Posts tagged Ryan Johansen

Playoff Preview: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh

It’s pretty crazy to think about how much has changed since the Jackets last playoff appearance. Steve Mason was the savior. Rick Nash was the franchise. Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek were the future. RJ Umberger looked like a steal. Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda were a beloved shutdown pair. Ken Hitchcock was coaching them up. Scott Howson looked like a genius. Well Mason is the savior in Philadelphia. Nash is the franchise in New York. Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard are the present in New York and Philadelphia. Mike Commodore is somewhere. Jan Hejda is a beloved shutdown defender in Colorado. Ken Hitchcock is coaching up St. Lous. And if you are paying attention, Scott Howson actually still looks like a pretty good GM. Make no mistake, this is Howson’s team. He brought nearly every single player on this roster into the organization. The most prominent player expected to play in this series that was a Jarmo/JD pickup is probably Blake Comeau. Both goaltenders were Howson pickups. Seven of the eight defensemen who might see time were Howson pickups (Nick Schultz being the exception). Comeau, Jack Skille and Corey Tropp are the only Jarmo pickups at forward (plus the injured Nathan Horton). I’ve already dwelled on this more than I planned on, I just wanted to make sure it was out there that this team was built by Howson. Moving on.

The Pittsburgh Penguins. Funny how the Jackets first two playoff opponents have been Detroit and Pittsburgh. I know some fans are concerned about Pens fans taking over the building. Think back on that last playoff series, and remember the atmosphere. Nationwide was rocking with CBJ fans, and I expect the same this time around. If Detroit fans couldn’t overtake the rink, I don’t see how it should be much different this time. As for the on-ice product, I expect this to be a very close series. At even strength at least. The two teams are actually very close when it comes to 5v5 play. In shots for percentage, they rank 13th (Pittsburgh) and 14th (Columbus). In Fenwick Close, they rank 12th (Columbus) and 16th (Pittsburgh). In Corsi Close, they rank 13th (CBJ) and 16th (Pit). In goals for percentage, they rank 8th (Pit) and 12th (CBJ). On other words, the Jackets are slightly better at controlling the play, while the Penguins score a tiny bit more. Which makes sense, considering the talent they have, as Crosby, Malkin, and others have shown they (and their linemates) can consistently score on more of their shots than league average. But then again, the Jackets have Bobrovsky. Like I said, this should be a very close series at even strength. Pittsburgh has been quite a bit better on special teams than Columbus. So on the surface, the edge lies with the Penguins. Let’s look deeper, comparing the forwards, defense, goaltending, and special teams. And maybe we’ll see how the Jackets might be able to pull of the upset.
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Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Florida

Well there it is, game number 82 in the books. The final score was maybe a little closer than I would have liked to see, and Bob saw a little too much rubber, but all things considered, throwing up almost 80 shots on net in (basically) meaningless games is not too shabby. With the win, a match-up in the first round with the Penguins is now set, the Jackets will have a little time to heal/rest up, and the best season in franchise history continues on.

Third Star: Mark Letestu

Not much creativity by the star pickers tonight. Letestu scored, so he gets a star. Personally, I would have gone with Boone Jenner. Tied with a game high six shots on goal (with Fedor Tyutin), and paired up with Ryan Johansen for a dominating performance by that line. James Wisniewski was also quite good tonight. And hey, both of them picked up assists.  Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Florida

Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: Phoenix @ CBJ

HOW BOUT THEM JACKETS? What a game. Tuesday’s game marked the final regular season home game for the Jackets and let’s just be real, how good does it feel to say that and have to point out the difference. For those of us who have followed this team for many a year it’s truly a pleasure – and for fans “new” and “old” tonight was a real hum dinger. Phoenix was in town also fighting for their playoff lives and what you saw tonight was just a taste of legitimate playoff hockey can be. After a slow first period, both teams delivered a gritty play, swallowed whistles, intense crowd, atmosphere for days…and an OT winner. More than the sweet sweet emotion of the entire game for the team to come back from a late late tying goal only two games after losing a game in similar fashion shows exactly what this club is capable of. Let’s get on to look (and celebrate) the three stars per NHL.com tonight.

3rd Star: Boone Jenner. Yep. 19:35 on ice, 53.8% Corsi and one very big goal to start the scoring. Ryan Johansen is in the spotlight but don’t sleep on the young Jenner who is bringing a man’s game in a first year NHL player’s body. Perhaps most impressive to me was when Boone’s composure cracked for just a bit after Doan went after him. Boone leads the team in drawn penalties – his composure is unreal. When Doan came after him, and Johansen had to hold the Coyote back, you saw Jenner respond. It was a flash of emotion from a very controlled player. He got himself back in check quickly but this guy gets it and he cares quite a bit about making this team a winner. After losing his opposite winger when Horton went off with an injury, Jenner steadied the Johansen line and was a big body and a big presence all night. Continue reading Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: Phoenix @ CBJ

Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Carolina

Wow. What started as a bit of a snooze-fest on the front end of the game sure turned into an exciting conclusion for an all-important two points that the CBJ need to try to create some breathing room between them and others hunting down one of the wildcard spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Early in the game, the 4th line created some great energy and a gorgeous scoring opportunity that started with a gorgeous saucer pass from Letestu to Comeau’s stick and ended with Khudobin making an impressive save. Coming away with a win in a game where the Jackets never had a lead in regulation is huge and speaks to a trait that they’ll need to have if they expect to make the playoffs and be productive once there. Let’s take a peak at the stars of the game:

3rd Star: Artem Anisimov

I won’t argue this with the exception of maybe bumping him up above 3rd. While Joey’s OT game-winner was a great shot, Artem’s feed on that was the real work of art on that play. Couple that with his game tying goal in the 3rd and Anisimov simply came up big when it mattered most tonight. Love seeing that and can hope he can carry the momentum from tonight’s game into the rest of the season.

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Three Stars and Game in One Picture: CBJ @ MTL

Well that was a riotous affair. In a game that will be much like every other game through the end of the season, Jackets fans held their breath while watching the Jackets bring home a 3-2 all important regulation win (increase that ROW!) An important victory – as they all will be – but a good story on the season as the Jackets got better (as far as winning) each time they played the Canadiens. Let’s also not discount going into that barn and stealing two points from the home town team. On to the three stars…(because really at this point we’re all looking to the match up against the Rangers, right?)

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Goal Breakdown: CBJ vs. Carolina Edition

Losing sucks. Doubling up a team in shots and not winning sucks more. Holding a team to zero shots for an entire period, and still not winning? That’s practically unheard of. So we’ve covered that Tuesday’s game sucked. But let’s go into a little more detail. I was unable to watch the game unfortunately, so I don’t quite share my site-mate’s rage over the proceedings. But I did take a look at the goals, and the goals against had a couple things that really jumped out at me. So let’s talk about them and maybe point a finger or two in the right direction.  Continue reading Goal Breakdown: CBJ vs. Carolina Edition

Three Stars and Game in One Picture CBJ @ MIN

Well that was a game. This competing for a place in the ‘dance’ is fun, eh? The Jackets fought hard against a good team, took the game to overtime and then defied the odds in the shoot out to take two points from a Minnesota team. Still processing the impact and energy of that game and the fact the boys did it yet again so let’s just get on with it and look at the 3 stars according to NHL.com tonight…

3rd Star: Darcy Kuemper

This guy is technically the third line guy, but with Backstrom and Harding out, he’s been called into action and he played well. In a game that seemingly went back and forth, a battle of the goaltenders if you will, no question Kuemper gets the star.

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The Small Picture: Thoughts on the Current Roster

The Olympic break is just that. A nice little break to take stock of the season so far. Looking back so far over the season, there are really two Blue Jackets squads. There is the injury riddled, under-performing bunch from the start of the year. Then there is the top ten team from the last couple months. Is any of this really that surprising though? We knew Nathan Horton would be out to start the year. We knew Sergei Bobrovsky would regress. We knew this was one of the youngest rosters in the league, one that had barely played together over the last couple of years. That has all the makings of a slow start.

However, the first few months of the year probably went worse than would be expected. Just check out the Jackets’ goal differential from the first few months (where they played like a borderline playoff team, with only a -2 goal differential through December 22nd), to now, where they have played like a legit playoff team (currently +9, good for 10th in the NHL). So injuries plus weak goaltending provides results worse than should be expected. That’s all the makings for a turnaround. Aka the last two months are not a fluke.

So where do we go from here? I’ve got two views of it. The first, to follow in this post, is the small picture. It’s the trade deadline and this current offseason. You can’t fully discuss one without talking about the other. Player re-signings, rentals, prospects, draft picks; they are all just so intertwined, it makes sense to discuss both. The other view is the big picture, coming later this week. It’s based around a not-so-simple question: who do the Blue Jackets want to be?

With that being said, let’s look back to the current roster. Per CapGeek , the Jackets are currently sitting on around $2.5m in cap space, although they will have about $4m by the deadline. That means they can add up to that much in salary without sending any out. Basically, unless the Jackets are targeting one of a handful of premium rentals, they don’t need to move out anyone of significance. This picture gets even rosier this offseason. The team will have about $22m in cap space for next year, with ten forwards, four defensemen, one goalie signed. That is a lot of room to work with, and considering the young age of the roster, GM Jarmo Kekelainen and President John Davidson can take this team in just about any direction they want. I’m not Jarmo or JD, but here is the direction I would like to see them take, broken down by player status.

Continue reading The Small Picture: Thoughts on the Current Roster

Random Observations on Random Plays

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.

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Three Stars & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Ottawa

So the Blue Jackets have lost three games in a row now. But these weren’t your standard Blue Jackets losses. These weren’t cataclysmic events of magnificent ineptitude, despite what Twitter would have you believe. All three were just hockey games. Against Buffalo, they pretty much controlled the play and lost the goaltending battle something fierce. That happens. The Carolina game was a dud, a game where pucks were bobbled, the PP differences helped swing the game, and nothing else seemed to go right. It only came across as disappointing because they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Against the Sens, the Jackets had the slight edge in controlling the play (well in terms of shots, it was basically a dead heat in shot attempts), they just couldn’t pull it off. A couple of pucks hopped over a sticks, a couple whiffs, a couple of good bounces for the opposition. These games happen. They happen to every team. This is a good team now. They legitimately won eight games in a row. They now lost three straight games. If they win four, lose one, win two, lose one, win two more and then lose another one, they would still be 8-3 in their last 11 games. But I think the perception would be much different.

My point here is that this is NOT something to be too worried about. This isn’t a total collapse. No reason to hit the panic button. The very best NHL teams lose 20 to 30 games per year. They rarely crap the bed, but they lose games where their goalie just doesn’t have it, or the opposing goalie is on fire, or they don’t get the bounces, or the opponent gets the bounces, or its the second night of a back-to-back, and third game in four nights. These last three losses suck, as it hurts them in the standings and takes a little wind from their sails. But those games were “good team losses”. They were the kinds of games good teams lose, which is good in a strange kind of way.

3rd Star: Cam Atkinson

Cam had good boxcare numbers against the Sens. Goal, assist, three shots, four blocked shots. Sounds like a solid game. Problem is the offensive production came on the powerplay. At even strength Cam was buried in the Jackets end, to the tune of a lowly 42.9% corsi. Considering Cam’s offensive role, the four blocked shots should have been a dead giveaway. He was 50% on offensive zone starts, so he wasn’t buried that way, nor was he tasked with tough matchups, as he played most of his time against Eric Gryba, Coling Greening, Zack Smith, Marc Methot, and Chris Neil. Side note: I really want to see Cam fight. This only comes up now, as seeing him jostle with Nate Gerbe against Carolina got the thought in my head, and Cory Conacher causing ruckus last night kept it there.

Continue reading Three Stars & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Ottawa