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
It’s that time again! Trade deadline! The Blue Jackets have provided us such a whirlwind of a March that no one seems to know for sure if Jarmo and JD shall be buyers, sellers or standard bearers at the close Wednesday’s activities. With that in mind, all of us at the Union Blue decided to have a little fun. We challenged ourselves to each come up with the top three players we would keep, and the top three players we would deal. There were a few guidelines:
1. Only players who have dressed for the Blue Jackets team this season are eligible for consideration
2. Sergei Bobrovsky is excluded from consideration (given his quality play lately, we figured we’d all pick him anyway)
3. Players who have a no-movement or no-trade clause are still eligible for our lists, but the designation should be noted with an “NMC” or “NTC”.
So welcome to a little time inside our brains. Remember, this is what we want to happen, not what we think will happen…read along, see if you agree with any of us, or sound off in the comments as to why we might just be crazy. We’ll be watching…we may have some off-side wagers involved as well!
With their 2-1 victory over the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets finally clawed their way into sole possession of a playoff spot. The Jackets managed to survive a horrendous 3rd period, where they were outshot 17-1, to force overtime. It was there that Mark Letestu capped off a two point night with the game winner. After a slow first two periods, the Ducks turned on the jets in the 3rd, keeping the Blue Jackets on their heels, with only Sergei Bobrovsky carrying his weight. With 29 saves last night, Bobrovsky finished March with incredible numbers: 9-2-3 record, .950 save percentage, 1.49 goals against average, and three shutouts.
Continue reading Goal Breakdowns vs. Anaheim 3/31
The Blue Jackets wrapped up a Canadian tour last night in Calgary and both fan bases were curious to see what team would show up for their side. Columbus was looking to finally get a regulation win on the road with back-up Steve Mason in net, and Flames faithful were curious to see how their team would respond in their first outing since Jerome Iginla was traded.
Right off the bat, my new favorite line of 11-42-13 was buzzing – creating some opportunities and providing some sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Cam Atkinson had a beautiful opportunity off a pass from Matt Calvert that he just couldn’t convert. But this energy set the tone for the arrival of the other lines on ice. While on the PK, Mark Letestu buried a short-handed goal to put the Jackets up 1-0. Shortly after, Dalton Prout and Tim Jackman engaged in a bout at middle ice that Prout won soundly and certainly brought many cheers from the group of friends I was with game-watching. Prouter certainly seems to be impressing in his time up with the big club and the long term defensive picture got a little more cloudy for all the right reasons as another quality candidate is showing us he’s here to play.
Continue reading Game Recap – Columbus @ Calgary 3/29
The Blue Jackets finished off a nailbiter last night, downing the Nashville Predators 4-3 to extend their point streak to 11 games. The Jackets, who have gone 7-0-4 over that streak, have now played in twenty-one 1 goal games. Sergei Bobrovsky was his usual excellent self, making 32 saves in the win, including 13 in the 3rd period where the Jackets were outshot 15-7 by the Preds. One more stat of note before I get to the goal breakdowns: Brandon Dubinsky won 16 of the 18 faceoffs he took last night, helping the Blue Jackets finish with 61% of the faceoff wins. Now on to the breakdowns.
Continue reading Goal Breakdowns vs. Nashville 3/19
In the final meeting this regular season between the Blue Jackets and the Blackhawks, fans of both teams were treated to an excellent game, loaded with shots, great saves, quality plays, and extended time. Sadly, the sea of red was quite visible in the crowd, however, the Hawks fans weren’t noticeably louder than the Blue Jackets fans until the final outcome was determined, and any pro Hawks chants were stymied by the collective.
The shootout loss tonight ends the season series at 0-2-2. While the Blackhawks achieved all eight points available, Columbus put up a substantial fight in each of the four games, losing by a goal (or less if you consider the shootout loss). And lest we forget the first meeting of the season where a terrible interference call on Foligno left Columbus one goal short. In short, Columbus put up an impressive fight against one of the best teams in the National Hockey League. Certainly an improvement from years past.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Chicago 3/15
Well folks, you knew it would happen some time. Last night the Canucks returned to town and ended the Blue Jackets’ 5 game win streak although the boys in union blue were able to keep their point streak alive. Overall the game difference came down to a slow first period and the fact that this team still has some talent gaps that are the difference between good and great. Well and there were some questionable calls. So on to the recap.
Continue reading Game Recap: Vancouver @ Columbus, 3/12
Last night the Blue Jackets took down the Red Wings 3-0, clinching the season series against Detroit for the first time in franchise history. Also making history was Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves for his first career shutout. I was watching the game on the Detroit feed, and was shocked to hear how impressed the Wings announcers were with this Blue Jackets squad. It’s tough sometimes when you watch one team so much more than any other to keep perspective. The Wings announcers were very enthusiastic about Sergei Bobrovsky (calling him the best goalie in the NHL so far this month), talking about how they were the hardest working team the Wings have faced, and saying it looked like the Jackets were dominating the Wings like how the Wings have the Jackets for years. With that being said, let’s take a look at the Jackets goals from last night.
Continue reading Goal Breakdowns vs. Detroit 3/9
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
The Blue Jackets took down the Oilers 4-3 in the shootout last night. This was a rare game where a team pulled their goalie and it actually ended up in a win. I wish I could talk here about the tactics of pulling a goalie to give the team a jump, but that just wasn’t the case last night. Instead, Steve Mason was relatively terrible (all three goals were stoppable), Sergei Bobrovsky was very good (especially on the two cross crease saves in overtime), and the entire Jackets roster put in a full 65 minutes. Well except for Matty Calvert (tie down the damn tie down!). I would like to highlight the incredibly penalty kill in the 3rd period. The Jackets maintained possession for nearly the entire penalty, they managed a couple of “almost” chances out of it, yet always made the smart play to either maintain possession or get the puck in deep. Great work by Artem Anisimov, RJ Umberger, and everyone else who hit the ice during that kill. Now onto the goals.
Continue reading Goal Breakdowns vs. Edmonton 3/5