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.
Continue reading Full Recap: Columbus @ Toronto 11-25
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
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.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Washington 11-12
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
For two straight games, the Columbus Blue Jackets have achieved what they claimed to be in news articles and advertisements. Hard nosed hockey with talent and success, giving the fans a real treat from the stands. Wins against Vancouver on Sunday (hat tip to McElhinney) and a convincing win last night against New Jersey gives confidence to those wondering what type of team has been assembled here. The visible difference this team has shown over these last two games has been massive.
Despite a lack of scoring in the first period, Columbus controlled the puck well at both ends of the ice, and got traffic in front of Schneider early and often. It was the type of period that could have had them scoring a couple goals, but rather, they walked into the looker room still tied at zero, arguably holding the momentum.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus vs New Jersey 10-23
For those fortunate enough to watch the Columbus Blue Jackets yesterday, they got to watch a team achieve what the commercials, the hype, and the expectations would suggest this roster can accomplish on ice. The stage was set for ‘one of those games’ with backup Curtis McElhinney in net, playing a Sunday game against a very tough Vancouver team, and the CBJ still reeling from an abysmal effort against Washington.
It took some time to get into the right groove offensively. Shots were 13-2 at the end of the first period, despite Columbus being up 1-0 and overall play relatively neutral in possession. Columbus was having a hard time getting the puck close to Lack, and found the boards behind him on probably six or seven occasions. On the other side of the ice, McElhinney got a nice introduction to the NHL speed, enjoying his first start in a couple of years. Shots were coming from the outside and were gobbled up quickly, leaving little that could result in follow up goals. Credit the Columbus defense for being quite sound; however, I still felt their presence needed to be less about where they were on the ice, and more about neutralizing their opponents.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus vs Vancouver 10-20
A familiar feeling crept over me last night, watching the Blue Jackets pre game with that winged wheel prevalent on the other side of the ice. I was reminded of a rivalry (if you want to call it that) which has been a struggle for Columbus in their thirteen year history, separated now by a division in the Eastern Conference. The feeling, however, remains the same. When Columbus plays Detroit, I want fire. I want to see the players sacrifice their bodies, skate until their lungs burn, and battle like it is their last game of hockey ever.
Some call it playoff hockey. The expectation of seeing players showing every ounce of effort, giving little ground in their defensive zone and their offensive zone. For me, I call it sixty minutes. Like the sign said last year, no excuses, no regrets. I believe that teams who play like this will win every game they ‘should’ win if you look at the possession and other telling stats after the game. I believe Columbus had more to give last night.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ Detroit 10-15
Last night, Columbus squared off against the Buffalo Sabres in what I would consider a ‘should win’ game. The Sabres, prior to the game, sat at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with three losses as well as an overtime loss, with what appears to be a rebuild in full swing. For Columbus, it continues their new-era Eastern Conference experience, playing teams closer to home on a more regular basis.
Columbus struck early off the stick of Marian Gaborik. A fantastic shot from the top of the circles rung off the crossbar and fell straight to the ice, where the ever speedy Cam Atkinson buried the rebound for a 1-0 lead. Certainly some puck luck that it did not ricochet towards the boards, but on the other hand, half an inch lower and it would have been a clear goal for Gaborik.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ Buffalo 10/10
It is amazing to me how much changes when momentum builds late into a game and into the extra frame. The tone for this post changed dramatically with the conclusion of the third period, and of course, improved even more after the shootout victory thanks to Letestu and Atkinson. Yes, the Blue Jackets played and won their first road game of the season on Saturday night, yet I still feel the need to return to much of what concerned me in the early stages of the game (followed by brief elation, I promise).
The first period started poorly. New York was quick to the puck, smart with their passing, and stymied the CBJ defensively. By first period end, the shots favoured the Islanders 9-4, but there was plenty of positive in the possession Columbus maintained later in the period. Notable efforts from Dubinsky and Jenner to get physical and press the play forward pushed the play into the Islanders zone; however, shots remained a premium, and defensive efforts to get the puck on net were met with shin pads or the glass behind the net. Unfortunately the lone defender to take the spotlight was David Savard, who seems to be struggling with when to be patient with the puck and when to get rid of it. Shots into midsections from the point also come to mind.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ New York (Islanders) 10-5