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.
The appearance of Jagr and Brodeur marked what started off horribly for the Jackets and the home crowd. But somehow this team found a way to gut out an ugly 5-4 win after going down 3-1 early and take two points from a team that is ahead of them currently in the Metro. It was season ticket holder “free food” night at Nationwide and thankfully the team gave people a reason to return to their seats versus just standing in long lines for tasty eats all night. So let’s get to it and look at the three stars per NHL.com.
After the hole Columbus dug themselves during losses to Edmonton and Vancouver, I was ready to see another convincing loss against Toronto and a major shakeup. It’s not that pessimism has taken over my mentality for the team, in fact, I still believe on paper they are about as capable as any other team in their division to compete for a playoff spot. Rather, it just seemed like par for the course, after the way they’ve played, and the injuries they’ve suffered.
Instead, my smile increased throughout the game. The matchup brought shocked satisfaction as Columbus controlled the puck, limited mistakes, and caused turnovers which lead to odd man rushes for the first real time this season. It was exciting, and even caused me to watch the late night replay so I could take in the quality effort again. They deserved to win the game, and they did the right things. With the exception of Toronto basically sitting back and letting them win, I could not be more impressed by their efforts.
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.
Rather than a traditional recap for the game against Washington last night, I am going to break down pieces of the Blue Jackets game and then talk about the players that impressed and those who made a mess (if I haven’t already). For those who missed the game, the Blue Jackets lost a stunner in overtime, after taking a 3-2 lead with less than six minutes to play. The loss stings, despite gaining a point.
Shooting: To begin, shot production was great in the first period, with Columbus outshooting Washington 12-7. Yet like many games we’ve sen this season, those twelve shots failed to produce a goal. Based on the combined 13 shots from the second and third period producing three goals (good goals at that), it remains a cause for concern. Rather than focusing on getting the puck on net, maybe they should focus on getting good shots with more traffic in front.