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.
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
Well we couldn’t let a group of guys going after revenge get it without causing some nervous moments, but luckily the boys in Union Blue were up to the task tonight and beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in Columbus. It’s a crucial two points, and yet another “up” in the constant yo-yo’ing this team is doing so we’ll see what happens tomorrow in Boston but for now, let’s look at tonight’s three stars (These are a lot more fun when we get to talk about Jackets)
Third Star: Sergei Bobrovsky
Can’t argue here. Bob faced 28 shots, and gave up two goals. He showed fairly solid play and was supported by a defense that seemed much more interested in helping him out tonight – well except for the third period when 8 minutes of penalty killing took it’s toll and resulted in one power play goal and one goal immediately after the power play expired. The first Bryz vs. Bob matchup showed Bob as the winner.
After the hole Columbus dug themselves during losses to Edmonton and Vancouver, I was ready to see another convincing loss against Toronto and a major shakeup. It’s not that pessimism has taken over my mentality for the team, in fact, I still believe on paper they are about as capable as any other team in their division to compete for a playoff spot. Rather, it just seemed like par for the course, after the way they’ve played, and the injuries they’ve suffered.
Instead, my smile increased throughout the game. The matchup brought shocked satisfaction as Columbus controlled the puck, limited mistakes, and caused turnovers which lead to odd man rushes for the first real time this season. It was exciting, and even caused me to watch the late night replay so I could take in the quality effort again. They deserved to win the game, and they did the right things. With the exception of Toronto basically sitting back and letting them win, I could not be more impressed by their efforts.
It’s always nice to drown out the regular Sunday afternoon pigskin with the sound of skates digging into the ice, shots ringing off the crossbar, and crisp tape to tape passes. After a very disappointing shootout loss to Montreal on Friday, expectations were not terribly high that the entire Columbus roster could come out and play a full sixty minutes. Ottawa played host in front of a surprisingly low 15,535 (84%).
Regardless of games past, the Jackets fans were awarded for their loyalty with arguably the best game Columbus has put together this year – they dominated Ottawa from the opening faceoff. Taking a quick look at the stats will not tell the story. I have talked endlessly both on twitter and through these recaps that Columbus lacks the meaningful shots it takes to win games, and that was not the issue yesterday.
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 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.