Monday, February 26, 2007

Rare Rout of the Rangers and Predator Problems

Isn't alliteration great?

So the Jackets went to what Danny Gare repeatedly called "the world's most famous arena" and took down the NY Rangers on Saturday, then returned to Nationwide to be beaten by Nashville for the umpteenth time this season.

The New York win was something special. The Rangers and their fans clearly expected a win on Saturday, which they needed to aid in securing their playoff berth. The Jackets weren't about to let that happen, thanks to some great PK effort by Rick Nash and Jason Chimera. Oddly enough, both of them came up with shorthanded goals to keep the game in the Columbus grasp. It was Nash's first ever NHL shortie, which only took so long because coaches previous to Hitch didn't give Nasher much in the way of PK ice time. The defense held tight to the end and the Jackets managed to defeat yet another Eastern Conference team that they seldom play against.

Sunday's game at home against Nashville pretty much went the way of the rest of the season series between the teams. The Jackets were able to take few penalties, which is a welcomed statistic, and even held on into overtime. Conklin was in net, which certainly led to problems in the shootout.

Shootouts are hard for any goalie, veteran or rookie. It's one of the most difficult plays in the game because all the goalie can do is react. It's pretty much a wait-and-see situation, where the shooter can choose from a number of different options and the goalie has to work accordingly. Conks, with his minimal NHL experience is rightfully underqualified for that sort of duty. Despite that, I give the whole team credit for hanging on against a division opponent. (one that is quite stacked, no less)

Ok, so another thing about the Anson Carter trade and why it makes me angry: I think most of us will agree that MacLean undervalued Carter for the trade. Dumping payroll or not, the GM could probably have arranged a warm body or at least a pick this season in exchange for Carter. Besides, if no one else wanted him, wouldn't it be possible to re-sign Carter at a lower salary? If no other team really valued him above a 5th round pick, who would spend more than $2.5 mil on him? What really irks me is that the Jackets received a 2008 5th round draft pick. The organization won't see any value from the trade for well over a year, and given that a 5th round guy probably isn't any sort of savior for our organization, he will certainly spend substantial time in Syracuse. At best, the player that we will have traded Carter for won't see ice time in Columbus until at least 2010, or 2011, if at all. I'm getting a little tired of this waiting game. I'm tired of the team putting so much faith, money, and focus into young players that will take years and years to become the skilled veterans that seem to be producing for every other NHL team. Blue Jacket fans have waited, as we all realize that patience in professional sports is a virtue. But it's been six seasons in the basement. Six seasons of signing young players who don't realize expectations. Six seasons of "maybe next year". The CBJ front office needs to start making decisions that will impact the success of the team now. Not six more seasons down the line.


Michael said...

I think you're getting on Conks a little too hard, man. It was the three Blue Jackets shooters who all failed to score. Conklin stopped one of the two attempts on him.

You couldn't say that about Norrena, who just shrivels up and dies in the shootout (he didn't stop a single shot in the last one).

Tyler said...

You have a point, and I think the Jackets have just had so much frustration in the net this season. It's Leclaire's first year as an NHL starter (and he's been injured for a large part of the season), it's Norrena's rookie year in the NHL, and Conks' first NHL game was played this season too, even though he has struggled so much in the AHL.

While our netminders aren't bad in an overall sense, the team doesn't have a seasoned NHL veteran to look to at all. I think what it is, as I sort of hit on in the last paragraph of this post, is that I'm a little tired of the front office focusing on young players and not being willing to spend the money to get a substantial goalie or other key skill position.

Brandon said...

Or if they do spend a little money, they make poor decisions then deal them during the regular season for absolutely nothing. (Dancin' Anson Carter, Geoff Sanderson, Ray Whitney, etc.) We really are the Arizona Cardinals of the NHL.

Drew said...

Conklin's first NHL game was not this year.

He made his NHL debut during the 2001-02 season with the Edmonton Oilers. He last played for Edmonton in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals this past season, when he filled in for an injured Dwayne Roloson.

Tyler said...

Ooh, whoops. Good catch. Thanks!

Yoder said...

Another side note on Conklin, he's not all that bad as a back up goaltender, but I would like to go back to that game in the playoffs when he filled in for Roloson. He cost the Oilers the game for one fatal misplay beside the net...lets just say no one wanted him after that costly mistake, I'll see if we can dig up a video clip later in the week


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