Saturday, January 9, 2010

Strange Brew ~ Definitely Homemade

It has been an interesting week for fans of Columbus. A blow out loss against Vancouver brought about the possibility of a Hitchcock firing if a second occurred against Edmonton. A series of wins to basically negate any possibility of a Hitchcock firing. 4 out of 6 points, when I personally expected two or less.

For me, it is hard to be excited. I was absolutely sure we would have a new coach by the end of this week. I had already accepted a two or three loss roadtrip, and was looking forward to the change of pace once a new coach had been named. In fact, I was so far ahead of myself, that I actually started cheering for Sam Gagner (former hometown London Knight and now Edmonton Oiler) to finally put us out of our misery.

But then, unexpectedly, the Jackets started playing hockey. While the win in Edmonton was not a good win, it was something that seemed impossible a week prior. While the Oil have been struggling harder than Columbus, it still drew the tinge of excitement to see Garon get the 'W' against his former team.

Even more shocking was the win against Calgary. A hard nose team no matter what evening it is, the Flames have been able to man handle some of Columbus' more offensive players in games past. Yet another strong game by Garon, and a breakout game for Vermette and the Vermette-Voracek-Torres line left me absolutely boggled. Could it be that these guys just needed a spark to get going? Could it be that Hitchcock may still have the locker room, and that the players were the issue?

I am not ready to admit being wrong about Hitch. The team will have to win a whole heck of a lot of games before I change my mind. In fact, a playoff berth may be the only time this year I admit being wrong about our coach, but I will admit he has bought himself a couple games even from me. I would love to see them make a move to bring a big name to Columbus, but I have to think, based on the standings, that will not happen before the off-season.

The Stars are in Columbus on Sunday. Believe this; This game means more to the fans than the Jackets will ever know. You can not win on the road, and return home playing like crap. If they come out slow tomorrow, you better believe the fans will let them know.

Carry the Flag!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Add Enjoyment to the Game... Let our boys play!

For most sports fans, the common interest in watching each sport is to be entertained. While a layup in basketball makes for about as much excitement as a lobbed wrist shot from the point, we all wait in anticipation as the stars make plays that make our heads spin. Whether it is a diving touchdown catch, a homerun that reaches the upper deck, or a no look pass that results in a nifty top shelf goal, we live for that kind of electricity in our veins.

For the Blue Jackets, excitement has been far from their game plan. With Ken Hitchcock, the style of hockey played is at best, bland. Heavy traffic in the neutral zone, dump and chase or one man deep, the style of play rarely allows for odd man breaks that lead to earth shattering goals. In fact, most of the excitement last year was watching Steve Mason defy what most Blue Jackets are used to seeing (hard work, determination, and defeat).

While I sat and endured another unfortunate performance a few nights ago, I began to wonder why or how I could possibly be disinterested in a game that sees my team outshoot the opponent 2:1. I could not really piece together how that kind of margin could possibly draw such little interest from me, but in reality, it is boring hockey. While New Jersey all but perfected the most boring trap style I have ever seen, they found ways to win Stanley Cups. I suppose it would suffice if the Jackets were heavy in the playoff race, fighting off opponents 1-0 or 2-1 all the way down the stretch, but that simply is not happening.

This is one of many reasons why I believe Ken Hitchcock is a bad fit in Columbus. It is a city used to exciting games thanks to the Buckeyes. They are built on winning, thanks largely to the conference the Buckeyes are in, and they are sold on the idea of sporting events being highly entertaining. If the Jackets can find a coach that can bring excitement back to the game, whether or not we are winning games 7-6, or losing them 6-5, I think it will be better for the hockey club. Some fan bases are well built to tolerate 1-0 or 2-1 losses, but I personally do not think Columbus is one of them.

The simple fact is, this team is built for high paced, high scoring games. I have seen countless nights where some of our more exciting players are lulled to sleep by their own forced tendancies, causing them to be sluggish around the puck and tired on the forecheck. Our team belongs on the scoresheet, and I do not believe under the direction of Ken Hitchcock that we will see exciting hockey in Columbus unless we make a coaching change. Let the players succeed at their own game. The game Howson knows they can play.

Carry the Flag!