Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jackets go Wild vs Minnesota

It was a great night to be inside Nationwide Arena. Two successive nights in fact- the Jackets managed back to back wins against the Buffalo Sabers and Minnesota Wild, respectively. I attended tonight's western conference matchup, and it was a great ride.

In front of a packed house, the Jackets faced off against the Minnesota Wild. As pumped up as the team, fans, and media was regarding Friday's big win over the Eastern Conference leading Sabers, I couldn't help but be a little discouraged by Malhotra's double minor only nine seconds into the first period. The penalty kill lines were up to the task, however- all four penalty minutes were killed off without a serious threat from the Wild.

A few minutes later, the Wild's Johnson took a hooking call then made a fuss about the penalty, thereby earning himself an additional two minutes in the sin bin. The Jackets were ready and made more of the situation than Minnesota was able to. The Jackets scored two power play goals only a minute apart thanks to the double minor and another hooking charge to Nummelin.

Once the Jackets got up on the Wild, they never went back down. The team played with a tenacity that is seldom seen outside of the playoffs. From what I've read of the Buffalo game, it sounds like they never settled back down from the win on Friday. Play was back and forth and the entire team pitched in to get the win.

The player of the game was definitely Klesla. Besides a goal and an assist, #97 was all over the ice disrupting the Minnesota offense and generally keep the Jackets on top. Way to go Rosti, you've been really making a difference these last few games.

I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of things before the game started. First, Zherdev was scratched. Looks like he's really getting shut down after his continued weak performance on ice. Second, the starting line was Malhotra, Chimera, Fritsche, Hainsey and Eriksson. Those guys have been the workhorses of the team lately and truly deserve the starter role. I was definitely disappointed by Manny's six penalty minutes, particular those first four so early in the game.

I tried something new at tonights game. I brought along headphones to plug into my phone, which has a radio in it. I listened to the play-by-play from the Jackets radio network while in the arena, which was pretty cool. I'll definitely be doing that again. For the record, I got the trivia question right too.

Jackets win 3-2! Three consecutive wins! The season series ended at an even 2-2. We've pulled ahead of Chicago, who is on a ten game slide (ouch.). St Louis is next. They have 48 pts to the CBJ 43.
Box Score

Thursday, January 25, 2007

NHL: The Not-so-national Hockey League

There's no question that the NHL is suffering. While it has never been a dominant sport in America, I think it's fair to say that the league is losing ground.

Michael, of Army of the Ohio, has already addressed these issues somewhat, but I'd like to post my take on them too.

First and foremost, the lockout was devastating to the fans. Quite clearly, a league that doesn't play any games can't be watched. During the lockout, I'm sure a lot of would-be hockey fans found other places to get their sports fix. The NBA is as popular as ever, and the winter is saturated with college basketball- and this was also the beginnings of ESPN broadcasting the World Series of Poker. When the NHL came back, so many players had moved and so much time had passed that fewer fans were willing to just pick up where they left off. Despite being a CBJ fan since the Jackets were just a twinkle in McConnells' eye, I too had difficulty getting back into the swing of things. Players I had watched prior to the lockout were relocated, or in a few cases, missing entirely. Casual fans don't tolerate strikes and lockouts. They just find somewhere else to spend their time. I sure developed more of an interest in college football, NCAA basketball and baseball during this time. Today, hockey isn't so much national, as it is popular only in small pockets surrounding the teams.

The TV contract is a serious killer. If a fan wants to catch a game, but doesn't want to shell out $50 for tickets, their only choice is to catch it on tv. Granted, fox sports does a great job of covering just about every Jackets game, home and away, but what about non-hometown teams? And does Fox cover all of the NHL's games in their respective markets, or only a few? (If you have any insight, let me know in the comments.) I seldom tune into Versus to see who's playing on any given night. And to my experience, they don't advertise much on other channels, so I don't get drawn to Vs. unless the Jackets will be on. Essentially, I've watched one, maybe two, non-CBJ hockey games this season. It's hard to stay in tune with the league as a whole when it's not very convenient to catch out of market games. Compare that to NCAA or NFL football- a huge percentage of the games are broadcast nationwide.

The NHL needs to get back on ESPN at some level. Maybe not every game, but at least a few per season, and hopefully the All-Star game, maybe some playoffs. ESPN is de facto the television leader in sports. They not only air just about every sport, but cover it on SportsCenter, PTI, Around the Horn, and other sports pundit programs. You can be damn sure that the ESPN execs air a lot less coverage of NHL highlights, news, and events because they don't carry the league. Generating any sort of interest in hockey is of no benefit to ESPN- they stand to gain nothing by encouraging viewership of any means. It's far more valuable to them to cover stories of sports they air. The NHL needs to find a way back to ESPN. Even if it meant taking a less valuable deal, it may very well be worth it in the long run as more potential fans are exposed to the sport.

The NHL needs to start a big PR campaign to revitalize its fan base. I'm no PR guru, so I'm not going to illustrate a whole campaign, but I do think it needs to involve advertising on more popular channels. The NHL needs to do whatever it takes to regain viewers before the situation gets any more dire. I'm not sure Gary Bettman is up to the task of fixing the NHL. He's been the NHL commissioner since 1993. Since that time, the league may have expanded, teams have moved, and four clubs have filed for bankruptcy- but the last few years have brought some of the most trying times for hockey fans. Maybe its time to give someone else a chance. The NHL needs a different kind of leader to recover from the turmoil of the lockout and the poor ratings of recent years. I know that changing a few faces won't instantly fix the league, but I'm not sure what else to do. What's being done now isn't working. Beyond that, I'm already a hockey fan, so it can be hard to see what's not to like about the league.

In years past, it's been hard enough to watch my beloved Jackets, just one team, struggle for so many years. Now we're watching the whole league struggle.

All-Star Game a bust blast

I went over to Yoder's place last night to watch the All-Star game. Going into it, I was prepared for disappointment. After the minimal 'street cred' the NHL gets, I didn't think there would be much fanfare.

I was wrong, and I'm happy about that. The All-Star game was actually quite entertaining. The players donned their new style uniforms for the first time, and I thought they looked pretty cool. A little less traditional, a little more 21st century. I didn't have a problem with the old unis, but I'm cool with the change.

The game was great. The whole thing went down as you'd expect. The players showed off their passing and shooting skills with minimal contact, but the game was fast paced and there was always a plethora of on-ice activity. My favorite part of the contest was when the hosts in the booth had a conversation with Marty Turco while he was playing the game. Marty seems like a charismatic guy, and he was chatting away as he stacked the pads and played the puck. Itwas something that I've never seen before in any sporting event.

During the game, footage was aired of the other events going on during the week and I was impressed. Dallas truly rolled out the red carpet for the NHL stars and inflated the game to more of a spectacle than I thought was coming. Despite the national media not really embracing the week's events, it seemed like the locals put on quite a show.

Nash was a stud for the whole game. His first goal was taken away and given to another player (ain't that the jackets' luck) but his next two goals and two assists were his. It was a great way to represent our team. We need Nash to play like that in Nationwide too.

In all, the All-Star game was a great display of the game of hockey. Yeah, it wasn't very physical, but the players and fans alike were smiling, and the spirit of the game transcended though the tv... even if it was on Versus.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Versus hosts the Young Stars and Super Skills Competition

The All-Star break is upon us, and tonight hockey fans with 70 tv channels and up were privileged to watch the Young Stars game and the Super Skills Competition.

The Young Stars game consisted of 3 ten minute periods of entirely 4 on 4 play. The players were selected unevenly from the NHL, and not every team was represented. In fact, a significant number of them weren't. So be it- we can keep our Brules and Fritches to ourselves. The game was high scoring, netting near 20 goals. Play was quite friendly, only one penalty and extensive cherry picking. Like so often in professional all-star games, the players didn't seem to be competing so much as they were just having fun. I can appreciate that, but I tune in to the All-Star events to admire the skills and tenacity of players whom I don't get to see on a regular basis.

The skills competition is always entertaining, and is a unique experience. I always look forward to this event the most because it truly breaks down different aspects of the game that fans never get to see by themselves. The Skills competition consisted of a puck relay that including stick handling, a shootout, a three on none goalie competition, a fastest skater contest a slap shot speed contest, and a shooting accuracy contest.

Our own Rick Nash was the winner of the solo puck relay contest- he blew away Jay Bowmeester of the Panthers with his long strides and smooth skating. Nice job Rick- too bad you couldn't come through in the shootout as well. Nash also participated in the three on none goalie competition, though he was pretty ineffective. Nash was placed on the face-off circle to the goalie's right... too bad Nasher shoots lefty. Oops.

I have a couple quick rants about the event besides the misplacement of Nash. First, the Dodge Nitro timer for the speed competition didn't work, so the timing was done by hand, virtually eliminating the thousandth of a second accuracy that had been custom in the past. Second, I was disappointed that the event aired on Versus. Nothing against the channel -they do alright for being a bottom tier cable channel- but you're telling me that no broadcast station (even NBC, which has some level of NHL contract) would pick this thing up? Not even ESPN2? Fox sports? What the heck? The NHL needs to bring its product to the masses, not just those with digital cable. Out of curiosity, I wonder who aired it in Canada? (CBC Sports as it turns out.) I understand Versus is fairly low budget, so they can't afford the premier sportscasters, but they have to do better than these knuckleheads. A major network could have brought in someone a little classier for the week. The guys in the booth were obnoxious, and everything happening on ice was secondary to their random banter with co-hosts Mark Messier and Bill Clement. I'm fine with Messier and Clement, in fact I think Messier is a helluva guy, but you need to put real broadcasters in the booth with them who can keep the talk interesting and focused.

On a sidenote, Versus also debuted their 'rail cam' which is a camera on a sliding rig that moves along a (you guessed it) rail mounted on the side boards. It follows the play with decent speed, but hockey mandates a wider view for seeing the development of plays that are active from the goal line to the blue line simultaneously. I'll give them substantial effort points though. It's not often you see any network trying to enhance the way we watch the game.

Tomorrow is the actual All-Star game. Even though so much of the sporting public has a distaste for the NHL's lack of competition in the game, I still enjoy watching the league's (and arguably, world's) best come together. Sure, a new format of some kind might make it more interesting to a wider demographic, but hey, I'm gonna watch it anyway. Even if I have to tune into channel 70.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Super Bowl XLI: A Midwestern Showdown

Way to represent the heartland! Indianapolis and Chicago will square off in what we all hope to be an outstanding NFL Championship game. If it's half as exciting as the New England - Indianapolis game, we're in for something special. Even Chicago's rout of New Orleans was entertaining. Few things are more representative of January football than snow in Soldier Field. I'm pleased with the match-up this Super Bowl, as neither team has been to the big game recently, yet both have been the focus of so much media attention this season.

The big game is still two weeks away, so there's plenty of time to hear about the big storyline. As a matter of fact, ESPN will consist entirely of basketball and super bowl predictions and reports. Needless to say, it'll be a long fortnight. We'll hear all about how Chicago has an outstanding defense, though their biggest weakness this season has been their starting quarterback, Rex Grossman. Then we'll hear about how Peyton Manning has been so successful as an NFL QB, but has not led his team to the big game until now... I'm sure they'll mention the Colts' defense that was weak all season but stepped up to stop the running attacks of Baltimore and Kansas City, and then got the job done against the Pats. The sports pundits will probably even remind you that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit, in case you forgot.

I'm gonna go ahead and make a prediction for the game. After seeing both teams play today, I think the Bears are going to win it. Between Chicago's special teams and stellar defense, the Colts are going to have a real tough time getting the ball down the field. Grossman is about the only thing that could jeopardize the situation because he's been completely unpredictable. He's been hot and cold all season. If he plays mediocre or better, the Colts defense aren't going to be able to keep the Bears under 20 points, and so it'll be all on Peyton's shoulders- which will be crushed by Chicago's pass rush. Furthermore, the axiom states that "the best defense will beat the best offense."And that has pretty much held up, as far as I'm concerned.

Congrats to the Colts and Bears, as well as their loyal fans. Enjoy south Florida in the winter, I'm sure the weather is more accommodating than it is up here.

Greg Oden: Man or Myth?

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Ohio State v. Iowa basketball game. It was a quite convincing win for the Buckeyes, who lost twice to the Hawkeyes last season.

Just as you'd expect from all of the media hype surrounding the player, Greg Oden was the star of the show. The kid (and I can say that because he was born in '88) is unreal. He towers over everyone else on either team and dominates down low. He's automatic in the paint. Essentially, the rest of the team just needs to feed it in to him and it's two points on the board.

Oden scored a thus-far career high of 29 points, and all of them were scored from right under the hoop or from the free throw line. He's still shooting with his left hand, and he's right handed by nature.

What impressed me the most about Oden wasn't his dunking, his reach, or his blocking skills, but his lack of fouls. Any player who spends that much time under the hoop is bound to pick up a few. After all, center is one of the most full contact positions in all of sports. But Oden took only two fouls while attaining those 29 points- a true feat for a guy who plays so many minutes.

If you should have the means to get to a Buckeye basketball game this season, do so. Oden alone makes the experience worthwhile. What's more, chances are high he won't be sticking around for another season. (though reports are quite mixed on this issue) Oden has been touted as the savior of the NBA, and the competition to select him in the upcoming draft has been dubbed "The Greg Oden Sweepstakes."

At least a few reports have stated that Oden likes the college life and wants to spend another year or two being an 18-22 year old college kid. I can't say I blame him there. The NBA will still be there in a couple of years, and so long as he doesn't become injured, his future is more than secure. If you need any more proof that he's having a good time at OSU, look no further than right here:

Saturday, January 20, 2007

All-Star Break Time for the Jackets

The Jackets took down the mighty Wings with three swift blows from the stick. I regret not attending this game- I should have thought to get some tickets during the 24 hour sale. Whoops. Anyhow, I did manage to watch exactly the first half of the game, and I was actually pretty impressed. The team played solid all around. After watching the dismal effort put up against Nashville, and then last night's game, it was pretty clear the Hitch ran a rigorous practice between games. The team seemed more focused on fundamentals and less on making a big play. Checks were finished, passes were crisp, and plays came together where there hadn't been a connection before. Perhaps best of all, the Jackets only ceded 6 penalties. I'll take it. In all, it was a good way to go into the All-Star break.

This year's All-Star game will be held in Dallas, or 'Big-D' as they say in Texas, where even cliches are big. A quick rundown of the schedule:

Tuesday: Young Stars game and the 'Super Skills' competition, which is always fun to watch.
Wednesday: The actual All-Star game. Rick Nash will be representing the CBJ.

Monday also includes an interesting event, and one that I was not familiar with. Quoth the Dallas Stars All-Star game web site:

American Airlines "Salute to a Generation of Stars," presented by Idearc Media, official publishers of the Verizon Yellow Pages (AAC, 6-8 p.m.): The all-stars will hold showcase practices during which there will be a salute to several former NHL stars. NHL legends scheduled to appear include: 19-time All-Star Ray Bourque; Hockey Hall of Famer and three-time Norris Trophy winner Paul Coffey; top-scoring US-born skater Phil Housley; 1999 Stanley Cup winner with the Dallas Stars Brett Hull; Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux; Olympic Gold Medalist and 13-time All-Star Al MacInnis; six-time Stanley Cup winner and 15-time All-Star Mark Messier; Hockey Hall of Famer Larry Murphy; four-time All-Star Joe Nieuwendyk; five-time All-Star Adam Oates and eight-time All-Star Luc Robitaille.
I think that sounds mildly entertaining, though I doubt it'll be televised. I look forward to the day when Columbus gets to host the game. You'd think we'd be pretty high up on the list after being voted the #1 stadium experience. And I'm sure we're as big of a market as Minneapolis, and we're reasonably close to two other hockey cities and several metro areas. Someday. Right about the time the Jackets win the division.

Alright hockey fans: today I leave you with a classic hockey clip. I've recently developed an affinity to posting clips from YouTube. Hopefully you don't mind to much. This is the intro from the 1980 NHL All-Star game. I'm sure you'll recognize a few faces.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Rory Fitzpatrick Conspiracy

If you're not an avid blogger or internet news reader, you may have missed the whole Rory Fitzpatrick story. Rory is a veteran defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks. Despite ten seasons with the NHL, he has only netted nine total goals and only one assist this season. While on paper he isn't much, he's a fan favorite in the league. I would make comparisons to Jody Shelley. A hard worker, but not one to produce results that affect the team's season.

A hockey fan from New York took this season's All-Star voting as an opportunity to recognize Rory by starting a grass-roots campaign to get him into the All-Star game. The campaign was strong and Rory received thousands of votes from all over the country from fans that admired his veteran status and grinding style of play. After all, being an All-Star is about more than what's on paper, right? Rory's vote totals reached the hundreds of thousands. Before long, making the All-Star team wasn't even a question. In fact, there was a good chance that he would start.

It wasn't long before Rory's magic was found out. A computer programmer from Vancouver had found a way to vote for Fitzpatrick automatically. He developed an add-on for Firefox that would automatically fill in the All-Star ballot, including the scrambled picture code, and vote over and over again. All Rory fans had to do was start up their browser to cast their vote thousands of times. This Slate article explains the entire situation, including how the Firefox mod worked.

Needless to say, the NHL figured it all out before long and insisted on rectifying the situation. Whatever the vote totals were, officials and hockey pundits alike didn't think Rory deserved the accolade. As the Slate article explains, officials didn't find a strategic way of finding where all of Rory's automated votes originated. Instead, they simply discredited 100,000 votes. Unbelievable.

While it's entirely true that many, if not most, of the Rory votes came through automated means, the NHL shouldn't prevent a fan voted player from receiving his votes. If they were so dead-set against fraud, they should have done a better job with site security, or simply restricted the number of votes per person to a finite number (Voting was unlimited). In the end, no one gets hurt, and a ten year veteran of the league gets a chance to represent his team, his city, and a slough of fans that care about more than numbers.

While writer can debate the legitimacy of the campaign, the NHL needs to realize that the Vote-for-Rory campaign is a blessing to the league. In many places, media articles brought attention to the upcoming All-Star game and drew in fans that normally would have tuned into American Idol or whatever drivel is on during the same time slot. Fans are fascinated by the Rory campaign, not turned-off by it. After all, it's one player on a roster of dozens.

According to this article from NHL.com, Rory obtained 480,000 votes. That's good enough for 4th best overall, and is surely a record for a write-in candidate. I support the Rory movement. Next year we'll get Shelley to the game!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Aw, c'mon... Nashville AGAIN?


That's pretty much what I said when my phone dinged at me to let me know there was a jackets game on tonight. Columbus has struggled against the Tennessee team in every meeting this season. (except the first preseason game). In the regular season, the jackets have been outscored 18-8 by the preds, and have lost each and every game. Things need to pick up for the Jackets though. This struggling January doesn't sit well with me, despite a satisfying late win in Chicago on Tuesday. Maybe the Jackets can use the All-Star break to get their bearings and make a good run toward the playoffs in February.

According to the internet signage, it's 70's night at the Gaylord. Maybe the Jackets can use it to crank up a Disco Fever! Yeah, that's the ticket. I imagine it will all look something like this:




Ok, or maybe not at all. But I needed to find an excuse to embed this clip. I love this movie. It's from Airplane! for you non-slapstick connoisseurs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And just like that, the Preds take two from the Jackets

Ouch.

A rough Friday and Saturday for Jacket fans as the team loses back-to-back games against the Nashville Predators. The Jackets are winless against the 'rival' Preds this season, raising the record between the two to what, 0-4?

I don't like to use injuries as an excuse, but c'mon, the Jackets are a struggling team when they're 110% healthy, and to take out so many of our stars at the same time is rubbing salt in the wound. Regardless, the Jackets should have been a little sharper on the skates and a little more accurate with the sticks. This CBJ squad is starting to fall back into old pre-Hitch habits. I remember what happens when this team gets down on itself and loses game after game... and it's not pretty.

Tonight the Jackets are in Chi-town to face the 'hawks. Chicago has struggled this season as well, but is current riding the central division in 3rd place with 40 pts, 3 ahead of the Jackets. That makes for a CBJ opportunity to take a step up the basement stairs. We may have some of our stars back, so there's definitely a chance.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Oddities abound, Jackets lose again

I'm confused. After seeing the Jackets get shut out last night in Nashville, the two teams met again, in what was an incredibly odd game. My hopes weren't too high seeing that many key players are injured: Nash, Fedorov, Westcott, Svitov and Foote are the most recent and significant. (there's 8 total), just so all of our fans out there not quite as sharp on the Blue Jackets depth chart, the bottom two forward lines consisted of minor leaguers. Oh yeah, did I forget to tell you guys that Mr. Maclean had to call up Derrick Walser the other day? This is just getting ridiculous, the best month in Blue Jackets history, immediately followed by what is turning out to be the worst month ever, 1-4-1 so far.

Norrena started the game, something I wasn't expecting, and it turned out to be pretty bad after he let in three goals on nine shots. Conklin then started the second period, and it was apparent that he wasn't planning on playing tonight since he didn't bother to put on his socks under the leg pads. Conklin played, and Conklin played well. Then, out of nowhere, Hitch put Norrena back in the game for the last five minutes. Now if a team is losing by three goals with five minutes left, and said team is outshooting the other team like 30 something to 15, chances are you aren't going to score three goals in the last five minutes. It just isn't something that happens, nor is replacing the relief goaltender back with the starter. Why bother?

If you have a chance, check out the score sheet, I'd like to point out the penalty section at this time...yes that's right, the Preds had more penalties than the Columbus "two minutes - hooking" Blue Jackets. But not only the penalties, the Jackets outshot Nashville 40-17. There's a couple of lousy numbers if I ever saw them, .764 save percentage and a .025 scoring percentage. (that's .975 for Chris Mason)

Lastly, I am issuing my final decision on this team making it to the postseason. It is true the team has a lot of talent. Doug Maclean made a great trade with the freddies and Marc Denis. But a playoff run requires not only talent, but smart and fast decision making, cohesiveness as a group, and they most certainly must not go into panic mode. I saw it with the Buckeyes last monday with Tressel going for it on fourth down, and I saw it tonight with Hitchcock flip flopping goalies. Players second guessed each other, and trying to win the game individually isn't going to win a season. Yes, there is an injury issue right now, but this is the time for the young players to step up and fill in the voids. But we do have to remember that the Cruch isn't as good of a team as usual, they're also sitting at last place in the north division after a season close to the top of the division

Maybe next year

Friday, January 12, 2007

Hats off to Teemu Selanne


In an article that nearly slipped under my radar, (thanks google reader!) it came to my attention that Ducks Veteran Teemu Selanne hit a hat trick on Thursday night. Such an event isn't all that uncommon, but this particular 3-goal night was a special one for Selanne.

A close friend of Selanne, from Finland, was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier on Thursday. The friend asked that his NHL buddy send him the game puck if Selanne could score three goals. Despite the fact that the Anaheim star hadn't netted three in one night since 2001, he was able to make it happen for his terminally ill friend.

It's one of those make-ya-feel-good sports stories. Really can't say much more than that.

A Nashville Weekend

Hey Jacket fans- tonight and tomorrow our CBJ skaters will be going head to head against the Nashville Predators. Tonight's game will be in Tennessee, and tomorrow's at home in Nationwide. No word on if the two teams will share a cab back to Columbus tomorrow morning.

The team played on Tuesday at home against the Blues. I had tickets to the game that I bought during the Dec. 26 24-hour sale. Half price tickets weren't enough to fill the arena, however. That was a tad disappointing. An division game, against a team the Jackets should('ve) been able to handle, 2 new coaches facing off... And still a ton of empty seats. So it goes, Jacket fans. If you didn't know it already, the Jackets lost in a shootout following 3 consecutive goals by Blues shooters. Zherdev and Vyborny were able to get one past Legace in the shootout, but Modin was not so lucky. The team was without Fedorov and Nash and Westcott, who are still 0ut with injuries. Carter was back though, and was a force to be reckoned with. The man knows how to be in the right place at the right time.

Following the game, Yoder and I stopped by the Arena Pub to attend the the Jackets post-game show. This was a neat experience. For anyone who's up for it, the post game show is free and hardly crowded. Plenty of seating was available and it's really easy to ask questions of the panel. Yoder and I both asked questions on-air. In addition, Gilbert Brule showed up, complete with arm candy, to join the panel. He also signed autographs on his way out. If you're enough of a Jackets fan that you're reading this, you should definitely check it out.

Jackets in Nashville tonight, and they'll have their hands full. We need to steal some points from the division in order to chase a playoff spot, so let's get a win.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Video Highlights from Blue Jackets vs. Anaheim Ducks 1/5/07

As promised, I found the video highlights for the Jackets game at Anaheim last Friday night. If you missed it live, here's your chance to see one of our beloved franchise's all-time best comebacks. Don't forget that the Jackets are on live tonight at 7 on Fox Sports Net Ohio at home vs. St. Louis. If things go sour tonight, just check out this video clip for hope. As for me, I'm off to the arena. Go Jackets!

Ohio State loses BCS Championship because of old age

The Ohio State Buckeyes, beloved by all the world, fell to the Florida Gators last night in the BCS title game. The Bucks were defeated as much by Father Time and their own lack of discipline as they were by Florida.

It had been 51 days since the Bucks' last game, which is a long time to ask of any team. Players get out of rhythm, out of shape, and outright out of the right mental state to play a competitive football game. In that same time Florida played not one, but two games. If Ohio State had been 14 days fresher, who knows what difference that may have made. Let's take a look back to remember the world 51 days ago.

A young, hip, President Reagan was leading the United States out of the Iranian hostage crisis, as well as developing a space based anti-missile system.





Bruce Springsteen, or "The Boss" as he would later become known, took the radio waves by storm with his hit Dancing in the Dark. The video for the song also starred a little known actress, Courtney Cox, who would become famous for her role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.


The futuristic Tron was the top grossing movie. Few knew how accurate the movie would be in predicting the future. By the time the BCS bowl games started, the red guy was already up 3-1 on the blue guy.


It is ridiculous to ask any team to wait so long to play again following the regular season. I've been a fan of a playoff system for a while now, as I documented in this post on The Soap Box. If Ohio State fans ever needed another excuse to support the disposal of the bowl system, last night was it. No other sport uses such an archaic and outright absurd system for evaluating a champion as does NCAA football.

Monday, January 8, 2007

What rulebook?


Lightening didn't strike twice for the Jackets this weekend. Despite a huge thriller of a win at Anaheim, Columbus couldn't repeat that success in San Jose.

Losing 5-2 against the league's #2 team, Jacket fans have reason to be up in arms about the failure of on-ice officials to know the rulebook. As chronicled in this article in the Dispatch, the officials managing the penalty box made a detrimental error that allowed Clowe to score a power play goal when play should have been 4 on 4. Clowe went on to score a third as well.

The wrong-doing was that the wrong player and time remaining on the penalty were used following a San Jose powerplay goal.

The Jackets captains and coaching staff inquired immediately about the penalty box error. The incident was apparent to any avid hockey follower, fan, or player. On the inquiry, the response the Jackets received was that the wrong player was released from the box because of "a new rule."It was a lie to cover a blunder, that quite possibly cost the Jackets the game.

The Jackets are particularly susceptible to falling into a funk when down a goal or when dealt a tough blow from officials. No doubt, this error could have cost them the game.

Jackets lose 5-2
Box Score

Saturday, January 6, 2007

"I've Been to Seven World's Fairs and I Thought I'd Seen it all!"

Those were the very words of Jeff Rimer upon Manny Malhotra scoring the game winning fourth goal. While not as catchy as "Do you believe in miracles!", it gets the point across.

If you missed the 3rd period of tonight's Jackets game at Anaheim, and I know many of you did due to the fact it took place after midnight, you really missed out. While writing a previous post during the game, I aired my frustration with the Jackets' lack of scoring on the road. I will now proceed to eat my hat.

It started with a shot from the point by Klesla half way through the period, which seemed to ignite the team. Klesla put up his second of the night seven minutes later. With just three minutes left in the game, the Jackets put up goals from Modin and Malhotra to seize a come from behind victory.

Those last three minutes were absolutely amazing. Anaheim, crowd and players alike, seemed stunned that their first place team could be caught off guard 4 successive times in a matter of minutes. And as if those minutes couldn't get more intense, Teemu Selanne was granted a penalty shot following some foul play around the net by the Jackets. Norrena put up the wall and kept the game on lockdown.

Look for the game details in the Dispatch tomorrow. The game coverage is already up in Anaheim.

For those who missed it, I'm gonna keep an eye on YouTube this week and if the highlights from that game make an appearance, I'll be sure to bring it to you here.

Jackets win 4-3 over Anaheim! (Which, according to Rimer, is more unusual than the Sunsphere.)
Box Score

Maple Leafs Embarass Boston and Stun NHL

Wow. This picture doesn't represent one moment in time, it displays the entire game.

Last night provided an incredible game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After 60 minutes of play in Boston no less, the Leafs destroyed the Bruins with a score of 10-2. The game, which included15 3rd period penalties, also netted a hat trick for Steen.

A game like that always leads to crazy stats. Below are the links to the box score and stats for the game. Take a moment to peruse them... Note the seven consecutive even strength Toronto goals and Ian White's +6 rating.

Box Score
Statistics

Friday, January 5, 2007

Ken Hitchcock's Columbus Stats

It's been 20 games since Hitch joined the Columbus team. Reproduced here from the Dispatch is a comparison between the first 20 games of the season under Gallant and Agnew and the second 20, entirely under Hitchcock.

Every stat demonstrates how much better off the Jackets are now than they were just a couple of months ago. As proud as I am of the turnaround, it still leaves something to be desired. Anaheim just went up 3-0 on the Jackets.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

Cheli's Chili too hot to handle

For those of you concerned with hockey retirement planning setting up a sports restaurant in Detroit may not be the best idea. There was an incident at Chris Chelios' bar on Tuesday. Two employees of the restaurant called "Cheli's Chili" were stabbed to death.

Chelios himself was not involved, and didn't appear to be anywhere near the chili at the time of the crime.

According the Detroit Free Press, a suspect has been charged with the murders. The Red Wings are currently on a road trip, but the 78 year old defenseman (ok, so he's 40 something) stayed behind to take care of related matters.

Apparently, Cheli's sports bar is the perennial New Year's Eve hangout for the Red Wings, who did celebrate at that location two days before the double homicide.

Jackets shut down in L.A.

The Jackets lost last night in true Columbus fashion. 3-0 to the Kings. I didn't catch the game, as the Pacific time zone starts are killer on my sleep schedule. I did catch the article in the Dispatch, which seems oddly unfinished.

This Jackets team can't win, it's "squadoosh" as Tony Reali would say.

Anyhow, the Jackets continue their California road trip with games in Anaheim and San Jose.


Take a look at the Box Score, complete with 11(!) penalties. There's your problem.
Box Score

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Chris Quinn - Brady Quinn race to riches


Most of us are pretty familiar with Brady Quinn. The Dublin Coffman graduate is the quarterback for Notre Dame, a two time Heisman finalist and the Out magazine posterboy. What you may not (or you might, whatever) remember is his unrelated co-Coffmanite who also went to Notre Dame.

Chris Quinn, who is once again unrelated to the aforementioned Brady, also went to Notre Dame and starred on their basketball team. His college career was less successful, which is to say he didn't even almost win any national championships, but he has no less made his way to the next level. It was brought to my attention just yesterday that he plays for the Miami Heat. Go figure.

I attended Dublin Coffman at the same time as the two Quinns. I knew who both of them were, as they were obviously athletic stars. Brady led the football team pretty deep into the state playoffs and Chris' play on the court filled the stands pretty well for every game. I had a class or two with Chris as well, but I always thought he was a jerk with funny ears. He used to rub in the fact that he was being aggressively recruited by colleges. I remember a few times in 11th grade American Lit where he would bring in collegiate scholarship letters, open them during class, then toss them in the trash on the way out. Can't help but resent that a little.

Anyhow, the kid is making over $1 million between 06 and 07. I bet when Brady goes in the first round of the NFL draft (maybe first overall... Oakland does get the first pick, and lord knows they need some offense) he'll make even more, but I no reason to think little of Brady.

Pens talking with KC (the sunshine band was not invited)

Hot off the wire today (ok, so it's not so much a wire. it's a computer... but it's connected by wires, right?) comes a story from Pennsylvania's more fledgling hockey franchise. Owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise are in serious talks about moving the team.

The Pens have struggled financially for a while now, and they haven't been as skilled of a team since the departure of Jaromir Jagr and now part-owner Mario Limieux. The team has a couple young stars though, including Malkin and some guy named Sidney Crosby, who has already racked up over 60(!) points this season.

Kansas City is one of several cities that will be considered for Penguin relocation. Also on the docket are Winnipeg, Portland, and Oklahoma City. KC is already nearing construction on the nearly $300 million Sprint Center, which has not yet signed an anchor franchise of any kind. The arena should be up and running by Fall 07.

If the Pens move west, it is highly likely that they will need to switch conferences. The NHL will need to move a western conference team to the east in order to keep balanced. Columbus would be a prime candidate for such a change, and if the team that switches takes Pittsburgh's spot directly, (without other divisional shifts) they would compete most closely with Philadelphia, New Jersey, and both New York teams.

I would support a change of this nature for the Jackets. The competition is a little lighter in the eastern conference, road trips would be shorter, and there wouldn't be much jet lag or time changes to deal with. In any case, it would be nice to not have to play Nashville and Detroit so many times a season.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Pants party in Minnesota

Earlier this week, the Jackets lost on what was being called a controversial goal by the sports media. The Jackets went to OT at Minnesota, and Wes Waltz scored the game winner in a surprising way. Apparently, the puck was deflected into his pants just as he was checked into the goal. Since the whole thing happened pretty much by freak coincidence, the goal counted. I suppose if he were to have placed the puck into his own pants it would have been a different story. Yoder knows the rules better than I- maybe he has some insight on that.

Anyhow, I was unable to witness the incident live, but I did find it on YouTube.

Happy New Year from The Jacket Times

And we're back, Jacket fans. I apologize for my lack of posts this holiday season. I can come up with excuses all day, but that doesn't accomplish much. Let' s just pick up where we left off.

The Jackets have played 6 games since December 22, the date of the last post. In that time they've gone 3-3. Overall, the Jackets are 9-7 for the month of December. That's a winning record and something to be proud of.

Last night was, of course, the Blue Jackets New Years Eve special. I attended my 3rd(?) NYE game and was not disappointed. The Jackets played solidly, despite taking a couple early penalties that slowed offensive production in the first period. The second began with Columbus down 1-0, but they rallied back quickly to put two behind Khabibulin. The first CBJ goal of the night was phenomenal. On a pass from Nash, Fedorov flew into the slot and one-timed the puck into the net, in an effort quite reminiscent of Bobby Orr's 1970 Stanley Cup winning goal.

The second period also brought one of the most exciting moments in all of sports. Nash was brought down on a breakaway and was awarded with a penalty shot. Nash deked right, then back to the left in hopes of getting it behind Khabibulin's skate. The attempt was unsuccessful though due to a late but pointed poke check- which pretty sums up Nash's night. Despite a couple of breakaways and some great shots, #61 was unable to get one in.

Norrena fought the good fight and got the win, stopping 21 of 22 Blackhawk shots. The one that did get by managed to slip around or between his legs and just trickle in behind him. If Norrena knew where it was, it could have been stopped easily. Unfortunately, he lost sight of it.

Also worth noting, the Jackets had two goals waved off. The first was due to Malhotra getting caught for goaltender interference. The second, a shot from Hainsey at the point, was determined to have deflected off of Nash's hand before hitting the net.

In all, it was a great game that demonstrated a lot of physical play. Big hits were plentiful and there was no shortage of punches to the face either. A great New Year's game.

Jackets win 3-1
34 pts, 4th place in the division, 3pts behind Chicago
Box Score

Photo from CBSsportsline.com (AP)

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