It is amazing to me how much changes when momentum builds late into a game and into the extra frame. The tone for this post changed dramatically with the conclusion of the third period, and of course, improved even more after the shootout victory thanks to Letestu and Atkinson. Yes, the Blue Jackets played and won their first road game of the season on Saturday night, yet I still feel the need to return to much of what concerned me in the early stages of the game (followed by brief elation, I promise).
The first period started poorly. New York was quick to the puck, smart with their passing, and stymied the CBJ defensively. By first period end, the shots favoured the Islanders 9-4, but there was plenty of positive in the possession Columbus maintained later in the period. Notable efforts from Dubinsky and Jenner to get physical and press the play forward pushed the play into the Islanders zone; however, shots remained a premium, and defensive efforts to get the puck on net were met with shin pads or the glass behind the net. Unfortunately the lone defender to take the spotlight was David Savard, who seems to be struggling with when to be patient with the puck and when to get rid of it. Shots into midsections from the point also come to mind.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ New York (Islanders) 10-5
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.
Continue reading The X-Factor: Why Murray’s Preseason OT Winner is Exciting
Last year I put together a series of posts centered around my expectations for the various Blue Jackets players goal totals, with one running before the season, one at midseason reviewing how I did and predicting the remainder of the season, and one after the year was over looking back at the first two pieces. I was pretty happy with how my method worked out, so I figured I’d do this for the entire league. You can find my preliminary post on it here, along with an update after the Capitals signed Grabovski. Here at the Union Blue, you’re going to get everything I’ve put together regarding the Jackets.
Unfortunately, I don’t think most of you will be happy with me. I have the Jackets finishing 15th in the NHL in goal differential. However, I also have the Metropolitan division as the league’s most difficult. If the season proceeds this way, the Jackets will finish 6th in the Metro, behind the Rangers, Devils, Penguins, Islanders, and Capitals. The Grabovski signing actually pushed the Caps above the Jackets for the final playoff spot in the East. Consolation prize: I also have the Red Wings missing the playoffs. So there’s that.
Continue reading 2013-14 Blue Jackets Goal Predictions
The signs are all there. The “back to school traffic jams” are in full flower, the pools are closed, and the hockey players are returning to Nationwide Boulevard, just as the swallows to San Juan Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley. The youngest among them will head north to Traverse City late this afternoon (where our own @CBJProspects is also headed), while training camp awaits in just a week’s time. Hockey is in the air, without the foul stench of a lockout, and its time to start taking a critical look at the key questions confronting the Blue Jackets as they wind down the final 30 days to the season opener, and the club’s Eastern Conference debut.
So, as the month-long countdown proceeds, I’ll be providing new installments of this Inquiring Minds series, focusing on specific questions that hold special significance for the organization as we eagerly anticipate the curtain rising on a new season. This first installment focuses on scoring — Who’s going to do it? How often does it need to happen? How likely is it to occur?
Continue reading Inquiring Minds: The Quest for Scoring
At the halfway point of the season I wrote about the second half expectations for the Blue Jackets. I looked at my preseason goal predictions for each player, then predicted how I thought they would perform over the second half of the season. Before I got to that point, I briefly discussed the team results. At the outset of the season, I had predicted a total of 128 goals scored on the season. I was off by a bit here, as they came in at only 120. However, I was off by the same amount in their goals against, as I had predicted they would come in at 127 goals allowed over the full 48 game season. Instead, they finished with 119 goals against. Excuse me for a second while I pat myself on the bat for exactly nailing their goal differential. In my preseason predictions, I hit another point that I think probably raised some eyebrows at the time: that the Jackets offense would actually improve with Rick Nash off in New York. And believe it or not it did (barely). The Jackets scored 120 goals this season, or the equivalent pace of 205 goals over 82 games. Not a great number, but better than the 202 goals the Jackets scored in 2011-12. Continue reading Looking Back to Look Back: Reviewing Preseason and Second Half Predictions
Well here we are. The 2013 NHL regular season concluded a month ago. The dastardly Kings are creeping towards the Stanley Cup Finals again. Sergei Bobrovsky is in the running for the NHL14 cover. Things are happening. But more important than all of that is the conclusion of The Union Blue Awards for 2013. The series concludes with the most important trophy of all, The Hart Memorial Trophy. It is given out to the player judged most valuable to his team. I’m sure you all know the winner, but we had five different players receive at least one vote. With that being said, the winner of the 2013 tUB Hart Memorial Trophy is….
Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: The Hart Memorial Trophy
The Selke goes out to the top defensive forward in the NHL. Usually this also carries with it the burden of being somewhat of an offensive player as well. Not so with the Blue Jackets nominees, as we nominated guys from the top of the lineup to the bottom (as it should be). Read on to see who this year’s Union Blue Selke winner is…
Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: Frank J. Selke Trophy
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 shocking winner of the Lindsay is…..
Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: Ted Lindsay Award
The tUB team was all over the place with the Masterton. We had eight players receiving a vote and only two players receiving multiple votes. This speaks to a few things, chief of which is no obvious Josh Harding-like candidate (the Wild netminder battling MS). But to me, it also shows that this is a team built around guys who are very dedicated to the game of hockey, with a number of players persevering through age, injury, doubt, or just losing. This is a resilient bunch, and there were a number of very worthy candidates who didn’t even get a vote (Jack Johnson, Adrian Aucoin, and Cam Atkinson come to mind). However, we did manage to choose a victor…. Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Ah the Lady Byng. Every NHLer’s least favorite award. The official description reads as such: ”Outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” In general, this award tends to go to the good player with the least number of penalty minutes. Or, as many think of it, the good player who is also the biggest pansy. I object to that description, as there are a number of Jacket players who fit the bill this year, while also playing very hard shift in, and shift out, taking abuse, going to the corners, and playing a tough game in general. However, what sets those players apart from the Matt Calverts and Brandon Dubinskys is their ability to do so without putting the Jackets shorthanded very often, constantly being good sports, and playing like gentlemen. And the award goes to…… Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy