In the wake of home-and-home losses to Pittsburgh, the usual cacophony of reactions are evident — ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Today, we’ll try to take a relatively dispassionate look at the club, the recent efforts, and dust off the crystal ball for some thoughts as to what might come down the pike.
First things first, however. Shortly before game time, I caught a TSN tweet indicating that Gary Bettman was at Nationwide for the game, and a second tweet indicating that he was in the company of Mayor Coleman. Rudimentary arithmetic led me to one conclusion — All Star Game — a fact confirmed about 30 minutes later, when the lights dimmed, Greg Murray advised the crowd of a special announcement from John Davidson, who then appeared on the scoreboard screen with Bettman. The announcement that the 2015 All Star Game was coming to Columbus on January 24 & 25, 2015 was almost an anti-climax at that point. Still, it was terrifically positive news for the franchise, the city and the 18,634 assembled fans. The NHL made good on its promise to “do right” by Columbus after the lockout trashed the All Star Festivities for the 2013 game.
The most surprising aspect of the announcement was the timing. Traditionally, the venue for the All Star Game is announced in January, or at least in conjunction with GM meetings. That the announcement came so far in advance is a credit to both the NHL and the progress that the organization has been making at all levels. Kudos to all concerned, and Columbus fans can now tuck those 2013 All Star Game pucks away, waiting for them to appreciate in value. (Just kidding…sort of) So with that issue put to bed, time to return to the ice. The intent here is not to provide a game summary of the Pittsburgh battles — @Canadan82 does that extremely well — but to look at the higher level issues, positive and negative, that are emerging as this fledgling season moves forward. The two games vs. the Penguins do highlight some of the issues in stark relief.
Continue reading Observation Time — All Star Style
A familiar feeling crept over me last night, watching the Blue Jackets pre game with that winged wheel prevalent on the other side of the ice. I was reminded of a rivalry (if you want to call it that) which has been a struggle for Columbus in their thirteen year history, separated now by a division in the Eastern Conference. The feeling, however, remains the same. When Columbus plays Detroit, I want fire. I want to see the players sacrifice their bodies, skate until their lungs burn, and battle like it is their last game of hockey ever.
Some call it playoff hockey. The expectation of seeing players showing every ounce of effort, giving little ground in their defensive zone and their offensive zone. For me, I call it sixty minutes. Like the sign said last year, no excuses, no regrets. I believe that teams who play like this will win every game they ‘should’ win if you look at the possession and other telling stats after the game. I believe Columbus had more to give last night.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ Detroit 10-15
The first puck of the 2013/2014 season dropped last night around 7:15pm in a packed Nationwide Arena. With another impressive fan showing to start the season, many were expecting the same ultra high level of intensity we enjoyed for much of the short 2012/2013 season. What they got was a different looking roster, a different looking team, yet an eerily similar result.
The Flames are not exactly an offensive powerhouse. They have a decent compliment of forwards, but it is not the type of team you see on the ticket and think “this is really going to be a tough battle for Columbus.” Really, it was the perfect type of team to bring in for the home opener to get some momentum built for the start of the season. Unfortunately for those who share that mindset, they were witness to pretty even play between both sides, with a lot of ‘feeling out’ from the Blue Jackets players and their linemates.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus vs. Calgary 10-4
One of the comforting aspects of being an NHL fan is the almost ritualistic sequence of events that mark the progression from season to vacation, from regular season to playoffs, from “regular” years to Olympic years. Sure, labor stoppages are insinuating themselves into the regular rotation, but enough time has been spent wringing hands over those events.
With the Stanley Cup in the hands of the Blackhawks, the stars of tomorrow plucked from the draft pool, and the feeding frenzy of free agency past its peak, the off-season enters a period of relative quiescence. Sure, some deals will get done, but for the most part the Canadian hockey scribes and pundits have departed for their cottages, and their American counterparts are on the golf course. Fortunately, with 2014 being an Olympic year, there is some intrigue remaining, as the dominant hockey countries extend their invitations to Olympic Orientation Camp. By all accounts, the Blue Jackets will be more than adequately represented. Let’s take a look at those who have invitations in hand, and those likely to be joining the quest for Olympic gold in Sochi:
Continue reading Blue Jackets Prominent In Olympic Quest
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen (Courtesy Columbus Blue Jackets)
Welcome to my début here at The Union Blue. To those who followed me from Ten Minute Misconduct and The Hockey Writers — a big thanks — both of you. (I’ll still be chipping in with a guest article at THW from time to time, but The Union Blue is home.) To those just discovering my writing, strap in. I’m not shy about expressing opinions, digging deep into issues and counseling patience and perspective when the gut reaction is to panic. Thanks to all of my colleagues here for swallowing hard and allowing me to use of space on the site. Enough of that — on to the topic at hand.We’re just about 50 hours from the NHL Entry Draft, and just a week away from the beginning of free agency. The compressed timeline — brought to you by your friends at the NHL and NHLPA — will make the next ten days a tense and action-filled time. As Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson have been preaching for the past month — the options are wide open. That makes this both a time of peril and opportunity for the Blue Jackets at a lot of levels. While much of the focus is on the draft itself, and the three first round picks the Blue Jackets have stockpiled, I’ll leave the discussion of the draft prospects to my colleague @CBJProspects, who eats, sleeps and lives with that data. Instead, I want to focus on the other side of the equation — the trade and free agency prospects — made all the more intriguing this season by the advent of the compliance buyout. Continue reading Trading Spaces: Draft Table Deals Likely for Columbus
Like the Vezina, we didn’t really have a lot of options here. Todd Richards was the sole Blue Jackets head coach this season, and while Craig Hartsburg, Keith Acton, Dan Hinote, Ian Clark, and Dan Singleton make up the rest of the coaching staff, this post will primarily serve as a place for each tUB member to wax poetically about the job Richie did this season. Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: Jack Adams Award
Yesterday, we shared with you “Money on the Board” to help rally behind our team as they play the Dallas Stars, and to also do some good for others. Suffice it to say, the response has been staggering – in the best of ways.
CBJ fans have come out in droves. As of this writing, 82 people have pledged a total of $1736 for a Blue Jackets Regulation win. $809 additional dollars for incentives have been pledged – and that number will only increase. Charities will receive an additional $140 if we see a shut*ut, and every single save by Bobrovsky brings in $6.65! He’s averaging 27 saves a game so that looks like another $179.55 in donations. So far, charities that will be receiving funds include the Blue Jackets Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, the Red Cross and One Fund Boston.
We’ve also had some creative submissions including:
- $20 if Dallas has a goal waived off for a B.S. distinct kicking motion (Joe Wilkins)
- $.25 for every use of profanity (Brett Ireland)
- $50 if Fox Sports Ohio airs the post game Foligno-Bobrovsky hug (Dave Cottone)
Had the team found out yet? Well we got our answer today courtesy of the tremendous Lori Schmidt from our CBJ flagship station, 97.1 The Fan (twitter). Coach Todd Richards and Marian Gaborik visited with her today and shared their thoughts after hearing the latest about our #CBJMotB efforts – take a listen!
Continue reading CBJ Money on the Board…LISTEN to this!
The hope for the playoffs continues! Columbus continued the dream run by defeating the San Jose Sharks Sunday for a crucial two points, moving them into a tie (in points) for 7th in the West, with only two games remaining in their season. Generally this waits for the bottom end of the game review, but I think it’s important to show just where Columbus stands as they head to Dallas in another absolutely crucial game:
7 – Minnesota – 51 points – 3 games remaining
8 – Columbus – 51 points – 2 games remaining
9 – Detroit – 48 points – 4 games remaining
10 – Dallas – 48 points – 3 games remaining
11 – Phoenix – 46 points – 4 games remaining
As you can see, Columbus will likely need all four of their remaining possible points in order to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, with games against Dallas on Thursday and the ever resilient Nashville Predators to close out their season at home. If they can manage to achieve both wins, they will sit at 55 points, forcing Detroit to win all four remaining games in order to vault them over Columbus into 8th place.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ San Jose 4/21
As the Blue Jackets have made a season out of games that have had ridiculous rises and falls, I thought it appropriate to share my thoughts on a period by period basis as the action unfolds. This is my first attempt at a reactionary recap rather than doing it post game, so enjoy the small change of pace.
The first period began with a lot of jump, taking more than seven minutes before the first whistle. While Columbus came out of the gate hungry, their second game in as many nights had them doing a bit of watching rather than reacting quickly towards the puck. Despite the back and forth, shots that actually hit the net came at a real premium.
Los Angeles struck first, scoring a powerplay goal (in lieu of a Dalton Prout hooking penalty) off the leg of Fedor Tyutin. It would appear the puck luck continues to favour the home teams on this Western swing. This goal, along with a number of minutes following, were basically all LA or neutral zone play. In fact, the Jackets could very well conclude the first period without a legitimate scoring chance.
Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Los Angeles 4/18
Is your pulse raised Columbus?
That team, that 5-12-2 mess, spiraling towards the dreaded basement in lieu of a Davidson fueled rebuild, is a figment of history. Twenty four games later, this new look, hard working, hair raising workhorse of a roster continues to get the job done, this time in the extra frame. Comparably, that makes their record 15-4-5
The victory against Colorado improves their win streak to four games, and betters their last ten result to 7-3-0. All this was done in front of a ‘claimed’ crowd of 13,694, although I think they may have been counting hot dogs sold over seats filled. Continue reading Game Recap: Columbus @ Colorado 4/15