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
What was proving to be another mediocre trade deadline left much of the social media based Blue Jackets fan base uneasy, concerned, and somewhat frustrated that new General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen had yet to ripple the water in trades let alone make a resounding impact on the Blue Jackets roster. With the playoffs remarkably within reach, and the brick by brick nature of Columbus’ rebuild, questions about players like Brassard, Mason, Umberger, and a few choice others’ pending future with the team seemed to be very much up in the air.
And yet the clock struck ten, eleven, twelve, and one o’clock without any major changes, not only with the Blue Jackets, but league wide.
Finally, when it seemed like today would be the ultimate “Trade DUDline day,” news started pouring in. Steve Mason would no longer adorn the Blue Jackets sweater. He would be dealt to Philadelphia in exchange for Michael Leighton and a third round pick in the 2015 draft.
Continue reading Kekalainen Makes Major Splash at Trade Deadline
The Blue Jackets wrapped up a Canadian tour last night in Calgary and both fan bases were curious to see what team would show up for their side. Columbus was looking to finally get a regulation win on the road with back-up Steve Mason in net, and Flames faithful were curious to see how their team would respond in their first outing since Jerome Iginla was traded.
Right off the bat, my new favorite line of 11-42-13 was buzzing – creating some opportunities and providing some sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Cam Atkinson had a beautiful opportunity off a pass from Matt Calvert that he just couldn’t convert. But this energy set the tone for the arrival of the other lines on ice. While on the PK, Mark Letestu buried a short-handed goal to put the Jackets up 1-0. Shortly after, Dalton Prout and Tim Jackman engaged in a bout at middle ice that Prout won soundly and certainly brought many cheers from the group of friends I was with game-watching. Prouter certainly seems to be impressing in his time up with the big club and the long term defensive picture got a little more cloudy for all the right reasons as another quality candidate is showing us he’s here to play.
Continue reading Game Recap – Columbus @ Calgary 3/29
The Blue Jackets took down the Oilers 4-3 in the shootout last night. This was a rare game where a team pulled their goalie and it actually ended up in a win. I wish I could talk here about the tactics of pulling a goalie to give the team a jump, but that just wasn’t the case last night. Instead, Steve Mason was relatively terrible (all three goals were stoppable), Sergei Bobrovsky was very good (especially on the two cross crease saves in overtime), and the entire Jackets roster put in a full 65 minutes. Well except for Matty Calvert (tie down the damn tie down!). I would like to highlight the incredibly penalty kill in the 3rd period. The Jackets maintained possession for nearly the entire penalty, they managed a couple of “almost” chances out of it, yet always made the smart play to either maintain possession or get the puck in deep. Great work by Artem Anisimov, RJ Umberger, and everyone else who hit the ice during that kill. Now onto the goals.
Continue reading Goal Breakdowns vs. Edmonton 3/5
The Columbus Blue Jackets completed their six game road trip tonight in Chicago against the yet to be defeated in regulation Blackhawks. It was a massive task for a team struggling to find offense, averaging only two goals per game throughout the road trip.
Steve Mason got the call in net for Columbus, John Moore made his return from injury in favour of injured Jack Johnson, and recently recalled Ryan Johansen began his next quest at justifying a full time spot in the National Hockey League.
The first period was a pleasant surprise for those Jackets fans who have endured this season. It was full of pressure in the Chicago end with high end scoring chances, along with limited chances for Chicago (excluding while they were killing penalties). I made note of this as the period wore on, but it was a welcome change to see this play against a team like Chicago.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Chicago 2/24
Last night the Blue Jackets took the ice at Nationwide against Los Angeles. Jeff Carter (or I suppose for some J*ff C*rter) returned to a smattering of boos from the 11,000 on hand nearly every time he jumped on the ice for a shift. That level rose when he touched the puck and never really seemed to dial down. In fact, when Carter scored later, there was such a long pause on the goal announcement, there was legitimate curiousity if Nationwide would even announce his name to the crowd.
It was good to see. While I am not an anti-Carter guy, I think it brings a fan base closer together being able to hate someone. Despite all the shortcomings of this early season (not to mention the injuries), it shows that there is passion here and those who wear the union blue need to earn the respect of the fans.
While I did not particularly enjoy the first period, it was successful for the team. A smooth transition into the offensive zone by Mark Letestu gave Fedor Tyutin the time and space to look for a pass, and while it did not connect with MacKenzie’s stick, it did connect with his skate. Slightly fortunate, the Jackets took a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission thanks to the grinder’s first of the year.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Los Angeles 2/5
Just another February Saturday in Ohio. The snow was falling, the Yuengling was pouring, and Detroit was in town for another weekend game against our Columbus Blue Jackets. Have you read this before? Certain expectations are common for these games: play hard, stay in the game, and be louder than the Wings fans in attendance. This game, unlike many in our recent past, found a strong percentage of the crowd in Blue Jackets third jerseys, and a great collection of loud fans ready to get behind the home team.
A slow start (but not nearly as slow as recent games) found the Blue Jackets down a goal midway through the first period, but a strong second half led to an excellent low point shot by Wisniewski that beat a screened (Umberger) Jimmy Howard. Taking the momentum away from Detroit heading into the first intermission was great to see, and I felt that it really translated into the rest of the game.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Detroit 2/2
“Well, at least we have hockey.” I said that more than once last night.
The outcome of last night’s game was abysmal but, in the midst of being down early (again), some bigger picture lessons are seeming to crystallize. Now if we can do something about it. There isn’t a lot to break down from last night’s game, so let’s start with some observations:
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault: overall I liked what I saw. The guy brought true enthusiasm and excitement to getting his NHL ticket punched. Early in the contest the size and speed of the big league seemed to catch him on his heels, but he seemed to settle in as the night went on. I’d be intrigued to see him stay up after Cam heals. I saw the Cam-JAM-Joey line in Springfield and I’d be curious what that energy could bring to the Jackets.
Continue reading Game Recap: St. Louis @ Columbus, 1/31
An evening after an extremely hard fought win against Dallas and a fog delay which delayed their flight until this morning, the Blue Jackets took to the ice against a very strong Minnesota Wild team. Before they even arrived in St Paul, I had a sneaky suspicion that their previous twenty-four hours would degrade their effort on ice, but as a Jackets fan, the best thing we can do right now is be optimistic. This rings especially true with this group of players who we were told would be extremely hard working.
Fortunately for viewing entertainment, Columbus came out of the gate strong, controlling the play early on and forcing the issue deep into the Minnesota defensive zone. While the scoring chances were not piling, the opportunities were, and felt like it was only a matter of time before they struck. Tack on a Minnesota netminder in Backstrom who was handing over juicy rebounds all game, and it felt like the Blue Jackets faithful would be well on their way to the first win streak of the year.
But a thirty minute gap between the middle of the first period and near the end of the second period caused optimism to halt. Scoring chances, or even possession in the offensive zone seemed to become a premium for the Jackets. Goals by Koivu (sneaky goal from behind the goal line) and Gilbert (unfortunate off a block directly onto his tape — where was the Blue Jacket coverage again?) put Columbus in a familiar two goal deficit heading into the first intermission.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Minnesota 1/29
The Blue Jackets took to the ice in Phoenix last night to begin their West Coast back to back. It was an effort barely worth discussing, and laced with mistakes, leaving little to build on. In fact, in an attempt to compare their effort to mine in writing this recap, I have been aimlessly waving my hands at my keyboard in hopes that words form. Sadly, it is not working.
The shots only begin to tell the tale. Mike Smith fell to a blocker hand injury only four saves into the game, bringing Jason Labarbara into the game cold. He went on to make 21 easy saves en route to a .955 effort. Making backup goalies look like Vezina candidates; familiar.
On the other side of the ice, for much of the first two periods, Steve Mason gave the Blue Jackets a fighting chance to stay in the game. Unfortunately, the defensive breakdowns continued, and as the goals poured in, Mason found himself climbing a mountain. With his glove hand exposed, Phoenix capitalized on numerous occasions, wide open in the slot with time to shoot.
It is a strange situation to build up a year full of effort from guys I believe want to work hard for sixty minutes, only to watch a game look eerily similar to one I had seen 50+ times last year. I had thought after all the roster shuffling and new additions, this team would be past that.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ Phoenix 1/23