Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Thoughts - Off Day Lulls

I have made a concentrated effort to keep the information flowing on Carry the Flag lately, but I am not much for creating content as much as I am reacting to events that transpire on a daily basis.  Needless to say, it makes things rather difficult when the Jackets are not playing games!

In any case, there are some minor talking points from Yesterday that have yet to be covered.  There are also some twitter experiences that I will enjoy sharing, so be ready for a mixed can of Blue Jackets discussion!

Giroux Called Up

Try not to get too excited, but AHL all-star Alexander Giroux (Claude is spoken for) has been called up from Springfield to replace the demoted Cam Atkinson.  While his success is known around the AHL world, he has been limited to only 39 NHL games in his career (He is 30 years old) during which he had 5 goals and 6 assists.  He also has 61 shots on goal, making his shooting percentage well under 10%.

There is no question his AHL numbers are impressive. 650 points in just over 700 games.  But I have to wonder what is holding him back from making the jump to the NHL.  It makes me wonder what exactly he will have to offer the Blue Jackets, but certainly time will tell.

I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed by the call up, but I am not surprised.  The excuse (or reasoning) behind sending Cam down was that the team did not want to expose him to the dire straits they currently find themselves in regarding a lack of a win.  I suppose that makes sense, and it also makes sense that they would not replace a rookie with a rookie, leaving highly touted prospect Tomas Kubalik in the minors.  What that DID do, however, was leave a solid net presence that can play in a top six role in the farm.  A net presence that after thirty shots and only one goal against Colorado the Jackets so badly need.

Is Columbus a Hockey Market?

Not unsurprising was the rise of a few familiar negative nancy's on twitter yesterday talking about the lack of attendance early on this year by the Jackets and the notion that it is simply not a hockey market. It does sometimes entertain me when the familiar faces pop up on the #CBJ feed, and it never ceases to amaze me of how little they actually know about the city, but the fans are not doing Columbus any favours.

Columbus sold out the opener.  It was a great crowd that sat in anticipation as they floundered the game and walked away with a loss, and from there it was a trainwreck.  A weak effort against Minnesota lead to a lack of interest to watch the former Western Conference Canucks come into town on a Monday and beat up on the team.  I could continue but the common trend here is competitiveness.  While I do not like them, do you ever read about the successful teams taking a night off?  A period off?  If they do, the news rarely reaches my eyes/ears.

I think fans are chomping at the bit waiting for Columbus to break out, but they have to actually break out for them to show up.  It's a fickle market (yeah I know the facepalm in using the word fickle) thanks to some incredibly successful football teams, and people are not interested in watching a team that does not seem to show up for small or large parts of games.  I certainly wonder how much that third period of the Colorado game will sit in the minds of fans as they consider coming out to the Dallas game next Tuesday, and it is a shame considering how well they played the first two periods.

The Powerplay

This is my best attempt at a deflection of the Blue Jackets current powerplay slump, but the Red Wings are 0 for 16 on their powerplay this season.  Probably an easier pill to swallow considering they are 3-0-0, but it goes to show you how easy it is for early season numbers to really make something look awful.

Goals For

I hope this is something that is marked in the dressing room and in the back of every players mind.  They have scored two goals in every game they have played, and have put 123 shots on net (34-31-25-33) and have only scored 8 times.  That means the goalies who are playing Columbus are averaging a .935 save percentage.

Certainly it is nice to see that they are managing to get the puck on net, but I believe it goes back to fighting for position in high and low slot, driving the play to the net and forcing bad rebounds which inevitably lead to goals.  Rick Nash scored on his own rebound the other night, Derek Dorsett scored on an Aaron Johnson shot leading to a rebound, and Vinny Prospal scored the first goal of the season thanks to an absolute rip of a shot by Jeff Carter from near the blueline.  All rebound goals.

Traffic in front of the net needs to be key.  Forcing the goalies to make the harder first save and banging home rebounds is a great way to bust out of a slump, and I think the Jackets are plenty capable of it.  If you consider some of the goals that have been scored on Columbus, it doesn't take long to realize that teams might be doing exactly the same thing back.

The Second Line

I am sure there are positives to take out of each game, but these guys need to be better.  Vermette and Umberger have combined for zero points and are a collective -3 rating.  They have also combined to take 17 shots on net, none of which have lead to a goal for Columbus.  When folks talk about depth, I really look to guys like Vermette and Umberger to step up.  I laugh when people say Columbus doesn't have it, but they will need to start proving their case soon for the sake of my sanity.

Maybe it boils down to having that third piece of the puzzle.  Maybe the lack of chemistry with the additional winger will make the difference.  I think hard work, hard areas, and tenacity is the only solution.

Dallas tomorrow. Dallas Tuesday.  What better time to right the ship?  I'll be in Columbus, in Nationwide, in Blue Jackets gear on Tuesday. Will you?

Carry the Flag!


  1. New thought: Maybe RJ needs to be slightly injured in order to play well. Maybe if he concentrates on, "OW. OW. OUCHIES. OOOF." instead of, "MUST SCORE GOAL OR MASON WILL NUTPUNCH ME IN MY SLEEP," he will just instinctively puts those pucks in the net.

  2. hahaha thanks Chad, I always enjoy a good laugh on a Friday morning!!! RJ is a strange breed. Needs injuries, and needs to have a guy draped on his back to score goals.. Strange indeed.