Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 20-26 CBJ Prospect Week in Review

Greetings Jacket fans sorry for the delay but with the trade deadline and the game last night my normal schedule is all out of wack.Starting off the in Springfield with a normal 3 in 3 weekend the Falcons went 3-0 including two wins over the top teams in its division. While not being a Blue Jacket's prospect goalie Paul Dainton was in net for all three games being the first Falcons goalie since Scott Langkow in 1998 to win three games in three nights. Dainton was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the week the first time since Devan Dubnyk in April 2008. Dainton went 3-0 with a .964 save percentage and .975 GAA picking up his first AHL shutout on Saturday against Connecticut. On the weekend leading the way in scoring was Maksim Mayorov with three goals and three assists including two goals and two assists in a 6-2 win. Other Falcons with multiple points were Dane Byers(1-2-3) and Brent Regner(0-3-3) with three points. Alexandre Giroux had two goals helping him climb the AHL goal and scoring ranks his 359 goals rank him ninth only a goal out of eight and the two points moved him into 23rd place, Martin St. Pierre had two assists to move him into ninth in the AHL with 50 points(10-40-50) in 54 games. Hopefully with the addition of Taylor Ellington I can start updating you guys on the Express. Ellington was picked up in the Sammy Pahlsson trade with Vancouver, Eliington was third among Wings defenseman in scoring with seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points in 55 games.

A Follow-up on the Nash Saga

Two days ago I wrote a pretty scathing piece upon hearing that it was Rick Nash, not the Columbus Blue Jackets management who decided that it was time for him to be traded.  It was received with very mixed emotions and I had anticipated that, but I do want to clarify a number of things that brought me to my opinion and why I was as bothered as I was.

To begin, I have followed Nash for over a decade. To say I have been a Rick Nash fan is a pretty heavy understatement.  I have watched him in juniors, playing for Team Canada in a number of different age groups as well as an Olympic team, and I have watched the better part of his career with the Blue Jackets.  I have watched him play some absolutely incredible hockey, and I have watched him play some pretty terrible hockey.  What I believe we have been watching this year, is something right in the middle, and to find out that he has even considered the idea of leaving Columbus in some form or another truly rocked me to my core.

I signed on for Nash's contract extension just like everyone else did.  I wanted him here making brilliant plays and leading this team back to the playoffs, and two days ago, I went from thinking the club was simply doing everything they could to better position themselves, to realizing that it was generated by Nash himself.  Now, I get the argument that Nash didn't 'demand' a trade (he offered it), but when something like this happens, there is no going back.  You can't dangle a player of Nash's caliber on the trade market and then shrug it off if a deal isn't made.  The moment his availability became public was the moment I knew his time in Columbus had an expiry date.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Rick Nash Mess

The trade deadline completed this afternoon without the Blue Jackets finding a quality suitor for current captain and franchise winger Rick Nash.  In a post deadline interview, General Manager Scott Howson acknowledged the origin of the Rick Nash trade was brought upon by the captain himself, not the team.  Some would argue the decision by Howson would lead to diminished value for Nash on the trade market, but I am under the impression this will force Nash's hand, causing him to increase the number of teams he would be willing to be traded to.  The revelation of Nash wanting out however, leaves confusion and dissatisfaction among the fan base, and at least in my case, a serious concern as to how Rick Nash should be managed from this point of the season until the day he is traded.

First, I want to discuss what this bit of information means to me, mostly as a fan, but simply as a viewer of the team trying to exist in a league full of history and tradition.  I believe the decision by Rick Nash to demand (or I suppose 'ask') for a trade is an act of quitting on his part, and a very selfish one at that.  He signed an eight year 62.4 million dollar contract extension (making him the 5th highest cap hit in the NHL) with most of the current management group in place less than two seasons ago.  He committed himself to eight years of Columbus Blue Jackets with the understanding that it would be a process, and I believe fans should be furious with him for not honouring that deal.  Some will argue that he 'deserves better' and has 'given the team enough' but I think he had every chance to make his luck during the last couple years with this team.

As much as I can understand the secrecy of the situation at hand, I believe that fans deserved to know that Nash was not willing to play out the contract he signed, and lead this team back to the playoffs.  I found his captaincy to be seriously lacking recently, and CTF has posted a number of pieces this year acknowledging the feeling that Nash was playing well below his true potential.  These pieces were not designed to spit venom on him as a person, but simply point out that his best games could still be ahead of him, pending a serious amount of effort on his part.  It is that early season acknowledgement of mediocrity  that solidifies my opinion that he has given up on this team.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Johnson Acquisition Adds Confusion to Defensive Structure

In one of the worst kept secrets of Scott Howson's trading career, Jeff Carter was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings last night for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick.  If the Kings make the playoffs this year, the Blue Jackets have the option of taking Los Angeles' first round pick for either the 2012 or 2013 draft.  If the Kings fail to make the playoffs, Columbus will receive the 2013 first round pick.

In terms of player value, it is reasonably close to fair market value, especially when you factor in the supposed problems between Columbus and Carter.  Johnson is signed through the 2017/2018 season at a cap hit of 4.357 million, which is comparable to Fedor Tyutin's extension at 4.5 million during the same time period.  He has a strong offensive upside and shows quality puck possession skills.  His numbers also give him the appearance of a solid powerplay quarterback. Here are some quick stats from this year:

Games Played :: 61
Goals :: 8
Assists :: 16
Points :: 24
Plus/Minus :: -12
Penalty Minutes :: 24
Shots on Goal :: 120
Shooting Percentage :: 6.7
Powerplay Goals :: 5
Powerplay Assists :: 9
Average TOI :: 22:31

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back Up Goalies: A Risky Proposition

Trade talk has been the focal point of all things Blue Jackets lately. In nearly every rumored deal a goaltender is seen coming back to Columbus. In the Vermette trade there were a few brief moments where some people thought Curtis McElhinney was actually going to tend goal for the Blue Jackets. Obviously Rick Nash is the big fish being dangled, and nearly every trade possibility floated has a goaltender being brought back. The three goalies most often mentioned have been Cory Schneider, Jon Bernier and Tuuka Rask. While all three have been very good in net with their current teams, I hesitate to think any one of them would be the answer for the Blue Jackets. Historically speaking, it has been a very risky move to bring in a career back-up netminder to be a starter. Numbers drop dramatically and in many cases the goalie flames out horribly. I took a look back at all goaltenders who went from a primarily back-up role to being a starter elsewhere, and this is what I found:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vermette Traded to Phoenix

As twitter so thoughtfully put it... over, and over and over, and over again... "And so it begins."

Antoine Vermette was traded earlier today to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for a second round pick in 2012, a 5th round pick in 2013 (that could be a 4th round pick if the Coyotes win a playoff round) and goaltender Curtis McEhlinney.

For those paying close attention to the team and media commentary throughout the league, this move was expected from the Blue Jackets.  At 18-35-7 and well out of the playoff hunt, Columbus is and will continue to be sellers in hopes of retooling the roster before next season.  With a team bursting at the seams with centers, it came as no surprise to me that Vermette was one of the first names on the trade list.  Vermette has also been considered to be in the latter stages of a very poor year, and has not really come close to competing with his best year (not surprisingly a contract year) of 2009/2010.

Game Recap :: Columbus vs. San Jose 2/21

Amidst all the trade deadline turmoil, a record that makes most Blue Jackets fans red in the face, and directly following a shameful home loss to Chicago, the boys in union blue put on a show.  In front of another 'more than they deserve' crowd of 14,625, they handed San Jose a beating.  This is the same San Jose who beat Columbus 6-0 in their arena twenty days ago.  The same San Jose team who went into the game 3-0 against Columbus this year. The same San Jose team currently leading the Pacific division.

But all of this didn't matter. Columbus came out firing and only let off the gas briefly in the early stages of the second period.  They played with tenacity, and the fire it takes to win hockey games.  The defense stymied opportunities and for the most part kept the slot void of free sticks.  Mason managed 38 saves to break a Blue Jackets record, and they did all of this without gaining a point on Edmonton in the Nail sweepstakes (who also beat a team soundly last night).

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 13-19 CBJ Prospect Week in Review

Hello all back again for the week in review, in Springfield it was a usual three in three with the Falcons going 1-2. Starting off on Friday the Falcons faced off against the Connecticut Whale going into the third period it was a 3-3 tie that's when the wheels fell off Springfield ended up losing the game 6-3 with Paul Dainton taking the loss. Cam Atkinson scored his 28th of the season and Tomas Kubalik had three assists in the loss. Then it was back to Springfield to finish off the weekend. On Saturday it was a historical one for goaltender Manny Legace as he became the Falcons all time leader in wins with his 64th. Saturday it was a 4-1 win over Providence with the Falcons scoring four straight to pick up the victory including Cam scoring his 29th and Dane Byers scoring for the second straight night. On Sunday the Worchester Sharks came to town bringing a familiar name with them. In the 2-1 loss ex Jacket Andrew Murray scored his second of the season, scoring for the Falcons for the third straight game was captain Dame Byers to give him 13 on the season. On the weekend it was pretty much five players doing all the scoring with Cam Atkinson scoring two goals and two assists, Tomas Kubalik with four assists and Martin St Pierre adding a goal and three assists. Dane Byers as I said had three goals and Alexandre Giroux had a goal and 2 assists.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blue Jackets Prospect Twitter Database

Hello all, CBJProspects with a rare non week in review post. Over the weekend when Dalton Prout was sent down the CBJ @mentioned him leading to many fans discovering the blueliner was on twitter. One of those was the guy I call boss @Canadan82 which drove him to throw out the idea: Why don't I make a list of all the prospects on twitter? Well after looking at the Blue Jackets official list and noticing how many there missing I figured I better get to it.

Columbus Blue Jackets
@ BlueJacketsNHL
Springfield Falcons

#4 Dalton Prout @Prouter8
#10 Nick Drazenovic @Drazzy1010
#13 Cam Atkinson @CamAtkinson13
#17 Sean Collins @WhougunaCollins
#18 Jake Hansen @hans_solo21
#27 Cody Goloubef @cgoloubef27
#29 Anton Blomqvist @blomqvistA (NOTE: tweets in Swedish)
#34 Dane Byers @Byzee34
#37 Matt Calvert @mattcalvert11
#38 Trent Vogelhuber @Tvogelhuber
#39 Martin St. Pierre @_M_StPierre

#5 Greg Amadio @gregamadio
#19 Wade Macleod @wademacleod
#22 Patrick Cullity @pcullity
#31 Paul Dainton @paullyd31 (Account is protected)
#32 Aaron Bogosian @aabogo32

Brandon Archibald(Saginaw) @Archibald9210
Michael Chaput(Shawinigan) @MichaelChaput62
Mathieu Corbeil(Saint John) @mathieutcorbeil
Oliver Gabriel(Portland) @olivergabriel11
Austin Madaisky(Kamloops) @amadaisky
Lukas Sedlák(Chicoutimi) @Sedli22
Dalton Smith(Ottawa) @smitty33
Petr Straka(Rimouski) @PStrax23

Martin Ouelette(Maine) @mouelette51 (NOTE:Hasnt tweeted yet)
Drew Olson(Minnesota-Duluth) @DrOlson8

Mike Reilly(Penticton-BCHL) @mreilly93
Anton Forsberg(MODO-Sweden) @antonforsberg1 (NOTE:Tweets in Swedish)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Looking Ahead with Brassard

For all the early season speculation surrounding Derick Brassard, it is amazing how little press the 24 year old center has received over the last week or so.  Certainly stemming from his lower status compared to potential trade bait Rick Nash or Jeff Carter, Brassard has managed to fly under the radar for the most part since Todd Richards took over the head coaching position.  This should come as a bit of a surprise considering his recent contributions.

This piece may not reflect his current trade status as much as I have presented above, but instead, will review the changes made in his game, and consider his overall value to the organization after his rise in scoring and current role on the team.  To do that, I think a comparison between his early season numbers under Arniel, and his current numbers under Richards is a great way to start.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rick Nash: The Perception of More

Back in January I posted on what moves Howson should make moving forward, which included trading Rick Nash to the Los Angeles Kings for Drew Doughty. Following that piece I heard many comments regarding how low Nash's trade value had sunk. Based on these comments I started working on this post. Then the "Trade Carter" movement began and this post seemed off base. Then Carter got healthy and #CBJ-land came to its senses and realized moving Carter for fifty cents on the dollar was a bad move (although the mainstream media hasn't caught on yet). This piece stayed as a series of point form notes that I planned on getting back to before the trade deadline. Then this happened and everyone everywhere went nuts over Rick Nash trade rumors.

Why is this relevant? Well it proves my unposted piece right. Rick Nash is seen around the league as a true superstar, a franchise caliber player. However, take a look at Rick Nash's numbers. Hockey Reference lists the ten players whose careers are most similar to Nash. The top five: Jason Spezza, Danny Briere, Rick Martin, Olli Jokinen and Martin Havlat. Those are not franchise caliber players. Don't get me wrong, Rick Nash is a fantastic hockey player and a great guy. But if he is a teams best player, that team is never even getting a sniff of a Stanley Cup. Having watched Nash for well over a decade now (going back to his time with the London Knights), he has always shown flashes of being a top five player in the league. Those flashes are tantalizing. They give front offices around the league the perception of more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Potential Leadership Landscape Without Nash

I have no interest in trying to substantiate rumours or 'break' any trades, but I would be hibernating under a rock if I wasn't fully aware of the discussions surrounding the potential of a Rick Nash trade as the deadline, and I suppose the 2012/2013 season edge closer.  What I did begin to consider, is how the team would be structured after his departure, or more specifically who would become the Blue Jackets next Captain and what reasons would surround that decision.

Currently, they experience a 'quiet leader' in Rick Nash, who has been suggested to be a solid voice in the locker room and says the right things to the media, but tends to lead more by example on the ice.  What intrigues me about that is how this year he's appeared to play at well below the 100% dominant level that made him so loved in Columbus. Should it come as a real surprise that the team behind him has been known to rise and fall during games, rarely generating a sixty minute effort from all the players?  This won't be an extension of any Nash bashing, but I do believe the two have some correlation. So which player could make a vocal difference both on and off the ice if our Captain agreed to a trade?

Of the current roster players, a case could be made for Prospal, Umberger, Wisniewski, and Dorsett in my opinion. With those players in mind, I am going to make a case for each, and discuss where I believe they should be ranked relative to one another:

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 6-12 CBJ Prospect Week in Review

Fresh from the CBJ tweetup its time for the prospect week in review. Starting off in Springfield the Falcons had a three in three with two being at The Nest. Starting off on Friday it was the Connecticut Whale coming to town to play game number nine against the Falcons ending in a 3-2 overtime loss. Cam Atkinson led the way scoring his 25th and 26th goals of the season. The Whale got two goals from Wojtek Wolski including the game winner that veteran Manny Legace earned a assist on the...wait a minute. The next night it was off to Bridgeport to play the Sound Tigers and it was a ugly one. The 8-1 loss was the Falcons worst of the season with Alexandre Giroux scoring his 16th of the season in the loss. Manny Legace took the brunt of the thrashing stopping 22 of 28 through two periods before turning things over to @PaullyD31 Paul Dainton who fared a little better stopping nine of eleven in the third period. On Sunday It was back home and the Falcons finally got back in the win column. Five Falcons scored win the 5-1 win over Manchester. Paul Dainton was in net for the win stopping 24 of 25 missing the shutout by 1:08. On the weekend it was Alexandre Giroux leading the way with two goals and three assists all three assists were on Cam Atkinson's three goals who also had a assist. Atkinson could break the Falcons record for goals by a rookie of 36 set by Danny Briere in 97-98. The only other Falcons with multiple points were Martin St. Pierre with three assists and Wade Macleod who is only signed by Springfield. Quickly the Express went 0-2-1 last week with no Blue Jackets prospects playing. I think Steven Delisle is still with the Express...somehow I lost track of a 6'6" French Canadian guy. :( Ah twitter you gotta love it after asking the Express I found out that Delisle was placed on the 21 day IR last Monday.

Onto the CHL and college Boone Jenner continued to miss time with a injury, finally I got a update a local paper says he took a high hit in a game against Brampton late last month and hasnt been in the lineup since. Dalton Smith missed last week's three games with a hip "problem" the papers words not mine. Quickly both Martin Ouelette and Anton Forsberg didnt play last week. Maine's coach must have no faith in Martin because even though the Bears loss on Friday Tim Whitehead went right back to Dan Sullivan in Saturday's win over Providence. Anton Forsberg and MODO for some reason had 10 days off between games staring back up tonight.

Brandon Archibald-Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
Season Stats 53GP 1-12-13 -3 54PIM
The Spirit for a three in three and never left the state of Michigan two being in Saginaw while the other was in Plymouth. In the three games Brandon went pointless and was even while going 1-1-1.

Lukas Sedlak-Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
Season Stats 42GP 16-25-41 +19 53PIM
The Sags went 1-2 last week and with both losses it was because they ran into hot goaltenders. Halifax's 16 year old Zachary Fucale was named 1st star last week and both of Shawinigan's goalies are first and third in the Q in GAA(2nd Mathieu Corbeil). Sedlak was held off the scoresheet all weekend snapping a five game point streak. Sedlak won 45 of 72 faceoffs on the weekend winning 63 percent.

Petr Straka-Rimouski Oceanic(QMJHL)
Season Stats 42GP 14-15-29 -8 29PIM
Straka and the Oceanic went 2-0 last week with a win in regualtion and in a shootout. Petr scored his 14th of the season when he had the game winner (42 seconds in) in a win over Quebec. Straka was then held scoreless in a shootout win over Blainville also missing in a shootout.

Mathieu Corbeil-Saint John Sea Dogs(QMJHL)
Season Stats 39GP 29-10 .911Sv% 2.36GAA 6SO
First some bad news due to Saint John using a player that hadnt signed his player card(?) before playing in a game they lost a win from January, so Mathieu only has 29 wins and is tied of the Sea Dogs franchise all time wins record. The Sea Dogs added to its nine game winning streak going 2-0 last week with Mathieu picking up his 29th win of the season and adding to his franchise record 6th shutout making 22 saves in a win over rival PEI. Corbeil was named 2nd star despite not being tested much. Corbeil was given the night off against Acadie-Bathurst on Sunday.

Michael Chaput-Shawinigan Cataractes(QMJHL)
Season Stats 44GP 14-33-47 +27 39PIM
Michael and the Cats went 2-0-1 last week with Michael going scoreless until the team's win over Chicoutimi and fellow CBJ prospect Lukas Sedlak. In the win Michael picked up his team leading 33rd assist of the season. Michael is one assist away from his total from last year in 18 less games. Chaput won 61% of his draws last week winning 37 of 61.

Austin Madaisky-Kamloops Blazers(WHL)
Season Stats 56GP 11-31-42 +22 62PIM
Austin and the Blazers went 3-0 last week and became the first WHL team to win 40 games this season.(WHL only plays 72) Austin added two assists to his already career high in the wins and was a +6 on the weekend. I missed this last month but his assist in a win over Kelowna was the 100th point of his WHL career.

Oliver Gabriel-Portland Winterhawks(WHL)
Season Stats 22GP 10-12-22 +10 26PIM
Oliver Gabriel continued his strong play of late with points in all three Winterhawks wins. Gabriel had 6 points and was named a star twice starting off with 2 assists and being named third star on Monday then on Saturday he had his second three point game of the season with a goal and two assists in a win over Seattle and was named second star. Gabriel's boring game was the win over Tri-City when he only had a assist.

Onto the college prospects starting off with the prospects that didnt score last week. Will Weber only played in one of Miami's wins last week missing Friday's game because of his fight in last week's loss to Michigan. Seth Ambroz and Jake Hansen both went scoreless in the Gopher's losses to Denver with Ambroz being a -3 with 0 penalty minutes while Hansen had a 6 penalty minutes and was a -1. Drew Olson was scoreless and even in the Dog's split with North Dakota. A rare appearance in this place for TJ Tynan who was scoreless over a whole weekend for the first time since November 4-5.

Thomas Larkin-Colgate(ECAC)
Season Stats 28GP 4-9-13 +15 36PIM
In the Raiders 2 wins last week over Yale and Brown(I love the Ivy League makes me want to talk like Mr. Howell from Gilligan's Island. 48 year old TV reference check) In the win over Yale Thomas had a assist on John Lidgett's second goal(5:40 in) of the night and the game winner and was a +2 in the win. The next night the Brown Bears(no joke) came to town and Thomas and was help scoreless.

Sean Collins-Cornell(ECAC)
Season Stats 25 11-9-20 +2 4PIM
The Big Red played the same teams as Colgate also sweeping the Bears and the Bulldogs but they got to keep some hardware as Cornell claimed its first Ivy League title since 2004-05. Like Thomas Sean was scoreless against the Bears but then he had his first career three point game. Sean scored two first period goals also adding a assist in the win.

Trent Vogelhuber-Miami(CCHA)
Season Stats 3-9-12 E 43PIM
Trent had points in back to back games for the first time this season picking up a assist in both wins over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. Vogelhuber assisted on Byron Paulazzo two goals last week.

Kevin Lynch-Michigan(CCHA)
Season Stats 30GP 6-5-11 +1 26PIM
Kevin Lynch had goals in both games this week in the Wolverine's split with Michigan St. On Friday night in East Lansing Lynch gave Michigan a 2-0 lead(1:09) when he battled through four Spartans but failed to hang on losing 3-2. Next night it was off to Joe Louis Arena where the game to overtime and Lynch played the hero. When a Michigan State defender tried to intercept a pass like a shortstop(bad example I know) but the puck got through him and there was Lynch to punch it home and give Michigan the win. Lynch has feasted on the Spartans this season in five games this year he has four goals and two assists. Here are Lynch's postgame comments after the win.

Mike Reilly-Penticton(BCHL)
Season Stats 41GP 19-47-66
After only playing one game last week the Vees were back at it this week with 3 games and what has been standard since Novmeber 5th the Vees went 3-0. The Vees had won 29 straight going into this week with there next win setting a new BCHL record. The Vees started off the week in Chilliwack with a chance to make history. In the Vee's 30th straight win a 7-0 win over Chilliwack Mike had 2 assists. You'd think when averaging six goals a game the Vees have to had scored 10 goals at least once well youd be wrong. The Vees had scored six or more 25 times but never 10 until Friday. Against the Silverbacks the Vees scored 10 goals with Mike again having two assists for his 21st multi point game of the season. Then on Saturday in a 7-5 win against Westside Mike went scoreless ho hum....WAIT WHAT HELD SCORELESS!!!!!! All right I joke now I but Mike even though he missed four games with a injury he hadnt gone a game without a point since December 2nd picking up seven goals 27 assists for 34 points in 17 games.

There you have it folks as for next week the highlight is TJ Tynan and Notre Dame travel to Oxford for a series with Miami. Ill be back next week

Carry the Flag Experiences the #CBJTweetUp

I was fortunate enough to take part in the Blue Jackets CBJTweetUp promotion yesterday before, during, and after the game against Anaheim.  Around one hundred tickets were sold, and while I thought they could have opened the experience to more than that, it was a great crowd.  The doors were opened to everyone at 4pm for a meet and greet with each other, as well as a number of Blue Jackets staff, and media from a variety of sources.

In terms of 'swag' throughout the evening, I walked away with a t-shirt, a complimentary card for Papa John's (as well as a full belly of pizza and beverages during the event), a picture with Wiz and a personalized autograph.  For the cost, in my opinion, the value was tremendous.

What I expected to be a social gathering with structured introductions and small talk with those who were scheduled to join the event.  What I got was something much more valuable.  Not only did many of the visitors take time to speak individually and personally with anyone who engaged them, they also made a point of 'getting into the thick of things' where groups of fans had already congregated.  I can honestly say my opinion on a number of CBJ media types (at least those who are actively visible on a daily basis) was boosted substantially after having direct conversation.  I can't thank them enough for extending their interest to myself and other fans, even if only for a short while.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Game Recap :: Columbus vs. Minnesota 2/11

For the first time in longer than I want to consider, the Blue Jackets walked away with a victory they had no real business earning.  On the road, on a Saturday night, they found two points in a game that found them badly outshot, with a goaltending performance that you would have to go back years to find in any sort of real frequency.

I enjoyed the game from a local Columbus Buffalo Wild Wings, and had a tremendous time.  With great friends comes great conversation, along with first rate service and really cool speaker boxes that sat on our table and played the audio of the game despite the rest of the bar being interested in college basketball (don't get me started).  Despite the disappointment in only a small handful of patrons with Blue Jackets garb on, the goals were welcomed with reasonable cheer, most notably from our table.

I braced for a beating, and took the Setoguchi goal in stride later on in the first period.  The turnovers were not as frequent, but the puck found itself in the slot alone on a reasonably capable scorer, and sure enough was vaulted over Mason's catching glove into the top corner of the net to send Minnesota to the 1-0 lead.  What followed was shocking.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts on the Vinny Prospal Extension

This morning, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced the signing of Vinny Prospal to a one year extension (at the same 2.5 million cap hit he has this year) with the additional assumption that he would continue to be a part of the organization after his playing career is completed.

Let me first say, that I think Vinny is a tremendous competitor, a strong leader in how the team SHOULD be playing each day, and a great asset to have in the locker room, based on everything I have read this year.  I see a great deal of value in his experience and attitude on and off the ice, and I imagine many of these points are the major reason why he received the contract he did.

Assumptions: The knee jerk reaction to this is anger.  For a team knee deep in a horrible, embarrassing season, re-signing players is practically begging for similar results the following season (1). For a guy like Prospal, who woud likely garner a 2nd round pick or better at the deadline, re-signing denies the team a decent opportunity to add another prospect to the development pool (2).  Additionally, if Prospal and management had discussed the potential for additional years, why not send him away to try and win a cup, and then bring him back in the off-season(3)? It has been done before, and it would allow the team to add a prospect without losing veteran leadership in the future.

I'm going to take those assumptions and break them down a bit.  I think it is important to consider what could have or should have been, and I think those questions are the most common of the non "Yay Prospal!!" crowd.

Recap :: Columbus vs. Minnesota 2/7

The stage was set for a disappointing loss on Tuesday night.  The team had just come back from a long road trip and had enjoyed a couple of days between games, not to mention winning their previous game, and complacency was practically expected.  Hard to believe what we (as fans) got to witness.  Not only did they take it to Minnesota for the better part of the game, they maintained their play late and did not allow complacency to take over.

First, I think it's worth pointing out the shots on goal.  Columbus outshot Minnesota 14-7 in the first period, and 14-9 in the third period.  They did to lay back a bit in the second, but unlike their usual results, a late powerplay goal gave them the momentum heading into the third period, which I thought helped them a great deal.  If I had one negative to take out of their shooting, was that early in the game, they allowed Backstrom to stay in it.  At one point (and I did not track it further than that moment) they had taken twenty shots, yet only managed to score a single goal.  This is terribly common for them, and I noted on twitter that it seems like too many games, they provide the opposing goalie with the ability to leave the building with a save percentage better than .950 for the game.  I am not contesting that they took truly mediocre shots, but the goals that followed (Vermette, Carter) were goals that shatter such stats, where opportunity is generated around the net on rebounds etc.

Second, how about David Savard.  For a guy that really struggled at the tail end of his previous call up, Savy looked very impressive with the puck on his stick last night.  He made smart plays, took quality shots - including one through traffic that netted him his first NHL goal - and really made the Minnesota players reconsider pressing him hard for the puck.  I think once again we got a preview of what his true potential is, and if he and John Moore can continue to contribute in a positive way, they could really open the doors for Columbus moving forward.  Might even convince me that we only need one top tier defensive signing in the off-season.

Monday, February 6, 2012

January 30th-February 5 CBJ Prospect Week in Review

Greetings all hows everyones clock running? Starting off in the AHL, it was the All Star break which I talked about last week after a few days of R and R the boys were back at it. The Falcons had a 3 in 3 last weekend going 1-2 only scoring 6 goals while allowing 12. Starting off in Providence the Falcons lost 4-1 with Dane Byers scoring the only goal and Paul Dainton taking the loss stopping 23 of 27. On Staurday it was back home to the nest for a game against Norfolk this was a rough 0n many levels first with the Falcons losing 6-1 then with 82 penalty minutes being handed out including a match penalty to Falcons Dman Theo Ruth for cross-checking in the second period. Matt Calvert scored his 9th of the season. Manny Legace stopped 5 of 9 in a period and a half of work(yikes!) Paul Dainton came in and...well played stopping 12 of 14. Sunday night the Falcons finally got it together and finished off its home and home with Norfolk beating the Admirals 4-2 Paul Dainton made 24 saves in the win. With Matt Calvert scoring for the second game in a row. Calvert led the Falcons in scoring last week with two goals and a assist while Cam Atkinson, Brent Regner and Alexandre Giroux all had two assists each.

A lot more prospects than usual had or took the week off last week. Boone Jenner has missed the General's last three games with a injury missing two last week. The Express went 3-0 last week part of the team's five game winning streak but no Jackets prospect played for them so let's move on. Last week I said Minnesota would be facing off with Denver well I was wrong thats this weekend the Gophers were off, sorry about that and a what has become about standard Martin Ouelette did not make a appearance in the Black Bear's net while the team went 2-0.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jackets Road Trip in Review

It was certainly an interesting week for the Blue Jackets, coming home with a 1-2-0 record out west, and another 0-3-0 record in the other half of their six game road trip.  I haven't recapped in quite some time because of how much negativity could be grouped into each one, but I think it's worth taking a few things into account from these last six games.

I want to group the first four games into one collection of awful, where the Blue Jackets were outscored 17-5.  The obvious is there, where they need to score more, produce more offense, and generate fewer chances in their own zone. As noted, it's a grouping of losses where the mistakes are greatly magnified, so I won't bother spending much time with it.

Rather, I want to touch a little on "Clock Gate" and the LA game, and then spend a fair bit of time on the treat I enjoyed last night.  If you've been under a rock, you'll be interested to learn that with 1.8 second left in the game against Los Angeles, the clock quite literally stopped ticking down for somewhere between 1-2 seconds, giving the Kings additional time to score the game winner. Sure enough, Doughty found the back if the net with 0.6 seconds left, but it was more like -0.4 or -1.4 seconds remaining.  I know watching these games doesn't mean I'm 'owed' anything, but I feel like the fans and certainly the team, who played reasonably well for sixty minutes of hockey, deserved a better fate.