was only 2:29 left in the period. That is astounding. Now there is also a third way you can slice it, and that incorporates the first thirty seconds or so, and one of the worst passes you will ever see a professional hockey player make. David Savard clearly just didn’t see Jarome Iginla until it was too late. But it’s not like he was hiding or anything, he was right there, just above the spot where Savard was planning on passing the puck, with nothing but empty ice before the Jackets net. That was a bad bad bad bad bad play. Fortunately, that play (and a later Savard miscue) didn’t bury the Jackets, and Savard was able to play the hero, scoring the go-ahead 58:59 into the game. This gave the Jackets a 4-3 win, and brought them back up to .500 again after last night’s abysmal game against the Phoenizona Coyotes.
3rd Star: Brandon Dubinsky
There are many sounds to hockey that I love. The first cuts of a skate on a fresh sheet of ice ALWAYS brings a smile to my face. It’s tough to describe the feeling that sound generates. Sometimes, when I haven’t played in awhile, it can literally take my breath away. But it’s also like seeing an old friend, and knowing that nothing has really changed. That is the first sound I think of when I think of hockey. The second is the ping of the post. The post is like an instrument, and can generate multiple sounds depending on how you play it. You hit it dead on, you hear an almost ‘thongggg’ sound, as you hear the hollow of the post. Terrible sound. Makes me grit my teeth, like nails on a chalkboard. Hit it at a right angle and you get a deeper ‘ping’, like Ryan Johansen‘s shot with six minutes left in the game. I hate that sound too. It’s the sound of failure. Even though you beat the goalie, you know the puck is not going in when you hear that sound. Then there is the fainter ‘ping’ when you go bar-down (or post-in). It’s a glorious sound. It’s the purest goal you can score. It means you beat the goalie (obviously), but you put the puck in a spot where it almost didn’t go in either. It’s the Odell Beckham-style one-handed catch of hockey. Anything further the other direction, and you are hearing one of the other post sounds. Such a glorious sound. What does this have to do with Dubinsky? Well just go listen to his second goal again.
Oh hey there, CBJ! Four wins in a row, undefeated in December and a rallying first team goal for a waiver pickup that just turns out to be a game winner (nice work Kevin Connauton). The team still isn’t where they want – or need – to be, and unfortunately this win came at the cost of giving an in-division opponent a point as well (preventing what Jackets faithful would at least be a tie in the standings after tonight). But here we are, winning feels better than losing and a nice little rivalry continues to brew. Let’s take a look at the three stars as decided by NHL.com:
Ahhhhh the doldrums of the offseason. With one major exception, everything in CBJ-Land is settled for the coming year. Even considering Ryan Johansen‘s lack of a contract, we still have a very good idea of what the Blue Jackets roster will look like for the coming year. The exact lines and defense pairings are still up in the air, but we can deal with that closer to when we actually get to see them. Right now there is one thing (almost) going on in the NHL: arbitration hearings. I say almost, as hearings basically NEVER happen anymore, with all the scheduled hearings getting canceled so far after the players and teams have come to agreements. However, I know a thing or two about arbitration in the NHL, having penned this article at the Score, this MUCH longer in-depth paper, as well as first hand experience working on NHL arbitration cases. I figured I’d take the arbitration approach to the current Blue Jackets roster. By looking at what players around the league would be comparable to the current CBJ roster based on their current seasons, we can see if their salaries (and by salaries I mean cap hits) are commensurate with what they contributed last season.
So how did I do this? Well I used a 15% filter (with exceptions noted) for goals and assists, a 25% filter for time on ice, a plus/minus two years in age filter, and of course a positional filter (although all forwards are lumped together). Those sets were used for every player, with a 25% filter for special teams play for players that warranted it. This was done over the last two seasons to find a group of five to ten players who best matched the CBJ player in question. Players on entry-level deals weren’t considered, as their contracts are not merit based (at least not NHL merit). I then looked over the resulting list and figured out where the CBJ player fit. That gives us a nice little range for what each player should be paid based on their market value (from last season), how they compare to players of similar ilk, and what kind of contract to expect for each player moving forward. For today’s post I’ll be taking a look at Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Brandon Dubinsky. Why didn’t I start with Ryan Johansen? Well the outrage from some mainstream media folks over the Dubinsky project is what initially led me to this idea, I wanted to do them by lines (more or less), and I can only do so much in one post (these are VERY research intensive). Don’t worry, Johansen will be in part two. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Well here we are. The 2014 Stanley Cup is going to be awarded pretty darn soon – a former Jacket (or 2..or 3..or 4) will be raising it. Free agency talk is starting to buzz. Things are happening. But more important than all of that is the conclusion of The Union Blue Awards for 2014. We wrap everything up with the most important trophy of all, The Hart Memorial Trophy. It is given out to the player judged most valuable to his team. Last year’s winner was a clear cut decision for Sergei Bobrovsky, but with more and more success built on more and more guys stepping up – we have a wealth of votes to dole out. With that being said, the winner of the 2014 tUB Hart Memorial Trophy is….