Posts tagged Fredrick Modin

Line Juggling with the Return of Modin


After watching the last couple weeks of Blue Jackets hockey, it becomes rather clear that a change is necessary to motivate the players. Their play has been subpar, and their motivation has been all but non-existent. Sometimes players need to feel the press of another competitive forward, ready to sweep in and steal their roster stop.

Enter Frederick Modin.

After a myriad of injuries and a miserable couple of years, he is finally coming close to playing condition. He competed well with the rest of the team in an hours worth of practice recently, and the outlook is very positive for one of the next three games. Now, it is well known around my circle that my criticisms of Modin have been relentless, even when healthy. His play on the puck is quite strong, but his lazy attitude while not on the puck needs some serious reworking, especially considering he is a veteran.

That being said, I can think of a few players on the Jackets roster I would love to replace with a healthy Modin. Mike Blunden seems outclassed in the NHL right now, making small but consistent mistakes on a nightly basis, and would do well to return to Syracuse for more conditioning. Jason Chimera is great with his speed, but has rarely used it of late, and has been the cause of many Blue Jackets turnovers. Even MacKenzie, who has seemed to be one of the more consistent players on the latter lines, could be removed for the boost in talent. The problem is, once Modin is on board, where does he fit in?

I have thrown together an assumptive line combination based on how I believe Hitchcock will react to his return;

Huselius – Vermette – Nash
Voracek – Umberger – Modin
Torres – Pahlsson – Dorsett
Boll – Brassard – Chimera

A couple of notes: Umberger should not be playing center, and it is really quite unfortunate that Hitch wants to go that route considering how deep the team is at that position. While his ability to get physical is higher than Brassard’s, it is a waste of talent to place Brassard on the fourth line, which should focus on pyhsical play and neutral zone attack.

Here is my preferred lineup;

Huselius – Vermette – Nash
Voracek – Brassard – Modin
Torres – Umberger – Dorsett
Boll – Pahlsson – Chimera

I am really excited about these pairings. That being said, it would have to be generated in a system where the top two lines play talent based hockey, and the bottom two lines play the Hitchcock ‘crash em and bash em’ hockey he is so famous for. By allowing the skilled lines to work the puck and try for the fancy passing, chemistry and excitement will build within Nationwide. If games are lost, at least fans will be treated to a level of talent that is currently being masked under a tired system. The Torres, Umberger, and Dorsett line really excites me. It will make teams top lines shudder at the thought of facing them, and they are all talented enough to bury the puck if an opportunity arises.

Hitch can make this team work, but he needs a three dimensional view of his talent.

Carry the Flag!

Early Injuries..

Leave it to the Blue Jackets to have the red cross marks etched beside players names only a couple games into the pre-season. While some of the best players have yet to really get involved in the pre-season, early wear has become apparent in some of the depth players.

Jason Chimera, not one shift after getting stitched up from catching a puck with his face, succumbed to injury when Belanger hammered him into the boards. I was not about to see the hit, however, Belanger was issued a five minute boarding call on the play, leaving me with very little need for creative thinking. Reports are suggesting that Chimera is doing well, with all tests coming back negative, but one has to wonder what this will do to his playing time even when he does return to the lineup.
Somewhat of a rogue injury, Freddie Modin is now (once again) out of the lineup with a sprained MCL. They have suggested around 4 to 6 weeks, but frankly, I am absolutely sick of waiting for this guy to get healthy. He has had his chances over and over again, and whether or not this injury was on account of poor conditioning or bad bone structure, it is simply happening too many times for me to ever expect him to be a healthy option for this team. Scheduled at in my books to play on one of the bottom two lines, Modin is going to have some tenacious competition by some of the younger players trying to crack the lineup for the first time in their careers.
Finally, somewhat of a smaller loss, Sestito suffered a head injury when Nashville tough guy Tootoo took him to the ice during a fight. While all tests were negative, it certainly reduces Sestito’s chances of making a big splash this year. It should also come as a strong reminder to players like Derick Brassard that fighting is not worth the hassle for some players.
My bigger concern is offensive depth. While the Jackets have a few bubble players, Chimera and Modin provide a lot of veteran presence and that is valuable to no end for a team as young as the Jackets are. Hopefully Hitchcock is pushing for a high calcium and protein diet for our boys….. If this keeps up it might make for a long year.
Carry the Flag!

Game One Tonight!


Personally as a Jackets fan, I have been waiting for a good hockey game for quite some time now, and unfortunately after the win against Chicago, that effort seemed far from sight.

But the playoff Jackets are going to be different.  I have my expectations, and my assumptions, and right now, I assume they will take this series very seriously, if not for the fans, for the competition.
We all know Detroit is one of the best teams in the league, but we also know the Jackets come to play with talented teams match up against them.  With their defensive style and possession game, Columbus could stand to stymy a very potent Wings offense.
Some quick notes about the game…  Huselius and Modin have both been cleared to play.  Steve Mason will obviously be getting the start for Columbus.  Also, Derick Brassard was not cleared by doctors yesterday, which is both unfortunate and good in a way.
Lines are…
Huselius – Malhotra – Nash
Umberger – Vermette – Voracek
Modin – Peca – Chimera
Torres – Williams – Boll
Frankly, I think the fourth line should get more minutes than the third line, and I certainly hope they are running a 1a and 1b rather than a line 1 and a line 2.  Realistically, taking Nash off line 1 and replacing him with someone like Modin immediately drops the quality of the line to that of a third line in today’s NHL.  I certainly hope Hitch keeps that in mind..
Carry the Flag!

Standings Update.. March 9th

Welcome to the final 16 games.  Current standings place Columbus in 6th place, only four points out of 5th place, and only two points ahead of 9th.

Does this concern anyone?  It should.  The Blue Jackets are 5-4-1 during their last ten games, the majority of those wins coming in the early stages of that ten game stretch.  A massive win against Detroit certainly rebuilt confidence in the team from the fans perspective, but as we have seen in past years, strong finishes are far from what we as fans are used to.
With the addition of Vermette, but the loss of players like Mike Peca and Freddy Modin, the Jackets will have to find new forms of chemistry with different players to really create the depth necessary to retain a spot in the playoffs.  With so many teams trying to acquire the 8th spot, it will take at least double digits in wins, which means an 11-5 or 12-4 run will be absolutely necessary.
What do you fans think?  Do we stand a chance against some of the other teams like Nashville who are streaking right now?  Will it take a change in the lineup, or are the lines we have formed sufficient?  Who will be the whipping boy down the stretch?
My players to watch are RJ Umberger, Steve Mason, and Antoine Vermette.  RJ has been huge these past months in terms of energy and secondary scoring.  He scored his 22nd and 23rd goal of the season on Saturday, and I am ready to watch him score thirty goals this year.  Vermette’s presence showed a high quality special teams on Saturday against one of the league’s best, and if he can continue to bring that presence, his numbers will also be on the rise.  Something about Nash and Vermette on the penalty kill actually gets me excited!  Finally, the Mase.  He was huge against Detroit, and he will have to be huge again…. Probably 15-16 times.
Carry the Flag!

Post Game Thoughts

Last night, Dan LaCosta handled everything the Avalanche could muster, recording his first career NHL shutout.  If this team had a laundry list of players they would have never expected to explode into the NHL scene this year (Brassard, Voracek, Mason, LaCosta, Methot, Russell, etc) it would clearly be turning to page two very soon.

Not only did he record the shutout, but he did it in a way that proved his worth.  The defense was alright, but was still penetrated at times, forcing Dan to make one or two key saves in a row on multiple occasions.  His rebound control definitely needs some work, but even with the rebounds he allowed, he remained in position after the fact, making sure wherever the puck went, so too did he and his positioning.
RJ Umberger was once again a physical and agile beast on the ice.  He has really taken on a role that was very similar to his great work ethic in the playoffs last year with Philadelphia.  Always first to the puck, and getting shots on or near the net when you would not expect him to.  While he has not really been awarded yet (he clearly deserved the game winner against San Jose), he has received the respect of many fans.
Modin continues to disappoint, most recently on the first powerplay of the game, when his foolishness put him in the penalty box and made it 4 on 4.  It is another statistic in a growing trend of mistakes and inability from him.  He missed the net on key opportunities in the second period, twice which allowed the puck to bank off the back boards and allow Colorado to bring the puck up the ice in a 2 or 3 on 1 opportunity.  Yes, he made a nice play to tip the point shot which put the Jackets up 3-0, but it did very little to alleviate the prior mistakes of the game.
All in all, it was a strong effort by the Jackets.  If I were Hitchcock, I would be a little worried about them not being able to score in the first period, even though they dominated the offensive zone.  Their resilience is what won them the game though, taking the must win mentality deep into the game.
Carry the Flag!

Some Negatives After a BIG Positive

I do not like to be the person to downplay a very positive thing, but I have found that I single out players or coaches even in victory.  There are a couple things that I want to get out there and I would really like your (the fans) opinions on them as well.

1.  Ken Hitchcock and his “play em’ if they are hot” attitude.  Yes, playing a line a shift after they have scored can sometimes work, but doing it every time seems like overkill.  Not only does that wear out the line a bit more in the middle of the game, it makes three other lines go cold.  Until the Jackets have a number one center, I personally do not think there is a single line that stands out from the rest, unless you want to assume that any line Rick Nash plays on is the number one and should get the most playing time.  I think at this point of the season, and from what we have seen when the top guys are out, there are three capable lines that need equal time on the ice.
This attitude also extends to goaltenders.  He absolutely wore out Mason over the last couple months, and while mono was the real culprit, playing any goaltender in that many games can only lead to trouble.  I think Wade has not really found his bearings yet, but he has been a savior in New York, and I think he can be a savior in Columbus if given the right opportunity.
2.  Modin..  I know a lot of people like him for his ‘veteran presence’ and ‘leadership’ qualities, but I want to straighten something out right now.  He is lazy on the ice, makes big mistakes with the puck on the powerplay, and has a very hard time getting the puck to the net when the team needs the puck on/in the net.  Frankly, the team is better off with a young player like Jakub on the powerplay if not for his effort alone.  Modin is sluggish with the puck, and a shadow of his former self.  If ever a player that the team could do without, it is Modin, and he is in my opinion, the last player from the old Jackets era (the team we do not like to take about) that needs to be removed.
3.  Backman.  Yes, he scored the winner last night.  No, he did not deserve it.  The puck was floating in the crease, and he took advantage of a great shot by Umberger, and capitalized on a bad defensive effort and basically swatted in the winner.  This does not alleviate his lazy defensive play, and horrible inability to get the puck on net during offensive possession.  The Jackets offense needs to know that when they play the puck back to the point, the shot will be accurate, and through traffic, and Backman will never be able to provide that for him.
So I have ranted, and I have come to a conclusion that points 2 and 3 and what will really set this team apart.  As much as it may hurt the Jackets in terms of cap space and value of the dollar, Backman and Modin need to have limited roles for the rest of the season, and guys like Methot and Filatov need to get their opportunities with the big club.
Carry the Flag!

February Reality Check

Now, I should probably preface this with the fact that I tend to react quickly and frankly to things, although the playoff trance had me going there for a while.

Look back at last year.  At this time, their record was better, and the fans felt practically the same way – they could really get there – about the team.  Were you unrealistic?  No, not at all, but who could have possibly anticipated the Adam fo*te debacle, and the removal of Fedorov (necessary) right around deadline time, as the team waned away from any real post-season hopes.
But is this year the same?  So they lost a couple games in the past week.  Prior to that, they took down one of the league’s best (Detroit) and looked comfortable doing so.  Mason found out he has mono, which could easily be the only reason he has looked human since December.  Injuries have quietly dissipated, although the loss of young Filatov, and obviously having Brassard out for the remainder of the season hurts, but also consider the addition of Williams and the rise of young Voracek and you end up rounding out a confident team that fits with one another.
My February concerns are fairly simple.  
  • Acquiring a center, even at rental status to take up Brassard’s spot for the remainder of the season.  This will allow minimal line modifications, and let the players get set in positions they are comfortable with.  I do not care how much you want to think he might be capable of it, Malhotra is NOT a first line center. Who should go?  A prospect, and Modin.  I do not care how hard that will be to swing, Howson needs to swing it.
  • Continue to work with the powerplay to make it a POWERplay, rather than simply a man advantage.  Playoff teams have strong specialty teams.
  • Let Mason get healthy.  Mono is a horrible thing to deal with, and he should be on bedrest for at least a week to try and get back when his body is prepared to let him back.  What happened against Dallas and St Louis could easily have been avoided if Hitch would think with his head rather than Mason’s.
  • Trade a defensemen.  The logjam is going to be an issue with Klesla healthy again.  I personally do not want to see Backman dress again, and I would hate the idea of either Methot or Russell having to sit out games.  They all have their strengths, and they are all trying to build chemistry with their linemates.  No more juggling!
Enough from me fans.. What do YOU think?
Carry the Flag!

A Much Needed Rest

After a difficult road trip, the Blue Jackets are finally going to get a chance to rest their weary legs.  Beaten, battered, and riddled with injury, the boys will get the much deserved break they have sorely needed for weeks, while the all-stars meet in Montreal.

But I will not be settling for thoughtful digression here.  I am quite angry as a Jackets fan waiting for the team to float above the ‘red bar’ rather than below it, and frankly, I am not sure that my issues can be resolved by any one player or coach (or Injury Ninja).
Steve Mason made his fifteenth consecutive start yesterday, and showed clear signs of wear, comparable to what we saw in the Vancouver and Edmonton game.  You would think that seeing his stats flare above normal would be enough for Hitchcock to give their new (and very capable backup) a chance in at least one of the three games, but in a very non-hitchian way, we were forced to watch and feel sorry for the tired rookie.
Other notables on the trip were things like Modin and Tyutin on the powerplay, struggling to make the right play at the right time, and both forcing unnecessary shots on 5 on 3s that never saw pad or twine.  We saw Dorsett get hit with a stick to the face, in a move that in most cases warrants 5-10 games worth of suspension, but in this case, did not even merit a 5 minute major (and yes, I will be going more in depth later on this).  We saw RJ get hit from behind, and cut, only to come back and score the first two goals of the game, which will go down as one of his best games as a Jacket.
A finally, we saw a player take control when control was what we needed.  Kris Russell played his heart out in a game that needed a player to step up.  His constantly strong defense and great ability to move the puck into the offensive zone were tremendous help in netting four goals on Kipper.
It was a strange trip, and a lesson for the Jackets.  The playoffs are NOT going to be on a silver platter this year.
Carry the Flag!