What a huge night for the Blue Jackets. They entered the evening coming off a strange, emotional night last night, tied with Detroit for the final playoff spot, facing the Red Wings, and with a number of teams battling for the final playoff spots in action. The night went about as well as possible. The Jackets beat the Wings in regulation. The Devils beat the Flyers in regulation. The Penguins beat the Capitals in regulation. The Hurricanes beat the Rangers in regulation. Now if the Sharks can beat the Leafs in regulation (2-1 SJS at the time of posting), the night will be complete. The Jackets now sit in 3rd place in the Metro division, only one point back of the Rangers, who have played an extra game.
As for the game itself, well it started off ugly. It got a little better in the second period. Then woo boy was that a hell of a third period. Huge effort to stick with it and pull off the much needed two points (and almost as important keep Detroit from getting any).
Continue reading Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Detroit
It was way back at the end of October when the Jackets were 5-5 that the Ducks came to town. The Jackets lost that match up 4-3. So tonight, facing a still successful Ducks squad (leading the league in points actually), in their barn the Jackets started their 3 game west coast road trip with a good test.
Well Jackets fans who stayed up (with lots of caffeine through the night or plans for lots in the morning) were definitely rewarded. It was touch and go for a bit when Anaheim pulled within one but the Jackets sealed the deal against a worthy opponent with the final score of 4-2. Unlike the measuring stick games against Pittsburgh and St. Louis which seemed to show how far we might be – the Jackets looked far more like a contender tonight and lock down two points. Let’s get on with it and look at who NHL.com said were the top there contributors tonight.
Continue reading Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Anaheim
This post is a little scatterbrained. There isn’t really a common thread here, it doesn’t really fit into any kind of “narrative” whether that’s the Jackets season as a whole, their current playoff battle (currently 3rd in the Metro Division!), or even a narrative within itself. It’s just a bunch of video, a screenshot, and some commentary a few smaller items that I’ve noticed from the Jackets over the last couple of weeks. As with their play, it’s predominantly positive. There’s a couple of negative plays, so let’s start there. Beware, there are a LOT of videos, so this may take a minute or thirty-seven to load.
Continue reading Random Observations on Random Plays
You can’t support the Blue Jackets and not be ecstatic with tonight’s game. The Jackets were right there even strength with the Coyotes, were the better team on the powerplay, the better team on the penalty kill, and got the better goaltending. Don’t sleep on Phoenix either, as they are currently a playoff team in the tough Western Conference, and their 49 points would be second in the Metro division. Of course, I’ve buried the lede here, as Nathan Horton made his Blue Jackets debut. That went pretty well.
3rd Star: RJ Umberger
I have no issues with his placement here, even though he had a solid, if unspectacular game (outside of his goal of course). I tend to think of Umberger’s placement here as a vote for his entire line, which just continues to click. Foligno and Johansen were just as great as Umberger was last night, and while I’ve been hoping to see Horton take Umby’s spot on this line upon his return, RJ seems to be doing everything he can to hold onto it. He’s up to 11 goals on the year now, which puts him on pace for a very solid 22 goal, 46 point season. Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Phoenix
Another game dominated by the Blue Jackets at even strength where they leave empty-handed. Fun fact: the Avalanche went 3 for 3 on the powerplay. And I’m not talking about powerplay opportunities, but powerplay shots. They scored on every single powerplay shot. Not good. But hey, five on five the Jackets absolutely crushed the Avs. The best measure of who is controlling play is 5v5 close, whether you use Fenwick (69.8%), or Corsi (62.7%) or Shots For percentage (66.7%), the Jackets absolutely destroyed Colorado. But terrible goaltending and special teams can put that all to bed easily.
3rd Star: Semyon Varlamov
Varlamov is probably a little low here. He should probably the first star, all things considered. Without his contributions this game would have been a Jackets win. I understand it though, as he did give up three goals, but when a team gets so thoroughly dominated at even strength, how do you give top billing to a player who contributed to said domination (in a negative way of course). I dunno either. Anyway, yeah, Varlamov is good and probably should have been the top star.
Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Colorado
Balls. Another recap I’m scheduled for, another crapping of the bed. Well not a complete bed crapping, as the first two periods were solid. The Jackets looked like they were going to come away with a nice little victory over their former netminder. To be fair, Mason really looked like vintage Columbus Steve Mason on all four of the goals, as each goal either just beat Mason clean or went right through him. But come onnnnnnnnnnnnn. Four softies from Mase and they STILL can’t beat the Flyers. Also not good: after a bajillion games of never losing when taking a lead into the third period, the Jackets have now lost the last two games they have led entering the final frame. Not good.
3rd Star: Nick Foligno
Sure, he scored. But Jack Johnson did most of the work on it, and the shot baaaaarely beat Mason and barely crossed the line. That was also his only shot attempt of the night. He was also out there doing some fine coasting, terrible forechecking, and lackadaisical backchecking on two of the Flyers goals. On each goal he had a clean shot to either hit or knock the puck away from a Flyers player and just missed, with Philly potting one second later each time. But hey, he had four hits, so good work, good effort.
Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Philly
The appearance of Jagr and Brodeur marked what started off horribly for the Jackets and the home crowd. But somehow this team found a way to gut out an ugly 5-4 win after going down 3-1 early and take two points from a team that is ahead of them currently in the Metro. It was season ticket holder “free food” night at Nationwide and thankfully the team gave people a reason to return to their seats versus just standing in long lines for tasty eats all night. So let’s get to it and look at the three stars per NHL.com.
Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: New Jersey vs. CBJ
Well that was a hockey game. A complete 60 minute effort from the Jackets roster made for a an exciting and rewarding game for everyone who took it in. And HUZZAH! The yo-yo W-L-W-L pattern was broken in spectacular fashion with a shut out for McElhinney. While the crowd was sparse, those who braved the winter storm certainly found the effort to get downtown worth the while. There’s some lingering worry about Wisniewski and Calvert who both left the bench before the game is over, but let’s take tonight at least to celebrate the work of a team that didn’t stop. And we get to run our first official Game in One Picture! Read on!
3rd Star: Curtis McElhinney
You can’t underestimate the importance of a strong showing from McElhinney is his first outing as the go-to ‘tender with Bob on IR. Curtis delivered in spectacular fashion! While he certainly plays farther out of the net than Bob-ites may be used to seeing, he stopped all 20 shots he saw – including 4 from power plays – and inspired some strong play in front of him from the defense. To be honest, it was surprising that the goalie didn’t walk away with first star honors considering what was on the line.
2nd Star: RJ Umberger
Tonight marked RJ’s 400th game as a Blue Jacket and he clearly wanted to mark that moment in more than one way. He did what he’s supposed to do with some physical play – taking two penalties – and then notching a goal and an assist. The goal was mainly due to a beauty of a pass from Foligno but the genuine joy on RJ’s face after the puck went in made you genuinely happy for the guy. A big contributor tonight – worthly of notice.
1st Star: Nick Foligno
Remember last year when the Foligno trade was the one forgotten in the wake of the Nash blockbuster? Well #71 is certainly showing himself to be worth getting. He played a worthy 18 minutes and went 1-1-2. The assist to Umberger was amazing and perhaps would be garnering even more buzz if we all still weren’t basking in the glow of his highlight real goal versus Tampa Bay earlier this week. Foligno seems to be a key driver of this team both on and off the ice and his name is entering the conversation for future captain. I’m still scratching my head a bit as to why McElhinney isn’t number one, but if Foligno is going to take it away, that’s ok.
Game in One Picture
Stud: Boone Jenner
Remember when we were debating if Boone should spend a year in Springfield? Yeah me neither. This guy was buzzing all night – putting in the work. He was finally rewarded with a 3rd period goal, after 13 games without one, and this is a guy who certainly speaks to the identity the Jackets are trying to build and shows he can be a key part of the future of this team.
Dud: Mother Nature
We know the team is struggling, and we know that the only thing that consistently puts butts in seats, but after a low turnout Tuesday, did ya really have to pummel us with “snowmageddon 2013″ to even some of the most ardent fans at home? Ah well – the fans who did show up got to see something great…let’s just hope there’s manageable weather for all home games in the foreseeable future.
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
It’s been a tough road critiquing the Blue Jackets over the last ten games. Should I be acknowledging their convincing wins as playing to their potential, or are they showing up against opponents hitting the snooze button? Many in the Toronto realm seem to think that convincing loss was one of the worst performances by Toronto in recent history. Despite all the sharp edges around recent tweeting, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the team when they are off the ice, leading me to believe that none of their wins were flukes.
As of December 1st, Columbus is 6th of 30 NHL teams in man games lost (101). Somewhat dated on account of the game played last night, but it does show that while Columbus is averaging around 3.75 players out per game, and considering the caliber of players who have missed time (Horton, Gaborik, Dubinsky, Jenner, Calvert, Foligno etc), it’s no surprise that the idea of man games lost as a crutch for mediocrity would be used.
Continue reading Full Recap: Columbus vs Tampa Bay 12/3