Quite a series we have on our hands here. Another hard fought, close game, where a team comes back from two goals down (twice this time) to eventually win the game. If the first game showed the Jackets can hang with the Penguins in a series, this game showed they could pull off the upset. The Jackets now have home ice advantage, Bobrovsky hasn’t stolen a game yet, and Fleury hasn’t choked away a game yet. If anything, the goaltending battle has been in Pittsburgh’s favor so far. A stinker from Fleury and Bob stealing a victory would theoretically give the Jackets a dynamite chance at three wins this series (should they not happen in the same game). Couple that with a home win or two, and you have the recipe for an upset. A long way to go to get that far, but it continues tonight at Nationwide Arena. Let’s all get amped up for tonight with a look back at all the goals in the Jackets first ever playoff victory. Continue reading Goal Breakdowns: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh Game Two
Well there it is, game number 82 in the books. The final score was maybe a little closer than I would have liked to see, and Bob saw a little too much rubber, but all things considered, throwing up almost 80 shots on net in (basically) meaningless games is not too shabby. With the win, a match-up in the first round with the Penguins is now set, the Jackets will have a little time to heal/rest up, and the best season in franchise history continues on.
Third Star: Mark Letestu
Not much creativity by the star pickers tonight. Letestu scored, so he gets a star. Personally, I would have gone with Boone Jenner. Tied with a game high six shots on goal (with Fedor Tyutin), and paired up with Ryan Johansen for a dominating performance by that line. James Wisniewski was also quite good tonight. And hey, both of them picked up assists. Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Florida
A valiant effort, but a disappointing outcome as the Jackets fall 2-1 in regulation to the Penguins. The Jackets controlled the play for most of the game, but couldn’t buy a goal until it was too late. Strange flow to the game tonight, as the first and second periods were riddled with penalties and powerplays, but no goals. The third was a barnburner, with the two teams combining for a whopping 28 shots on goal (and only one powerplay). The bad news is a regulation loss. The good news, is the Maple Leafs also lost in regulation. This still leaves the Blue Jackets in the drivers seat in terms of making the playoffs. Four teams are still tied at 80 points. The Jackets still hold the regulation wins tiebreaker over Washington, Detroit and Toronto. Columbus no longer has a game in hand on anyone, but they do still have on over the Leafs. So it’s on the Jackets players now. The playoffs are in their hands. If they equal or better the teams they are battling, they make the playoffs. If two of those three teams outplay them, then the CBJ didn’t deserve to make the playoffs anyway.
Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh
So it looks like Cam Atkinson will be back in the lineup tonight against the San Jose Sharks. After three healthy scratches in the last four games (and the lone game played being the Chicago shellacking), we finally get to see him again. Cam Atkinson looks to be the victim of one of my favorite sports theories, Bill Simmons’ Ten Percent Theory. While originally applied to Russell Westbrook of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, I think it applies pretty well in this situation regarding Cam. As the theory goes, no player is perfect. Every player is missing at least 10 percent of the ideal basketball player (or hockey player in this case). For Russell Westbrook, his ten percent is the recklessness he plays with. This can rear its head at inopportune moments, and distracts people from the 90% of his game that is fantastic. He compares this to Kevin Durant, whose missing ten percent is his lack of strength and defense, two things that are not as obvious to most viewers.
This post is a little scatterbrained. There isn’t really a common thread here, it doesn’t really fit into any kind of “narrative” whether that’s the Jackets season as a whole, their current playoff battle (currently 3rd in the Metro Division!), or even a narrative within itself. It’s just a bunch of video, a screenshot, and some commentary a few smaller items that I’ve noticed from the Jackets over the last couple of weeks. As with their play, it’s predominantly positive. There’s a couple of negative plays, so let’s start there. Beware, there are a LOT of videos, so this may take a minute or thirty-seven to load.
So the Blue Jackets have lost three games in a row now. But these weren’t your standard Blue Jackets losses. These weren’t cataclysmic events of magnificent ineptitude, despite what Twitter would have you believe. All three were just hockey games. Against Buffalo, they pretty much controlled the play and lost the goaltending battle something fierce. That happens. The Carolina game was a dud, a game where pucks were bobbled, the PP differences helped swing the game, and nothing else seemed to go right. It only came across as disappointing because they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Against the Sens, the Jackets had the slight edge in controlling the play (well in terms of shots, it was basically a dead heat in shot attempts), they just couldn’t pull it off. A couple of pucks hopped over a sticks, a couple whiffs, a couple of good bounces for the opposition. These games happen. They happen to every team. This is a good team now. They legitimately won eight games in a row. They now lost three straight games. If they win four, lose one, win two, lose one, win two more and then lose another one, they would still be 8-3 in their last 11 games. But I think the perception would be much different.
My point here is that this is NOT something to be too worried about. This isn’t a total collapse. No reason to hit the panic button. The very best NHL teams lose 20 to 30 games per year. They rarely crap the bed, but they lose games where their goalie just doesn’t have it, or the opposing goalie is on fire, or they don’t get the bounces, or the opponent gets the bounces, or its the second night of a back-to-back, and third game in four nights. These last three losses suck, as it hurts them in the standings and takes a little wind from their sails. But those games were “good team losses”. They were the kinds of games good teams lose, which is good in a strange kind of way.
3rd Star: Cam Atkinson
Cam had good boxcare numbers against the Sens. Goal, assist, three shots, four blocked shots. Sounds like a solid game. Problem is the offensive production came on the powerplay. At even strength Cam was buried in the Jackets end, to the tune of a lowly 42.9% corsi. Considering Cam’s offensive role, the four blocked shots should have been a dead giveaway. He was 50% on offensive zone starts, so he wasn’t buried that way, nor was he tasked with tough matchups, as he played most of his time against Eric Gryba, Coling Greening, Zack Smith, Marc Methot, and Chris Neil. Side note: I really want to see Cam fight. This only comes up now, as seeing him jostle with Nate Gerbe against Carolina got the thought in my head, and Cory Conacher causing ruckus last night kept it there.
Wow, the past week I’ve listened to NHL coverage refer to the CBJ as the “surging” Blue Jackets and as a team to keep an eye on. We’ve all seen teams get hot for 3-4 games at a time but tonight’s 5th win in a row served as officially putting the Metropolitan, East and entire NHL on notice that the Blue Jackets are legit. The best players of tonight were the young guys who we’re entrusting the future of this franchise to and that’s a great feeling. Without further ado:
3rd Star: Sergei Bobrovsky
Man, did Bob come up huge. Logging 1.0 GA and a .963 save percentage looks good on paper and looks even better when you saw the monster saves he made against arguably the NHL’s best scorer in his soon-to-be Team Russia teammate, Alexander Ovechkin. While you’re going to win most games where you score 5 goals, Bob was huge in weathering the early storm the Capitals brought until the Jackets could get their legs under them.
Going into tonight’s game, the Blue Jackets faced 9 of their next 12 games at home; an advantage in what is important stretch if the boys in Union Blue want to be in the playoff mix. That home stand started against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight and getting a win was of the highest importance. There were a lot of storylines – Horton’s first game in Columbus, Bob and Calvert were back and this Carolina team was coming in red hot after five consecutive wins. After an average first 10 minutes or so, the two teams started to fire and it was the Jackets that would ultimately come out on top with an exciting 3-0 win. Bonus – the game was clean too! No penalties until the third, and only one PK from the CBJ.
There was a good crowd in Nationwide tonight – and it’s great to imagine that a lot of folks who weren’t at earlier games saw an on-ice product that was exciting and will hopefully draw them back again and again. Plus – a previously unknown treasure was discovered tonight…but we’ll get to that. Let’s start with our three stars as named by NHL.com.
You can’t support the Blue Jackets and not be ecstatic with tonight’s game. The Jackets were right there even strength with the Coyotes, were the better team on the powerplay, the better team on the penalty kill, and got the better goaltending. Don’t sleep on Phoenix either, as they are currently a playoff team in the tough Western Conference, and their 49 points would be second in the Metro division. Of course, I’ve buried the lede here, as Nathan Horton made his Blue Jackets debut. That went pretty well.
3rd Star: RJ Umberger
I have no issues with his placement here, even though he had a solid, if unspectacular game (outside of his goal of course). I tend to think of Umberger’s placement here as a vote for his entire line, which just continues to click. Foligno and Johansen were just as great as Umberger was last night, and while I’ve been hoping to see Horton take Umby’s spot on this line upon his return, RJ seems to be doing everything he can to hold onto it. He’s up to 11 goals on the year now, which puts him on pace for a very solid 22 goal, 46 point season. Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Phoenix
Picking up right where they left off before the Christmas break, the Blue Jackets faced off against a division opponent in the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are one of the many teams in the Metro bottleneck all vying for the coveted 3rd place automatic playoff bid. Like Blue Jackets fans learned at the end of last season it’s much better to be protecting a playoff spot then chasing one. Tonight’s game had a lot to like and a lot to think about how we’ll improve on. Without further ado, here’s my take on the NHL’s three stars of the evening.