When news broke yesterday that Uncle Bob will be out four to five weeks with a groin injury, many Blue Jackets fans experienced sympathy pains in their groins. Some will see this as the death knell for the Blue Jackets’ chances of making the playoffs. Not me. I’m going glass half-full, or maybe more like 1/3 full.
Yes, losing Bob will cause a significant increase in month-to-month sales of over-the-counter acid reducers in the Central Ohio market. But before panic sets in, let’s acknowledge that when Realignment finally came to town, it might as well have come dressed like Santa Claus riding Gary Bettman like a reindeer. The Blue Jackets got an early holiday gift this year when they punched their ticket to to the Eastern Conference. Now that they have settled into their first season, they find themselves in the middle of what looks to be one nasty pillow fight.
Great moments are born from great opportunity. And opportunity, Blue Jackets fans, is called the Metropolitan Division.
Continue reading The Glass Is At Least 1/3 Full
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
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.
Continue reading Stars of the Night: Edmonton @ CBJ
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.
Continue reading Full Recap: Columbus @ Toronto 11-25
Welcome to a new feature here at The Union Blue. After every game someone from the tUB team will be giving their quick hit thoughts on the three stars of the game (per the NHL), as well as one stud or dud of the night not reflected in the stars (which might not necessarily be a player). So feel free to chime in with who impressed you tonight, who disappointed, or who you want to see run out of town. Unfortunately, we picked the worst Jackets game of recent memory to debut this. Lucky me, I had to stay up through this crapfest. So let’s make this one quick, as the stars of tonight’s 7-0 loss to the Oilers are:
3rd Star: Ryan Smyth
Always loved Smyth. The wood stick, the brutal skating, it’s like watching my old man play. And yet he somehow dropped three points on the Jackets. Good hustle boys.
Continue reading Stars of Night: CBJ @ Edmonton
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.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Ottawa 11-17
Rather than a traditional recap for the game against Washington last night, I am going to break down pieces of the Blue Jackets game and then talk about the players that impressed and those who made a mess (if I haven’t already). For those who missed the game, the Blue Jackets lost a stunner in overtime, after taking a 3-2 lead with less than six minutes to play. The loss stings, despite gaining a point.
Shooting: To begin, shot production was great in the first period, with Columbus outshooting Washington 12-7. Yet like many games we’ve sen this season, those twelve shots failed to produce a goal. Based on the combined 13 shots from the second and third period producing three goals (good goals at that), it remains a cause for concern. Rather than focusing on getting the puck on net, maybe they should focus on getting good shots with more traffic in front.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Washington 11-12
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.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs NY Rangers 11-7
Over the duration of the last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have transformed from a punching bag to a team that is recognized by their opponents for hard work, tenacity around the puck, and solid goaltending (most of the time). The limited offense style of hockey fans witnessed last season is only successful with a quality goaltender, and Sergei Bobrovsky proved ready for the challenge shortly after his arrival. It led me to wonder exactly how much he impacts the team, and what expectations we can place on his shoulders game after game.
One thing that is rarely in question is Bobrovsky’s worth ethic. Many articles have been published noting his tireless desire to be the best goaltender possible, constantly working to improve every facet of his game. After a stellar 2012-2013 shortened season, his efforts (21-11-6, 2.600 GAA, .932 save%) propelled him to a Vezina Trophy victory, one that most would consider was a lock. While some feared his incredible output would diminish over time, optimism left many wondering if he could actually improve even further.
Of course, to have a chance at winning hockey games, a team must have a competent goalie. I find that various teams can get away with weaker goaltenders thanks largely to a strong defense or a high powered offense, but Columbus proved they needed to be held afloat in 2012-2013, scoring only a single goal more than they allowed during the season. They scored 120 goals for (25th in the league) and 119 goals against (11th in the league). With that measly 2.5 goals for average, I decided to take a deeper dive into Bobrovsky’s numbers to see where that special number for success lies.
Continue reading The Bobrovsky Principle