What was proving to be another mediocre trade deadline left much of the social media based Blue Jackets fan base uneasy, concerned, and somewhat frustrated that new General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen had yet to ripple the water in trades let alone make a resounding impact on the Blue Jackets roster. With the playoffs remarkably within reach, and the brick by brick nature of Columbus’ rebuild, questions about players like Brassard, Mason, Umberger, and a few choice others’ pending future with the team seemed to be very much up in the air.
And yet the clock struck ten, eleven, twelve, and one o’clock without any major changes, not only with the Blue Jackets, but league wide.
Finally, when it seemed like today would be the ultimate “Trade DUDline day,” news started pouring in. Steve Mason would no longer adorn the Blue Jackets sweater. He would be dealt to Philadelphia in exchange for Michael Leighton and a third round pick in the 2015 draft.
Continue reading Kekalainen Makes Major Splash at Trade Deadline
Last night brought the Phoenix Coyotes to town and also marked the 2nd “Hockey and Heels” event put on by the Columbus Blue Jackets. I was very excited to go to since last year’s quickly became my favorite hockey event of the season. I think getting more women involved with – and loving – hockey is something to be supported. There are a lot of very smart female hockey fans and we are constantly fighting to get the hockey world to realize that women who follow the great game aren’t just puck bunnies, or people looking for distraction “while the men watch” (ahem). So kudos to the Blue Jackets for giving women a night to hang out, talk hockey, and enjoy some girl time.
The Jackets continue to uphold their reputation for doing things for their fans in high style. Hockey and Heels was held in the Founder’s Club and was set up with a bar at the ready (complete with a ‘signature drink’) and a full spread of goodies to snack on. Every attendee received a $50 gift certificate from Meyer’s Jewelers, a raffle ticket for event giveaways and, upon leaving, a Blue Jackets wine glass. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces but also a lot of new ones. Everyone was pretty excited and grabbed seats, packing the room full and it was time for the event to get underway.
Continue reading 2013 Hockey and Heels
We’re officially at the halfway point, so I thought I would take a look back at my preseason individual goal predictions, the team predictions, and what to expect moving forward. First things first, lets start off with the team totals. My predictions had them finishing with a +2 goal differential over 82 games (or about +1 for 48 games), if they could raise their team save percentage from .903 to .910. Unfortunately, they are currently sitting at a -15 goal differential. The problem here hasn’t been just scoring or defense. I had them at 64 goals through 24 games and they are only 9 goals below that. On the defensive side, improvement was dependent upon raising the save percentage from .903 to .910, but it has actually dropped to .902. A jump to .910 would have reduced the first half goals against by 8. Aside from the predictions, the team has greatly improved so far this season. With league average shooting percentage and save percentage, the Jackets would be at a -6 goal differential (based on 60 goals for and 66 goals against). The Blue Jackets -60 full season goal differential from last year equates to a -17 over 24 games. For some perspective a -6 goal differential would tie them with Nashville, while a -17 would tie them with Edmonton.
Continue reading Second Half Expectations – Looking Back to Look Forward
For the third straight game, the Columbus Blue Jackets took to the ice and accomplished the (arguably) inconceivable. Yes, prior to this season, backs were turned, basements were determined, and most analysts gave little thought to the current structure of this team.
Yet the boys in Union Blue continue to offer some of the most enjoyable hockey we fans have seen in this city for years. Passion? Heart? Tenacity? It is most certainly all there. They may be void of pure, raw, superstar talent, but the additions to the roster between Springfield call-ups and new acquisitions have allowed this team to have a legitimate heart beat.
Tonight, without considering the final score, was the NINTH straight game that was decided by a single goal. In addition to that obscene total, this marks the FIFTH straight game that needed additional time to produce a winner. At the current record of 8-12-4 I would hardly deem this team worthy of the ‘kardiac kids’ (yes, a Canadian can reference football) label, but I have been noticeably drawn back into games after feeling numb through their first fifteen games. Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Vancouver 3/7
The Blue Jackets were downed 5-4 in overtime last night by the Dallas Stars in a game featuring a lot of goals, but not a whole lot of highlight reel offensive plays. Sergei Bobrovsky let in a number of goals he’d like to have back, including the Stars late 3rd go-ahead goal, and the overtime game winner. Heading into the game I had planned on breaking down all of the goals scored, and through most of the 1st period I was worried I’d have nothing to write about. Instead, I’m left with a mess of garbage goals and sloppy play. So with that in mind, I’m going to quickly run through two goals for each team, as there really isn’t much to say about a well played rush that ends in a bank off a leg, or a long floater squeaking in. Continue reading Goal Breakdowns vs. Dallas – 2/26
Last night was a game of surprises as the Blue Jackets faced off against the Detroit Red Wings. Luckily for us it wasn’t the kind of surprises that usually occur in Blue Jackets land – when we’re surprised as the new and innovative ways we find to mess stuff up. Last night was a nice respite from the losing ways of late so let’s get to the highlights and different kind of surprises that came from the game.
Surprise #1: Bob is still giving up the early goals. Not sure if this is his “thing” or what, but the early goals putting our boys in the hole early just have to stop. Both shots – going five hole – were depressing and stifling. I was able to attend the #CBJBWW game viewing party last night and we hadn’t even gotten through one round of “Let’s Go Jackets” before it was 1-0 Red Wings. Bob’s performance rebounded and he came up strong and acrobatic late in the game – particularly on the kills – but for a team that is offensively challenged, this must stop now. We have heard of Bob’s unwavering work ethic, and his time working with Ian Clark is well documented – let’s hope those two can continue to improve his game.
Continue reading Game Recap – Columbus @ Detroit 2/22
Unlike most Goal Breakdown posts, this one is about something beyond the play of the Blue Jackets players on a specific goal. This post is about everyone’s favorite grinder, Derek Dorsett (it is amusing to me that Jared Boll versus Dorsett used to be a semi-legitimate argument). Dorsett potted a very respectable 12 goals last season, mostly the product of his no frills, pucks-on-goal, crash-the-net style of hockey. However, I have noticed a marked difference in his game in the offensive zone this season. He has been trying to dangle defensemen, has passed up solid shot opportunities to make a fancy pass, and has tried to stickhandle around guys instead of bulling through them. This is a problem. Derek Dorsett has been a top six player this season in terms of ice time and linemates, and he is playing like he thinks he is a “top six player”. The issue is that for him to be successful in a top six role, he needs to keep playing like the grinder he is. A lot of NHLers have had very successful careers playing top six roles while playing the way Dorsett is suited to. Think about David Clarkson in New Jersey currently, with Tomas Holmstrom as the all-time example. Those guys rarely, if ever, try to dangle anyone.
Continue reading Goal Breakdown – Know Your Role
Just another February Saturday in Ohio. The snow was falling, the Yuengling was pouring, and Detroit was in town for another weekend game against our Columbus Blue Jackets. Have you read this before? Certain expectations are common for these games: play hard, stay in the game, and be louder than the Wings fans in attendance. This game, unlike many in our recent past, found a strong percentage of the crowd in Blue Jackets third jerseys, and a great collection of loud fans ready to get behind the home team.
A slow start (but not nearly as slow as recent games) found the Blue Jackets down a goal midway through the first period, but a strong second half led to an excellent low point shot by Wisniewski that beat a screened (Umberger) Jimmy Howard. Taking the momentum away from Detroit heading into the first intermission was great to see, and I felt that it really translated into the rest of the game.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Detroit 2/2
A little over 10,400 Blue Jackets faithful showed up to Nationwide Arena last night to see if our hometown team could finally deliver a regulation win against the Dallas Stars based on the “never be outworked” philosophy that was promised this season. After some early back and forth, it was confirmed that both Jagr and Benn would be in the lineup, and the placement of Lehtonen in goal promised us a good challenge for the match up.
The early part of last night didn’t show much promise. We were outskated, continued to play poorly in the neutral zone, and did not seem to be up to the challenge of another game so quickly after the
tie loss to Chicago. The Blue Jackets execution on the power play was non-existent early on in the game. This included the inability to capitalize on an 5-on-3 opportunity that seemed to seal our fate and cement the fact that the goals just weren’t going to come this year. It was nearing the end of the second, with the boo birds coming out, that I found myself with some rationalizations “Well, at least there’s hockey”; “Hey, at least we’re facing a #1 goalie and not a back-up”.
Continue reading Recap – Dallas @ Columbus, 1/28
The Blue Jackets have been allowing a lot of goals so far this season. Way too many of these have been easily preventable through competent defensive zone play from the forwards. Now this isn’t excusing the defense, as they have been no great shakes either, but the forwards have been guilty of very simple mistakes. There has been a lot of puck-watching, players out of position, chasing the opponent, and over-committing. Let’s quickly take a look at the guilty parties so far this season. Goals are rarely the fault of a single player, but I’m going to highlight a specific forward or two on each of these.
Continue reading Defensive Zone Play by Forwards – a Work In Progress