James Wisniewski

Three Stars and Game in One Picture CBJ vs. WSH

Posted by The Coach on March 03, 2015
Columbus Blue Jackets / 1 Comment

I am clearly still reeling from the trade deadline. I should have greatly enjoyed this game. It was an old time hockey game, with a lot of hitting and fighting, and was a close game that was in doubt up until the end. I’ll get to my thoughts in the Stud and Dud sections, but needless to say I wasn’t a fan of the Jackets moves over the last few days. I like the Cam Atkinson extension, as it’s a fair price for a 2nd/3rd line tweener, although the Jackets now have quite of few of those type players signed for decent money. Anyway, back to the game. The Jackets fell 5-3 to the Capitals, after battling back from multiple two goal deficits to keep it within one goal up to the Caps empty netter with nine seconds left. The game featured fisticuffs from new Jackets Justin Falk and David Clarkson (sort of), as well as Cody GoloubefJared Boll and Dalton Prout. Also worth noting was the return of Sergei Bobrovsky, who was solid, stopping 28 of the 32 shots he faced.

3rd Star: Niklas Backstrom

Backstrom is really good. He’s played his whole career next to the lightning rod that is Alex Ovechkin, so he’s constantly overlooked. He gets called underrated enough that he’s probably properly rated at this point, but even watching him he is easy to pass by. He is so good without the puck, and his best skill with the puck is his passing. He’s the kind of guy every player wants to play with. Does all the things away from the puck but with it is always willing to make his linemates look good. His all-around play really opens things up for Ovechkin.

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Three Stars and Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. MTL

Posted by The Coach on February 27, 2015
Columbus Blue Jackets / No Comments

The Jackets dropped a 5-2 decision to Montreal, although that maybe wasn’t even the biggest Jackets related news of the day. Shortly before puck drop they announced they had dealt Nathan Horton‘s back to the Toronto Maple Leafs for David “Wendel” Clarkson. I’ll address that trade a bit later. As for the game, the Jackets took on the powerhouse Canadiens, and it didn’t go super awesome. After falling behind quickly, the Jackets evened it up just as quickly, before falling behind again almost as quickly. That third goal was one of the rare NHL goals that are almost entirely on the goaltender. After a brutal turnover by Curtis McElhinney, he then struggled to get set for the shot, and then let the puck go right through him. Not great. The game was never really in doubt after that, until a brief period after Marko Dano made it a two goal game but before the Canadiens iced it with an empty netter.

3rd Star: Marko Dano

I was all prepared to write about Dano bailing out on the first Montreal goal (gotta get in that shooting lane, no excuses there), and compare it to Brandon Dubinsky going hard to the net, scoring, and getting hurt. Was going to be something about about the difference between needing to win and wanting to win. Well then Dano plays the rest of the game like his pants are on fire, scores the second goal to get them back in the game, and even had a play he didn’t score on that was quite similar to Dubi’s play earlier. So now I don’t know what to think. No excuse for his work on the Subban goal, so I guess kudos to either himself for getting his ass in gear, or whatever coach kicked his ass in gear.

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Three Stars and Game in One Picture: CBJ @ NYR

Posted by Staff on February 22, 2015
Columbus Blue Jackets, Game Discussion / No Comments

The Blue Jackets wrapped up their five game road trip in Madison Square Garden tonight. After the first period, I doubt you could have found many who would have believed the game would end in a shootout, but the boys in union blue managed to find a way to crawl back, get one point, and challenge for the winner point as well. The team won a total of 5 of 10 possible points on the trip. Let’s take a look at the three stars of the game as defined by NHL.com:

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Goal Breakdown: A Look at the Blue Jackets’ Powerplay

Posted by The Coach on January 23, 2015
Columbus Blue Jackets / No Comments

The Columbus Blue Jackets powerplay has been humming this season. They are currently sitting at 4th overall, scoring at a 24.3% clip. If they can keep that up, this would be the deadliest CBJ powerplay ever, as well as their top finish (records held by last years 11th place finish at 19.3%). So what has changed since last year? A lot. The personal hasn’t changed too much, but how they have been able to deploy that personnel has opened up more options, and allowed the powerplay to be more diverse. For all the things that RJ Umberger wasn’t good at, he was a pretty good net front presence on the powerplay. But that is Nick Foligno‘s job now, and he’s obviously flourished there. The other major components are Ryan JohansenJames WisniewskiJack Johnson, and the new member Scott Hartnell. It’s that last name that really opens up what the Jackets can do. Continue reading…

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Three Stars and Game in One Picture: CBJ @ MIN

Posted by The Coach on January 20, 2015
Columbus Blue Jackets, Stars of the Night / No Comments

A slow first period for both teams lead into an interesting second period before the Jackets pulled away from the Minnesota Wild for a 3-1 win. It was a close game in every facet, from shots to faceoff wins, to blocked shots, and powerplay goals. A huge save by Sergei Bobrovsky on a penalty shot and a crucial kill on a four minute powerplay by the Jackets allowed them to maintain the 1-1 tie going into the third. From there, the Wiz-bomb took over, with a goal and tipped in shot providing the winning margin.

3rd Star: Zach Parise

Parise had a pretty solid game, doing everything for the Wild. He’s a very strangely rated player at this point in his career. I can’t decide if he is underrated or overrated. I feel like he doesn’t get discussed as much as he should when talking about the top two-way players in the game. But at the same time, he’s not the superstar he’s sometimes made out to be, and not the offensive force some seem to expect him to be. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an awesome player, but he was also on the losing side of the biggest play of the game tonight.
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Three Stars and Game in One Picture: CBJ @ SJ

Posted by The Coach on October 24, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / No Comments

Well that was a game. Maybe not the prettiest win in the world, but a win is a win, and a nice way to start off a west coast road trip. The Jackets looked like they were going to get blown out, getting dominated by the Sharks in the first period, and looking like the weaker squad through the first half of the second. Strangely, once the Jackets took the lead, they also took control of the game for a while. Another slow start at the beginning of the third period setup a pretty wild final frame. Joe Pavelski tied it up, then Cody Goloubef committed one of the worst turnovers I’ve ever seen (how do you not take a look there) to Logan Couture who buried the go ahead goal. The Sharks seemed to take control of the game for the next few minutes until the Jackets managed to get some sustained pressure, drew a penalty, and then tied it up on the powerplay. Then the final minute and a half happened. Ryan Johansen scored a hat trick, let’s get that straight. The refs straight up blew that call. Nick Foligno was pushed into the crease, barely made contact with Niemi, then was out of the way of the goaltender when the shot was taken. Had he not been pushed in, or had he been making contact with Niemi still when the shot was fired, I’d have no issue with that call. But it was Joe Thornton interfering with Niemi, not Foligno. Fortunately, Mark Letestu let the refs off the hook a minute later with the game winner.

3rd Star: Mark Letestu

Two goals, including the game winner, 54% on faceoffs, a game high +10 corsi, and some damn fine penalty killing. That’s more than enough for the third star. Let’s backtrack to his first goal though. Holy what a pass by Artem Anisimov. Just a beautiful saucer pass right where it needed to be. Letestu had a nice finish on that one as well.
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A Look at the 2013-14 CBJ WOWY Numbers

Posted by The Coach on June 17, 2014
Stats / 2 Comments

WOWY. Also known as With Or Without You. It’s not just a U2 love song, in fact it’s a pretty useful tool for looking at how players perform with certain teammates, what players are driving their lines, which ones are dragging their lines down, and which combinations seem to work at bringing the best out of each other. The basic data came from Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, and boy do they have a lot of data. Within those pages you can find WOWY details for pretty much every player over the last few seasons, combined seasons, when the score is close, and much more. For this post, I used 5v5 data from the 2013-14 season only (to keep the sample size as large as possible). So I took all that information, and made a nice big fancy chart. It shows the Corsi percentage that each player is better (or worse) with each player. So the corresponding space in the chart of Johansen With (along the top of the chart) and Foligno (on the left side of the chart) shows the difference between Ryan Johansen‘s Corsi For % with Nick Foligno, and Johansen’s Corsi For % away from Foligno. Got it? Good. Let’s take a look at the chart, then go over a few things that need to be considered. After that is the good stuff: the players who come out best (and worst) in this analysis, the best combinations of players, and various ideal/terrible/etc. lineups.

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The Hart Memorial Trophy

Posted by Staff on June 12, 2014
tUB Awards / No Comments

Well here we are. The 2014 Stanley Cup is going to be awarded pretty darn soon – a former Jacket (or 2..or 3..or 4) will be raising it. Free agency talk is starting to buzz. Things are happening. But more important than all of that is the conclusion of The Union Blue Awards for 2014. We wrap everything up with the most important trophy of all, The Hart Memorial Trophy. It is given out to the player judged most valuable to his team. Last year’s winner was a clear cut decision for Sergei Bobrovsky, but with more and more success built on more and more guys stepping up – we have a wealth of votes to dole out. With that being said, the winner of the 2014 tUB Hart Memorial Trophy is….

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The Mark Messier Leadership Award

Posted by Staff on June 10, 2014
tUB Awards / 1 Comment

As defined, the The Mark Messier Leadership Award goes to: “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.” With the second year without a captain, it’s easy to argue that “the leader” is yet to be identified, but that doesn’t mean that the team suffered from a lack of leadership based on the votes cast by the tUB team. Last year’s winner was Vinny, but now we have a new crop of contenders from which to pick. Who gets this year’s nod? Read on:

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2014 tUB Awards: Ted Lindsay Award

Posted by Staff on May 29, 2014
tUB Awards / 2 Comments

The Lindsay is given out by the NHLPA, and awarded to the most outstanding player as decided by the players. Since we couldn’t do the whole player votes part (what sets it apart from the Hart) we went in a slightly different direction. The tUB Lindsay is going out to the BEST player, irregardless of value to the team. So with that said, the winner of the Lindsay is…

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