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
The boys began yet another late game with the continuous roster roulette, subtracting the injured Nick Foligno and returning James Wisniewski to the defense. Sean Collins was also called upon to play forward and Coach Richards went with seven defensemen to pick up the load. Scratching John Moore and Colton Gilles. During the pregame, Dan Kamal mentioned how such a line up would force this team to make all the pieces fit and everyone would have to be solid. The implication being that this team needs to be 100% on 100% of the time. A drop in any one area would doom the game. He didn’t know how spot on he would be.
The game started off well. The line of Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson centered by Artem Anisimov would be the most solid unit on ice all night and struck early with a goal ten seconds in from Cam. Just when I had begun to wonder if he was cooling off a bit – Cam knocks one in and ties a franchise record. I don’t think Khabibulin had even gotten set in his stance. Lest you think Cam was done, he immediately assisted on goal number two passing to Matt Calvert. Jackets were up 2-0 and things looked good. Continue reading Game Recap – Columbus @ Edmonton – 03/28
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
Unlike most Goal Breakdown posts, this one is about something beyond the play of the Blue Jackets players on a specific goal. This post is about everyone’s favorite grinder, Derek Dorsett (it is amusing to me that Jared Boll versus Dorsett used to be a semi-legitimate argument). Dorsett potted a very respectable 12 goals last season, mostly the product of his no frills, pucks-on-goal, crash-the-net style of hockey. However, I have noticed a marked difference in his game in the offensive zone this season. He has been trying to dangle defensemen, has passed up solid shot opportunities to make a fancy pass, and has tried to stickhandle around guys instead of bulling through them. This is a problem. Derek Dorsett has been a top six player this season in terms of ice time and linemates, and he is playing like he thinks he is a “top six player”. The issue is that for him to be successful in a top six role, he needs to keep playing like the grinder he is. A lot of NHLers have had very successful careers playing top six roles while playing the way Dorsett is suited to. Think about David Clarkson in New Jersey currently, with Tomas Holmstrom as the all-time example. Those guys rarely, if ever, try to dangle anyone.
Continue reading Goal Breakdown – Know Your Role
An evening after an extremely hard fought win against Dallas and a fog delay which delayed their flight until this morning, the Blue Jackets took to the ice against a very strong Minnesota Wild team. Before they even arrived in St Paul, I had a sneaky suspicion that their previous twenty-four hours would degrade their effort on ice, but as a Jackets fan, the best thing we can do right now is be optimistic. This rings especially true with this group of players who we were told would be extremely hard working.
Fortunately for viewing entertainment, Columbus came out of the gate strong, controlling the play early on and forcing the issue deep into the Minnesota defensive zone. While the scoring chances were not piling, the opportunities were, and felt like it was only a matter of time before they struck. Tack on a Minnesota netminder in Backstrom who was handing over juicy rebounds all game, and it felt like the Blue Jackets faithful would be well on their way to the first win streak of the year.
But a thirty minute gap between the middle of the first period and near the end of the second period caused optimism to halt. Scoring chances, or even possession in the offensive zone seemed to become a premium for the Jackets. Goals by Koivu (sneaky goal from behind the goal line) and Gilbert (unfortunate off a block directly onto his tape — where was the Blue Jacket coverage again?) put Columbus in a familiar two goal deficit heading into the first intermission.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Minnesota 1/29
Justin Bourne at the Backhand Shelf had a fantastic post earlier today on rewarding grinders for playing well, then giving them too many minutes. We saw a little of this last night for the Blue Jackets. While the 4th line of Colton Gillies, Mark Letestu and Jared Boll played around six minutes of even strength ice time, they were quite effective in doing so. As the game wore on, CBJ Coach Todd Richards ending up rewarding them. Through most of the game, they were doing exactly what a 4th line is supposed to do. They kept the puck deep in the offensive zone, they threw the body around with abandon, got the fans and teammates excited, and (most importantly) they avoided getting scored on. They even managed to draw a couple of CBJ powerplays. This fine play resulted in the bountiful reward of a few extra minutes of playing time in the 3rd period, as almost half of their ice time came in the final frame.
Continue reading 4th Liners, Reward Minutes, and How They Can Backfire
Hey look, hockey is coming. With training camp starting this weekend, and actual real NHL hockey starting later this month, I figured it might be time to finally post my goal predictions for the 2012-13 season. So for this post, I did an obscene amount of research, spent an insane amount of time crunching numbers, and poured over data from many years relating to every player on this team. The problem is that all this time was spent back in September. So the numbers sat, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat, until now when there really isn’t a 2012-13 season anymore, and goal projections for an 82 game season make no sense. Nor does a lot of the logic behind how I came to those conclusions. Sigh.
Continue reading 2012-13 Blue Jackets Goal Predictions
Seasons Greetings all! It’s a light week – all but three of the NCAA prospects and most of the European prospects are off till after the holidays except for Anton Forsberg and SSK who will be back next week. So without further adieu let’s get going.
As always, starting off in Springfield it was a bit of a rough weekend with the team going 1-1-1 and losing two of their best defensemen in Saturday’s game. Starting on Friday with a rough one, the Falcons traveled to Providence to face off against the Bruins in a stoplight game – the Falcons wore their red alternates and the Bruins wore their yellows. The Falcons would spot Providence a 3-0 lead before Tomas Kubalik would score his sixth of the season when Tim Erixon‘s blast bounced off the end wall and Kubalik backhanded it in. 18 seconds later Nick Drazenovic would make it 3-2 with his sixth of the season. Midway through the third period Cam Atkinson would score his team leading 14th goal of the season. Curtis McElhinney would make 23 saves in the 6-3 loss allowing an empty net goal. Continue reading December 10-16 CBJ Prospect Week in Review
Back again all for another week in the world of CBJ prospects with some international news sprinkled in.
Starting in Springfield, the Falcons had every player’s favorite: a three in three, including a back to back with the Manchester Monarchs and a game against the Connecticut Whale. Starting on Friday in Manchester, the Falcons would be overly nice and spot the Monarchs a three-goal lead before Nick Holden would score his second of the season on an innocent looking shot that Martin Jones just couldn’t get. Matt Calvert would score a pretty one to make it 3-2 when he took a cross-rink pass from Cam Atkinson with Calvert firing a one timer from the face-off dot. The Monarchs would get another one but then it’d be all Falcons, scoring three straight with Dalton Smith scoring his third goal of the season just 11 seconds after the Monarchs scored from down in front. AHL only signed Ryan Craig would score two goals to finish the comeback with the first being the 100th of his AHL career, Curtis McElhinney would make 25 saves in the win. Friday night in Springfield Cam Atkinson would score the Falcons only goal in a 2-1 loss when he’d tap the puck past Monarchs goalie Peter Mannino, Paul Dainton would make 27 saves in the loss. Sunday to finish the weekend the Birds would travel to Connecticut to take on the Whale the last time the Whale hosted the Falcons would be a Springfield 10-2 win and tonight wouldn’t be much different. Cam Atkinson would open the scoring just two and half minutes in tapping in a JAM rebound for his team leading 10th goal of the season, Ryan Johansen would score his seventh of the season off a give and go with Audy-Marchessault deep in the Whale’s end to make it 2-0 Falcons. To close out the period Matt Calvert would score off a John Moore blast from the point (somehow hard to tell from the video) for his sixth of the season. Sean Collins would score his fifth of the season when he’d intercept a pass at the blueline before rifling a shot over Jason Missiaen’s shoulder; again, it’d be Ryan Craig finishing off the scoring off a pretty passing play for his fifth of the season to make it 5-0. Curtis McElhinney would stop all 34 shots he faced for his franchise record tying fifth shutout of the season and 11th win of the season. On the weekend, it was Ryan Craig leading the way with three goals and an assist, among CBJ prospects it’d be Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert with each scoring two goals and an assist. Nick Drazenovic would have three assists; Nick Holden would have a goal and an assist and David Savard, Andrew Joudrey and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault each having two assists with Savard’s two assists being in the final game of his eight game point streak where he scored two goals and eight assists. Continue reading November 26-December 2 CBJ Prospect Week in Review
We’re back again after the holiday weekend with the latest on CBJ prospects, and as I suspect many of you know, not all of it is good news this week. The biggest piece of bad news is the loss of Ryan Murray, probably for the season. Murray will undergo surgery on his shoulder that will require him to miss the World Junior Championships, and likely the rest of the season.
It was a rough weekend in Springfield as the Falcons would go 0-2-1 last week losing both of their non-overtime games by only a goal. Starting off against Portland, the Birds finished off a four game road trip losing 6-5. The final tally came after the Falcons led 4-1 early in the second period before allowing four straight. John Moore and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault would open the scoring giving the Falcons a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. After allowing a Pirates goal just 28 seconds into the second, David Savard and Cam Atkinson would score to make it 4-1 before it was all Pirates. Sean Collins would score his second of the season late in the second to make it 5-5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson would then score just 19 seconds into overtime to win it. Curtis McEllhinney would start the game stopping 18 of 23 before giving things over to Paul Dainton who would stop 13 of 14 and take the loss. Continue reading November 19-25 CBJ Prospect Week in Review