Friday, January 30, 2009

Columbus vs. Ottawa Pre-Game

After one of the best wins of the season, the Blue Jackets are going to have to put the first half of the season behind them, and again fight to stay above the red bar tonight against Ottawa.  While the Senators do not have a great record, their play of late is far from comparable.  With a convincing win last night in St Louis, and consecutive wins prior to the All-Star break, it appears Ottawa has turned a corner in their development, and the Jackets had best be prepared.

All signs point to a strong game tonight.  I have the opportunity of attending, and so will quite a few of the followers of this blog!  I am looking forward to providing a full report of the experience, along with photos of hopefully Mason.  I would be awfully angry if Hitchcock waited this long to play Wade, but we all know the rookie deserves a night or two off sometime soon, and I am sure they are looking at Ottawa's record and assuming it is the ideal night.

One thing I want to point out is how unbelievably important this game is in regards to league standings.  If Columbus wins, they have the opportunity to be tied for 5th in the Western Conference.  If they lose, they could plummet to as low as 11th place.  Clearly, every point matters, none more than tonight.

So put all the conspiracy theories to bed for one night, let the competitive juices flow, and expect one of the loudest Columbus crowds of the year, as they battle for a spot in the big show!

Carry the Flag!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Conspiracy Theories Run Amok

As a fan new to this sport, I am sure I am not the first, nor the only, person, to be certain that there is some type of conspiracy against my team. In fact, as I sit in on game discussion threads (or GDT's as they are called) on the coolest fan forum for hockey fans anywhere (The NHL Arena, and if you aren't on there you need to go there right now!!), I witness constant discussions about fairness of calls or penalties to the point of conspiracy discussions. However, I truly think that this year, with our team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, there is something rotten in the state of Ontario (and don't even get me started on how they treat dogs!).
So let me cut to the chase: my theory is that there is a conspiracy to make it as difficult as possible for the Blue Jackets to get into the playoffs.
Let me lay it all out for you...
Well, if you've been paying attention, and if you are a Jackets fan...I probably don't have to detail these out completely for you....the persistent kicking motions, the nets being pushed off, the epically bad calls or lack there of, the goals being allowed to stand against us, or taken away from us at any given turn. It's ridiculous.
Obviously there is no way in hockey to control all aspects of a game. I's hockey! It involves a frozen piece of rubber being chased around a pool of ice by strapping young men at blistering speeds! So the only aspects that can be controlled are those that are the most subjective and so the aspects controlled by the referees would be it. But not all of them...that would be too obvious. Nope. Just certain ones that need to be reviewed. By others. In another room. In another country.
Yes folks, for you not familiar with that process...the War Room that reviews these calls exists in Toronto. For real. Makes perfect sense, right?
Ahhhh. Here is the beauty of my theory. It works even if it doesn't work!
You will note that the conspiracy is not to keep the Jackets out of the playoffs, just to make it as difficult as possible. We, as Jackets fans, know how hard it has been never having tasted the sweet flavor of post-season games. We feel the pain. So if they make it to those mid-April days, even after having face down all these awful calls and horrible injuries...OMG - WHAT A STORY!?!?! Can you see the PR dream? The NHL will have a Cinderella story packaged up and ready to go!! The heavens will part above Nationwide Arena and heavenly light will shine down from Toronto, pretty lady advertising executives will descend upon Columbus to sell tons of air time, folks will come from far and wide to cheer on the Jackets, and the Blue Line stores will run out of stuff to sell! Awesome, right??
And if they lose? Well, par for the course, meh, we did it last year, big whoop, see ya' next fall.
So yeah...I think this is real. I think there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by making it unbelievably hard for our boyz.
Again, as a new fan, it has been disappointing to see my faith in a system of checks (PUN!) and balances fail miserably. That being said, I will continue to put my faith where it really counts... into this team... who is putting their heart and soul, blood and guts into every game!

Carry the Flag!

Being reported on Puck-rakers is that the Red Wings are appealing the one game sit out rule for Datsuk and Lindstrom. If they get their way, they will be able to play in the all-important first game back against us Tuesday night.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dorsett's Run In With Regehr

There are few times where I have truly been adamant about a suspension in the NHL, but I have added one to the list this week.  During what began as a harmless post-whistle badger between Derek Dorsett and Robyn Regehr turned nasty after Regeher took his stick in both hands and cross checked Dorsett in the temple.  Dorsey fell to the ice quickly, while teammates rushed in to go after Regehr, but all Jackets fans kept their eyes on Dorsett, who removed his hand from his head only to show frustration and a flow of blood coming from a nasty cut above his eye.  Angry at the ref, he sped off the ice to get medical attention, and later returned to finish the game.

Now, to some accounts, this is not a big deal.  To some, Regehr made a mistake, and hit him in a way he did not expect to.  To that, I say bogus.  This was a blatant and ugly play, and is currently being reviewed by the league to see if a suspension is necessary.  Regehr received a double minor for roughing, and Dorsett received a minor for roughing on the play, which only enhances how poorly the game was officiated.  How he could cross check someone in the face and not get ejected is beyond a 'missed' call.  This is a substantially unsafe play that should be well within the confines of the 5-10 game suspension range.

Fortunately, someone decided to throw it on youtube!

The hit reminded me of Jesse Boulerice when he used his stick in a comparable fashion after slashing a Vancouver player.  If memory serves me correctly, he was given a substantial suspension, and quickly released by the Flyers because of it.  That is the kind of reaction that this play deserves, especially in a game that already hosted a nasty check from behind (which resulted in an ejection) and a knife across the neck gesture, both of which will also be reviewed by the league.  These hits are categorized, along with the Chris Simon stick facial on Ryan Hollweg, and Marty McSorely baseball swing on Donald Brashear.  While this one may be the least disgusting of the bunch, it should still absolutely be dealt a hefty suspension.

Now, I do not expect the league to take a thoughtful stance on this, as they have shown their disinterest in the Jackets on multiple occasions this year already, but I do believe for the safety of the players, an example needs to be made.  Dorsett is extremely lucky this was only a cut to the forehead and not something worse (MRIs confirmed no fracturing), and is even more fortunate to be able to suit up again for the Jackets in their next game.  It could have easily resulted in something terrible, such a fractured skull or eye injury, which would case Dorsett to miss a serious amount of playing time.

Carry the Flag.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Much Needed Rest

After a difficult road trip, the Blue Jackets are finally going to get a chance to rest their weary legs.  Beaten, battered, and riddled with injury, the boys will get the much deserved break they have sorely needed for weeks, while the all-stars meet in Montreal.

But I will not be settling for thoughtful digression here.  I am quite angry as a Jackets fan waiting for the team to float above the 'red bar' rather than below it, and frankly, I am not sure that my issues can be resolved by any one player or coach (or Injury Ninja).

Steve Mason made his fifteenth consecutive start yesterday, and showed clear signs of wear, comparable to what we saw in the Vancouver and Edmonton game.  You would think that seeing his stats flare above normal would be enough for Hitchcock to give their new (and very capable backup) a chance in at least one of the three games, but in a very non-hitchian way, we were forced to watch and feel sorry for the tired rookie.

Other notables on the trip were things like Modin and Tyutin on the powerplay, struggling to make the right play at the right time, and both forcing unnecessary shots on 5 on 3s that never saw pad or twine.  We saw Dorsett get hit with a stick to the face, in a move that in most cases warrants 5-10 games worth of suspension, but in this case, did not even merit a 5 minute major (and yes, I will be going more in depth later on this).  We saw RJ get hit from behind, and cut, only to come back and score the first two goals of the game, which will go down as one of his best games as a Jacket.

A finally, we saw a player take control when control was what we needed.  Kris Russell played his heart out in a game that needed a player to step up.  His constantly strong defense and great ability to move the puck into the offensive zone were tremendous help in netting four goals on Kipper.

It was a strange trip, and a lesson for the Jackets.  The playoffs are NOT going to be on a silver platter this year.

Carry the Flag!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Full House Friday Night

Anna here, recapping the game from Friday night that caused Columbus Nationwide Arena to reverberate with boos heard 'round Ohio. By now, you have probably heard about the controversial call made during the 3rd period to give the visiting New Jersey Devils the go ahead lead in an otherwise rather uneventful game. By now, you may have heard about the debut of Jason Williams in the powerplay (meh~ But it was his first game and otherwise he looked great!).

What I am here to talk about is what you might not have heard about. Folks, the Arena was jumping and completely packed to the rafters!! It was rockin'...and to change the phrase..."come on in!!" The theme was White Out night. T-shirts were handed out at the door. We were present at this same promotion last year. Not only was the attendance lower but the participation was, in a word, pitiful! This year they had the right idea. Not only did they embarrass non-participants on the jumbo-tron, but midway into the first period there was an announcement that the section with the most people in the t-shirts would get free beverages! Woot! I never saw so many people do the "omg, I must put this t-shirt over whatever I am wearing for carbonated syrup" dance before!!

Watching Mase doing his job...well, a-maseing as always!! A ref went down and out with an arm injury early in the first leaving one less ref on the ice (an 8 year old girl behind us stated that "he got checked!!"). But otherwise it was a rather slow start in the first period. So when the Jackets came out and Manny Malhotra scored in the second period, the place went nuts!! And anyone NOT wearing their shirt either donned it out of love or started waving it joyously!

I will touch briefly on the "call" and that is only to say that after Toronto had reviewed it, and when it was announced that the goal would stand, that the entire Arena erupted in a loud roar of protest boos the likes of which I have never heard. These boos continued long into the next minutes whenever a Devil touched the puck, and as Hitch continued to, um, talk about the incident. As the final minutes ticked away, and the Jackets battled for some kind of control, and some kind of scoring opportunity (our seats were at a perfect angle to the right of the Devil net), the entire crowd was on their feet, screaming, yelling chanting, shouting, jumping up and down and trying to lift practically their team to victory. . . .

Unfortunately, as you also know by know, this was not to be. But I dare anyone to say the team didn't try. I dare anyone to say that the fans were not into the game. And I dare anyone to say it was not a rockin' way to spend a Friday night.

Oh, and Future Jackets? Toooooo cute for words and one reason to stay in your seat during intermission!

On to Canada boyz!!!
Carry the Flag!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jason Williams Acquired From Atlanta

The Blue Jackets have acquired Jason Williams from the Atlanta Thrashers for defensemen Clay Wilson, and a 6th rounder.  This is a solid step for the Blue Jackets in regards to the depleted offense, and mediocre powerplay.

Williams is a right handed shot, and will be useful on the point in the powerplay.  Considering the Jackets have not had a good right handed shot yet this year while up a man, this should give them a better opportunity to get quick shots to the net.

Consider this a positive move for the Jackets, who are in desperate need of offensive help, and warm bodies will definitely be welcomed.

Carry the Flag!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jackets Move to 8th Spot!

Tonight was a turning point in the season. Once again faced with a game where the winner moves up in the standings, the Blue Jackets squared off against the fo*teless (name modified for hate) Avalanche at Nationwide Arena.

Not only was the first period reasonably cautious for both teams, it paved the way for an even more cautious second, and a breakout third period. Both teams playing defense was not a surprise for a Blue Jackets fan post Injury era, but what was surprising, was the play of Steve Mason, so seemed more than penetrable this evening.

A weak goal by Svatos in the first that should have been covered by Mason had the fans not only confused, but somewhat demoralized of their hopes of seeing a Jackets victory. That was the story for almost another whole period of hockey, until Jakub Voracek took the Jackets back to a tie with a shot that seemed to come from behind the net and beat a sprawling and confused Raycroft.

As the second intermission passed, Jackets fans slowly mustered back their excitement, and made themselves heard in the third period, screaming and chanting, and for good reason. A fantastic pass from Russell allowed Umberger to pot his 15th goal of the season to take the Jackets to 2-1. Not only did this excite the crowd, it held them in there for the rest of the game, though a horrifically poor miss by Mason's glove tying the game at 2, and another two goals by the Jackets veterans.

The satisfaction was clear on Coach Hitchcock's face in the press conference after the game, citing the fans and players connecting as being a major factor, as well as excusing Mason for his 'human'esque performance, one because of being under the weather, and two because it was about time the Jackets bailed out their netminder to win a game.


Adversity Mounts.. Nash on the IR

Concerns are once again running amok in Columbus with captain and leading scorer Rick Nash moving to the IR.  According to the Dispatch, his injury was not healing the way they anticipated, and I am left wondering whether they are simply not willing to create a bigger injury, or whether they are downplaying his leg injury to ease the minds of fans..

At any rate, MacKenzie has been recalled from the Crunch, which actually is not the worst thing.  He had tremendous hustle in training camp and in the pre-season, consistently being one of the names I would write down in regards to grit and effort on the ice.  While his time in Columbus has been minimum, he has appeared in 23 games for Syracuse, amassing 8 goals and 10 assists.  He should be the perfect fit on the third or fourth line playing with Boller and Dorsett.

This move also makes one question what it will take for Howson to pull the trigger on a trade, be it big name or mediocre name.  Blunden was clearly a minimal trade and really did not suit the needs of the Jackets, considering he has been in the AHL all season, and he is known for his injury woes.  Cory Murphy was waived by the Panthers today, who is a puck moving defensemen with a salary under one million.  Could it be possible that Howson makes a move for him to replace a guy like Russell, who has a great deal of trade value considering what he has brought to the Jackets over the last month or so?

I personally hope Russell stays around, as he is easily the most visible defensemen on the Jackets squad in terms of puck movement, and I think his removal would be a clear loss for them when it came to game time.

But stay positive and Carry the Flag.  The guys are playing well, and as a unit.  Here is hoping they can hang on until some of the major names can return from what Anna likes to call their "visit from the injury ninja."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Minnesota vs. Columbus..

Tonight was yet another statement game for the Blue Jackets, pitted against the team sitting slightly above them in the standings in the Minnesota Wild, the winner of which would take over or retain the spot above the other.  Coming off a big win against Washington last night, the Jackets were expected to be tired and worn, but it certainly did not show.

Steve Mason once again got the start, with LaCosta watching from the bench.  Once again, that seemed to be the best decision, as Mason was once again fantastic, turning away shot after shot, and making it look rather simple.  He did not get another shutout tonight, but his focus and 'injury recovery' were wonderful signs for Jackets fans, looking forward to see their team return home after a tremendous road trip.

On the defense, Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda continue to impress me as a pairing.  With Commodore actually finishing his checks, and Hedja being a standout defensively against big names like Alex Ovechkin, this is one pairing that truly vaulted their efforts after the recent injury spree.  Add on young Kris Russell, who has been the Jackets best puck moving defensemen this year, and you find yourself watching a rather complete roster of players on the back end of this team.  Tonight was no different, and their defensive style of patience paid them heavy dividends.

Finally, to the offense, and what has me writing this tonight, rather than tomorrow morning.  Myself, along with 16,605 fans at Nationwide, along with almost the entire group of Columbus fans on the NHL Arena, as well as an entire nation of CBJ fans gripping their couches jumped for joy when Filatov scored his first goal of the game.  I looked up from my computer to watch him split the defense, and sneak the puck past Harding, and I jumped out of my chair with both hands in the air.  While this may seem like an overreaction to some, for me, it was the culmination of months of discussion about Filatov fitting into the Jackets roster.

It only took another two periods for Fily to find NHL goal number 3, which was scored as he sniped a wrister over Harding's right shoulder, while looking pass the entire way.  It was the kind of goal you expect Ovechkin to score.  It was the kind of goal an NHLer scores.  So there I was, celebrating and laughing about how excited I was, and in true Hitchian style, out came the Voracek - Peca - Filatov line almost immediately after the goal, and it was clear Peca and Voracek told the young Russian to find an open spot in front of the net.  Not only did they get him one shot, they got him two, and that was all he needed to bury his third goal of the game, fourth as a Blue Jacket, and his first career NHL hattrick.

I will have much more on this soon.

Carry the Flag!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

WHY Carry the Flag?

First, let me introduce myself: I am a girl (still not comfortable saying woman...even at almost 40...yikes!) who loves hockey. Specifically, the Columbus Blue Jackets! I came to this affection recently. Prior to now, I have enjoyed watching college football, and pro baseball. Mostly I am attracted to sports because of tradition and history, and because of how the players are off the field ( In recent years, football (coughs*MichaelVick*coughs) and baseball (coughs*steroids*coughs) began to lose their appeal. About 3 years ago, my husband (fellow blog contributor Brian) and I attended a couple hockey games. And slowly an addiction grew!
One of the really great things about living so close to downtown Columbus, and being a Jackets fan, is being able to interact with the players fairly often. We have attended a couple autograph sessions and the guys are so nice and patient. But more recently I caught a press release on the home page that the players were going to be ringing Salvation Army bells on three different downtown corners to raise money during the week of Christmas. So, with much encouragement from a fellow fan Tony, Brian and I scurried downtown and parked directly across from Nationwide Arena and set out, caps and camera in hand!
First up was Mike Commodore and Jakub Voracek on the corner of Nationwide Blvd and Front St . Commie was very interactive and outgoing, Jake was shy and awkward. Unfortunately we didn't get any photos but we did get our hats signed. We then made our way to the Palace Theater where Jared Boll and Kris Russell. These two happen to be my favorite players so you know I was extremely excited!! I babbled for a good 5 minutes with lil' Shake about how changing his number made him look bigger, and Boll agreed with me, meanwhile they both signed the hats, and Brian took pics. Again - the guys were great!! Lastly, we headed around the corner to the Riffe Building on High St. where Marc Methot and Derick Brassard were ringing. This time the Jackets' PR guy with the players offered to take our pic so both Brian and I got to be in it together.

So what is my point here? Columbus, we have a professional sports team in our midst of top-notch, talented, well-mannered, educated, respectful, kind, and dedicated athletes. They are playing their hearts out for us. The management team for the Blue Jackets is trying to find creative ways to get the guys out in public by thinking outside the autograph session box. This bell-ringing session is one of those ways. Brian and I easily had 5-10 minutes apiece with each pair of players all to ourselves! Where else does this happen? Can you imagine taking a kid who admires one of these guys to an event like this? Hockey players are the kind of athletes who represent something great that is missing in most other sports, in my opinion. And hockey is accessible. And professional hockey is happening right here, right now, in our town.

Another example of outside the box thinking is the recent and on-going Pepsi 4-pack promotion. Go to any Giant Eagle, buy Pepsi cases of pop, and at the register use your Giant Eagle shopper card. When you have paid a voucher will print out like a coupon. You simply take the voucher to the ticket booth at Nationwide Arena for 4 tickets to any Blue Jackets game, through March 3rd. Really! I am not making this up!! Basically you can get 4 tickets for $5 apiece!! There are always a list of great promotions here.

So you have no excuses Columbus!!!
Our team is carrying the flag for it's your turn!

Carry the Flag!!

Columbus aka Syracuse Prevails!

So many different things could be taken out of tonight's MASSIVE victory in Washington. While I sat on the edge of my couch rooting like crazy for the Jackets, I had mixed emotions, as it was a game I came into thinking there would be an inevitable loss. But let's break down why it was a win.

First and the most obvious foremost, Steve Mason. This kid, this boy, this 'youngster', this SUPERSTAR, was fantastic tonight. A shutout of the year for him, and while he received a few favorable cross-bars with the game winding down, he was absolutely stunning in net, saving 45 shots, and continuing his shutout streak of the Washington Capitals to 2 straight games. Not only will this boost the ever living heck out of his already fantastic numbers on the year, it will drive a stake into the brains of every Tom, Joe, and DICK who did not add him to the All-Star roster.

Next, I want to concentrate on the... wait for it... POWERPLAY! They actually had one tonight! That is right folks, the league's worst powerplay scored two goals on its' six chances, which works out to be 30%. For those of you who do not scour the NHL standings hourly, that is good enough for first place among teams in the NHL (if only for a night) when playing guys who are not typically even found on the second powerplay unit when all are healthy.

Third, I want to talk about shots. Yes, the Jackets were almost doubled in shots, but it did not seem like it. They chose their spots, respected the other teams talent, and found a way to create opportunities with what they had. None of the goals were crazy dekes or fancy spin-o-ramas, they were gritty, powerful statement goals from guys who do not often find the back of the net in Tyutin and Boll.

And speaking of Boll, after getting clocked in the face by Brashear with a cheapshot, he was fantastic in bouncing right back and scoring on the ensuing powerplay. Talk about a slap in the face for Brashear, who had to watch this from the penalty box in what most would consider 'prime comeback time' in the third period.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, tonight was all about a team playing a game they knew they could play, against a team they knew were better on paper, but they never gave up, and Steve Mason is still a monster.

Carry the Flag!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Leclaire Back on Injured Reserve

Carry the Flag would like to welcome Pascal Leclaire back to the injured reserve!  His nagging ankle once again proved too much for him to handle today, and the Jackets have placed him for the fourth time on the IR because of it.

Dan LaCosta will be the emergency recall from Syracuse, who will likely backup Steve Mason from now until forever.  This does not bode well for the team, considering Mason has not had a break in quite some time, although that may give him yet another strong opportunity to fight for rookie of the month in January.

To make things worse, Huselius spent only twenty minutes on the ice at practice, without participating in any of the physical drills.  Captain Nash probably will not see any time until next week, in what I am suspecting is precaution by Hitchcock, who is running horribly short on scoring forwards, and will have to rely on young guys like Voracek and Filatov to make their mark on the NHL early in their careers.

I hope to get a better update on Nash and Huselius within the next day.  Seems a shame that the entire Jackets nation just watched Leclaire's trade value plummet.

Carry the Flag.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Could Trades be Slipping Through Columbus' Hands?

It seems like the longer the Jackets wait this year, the more pessimistic speculators are becoming.  Leave it to the Blue Jackets to pave the way for a new style of media attention, where rather than trade talks building, they have actually begun to decline!

I personally think the trade is inevitable, and I do not think it will take a trade deadline to make something happen.  There are a couple things that will have an effect on it;

First off, the Jackets were given the go ahead to spend more money, and the fans know it!  While we, the fan base, have been mildly patient with the Jackets and their decision to delay spending to the cap until the team started to succeed, their clear efforts in remaining in the playoff hunt at mid season gives everyone reason to expect more.  Not to mention the management has openly given the green flag for more spending, if it does not happen, I expect to see an even bigger decline in fan purchasing, mainly in ticket sales.

Secondly, teams are getting desperate, and the Jackets are not one of them.  With an entire top line out with injuries right now, the Jackets have proven their confidence towards core players and some young call-ups from Syracuse like Mayorov, Dorsett, Russell, and hopefully Filatov.  This leads me to believe that they are willing to stall these trades as long as necessary to get the deal they want, at the price they want to pay, which would likely be draft picks.

I am not the kind of guy to get anxious about a team, and interestingly enough, I have already been anxious, begged for a trade, and been disappointed, but who wouldn't?  This team has plowed through adversity with the injuries, embraced a young goaltender, and watched as their Calder favourite fell to a season ending injury...

...but patience is what is going to carry this flag into the post season.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Columbus vs. Detroit

The Jackets have had a strong showing against the Wings thus far, tied 0-0 at the end of the second period. There are two things I thought I would share;

Steve Mason would be the first.. This guy just continues to be a force for this team, stopping Detroit on some BIG chances in the first and second period. His dominance has clearly left its mark with the rest of the team, who have played their hearts out tonight.

Which brings me to my second tidbit. Rick Nash has his equipment off, and did not play in the second period. This is terrible news for the Jackets, as they are already short Huselius and Brassard, who round out their top three scorers. Nash went hard into the boards late in the first period, looking to twist his ankle.

Edit: Post Game: Nash has suffered a lower body injury, although early reports are suggesting it was not his ankle. I feel bad for the guys. They played their hearts out tonight, just could not find the back of the net. Modin has been clearly snake bitten!
Morning edit by Anna: While Nash is still uncertain for this weekend, it appears to be short-term and he left Joe Lewis Arena on his own two legs.

The Trade Talk Now Pointing Towards Inevitable

The trade rumblings in Columbus absolutely refuse to stop, especially after the meeting held behind closed doors on Monday.  Not only is Columbus in position to make the playoffs, if they continue to play strong hockey, they could easily start battling for the fourth and fifth spots in the Western Conference.

With these factors in mind, Columbus clearly understands the need to spend money to achieve their goal of having a playoff worthy team, and frankly, I do not blame them!  So what trade will happen, and why SHOULD it happen?  Are we going to see Weight come to Columbus to avoid giving away any of our current roster?  Should we roll out the red and blue carpet for yet another defensemen, this time out of Toronto?  What about the underachieving center Vermette out of Ottawa?

If I were Howson, I would personally go after Antoine Vermette, shoring up a major gap in Columbus at center.  This could open the door for a fantastic one two punch next year between him and Brassard, as I personally believe Brassard will be a bona-fide number one center before the puck drops next October.  While that does not resolve their immediate need for two top centers, I am willing to bet they will be pleasantly surprised about what Vermette can bring to a team when he is not slumping.

Columbus is actually well within the confines of the cap, and as we fans are well aware of, it has far more relevance how much the team is willing to spend, rather than how close we are to the cap.  Currently, they have almost seven million in cap room, which means it is all about exactly how much they are willing to part with to make the Jackets a better team down the stretch.

I say that, because I do not necessarily think one trade is going to be enough to satisfy the needs of a severely punished team with few options at center.  Fact is, they need an immediate answer at center who can replace Brassard (Vermette), but also another face at center who can make the big plays, and be a role player.

That is exactly where Doug Weight comes in.  Slowly finishing his career, I am sure nothing would please him more than getting back into the playoffs with a character team like Columbus.  He would also bring the kind of integrity, grit, and knowledge that this team can really use, not to mention the playoff experience.

One thing is clear at this point.  A trade is absolutely coming.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is Hitchcock Overusing Mason?

It was very clear that Columbus was worn down from their long trip as the game against St Louis completed.  With Steve Mason playing every game in the road trip, it came at no surprise that he struggled against the Blues, in one of the few games this season where he actually looked human.

So my question here, is why Hitchcock is using him so actively throughout the last couple months.  For a guy who will not stop suggesting that rookies need to be eased into play, he has been a hypocrite when dealing with Mason.  The second he arrived with the team and showed potential was the same time Leclaire was relegated to the bench to watch.  Now, I certainly agree with his attitude toward Mason, but why the sudden change in opinion?

It appears that part of the question could be answered, with Leclaire having his ankle checked once again by specialists, leading everyone to believe that not only is he underachieving, but he is also unhealthy.  Not exactly the right combination for a team that just let Norrena go on waivers, and are milking everything they can out of Mason in his rookie campaign.

So here is what I would like to hear from all of you.  Why do you think Mason is being used so heavily by Hitchcock?  Would it have to do with Leclaire’s poor play this year, his injured ankle, or simply because Hitch realizes how strong Mason is as a netminder, and how much different the team plays with him in net?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Welcome Jackets fans to!  We are excited to offer you our opinions on the Jackets, news, and our experiences while attending some of the Blue Jackets activities, whether it be a hockey game, a signing, or a Jackets sighting with an interesting story. 

Our bloggers will be focusing on their strengths and personal opinions on the team, which should give us an opportunity to provide you the reader with not only a diverse collection of opinions, but also a multitude of different angles on everything CBJ.

With Columbus fighting hard for a playoff spot this year, and the team really building as a group, It is the best time to really consider what they can do to boost themselves into the next level of hockey, and really make a statement in their first ever playoff series.

So put away the Jackets notebook, toss aside the stats sheets, and get ready to get involved in a ‘for the fans, by the fans’ experience!