Derek MacKenzie

The Coach’s Offseason Thoughts (So Far)

Posted by The Coach on June 30, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Roster Talk / 1 Comment

I had the majority of a post put together for an offseason game plan post featuring all the moves I wanted to see the Jackets make. I’d figured out reasonable cap hits for the guys I wanted to be signed, figured out a nice trade or two that made sense, and wrote a nice long paragraph about how no one in their right mind would deal anything of value for RJ Umberger. Then it all got blown to hell. It came out that Jason Spezza had Columbus on his no trade list (I had him as a trade target), Nikita Nikitin was dealt to the Oilers, and Umberger was somehow traded for Scott Hartnell. In my opinion, those moves took care of a lot of what the Jackets needed to do this offseason. So instead of a post detailing everything I wanted to see, I figured I’d hit everything that has happened so far, and what I want to see happen the rest of the offseason. Continue reading…

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: Frank J. Selke Trophy

Posted by Staff on June 07, 2014
tUB Awards / No Comments

The Selke goes out to the top defensive forward in the NHL. Usually this also carries with it the burden of being somewhat of an offensive player as well. Last year’s winner was Brandon Dubinsky with others up and down the line up receiving votes. Can 17 repeat? Read on to see who this year’s Union Blue Selke winner is…

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: King Clancy Memorial Trophy

Posted by The Coach on May 23, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, tUB Awards / No Comments

Here it is folks, the day you’ve all been waiting for. I bet every single one of you has been waiting on pins and needles to find out who wins the Clancy. It is awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Generally, this one goes to players who do extremely awesome philanthropy. As we aren’t exactly privy to that information (for the most part) it took on a little different flavor. And your winner is….. Continue reading…

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Posted by Staff on May 20, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, tUB Awards / No Comments

Unlike last year, we had a consensus winner for the Masterton this time around. A reminder (as this one may be a bit more obscure), the Masterton goes out to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Last year the award was taken home by Vinny Prospal, so we’ll obviously have a new player take home this hardware. The champion is something of a no brainer, but the tUB team was all over the map in the second and third place votes. Continue on to find out the winner…. Continue reading…

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Goal Breakdown: CBJ vs Pittsburgh Game Six

Posted by The Coach on April 30, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / 2 Comments

So the season is over. What a season it was. The best in Blue Jackets history by any measure you want to use. We’ll all have some thoughts coming later this week on the season, so let’s talk about this series for a minute. It took until the game five reminder, but keep in mind just how good this Penguins team really is. They had the two most talented players in this series by far, and probably four or five of the top five or six. Hell, they would have the two most talented players in ANY series they could possibly play. Their downfall the last couple years has been Marc-Andre Fleury, who was steady enough in this series. Basically, this is a very good hockey team. Yet the Blue Jackets gave them all they could handle. Unlike their last playoff appearance, this was a series. Actually, that verbalizes it quite well. 2008-09 was a playoff appearance, 2013-14 was a series. This team fought to the bitter end, well after others had given up. Our own RockmanHalo turned the television off. I headed over to the kitchen to do some cooking about two minutes before Tyutin scored (don’t worry I could still see/hear). I stayed in the kitchen through all three goals, but had to sit back down for the final furious minutes. Pretty sure it’s my fault. If I stayed in the kitchen, they probably would have tied it up. Dammit. Anyway, let’s take a look at some goals. Continue reading…

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Goal Breakdowns: CBJ vs. Pit Game One

Posted by The Coach on April 18, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / 3 Comments

So a 4-3 game one loss is in the books. I guess you could call it a moral victory, although I would call it a missed opportunity. Marc-Andre Fleury was as shaky as advertised in the first half of the game, the game was more or less even at 5 on 5, but the Penguins powerplay and a few key mistakes brought down the upset attempt. I’m only going to breakdown two goals completely, as for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot of hidden elements in most of the goals. The Jackets opened the scoring with a huge individual effort from Brandon Dubinsky (although Jack Johnson scored the goal). The Penguins followed that up with a Jussi Jokinen goal that resulted from Sergei Bobrovsky misplaying the puck, Fedor Tyutin misplaying the puck, Derek MacKenzie letting his man go (probably thinking Tyutin was going to corral the puck), and Bob being a little out of position after scrambling back into the net. The Jackets grabbed the lead right back on a Mark Letestu powerplay goal. I like the puck movement on that goal, really spreading out the zone and forcing Fleury to move. The goal ultimately came off a scramble that saw Fleury needing to move across the net. They have to keep that up. MacKenzie made up for his earlier gaffe, with a great individual effort on the PK to take the puck from Kris Letang and beat Fleury on a breakaway. The Penguins made it 3-2 on a powerplay goal by their second unit, off a great tip by Beau Bennett. I would have maybe liked to see Dubinsky pick up Bennett as he comes across there, but no major mistakes on that goal.

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Playoff Preview: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh

Posted by The Coach on April 16, 2014
Coaching, Columbus Blue Jackets, General Manager / No Comments

It’s pretty crazy to think about how much has changed since the Jackets last playoff appearance. Steve Mason was the savior. Rick Nash was the franchise. Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek were the future. RJ Umberger looked like a steal. Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda were a beloved shutdown pair. Ken Hitchcock was coaching them up. Scott Howson looked like a genius. Well Mason is the savior in Philadelphia. Nash is the franchise in New York. Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard are the present in New York and Philadelphia. Mike Commodore is somewhere. Jan Hejda is a beloved shutdown defender in Colorado. Ken Hitchcock is coaching up St. Lous. And if you are paying attention, Scott Howson actually still looks like a pretty good GM. Make no mistake, this is Howson’s team. He brought nearly every single player on this roster into the organization. The most prominent player expected to play in this series that was a Jarmo/JD pickup is probably Blake Comeau. Both goaltenders were Howson pickups. Seven of the eight defensemen who might see time were Howson pickups (Nick Schultz being the exception). Comeau, Jack Skille and Corey Tropp are the only Jarmo pickups at forward (plus the injured Nathan Horton). I’ve already dwelled on this more than I planned on, I just wanted to make sure it was out there that this team was built by Howson. Moving on.

The Pittsburgh Penguins. Funny how the Jackets first two playoff opponents have been Detroit and Pittsburgh. I know some fans are concerned about Pens fans taking over the building. Think back on that last playoff series, and remember the atmosphere. Nationwide was rocking with CBJ fans, and I expect the same this time around. If Detroit fans couldn’t overtake the rink, I don’t see how it should be much different this time. As for the on-ice product, I expect this to be a very close series. At even strength at least. The two teams are actually very close when it comes to 5v5 play. In shots for percentage, they rank 13th (Pittsburgh) and 14th (Columbus). In Fenwick Close, they rank 12th (Columbus) and 16th (Pittsburgh). In Corsi Close, they rank 13th (CBJ) and 16th (Pit). In goals for percentage, they rank 8th (Pit) and 12th (CBJ). On other words, the Jackets are slightly better at controlling the play, while the Penguins score a tiny bit more. Which makes sense, considering the talent they have, as Crosby, Malkin, and others have shown they (and their linemates) can consistently score on more of their shots than league average. But then again, the Jackets have Bobrovsky. Like I said, this should be a very close series at even strength. Pittsburgh has been quite a bit better on special teams than Columbus. So on the surface, the edge lies with the Penguins. Let’s look deeper, comparing the forwards, defense, goaltending, and special teams. And maybe we’ll see how the Jackets might be able to pull of the upset.
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Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Dallas

Posted by The Coach on April 09, 2014
Stars of the Night / No Comments

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Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Islanders

Posted by The Coach on April 06, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Stars of the Night / 3 Comments

The Jackets took down the Isles in a slightly early evening affair (not many 6pm starts). It was something if a strange game, very un-Jacket-y, with the majority of the teams four goals coming on the powerplay. The shots, shot attempts, and pretty much every stat were pretty close. This confuses some people, but we’ll get to that. Faceoffs were the one big difference, as the Jackets finished with 65% of the draws in their favor. Oh yeah, the score was also pretty different.

Third Star: Mark Letestu

Letestu was solid tonight, finishing with an assist on Boone Jenner’s game opening marker, and a goal capping off a fantastic passing play. Oddly, I didn’t feel like there were many standouts tonight (other than the guy I’ll talk about next). I just felt like most of the team was solid. I did like seeing Letestu being engaged physically, especially the nice hit he laid on Cal Clutterbuck (just before John Persson took out Derek MacKenzie for no reason, then slashed him while he was on the ice).

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Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Colorado

Posted by The Coach on April 01, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Stars of the Night / No Comments

Disappointing end to what once looked so promising. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this game, as the Jackets have traditionally struggled with the Avalanche’s speed. But minus top scorer Matt Duchene, the Avalanche were not able to pull away like they usually do. The Jackets controlled play for the first two periods, carrying a resounding two goal lead into the third period. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hang on, and a (justified) penalty on Artem Anisimov put the Avs on a 4v3 powerplay in overtime to seal the deal. On the bright side, the Jackets got a point, New Jersey only got one point, and Washington got crushed. So the CBJ stay in a playoff spot for the time being.
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