Jacket fans, I hope it's not too late.
I just received word that today, December 26, there is a 24 hour sale on Blue Jackets tickets. For three specific games, all tickets are 50% off. In addition, all games through the end of January have a small discount. If you're looking for a great opportunity to get to Nationwide this season, here's your chance.
The sale runs through 9AM Dec. 27, good luck!
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Jacket fans, I hope it's not too late.
Posted by Tyler on 12/26/2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Tonight the Jackets are home at Nationwide Arena to host the Vancouver Canucks. It will be the third time the two teams have faced off this season. Both games have gone to the Canucks, and they were won by only a goal a piece.
BlueJackets.com reports that Ty Conklin is on his way back to Syracuse, as Leclaire has returned from his injury and should be ready to start tonight. If Pazzy can get on the ice tonight, it's going to take quite a load off of Norrena who has started 7 of the last 8 games.
The Canucks are looking for win to stand out in the Northwest Division. The top and bottom of that division are separated by only two points. By comparison, 27 points separate the first and fifth place teams in Columbus' central division. On the ice, Vancouver has managed 17 goals in the last 5 games, so the CBJ defense will have to play tight to shut them down.
In the Columbus Dispatch today was a great article about the new CBJ coach, Ken Hitchcock. The story chronicles his life, including the loss of both parents at an early age and his hockey coaching career. The article insightfully looks at what drives the 56 year old coach, and how his style has created both wins and conflict with his players. For those of you outside the Dispatch coverage area, you can view the article here. Also, this link gives a quick overview of Hitch's NHL and international career.
Jackets v. Canucks 7pm on FSN, or inside Nationwide Arena, if you have the means.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
From YouTube comes this footage of Nash's goal from Vyborny and Fedorov on Monday. Definitely on the highlight reel for the season up to now- I'm hoping it'll cheer all of us up after last night's loss. Enjoy. (Chimera sure does)
In another edition of our continuing Blue Jackets alumni "Where are they now?" series, we'll look at Grant Marshall.
Grant joined the NHL as Toronto's first round pick in 1992. Following a few years in the Leaf's minor league system, he moved to the Dallas Stars in 1994, where he skated until being traded for a second round draft pick from the Jackets in 2001.
Marshall was never a high scorer or 'skill player' as they are sometimes called. At the time he was brought to to Columbus, he was an NHL veteran who won Lord Stanley's cup in 1999 with none other than Ken Hitchcock's Stars. He was brought in to help the young franchise develop.
At right wing, Marshall would be considered a 'power forward' who used his size and force to push his way onto the puck. If he were still with the Jackets today, I'd imagine he would be a 3rd or 4th line winger, probably skating with our grinders.
When skating for Columbus, he wore the number 29, though his number changed when he was traded to the New Jersey Devils for a conditional pick in 2004 draft. Marshall played for New Jersey from 2002-2006. This season has been spent in the Devils' minor league system, playing for the AHL's Lowell Devils.
In his two seasons with Columbus, Marshall played 147 games, scoring 23 goals and 61 pts. He also had 157 penalty minutes.
Grant Marshall at HockeyDB
Photo from SI.com
Ouch... Last night's visit to Detroit didn't go so well, to put it nicely. The Jackets were crushed by the Red Wings 5-0.
Norrena was in net until five minutes or so into the third period. Conklin, who proudly displays his apparent nickname 'Conks' on his mask, replaced him. It was a rough night for Norrena, who was only able to stop 17 of 22. It seems like when Norrena's on, he's on... and when he's off, he's really off.
Even Hitchcock would agree that you can't attribute the blame to Norrena. The skaters failed to score any goals, and even a somewhat better performance by Norrena wouldn't have made a difference in the outcome. The Red Wings were dead-set on revenge following their fall 4-3 on Monday. They got what they wanted- particularly Hasek, who went from giving up 3 goals in the first on Monday to shutting down the Jackets entirely last night. When playing against the Red Wings, the Jackets need to be on their game. Detroit has been and will probably always be one of the best teams in the league. They're an opponent you have to play up to, otherwise you'll be crushed.
The Jackets had a rough time getting anything going, which is fairly common when they find themselves down by a few goals. One of the old, lasting patterns of this Columbus team is to all but surrender when the odds are stacked against them. It's incredibly crucial for the Jackets to score first. A stat I recently came across stated that the Jackets were something like 10-1-2 when scoring first.
If the inability to generate scoring chances wasn't enough, the Jackets did have one goal disallowed. The puck definitely ricocheted off of a CBJ skate, but it was not a 'kicking motion' that would rule it disallowed. However, the ref saw what happened immediately and nixed the goal, then contacted the Toronto war room. It seemed like a situation where the Toronto folks did not have sufficient evidence to overturn the on-ice ruling, but were not necessarily convinced that the puck was kicked past Hasek.
I've got to shake this game off. The Jackets need to pull out a few more W's in the next week so that they can end December >.500. It's entirely possible.
Jackets lose 5-0 to the Red Wings
Photo from Dispatch.com
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Jackets are up in Detroit tonight to play the Red Wings for the third time this season and their second time this week. Thus far, the teams are 1-1 following a 4-1 loss in Joe Louis Arena in November and a 4-3 victory on Monday. Michael Arace of the Dispatch believes that tonight's game will provide a strong measurement of where the team stands.
The Red Wings will be looking for some revenge against Norrena, who will likely be in goal tonight. With Leclaire still out, Norrena is going to hold down the net for at least a few more days. Foote is also still off the ice, but having Duvie Westcott back helps somewhat.
I'm curious to see who the Wings put in their own net. Their lead tender, Dominik Hasek was given the hook after only 20 minutes of play on Monday night after the Jackets took the score to 3-0 in the first period. Osgood played a fairly strong second and third period, letting only one shot by- granted, the Jackets only took 14 shots in that same amount of time.
In other hockey news, the AP reports that there were three NHL hat tricks last night- the second such occasion this season. Last night's hot scorers were Marco Sturm of Boston, Andrew Brunette of Colorado, and Jason Blake of the Islanders. The Jackets are still waiting on their first hat trick of the season, but it will come. The way the offense has been coming together, I see it in the future of either Rick Nash or Sergei Fedorov.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
In the second game I've attended with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, the Jackets played an outstanding and very exciting 60 minutes against the Red Wings.
The Jackets ignited the crowd of 17,000 eight minutes into the first period with a tremendous shorthand goal by speedster Jason Chimera. Hasek came out to feed the puck around the boards to his changing power play lines and Chimera swept in, stole the puck and dropped it in the net over the Dominator's shoulder. The goal lit the crowd on fire, but sat the Red Wings faithful that always populate Nationwide when Detroit is in town.
A second goal came only 90 seconds later with a swift two pass combo from Fedorov and Vyborny, then to Nash in front of the net. Before the end of the first period, former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov would score as well.
The crowd was ecstatic to go into the first intermission up 3-0, and it was demonstrated loudly. In the six games I've attended this season, last night was by far the loudest and the most crowd-involved. This town is reclaiming its stake in the CBJ franchise, now that they've turned it on again.
If I may air a frustration, the Blue Jackets weren't as hot in the second and third periods. It seemed that the team went into cruise control following the first intermission, and didn't regain the killer instinct until late in the third when Detroit nearly sent the game into overtime. For 40 minutes, the Jackets were pushed around and had a difficult time controlling any part of the game. The Jackets mustered 7 shots in each of the second and third periods while the Red Wings fired 16 and 13 shots, respectively. It seemed like so many more, however. Norrena held down the net as if it were the Alamo, despite Babcock's (Pancho Villa's?) troops firing away. There were a number of times that a Detroit goal felt imminent, but so many of their scoring chances came up with naught.
The last five minutes of the game were a wild ride. A full-ice back and forth between the teams amounted to one more goal apiece, including Fedorov's second of the night, and an incredible timely save by Norrena. The crowd was on its feet for the finish, and they were not disappointed... Aside from the few thousand Wing fans.
I can almost sympathize for the Detroit fans though. I too was once and Red Wing fan. It was a different era then, though. Names like Yzerman, Fedorov (he's still one of my all time fav's), Paul Coffey and others are more of my Detroit time. Of course, the Blue Jackets were only a twinkle in McConnell's eye then. Since 2000, it's been all about the CBJ.
Anyway, the three stars of the game were Fedorov, Nash and Vyborny, though Norrena really deserved one of those spots. For the second and third period the rookie goaltender stood on his head.
The Jackets played sharp last night, and hopefully they continue to do so tomorrow when they play the Wings in Detroit. Catch the game on FSN.
Jackets win 4-3
Now 12-17-3, 27 pts, 4th in the central division (5 pts behind Chicago)
Photo taken by: Jamie Sabau, from BlueJackets.com
Monday, December 18, 2006
I picked a good time to be out of the Jacket's TV viewing area last week. The Jackets lost two in a row to the Coyotes and Blackhawks.
After handling better teams such as Dallas, Colorado, Edmonton and Ottawa, the Jackets fell behind two of the worst teams in the league. Such is hockey, I suppose.
I had an invite to Saturday's dismal home game vs. Chicago, but had to pass because of being out of town. Normally, I'd be pretty upset about missing an opportunity to cheer on my Jackets from my Graceland, Nationwide Arena. I'm okay with missing it... If I had to witness Norrena letting five goals by in the first period, I probably wouldn't have been able to handle it. I probably would have attempted to slit my wrists with my ticket.
To the Jackets' credit, they did claw their way back and ended it as a two-goal game and no more. Also, Nash hit 100 career goals.
Shake it off, Jacket fans. Sports are very ebb and flow. The Jackets play Detroit twice this week, including at home tonight, then this weekend is Vancouver and the New York Islanders.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Last night, another team record was broken, 4 straight road wins. Now if we played all of those games in St. Louis, Chicago, and Phoenix, sure, no problem. The things is that three of these games were against formitable opponents, and games that the Jackets owned the other teams: Colorado (3-0), Edmonton (4-0), Dallas (3-1), and don't forget that home win last Saturday against Ottawa (6-2). These are tried and true powerhouse franchises, and the Blue Jackets are putting them to shame.
The three top lines are not only all getting scoring chances, they're scoring goals. Since the first of the month, they've outscored their opponents 22-6. Fritsche has 5 points in his last four games, Nash scored 2 in the Ottawa game, Vyborny had a nifty goal in the Dallas game last night after Turco mishandled a pass. Chimera capped the Dallas game with the afterburners, as he stormed through the D for a mini-breakaway. Other mentions go out to Anson Carter, who's recking up the helpers, and Fredrick Norrena, who has played some outstanding hockey. (You'll see his name at number four on the save % leaderboard, and number 3 on the GAA leaderboard)
Looking ahead, the Jackets play in Phoenix tomorrow, and are back home saturday to play the Blackhawks. If they stay hot, the Jackets can improve to 28 points and continue the climb from the cellar of the conference. As Tyler's last post states that Hitch dropped the "p word," Lets take a look at the numbers:
Based on last year: 95 pts needed
Currently 28 pts, 53 games left, 67 points 33.5 wins needed (.632)
Based on Calgary's pace at #8 in the west:
need (.536): 29.4 wins
These aren't the worst numbers to achieve, but I'm not counting on anything yet, there are still 50 games left and anything can happen.
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Dallas Stars 1
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
He said it first, not me.
According to a Dispatch article, Hitchcock used the 'P word' following Sunday's game against Ottawa. As much of as a believer as I want to be, I'm not sure I'm there yet. Let's finish off December, then regroup. Then there's the all-star break, then we'll talk.
The CBJ machine is in Dallas for tonight's game against the Stars. Leclaire is at home, hopefully only missing a week's worth of games. His lower body injury turned out to be a mere sprain. In his words: "I’ve been told not to put any weight on it. I’ll spend a few days watching movies and playing video games. And I’ll try to be back as soon as possible." Good news for the young netminder, who will hopefully be back in action next weekend.
Foote's injury is considered to be day-to-day, so he'll be out tonight and hopefully back in time for Phoenix on Thursday. We'll have to wait and see on that one. Don't forget, Duvie Westcott is still out with a finger injury and Brian Berard has still yet to play a single game this season. Those two are amongst our best on the blue line, though there will no doubt be some competition for starting positions when they get back.
In other injury news, Modano and Ott won't be playing tonight in Dallas. Modano has a hip/groin issue and Ott broke his leg. Well, that's two less Dallas staples the jackets have to defend against.
And one more tidbit of NHL news. The St. Louis Blues fired their coach yesterday, replacing him with none other than Blue Jackets candidate Andy Murray. I'm glad we got first dibs.
Jackets faithful, this will likely be my last post for a few days as I'll be out of town until Sunday. I'll be keeping tabs, as no doubt you will, on the team. Go Jackets!
Monday, December 11, 2006
How 'bout dem Jackets?
Last night's 6-2 victory at home against the Ottawa Senators is the latest of what is now a four game winning streak. In those same four games, the Jackets have outscored opponents 18-3. An unbelievable stat when we recall what this team looked like before thanksgiving.
I watched all or part of this winning streak, and I can firmly say that is coming as a result of a full team effort. Across the board, each line is making its presence known, and usually felt as well. Checking has improved, shooting has been more numerous and more accurate, and the special teams lines have been phenomenal. Last night against the Sens, the Jackets managed five power play goals. Five. Up til now, it's been hard to get five goals at all, let alone from special teams. Needless to say, the five power play goals performance is a franchise record.
Fritsche has been playing like a man possessed- I've been blown away by how much of an impact he has made on recent games. For someone as young and relatively under the radar, he's certainly doing his share. Frtische doesn't have the spotlight in the way that Zherdev and Nash do, but he certainly knows how to control the puck.
Whatever magic Hitchcock is using, it's working. Plays are being made that wouldn't have stood a chance a month ago. The forwards are moving the puck up ice and not seeing it go the other way immediately. Defensemen are getting into the play, and Hainsey is making plays from the point. Eriksson too is having some of his best career games.
The down side of last nights big game, which included six Jacket goal, a failed Ottawa penalty shot and five minute major penalty against the Sens, was injuries. Foote and Leclaire both came off the ice earlier in pain. Foote is departing with the team today to Dallas for this weeks' road trip, but Leclaire is staying put for treatment.
Pascal Leclaire came out of the net in the second with what has only been described thus far as a 'lower body injury'. In his place, Thomas Popperle has been called up from Syracuse. While Leclaire's injury does create some concern, I have confidence that Norrena will to a fine job in his place, and hopefully this able Jackets defense can provide enough cover for Popperle if he starts.
Get the full story on Jacket injuries from last night from Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch.
Despite the great play by the penalty kill lines, the next thing Hitch needs to work on is keeping our players out of the penalty box. We've been struggling with hooking and tripping calls in particular.
Jackets are now 10-16-2 with 22 pts and are 4th in the division.
Sat: Jackets win 5-1 at St. Louis
Sun: Jackets win 6-2 at home v. Ottawa
***(Update: Contrary to the Dispatch article, BlueJackets.com reports that G Ty Conklin, not Thomas Popperle, will join the team for the road trip. Also, D Filip Novak will travel. He'll play pending on Foote's injury)***
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
With all this talk about hot players on the team right now, I thought I would reflect a bit on some of the personnel decisions that President and General Manager Doug MacLean made over the summer:
Traded G Marc Denis for LW Fredrik Modin and G Fredrik Norrena. I originally thought that this was a trade mainly for Modin. I think we have all learned since then, yesterday in fact, that the trade also very much included Norrena. It started out rocky, with doubts of LeClaire being able to sustain the rigors of being the #1 goaltender, and with Modin's lackluster performance in the early season. Since then, Norrena has become the first Blue Jackets goalie to post back to back shutouts, let alone two away games, one of which involved the Avalanche peppering him with 42 shots. Great performance for a backup goaltender. Modin has since tied Rick Nash on the goal leaderboard with 7 goals. How about that, trading away one decent goaltender for a great goaltender and a great veteran forward, one of the best responders under new head coach Ken Hitchcock
Signed D Anders Eriksson. At first, I thought this may have been a pretty stupid move. Basically, Radoslav Suchy was not re-signed, and Eriksson was signed in his place. Eriksson has a few spotted years of NHL experience after being drafted by the Red Wings, but has also played in Russia and Sweeden. The Blue Jackets got rid of him once, and now he's back, fortunately for us, he's the only player with a plus rating, +5. Way to go Anders!
Signed C Alexander Svitov. Originally acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay for D Daryl Sydor. He's another like Eriksson, who played in the European leagues before coming back into the NHL. He's a solid checking line center with some potential, but he's got to stop taking stupid penalties. I'm pretty neutral on this one, Alexander is still a young player, but if he doesn't start to show a little more jump in his step, it may be time to rethink this decision.
Signed G Ty Conklin. Give me a break, Ty Conklin is old, and not very good, he's 2-9 with Syracuse this year, has a 3.50 GAA, and what's more, the jackets pay him far too much. Conklin has a total of 60 games in the NHL over 6 years, and the Blue Jackets gave him a $1 mil contract. What are they thinking?
Signed C Eric Boguniecki. The move made sense over the summer as the Jackets were a bit short up the middle, but since then, he's been traded for Ryan Cadwell, a 25 year old defensive prospect. I'm okay with the move, sign for depth now, trade later.
Signed RW Anson Carter. This was the other big move that MacLean made, hoping that it was Anson Carter who sparked the Sedin twins in Vancouver, and not the Sedin twins who boosted Carter's numbers. Carter is another player sparked by Hitchcock's tenure as coach, he was brilliant on the top line in the Minnesota game with a goal and two assists, and he scored goals in the shut outs in Edmonton and Colorado. Another good acquisition by the GM
Of course there's that whole coaching issue that has been all over the news in Columbus. Hitchcock has already begun to transform Columbus into a winning organization, but like most things, it's going to take some time.
The playoffs are most likely out of the question again this year. Right now, we're 10 points out, again using the magic number of 95 points, the Jackets still need 77 points in 56 games...pretty difficult. On the bright side, if the Flames (currently 8th place) stay on the pace they are now, they will have amassed approximately 84 points. The Jackets can get to that mark if they average a point per game, which isn't quite so horrible (they're .500 with Hitchcock behind the bench).
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
It's a Tuesday night full of firsts for the Blue Jackets, who toppled the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 in Denver. I couldn't be more pleased by the play of our beloved Blue Jackets tonight. On game 4 of a 5 game road trip, the Blue Jackets got their first win at the Avs' Pepsi Center. In addition, it was the first time in franchise history that Columbus has beaten Colorado in regulation.
And if that wasn't enough, they got back-to-back shutouts for the first time too.
All Blue Jacket goals came at even strength, which was pretty much their only option. Colorado only gave up 4 minutes of power play time. The Jackets took four two-minute penalties, once causing a 5-3 advantage for the Avs. The penalty kill lines were up to the task, however.
The team was all around sharp. They played with confidence and flair, they made offensive opportunities and played a tight reliable defense that created a redundancy in front of the net that I've never seen before. As Norrena moved to stop shots, other players, forward and defense alike, stepped in to seal cracks and stop the Colorado offense from getting one past the line.
Norrena was a net minding machine- stopping shot after shot, 42 of them in all. Despite pitching a shutout away with 42 saves, Norrena was snubbed from being a star of the game. I can only explain that as an oversight by the star selection committee. With back to back shutouts, I'd say he's a contender for the the league-wide star of the week. Regardless of his star status, Norrena isn't playing like an NHL rookie. At the rate he's going, he's going to put a lot of pressure on Leclaire and there will be competition to be the starting tender for the Jackets.
Kudos to Carter, who played a hell of a game. 77 was on ice for all three goals and always seemed to be in exactly the right spot to make a play. Carter has made a serious impact on this Jackets team, especially since the signing of Ken Hitchcock. The Jackets staff needs to make sure he's given all the ice time he can handle, and that he's happy in central Ohio. I don't want Carter going anywhere.
Despite the win, the notice board is coming back:
Adam Foote - You're the captain, Foote. Keep out of the penalty box. As an experience veteran, there is no reason you should be taking these penalties. Your first penalty came while you were already on the PK. That's the worst time to get sent to the box. You leave your team doubly vulnerable. Your other penalty came just as the team finished killing a tripping call against Klesla, too.
Jackets win! Again! 3-0
Monday, December 4, 2006
That's what happened to OKT in the first period of Saturday's game at Edmonton, according to Hitchcock. I'm guessing he sang that old song by Anita Ward and got what he asked for.
Friday, December 1, 2006
I'm writing this post as I'm watching the game. It's about halfway through the 3rd period and the refs have already been on the phone with the Toronto officials twice.
The first call was in regard to a very questionable goal. The puck ricocheted off of the post and back out onto the ice. The ref waved off the goal (because it wasn't) but the goal judge behind the net lit the lamp. The horn sounded, lights flashed and the spotlight went down onto the ice. Meanwhile, the puck was out on the ice being moved around by Calgary players. The Jackets, who didn't see the ref waving off the goal, thought that Calgary had scored. The flames seized this opportunity of Columbus confusion to actually put the puck in the back of the net. This "second" goal counted.
The review questioned whether or not the ref blew the whistle after the no-goal, there by stopping play. If he did, then neither goal counts. If he didn't, then the second goal does count. The ruling from the Toronto war room was that the second goal should indeed count.
I'm not trying to be a whiner here, but this call really irked me. I understand that the whistle is the official start/stop noise of the game, but the goal horn sounded, the flashing lights and audible chaos ensued and the crowd went nuts. What are the players supposed to do? If they weren't looking right at the ref at the time he waved his arms, there's no way they would have thought it wasn't a goal. The actual goal was scored several seconds after the horn had sounded. In addition, the NHL and other sports leagues have rules restricting crowd interference, use of profanity, amplified sound (organ, music) during play, and so forth. How could the lights and horns not be considered unfair crowd/arena interaction with the game? The officials should have halted play and waved the whole thing off.
Shortly afterward, the Jackets were crashed into their own net and the puck disappeared. Chances are that the puck did cross the line into the net, but the cluster of skaters in the crease made it unclear. The on-ice officials and those in Toronto decided this one wouldn't count.
With 3 Toronto war room calls in two games, this is getting out of hand. It's the 21st century- why are we relying on human eyes 10 feet behind the net to decide whether or not a goal is scored? Yeah, we've added replays, which helps, but it's not enough. The NFL also uses replays, but theirs are available by both officials and coach's challenge and are reviewed on-site instead of far away. Most importantly, they're easier to use to overturn a call than the NHL system.
The NHL needs to adopt a high-tech puck. It would be easy to embed a transmitter of some kind into a game puck that could aid in these situations. The underlying idea is very simple- when the puck enters a certain area, a goal has been scored. If the puck is not in that area, there is no goal.
This could be done a number of ways, and here are my suggestions:
- There could be a sensor in the back of the net that would detect the puck in relation to the goal line, using some sort of imaging sensor.
- An electro-magnetic sensor, similar to an airport metal detector could be put within the goalposts and could detect a puck moving between them.
- RF ID tag inside the puck. I don't know how accurate these are, but it may work.
- My favorite is a location trilateration system- think GPS but on a smaller scale. Using multiple positioning receivers and a transmitter inside the puck, the location of the puck could be determined anywhere in the arena to a matter of centimeters, maybe better. Simultaneously, this system could potentially be used to highlight the puck on the tv screen (i know this idea was experimented with in the 90's) or locate it when it is hidden behind the boards from the camera.
Jackets lose 2-1
Same basement, different day.