So I haven’t posted a goal breakdown yet this season. Bad job by me. Sorry about that team. Anyway, what better goal to start it off with than Nick Foligno’s beauty on Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning. First things first though, some context for the goal: we’re almost five minutes into the second period in a game locked at zeroes. Both goalies are playing well, with Sergei Bobrovsky looking like last season’s Bob, and Ben Bishop looking like he’s looked all year. For those not following along with the Lightning, Bishop is in the top five or so in pretty much every relevant goaltending statistic. With all that happening, this game looked like it could be a ‘first goal wins’ kind of game, which is exactly how it played out. For those who have somehow missed it or just want to watch it again, here is video of the goal: Continue reading Goal Breakdown: Geometry Lessons
A hard fought, but possibly costly win came tonight versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. An ugly first period led way to a very good second period and a mish mash of a third. But more importantly, the Jackets finally do NOT crap the bed on a night when I do the three stars! Whoopee! All is well in Jackets-land, minus all the injuries and inconsistency and all the other things wrong. Anyway, ignore that for now and revel in a shutout victory.
3rd Star: Sergei Bobrovsky
He was good. Very good at times. Let’s be honest, that one save is where this is going. It was a good save. It was also the classic Patrick Roy move where the big arm/wrist movement post save makes it look MUCH better than it actually was. Watching it live, it looked spectacular. On replay, it was clear that Brown did not get the puck up very much and it was a fairly routine glove save. Then there is the bad part of that save. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this is nothing serious, as relying on Curtis McElhinney for more than a dozen games in an entire season is a losing proposition. Continue reading Stars of the Night: CBJ vs. Tampa Bay
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.
Desperate for a win, Columbus played host to the New York Rangers on Thursday night. It was somewhat laughable sitting in the stands pre-game and seeing names like Stralman, Dorsett, Moore, and Brassard all lined up with Rangers jerseys on. Makes me realize just how much these teams have swapped over the last couple seasons. Regardless, the stage was set for a solid matchup, and most would expect Columbus to take this game as not only a potential stepping stone to better results, but an opportunity to depart from their losing ways.
Solid pressure in the offensive zone was great to see from Columbus, yet pure scoring opportunities remained a premium. Notable was the shakiness of backup goaltender Talbot for New York, and most shots were met with unsure saves, leaving rebounds for the taking. Despite that, it was New York who managed to score first, making a solid tic tac toe play on the break. The biggest culprit on this particular rush was probably Tyutin, who appeared to not know who to cover, and failed to get a stick on the eventual goal scorer in Hagelin.
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.
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.
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.
Searching for the panic button? A 2-4-0 start from Columbus starts another season in familiar, mediocre territory. Two straight games with only a single goal, injury and ‘scratched player’ problems, and a distinct sense that 100% is not applicable to this roster. Feel free to hit the reset button on NHL 11 and start the season over whenever you feel like it.
The trouble began last night just before the five minute mark (after a handful of whiffed shots on great scoring opportunities for Columbus). Despite being on the penalty kill, the Blue Jackets applied enough pressure to allow Subban to fire a pass through the middle to a wide open Bourque, who skated in alone on Bobrovsky and beat him for the 1-0 lead. Now, I can understand that sometimes breakaways happen, but this team is starting to make a really bad habit of giving them away on a nightly basis. To make matters worse, they allowed on when they were a man short, when their entire game plan is to protect their own net. As a fan watching that, it’s infuriating.
The first puck of the 2013/2014 season dropped last night around 7:15pm in a packed Nationwide Arena. With another impressive fan showing to start the season, many were expecting the same ultra high level of intensity we enjoyed for much of the short 2012/2013 season. What they got was a different looking roster, a different looking team, yet an eerily similar result.
The Flames are not exactly an offensive powerhouse. They have a decent compliment of forwards, but it is not the type of team you see on the ticket and think “this is really going to be a tough battle for Columbus.” Really, it was the perfect type of team to bring in for the home opener to get some momentum built for the start of the season. Unfortunately for those who share that mindset, they were witness to pretty even play between both sides, with a lot of ‘feeling out’ from the Blue Jackets players and their linemates.
As Blue Jackets fans, I’m sure you’ve read a lot of prognostications on the CBJ’s season. Most of these (including my own) have harped on the issues the team could have this coming season. Regression from Sergei Bobrovsky. Not taking enough shots. Not controlling the play enough. A lack of goal scorers. There is one x-factor that could render two these issues moot, and turn two of those issues into strengths. If you read the title, then you can probably guess that I’m referring to Ryan Murray. In my opinion, Murray is the key cog in whether or not the Jackets have a successful year. Yes, Marian Gaborik scoring 40 goals would be huge. As would and early return from Nathan Horton and 25 goals in 60 games from him. Bob staying true to last seasons form would also be great. Boone Jenner sticking on the top line and being a Calder candidate would also be a boon to their chances (sorry, that joke was terrible). However, none of those will have the same impact as what Murray could do.