The Jackets get another crack at a team that embarrassed them not two weeks ago. The Avalanche skated the Jackets out of the arena back on October 30th en route to a 5-1 win. Columbus, however, is coming off of a total domination of the St. Louis Blues at Nationwide on Wednesday night. One would hope that the effort can continue into tonight and that the Jackets are looking for some payback. They may be looking for it a bit short-handed, as there are a few minor injuries to some key guys. And, if you’re looking for some last minute tickets, click the WFNY Tickets link above to get ‘em!
When the Blue Jackets and Blues have gotten together over the past couple of seasons, each game generally ends in some kind of defensive, slugged-out, physical beating of a game. The Blue came in as the top goals-against team in the league at under two a game. The Jackets hadn’t scored more than three in a game, and themselves were in the top top in the league in goals-against. Looks like another hard-fought, physical beat-down defensive struggle, no? Yes… err, except for the “defensive struggle” part.
The Jackets got to Jaroslav Halak early and often, scoring three goals in each of the first two periods to take a 6-1 lead into the dressing room after two periods and to earn Scott Arniel his first real signature win as the Blue Jackets head coach, and the two teams traded physical blows all throughout the third as the penalty box became prime real-estate.
The Jackets most definitely bounced back on Tuesday, playing arguably their best and most complete game of the season in shutting out Montreal. Their reward? Travelling to Atlanta, where the Thrashers are 3-0-1 in their last four, and are scoring at will (17 goals in those four games). This will be a test for the Jackets’ defense, which has been stellar when they win, and non-existent when they lose. Mathieu Garon, fresh off the shut-out, will get the start again. The silver lining? The Thrashers’ defense hasn’t been very good, as in that same four-game span they’ve allowed 14 goals.
Team Jekyl-n-Hyde is back on the ice tonight against what looks to be a pretty solid Montreal team so far into the young season. The Jackets’ three game winning streak from last week firmly went “THUD” on Saturday night in Denver, as the speedy Avalanche did not brake for the Jackets. So, can this team continue to find ways to bounce back after disgusting losses? We’re about to find out.  This game is NOT on local TV. Thanks, Versus/NHL!
The Jackets are back in action tonight after a couple of off days following their roller-coaster ride of a weekend. They get back at it tonight against the only team that finished behind them in the Western Conference standings last season. The Jackets have won four of five, including two of three at home. The Oilers got off to a great start winning their first two games, but have since dropped five in a row (four in regulation), and are currently winless on the road. If the Jackets can build off their last two solid wins, all signs point to being able to win again tonight. But, as Calgary showed last Friday, games aren’t played in blog previews.
What a crazy weekend for the Jackets. After all of my snickering at Calgary on Friday, they came into Nationwide Arena Friday night and flat-out embarrassed the Jackets. I mean, the score was 6-2, but it could very easily have been 9-2. The Jackets looked completely flat, and had no answers for anything Calgary did. So, Saturday night was a trip to Chicago, and the Jackets promptly fell behind 2-0. Another rout, right? WRONG! The Jackets rallied for a 3-2 win over the Stanley Cup Champs. So, up next? Their fourth game in six nights, with the reigning Eastern Conference Champs come to Columbus. Wheeee!
The Jackets are back at home, and are looking to get back to business on home ice after Friday night’s stinker against the Blackhawks. The Ducks are, well, slightly less good than Chicago. We’ll get to the numbers below, but the two most important stats to remember about the Ducks are that they are the second-worst in the league so far in goals-against, and are allowing the most shots per game in the league. Yea, offense! On top of that, the Ducks are actually scoring less than Columbus. Yea, defense!
Ugh. The Jackets were, how you say, not good last night in their home opener in losing 5-2 to the Blackhawks: “Big fat egg by us tonight,” said coach Scott Arniel. “Systems-wise, we were as loose as we’ve been since we tried to get things going here. Everything we tried to do backfired, from No. 1 through No. 20, every player had a rough night tonight.” Understatement. The Jackets were outworked and outclassed from beginning to end last night by the Blackhawks. Well, they don’t have long to dwell on it as they go up against the Minnesota Wild on the road tonight. Let’s hope they were a little ticked off by last night’s crap-fest.
The CBJ Blogger Roundtable is a five-part series put together by Matt Wagner over at The Cannon, and starring the great people of the Blue Jackets blogosphere.
Matt wrote some questions, and we had a great turnout of answers despite everyone trying to get a handle on the team’s trip to Sweden last week. Please note that all of these answers came in BEFORE the team played the first two regular season games against the Sharks over in Stockholm. The ninth of ten questions of the roundtable is here after the jump. For the previous four installments:
Right back at it. These two teams opened their seasons yesterday with the Sharks winning a close one with a late Power Play goal. But, the Jackets more than held their own on the stat sheet against a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. This time, the Jackets are the road team as these two teams get after it again less than 24 hours later. The Jackets have plenty to build on from the first game, but plenty to fix as well. And, there were plenty of chippy moments in the opener, so this game could have an edge to it on both sides, as the opener saw two fights and almost a third, coupled with 17 combined minor penalties and 13 combined Power Plays.
10 and 20. The puck finally drops for the Blue Jackets’ 10th season, and they go up against the San Jose Sharks who are starting their 20th season. Milestones FTW. This is our first real look at the old-roster/new-look Jackets under brand new head coach Scott Arniel. And, it will be a tough test; the Sharks finished first in the Western Conference for the regular season last year, and were knocked out in the Conference Finals round by eventual-champ Chicago.
Every Tuesday Sometimes on Wednesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…
The Year That Was
Regular Season: 32-35-15, 79 points (5th division; 14th conference)
Playoff Result: did not qualify
For what will be the final 5-Hole column of the spring, I thought, much like last year though under different circumstances, it would be good to take a season-in-review look back on the 2009-2010 season for the Jackets. The Jackets followed up their first playoff appearance by taking a step backward in ‘09-‘10. But, there were some silver linings to be found, and some decent performances in spite of that. Let’s take a look back at The Year That Was…
Guess who’s back / back again / 5-Hole’s back / tell a friend…
Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…
The Summer That Was
Last Season: 41-31-10, 92 points (4th division; 7th conference)
It was officially “The Best Season in Franchise History”. Granted, 4th place in the division isn’t something to shout about, but the division was so stacked last season (and looks to be this season as well) that 4th in the division was good enough for 7th in the conference. They tied in points with 3rd/6th place St. Louis, but finished below them by virtue of head-to-head record. But, the Jackets finally made the playoffs, and have laid the foundation for what should be a return trip this year, hopefully with better results due to the experience gained last year. And, despite the loss, Game 4 against Detroit still is and will always be one of my favorite sports memories.
Columbus Blue Jackets (37-28-6, 80pts)
vs. Florida Panthers (35-26-10, 80pts)
Bank Atlantic Center, Sunrise, FL
Saturday, March 21, 2009
7:00 PM EDT
The Jackets are back on the road, for their second to last “road trip” of the season: after this two-game Florida swing (tonight and Tuesday in Tampa), the Jackets only have one more instance of more than one road game in a row the rest of the way. Both teams are tied at 80 points, but where the Jackets are sitting in sixth in the West, 80 points is only good enough for ninth in the East. Thus, the Panthers arguably need this one more than the Jackets do. Both teams are near mirror images of each other (check the numbers after the jump), and so this game really is kind of a toss up. But, I think Columbus has a few advantages that should hopefully push them over the top.
Antoine Vermette is making Jackets GM Scott Howson look like a genius. There’s really no other way to say it than that, right now. Whether it be his work on the penalty kill, his faceoff winning, his speed, or the fact that he’s seamlessly meshed into the rotation of this team, Vermette has made this Jackets team IMMEDIATELY better since his arrival. His great stretch continued last night as he scored the game-winning goal two and a half minutes into overtime last night to propel the Jackets past the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time in six days.
The win earned them their 79th and 80th points, which tie a franchise record for most points in a season (set last year). With 11 games to go, it’s not unreasonable to expect that record will fall between now and the end of the year. 37 wins is also a franchise record, as well. This season has been almost magical from the perspective of the Jackets fan, and the addition of Vermette is a move that has worked almost perfectly and paid immediate dividends.
There’s a funny line from a Simpsons episode where Bart accidentally discovers Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel making out. Later on, as the only one who knows their secret, Principal Skinner declares his love for Mrs. Krabappel in front of her class using Bart as his “voice”. After Krabappel places Martin Prince, the class nerd, in charge of the class while she and Skinner leave for some hanky-panky in the janitor’s closet, Martin implores Bart “not to fall in love with me either.” Bart responds under his breath, “Man, even Martin’s scoring off me!”
Wade Dubielewicz is the Chicago Blackhawks’ Martin Prince: “Man, even Wade Dubielewicz is beating us!” I wasn’t able to watch this game (not on TV in Columbus), so I’ll do my best to cobble together a recap from the media sources who did watch it.
This was a tale of three games. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie “Airplane!” and therefore have no idea what the title of this post of the picture to the right even mean, let me give you a brief synopsis: as the airplane disaster gets worse and worse, the main guy in the ground control crew (Steve McCroskey, played by Lloyd Bridges) offers a series of one-liners as he tries to cope: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking…. smoking… sniffing glue… using amphetamines…” etc. What does this have to do with anything, you might ask? Well, this being my first taste of “playoff hockey” is taking years off my life. With the last two games—how important they have been, as well as how they ended—it’s been like that for me: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.” We didn’t know whether or not Steve Mason would even be playing as late as 5:00 or 5:30. In the end, he did suit up, and proved to be the game-winner in many ways. That’s not to say there weren’t some bumps (read: a giant collapse in period 3) to be concerned with. But, at the end of the day, it was two more ever-so-important points, and a great start to this four-of-five-at-home stretch, and a record 19,167 fans got to watch it. [Read more...]
The Jackets are riding high, coming off of arguably the two biggest wins in franchise history, back-to-back. They fired on all cylinders in dismantling the Detroit Red Wings 8-2 on Saturday, and followed that up with one of their most complete performances in memory in stifling the NHL-leading Boston Bruins 2-0 on Tuesday night at Nationwide. As good as those two games were, the Jackets need to continue to focus on the schedule ahead and take each game one-at-a-time, as it doesn’t get any easier tonight. The Penguins are arguably the NHL’s hottest team right now, and possess the offensive capabilities to make it a rough night for any team. The Jackets get a chance to atone for their lackluster performance in Pittsburgh last month, but it’s going to be a tough night all around. [Read more...]
Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…
The Week That Was
Week: 2-1-0, 4 points
Overall: 33-27-6, 72 points (3rd division; 6th conference)
The Jackets are like Frodo at the end of “Return of the King” – they’ve struggled to get this far, almost falling apart many times along the way, the finish line is in sight while they continue flirting with evil, and that evil almost pushed them over the cliff and into the lava. They’re hanging onto that cliff edge right now, and just when I think they’re ready to let go, good old
Rudy Samwise reaches over and grabs their wrist. And then helps them score EIGHT goals at Detroit. In short, the Jackets are still sitting in sixth place with 16 games to go, but the Western Conference Playoffs Logjam is back in full force. And, Sauron (the schedule) is definitely going to put the squeeze on them the rest of the way. OK, OK… I promise… no more nerdy LotR metaphors after the jump. Baggins. [Read more...]
The Jackets have made at least one move already, trading goaltender Pascal LeClaire to the Ottawa Senators for Antoine Vermette. Ottawa also receives the Jackets’ second round pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft.
As we detailed in The 5-Hole yesterday, this move makes the most sense for Columbus because it allows them to get a decent scoring forward while moving a piece of their team that won’t hurt them this season, and frankly is no longer in their long-term plans: LeClaire’s contract is currently paying him $3 million this year, and pays him $3.6 million next season and $4.8 million in the ‘10-‘11 season. In other words, that’s way more than the Jackets want to pay a backup goaltender, as Steve Mason is the clear starter at this point.
Vermette’s salary is a little more team-friendly: he’s making $2.525 million this season (of which the Jackets are only on the hook for a small pro-rated amount), and $3 million next season. He is then an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2010. Vermette is currently only 26 years old, and despite a down year this year (on an offensively-challenged team), he averaged over 21 goals and 20 assists per season for the three seasons prior to this one. His best season was ‘07-‘08, when he had 24G/29A/53PTS. [Read more...]