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Game #06: Blue Jackets at Penguins

Saturday, October 21, 2006
Columbus Blue Jackets (2-2-1)


Pittsburgh Penguins (3-3-0)

Two games in two nights!? Oh my God!

And about time, too. Though this isn't the first time this season the Blue Jackets have had a two games in two days deal, after all. The season opened up with a game at home Friday and then a game away Saturday. With any luck the Jackets will rebound much like they did that last time too, where they lost at home then won on the road.

Then again, they do have their work cut out for them. Tonight they'll be up against the Hamilto-- ... Winnip-- ... Quebe-- ... Pittsburgh Penguins, and their mini-versions of Gretzky and Lemieux (Crosby and Malkin, respectively).

So how are the Penguins doing? Well, by all accounts better than I think most people would have imagined. Coming in to this season the Penguins were projected to be at the bottom of the barrel once again, despite the maturing of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Crosby, as well as Evgeni Malkin's debut this week. Speaking of Fleury, check out both his GAA and his save percentage ... over six games the kid has a 2.71 GAA and a .925 save percentage. But the most important part of that equation is the fact that the Penguins are 29th in the league in shots allowed, averaging 35.5 per game. That's just sick. Reminds me of what Roberto Luongo regularly had to suffer through in Florida last season.

Despite the stellar performance by Fleury, the 3-3-0 record shows that despite the strong netminding, he isn't getting much support. The Penguins rank a mediocre 23rd in goals, and an abysmal 28th in shots per game. The twist here is their Power Play, which is ranked #2 in the league right now. So while they may not be scoring a lot, they will score if they get the man advantage, it looks.

Then again, the Jackets aren't exactly looking all rosey fresh after their last two games, either. 28th in goals (2 less than the Penguins), even less shots per game than the Penguins, and they're allowing a power play goal every fifth time they're down a man (80.6%)! The flipside is that even though the Jackets had the most wretched display of power play effort so far this season last night, they're still a respectable 6th in the league when it comes to their man advantage.

There's really a lot of questions swirling around the Jackets right now, even though this is just their sixth game of the season ... one of them being whether or not they can once again come back from a crushing defeat the previous night like they did at the start of the season. Another good question is whether or not the total roadblock that the top lines have hit recently will be overcome tonight? The top two lines have been kept completely off the scoresheet the past two games (though to be fair the whole team was kept scoreless in Minnesota), and the only people who produced were the Malhotra-Chimera-[Insertrandomwingerhere] line, and then Svitov with a laser shot in the waning moments of last night's game.

More disturbing is the total lack of energy that the defense seems to have. I already talked about this after last night's game, but it's a real concern to me that the defense is playing dead whenever the other team has the puck in the Blue Jackets zone. Have they been able to cut down shots? Frick yeah, and that's a good thing. But if they do give up a shot, they don't try and help Leclaire out. They just let him flop around like a fish flailing in vain to stop rebounds. And even if Pascal has the legs of a road runner, he can't "kick, save, and a beauty!" every single rebound on him.

So let's see what happens tonight. I'll be tuned in, new memorabilia mini-hockey stick in hand to use when happy or angry.

Oh, also ... while I was at last night's game, I was able to get a real low-quality recording of most of the new Blue Jackets' jumbotron CG opening on my digital camera. Hopefully I'll be able to upload that and show it sometime soon, for all those Jackets' fans who have yet to go to a game and see it. Really, I much prefer it over the old "zOMG swooping fighter jets!" thing last season.
  • At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Bob said…

    Did you enjoy Wescott being the last man with the puck in his own zone and then coughing it up, forcing him to take a penalty (shot) while shorthanded?

    And can we fire Jeff Rimer now? I mean, come on:

    1. Duvie Wescott wears #10, not Trevor Litowski.
    2. Fredrick Modin plays for CBJ and Matts Sundin plays for Toronto.
    3. The two-line pass rule ended two seasons ago.
    4. When the puck crosses the goal line during a penalty shot, it is a goal.

  • At 8:43 AM, Blogger Drew said…

    I love how Bob pops up when things are bad. And when things are going (relatively) well (2-0-1 to start the season), Sr. Bob still points out the flaws.

    Did we "enjoy" Duvie taking a penalty that resulted in a short-handed penalty shot? No. Do I enjoy having someone ask us (CBJ fans) this question with an undertone that implies we are idiots for liking our team? Even less.

    Bob, we get it. You don't like Duvie, Footer, or anyone on the CBJ blueline. We'll probably find out soon that Pete Rose bet on baseball and that Jason Grimsley was on steroids.

    One of the things that respectable CBJ fans can do is take the good with the bad. When things go bad, we note them. When things go well, we note them.

    Maybe you're not a Jackets fan, I don't know? Sometimes I wonder.

    To the best of my knowledge, there are no bloggers who have the power to hire and fire players (Ted Leonsis aside). This means that we're provided with a set of players to cheer for. A solid fan of any team knows that you pull for the good and bad players on your team, whether you like them or not. Is Adam Foote the defenseman he was five or ten years ago? No. It would be nice, but I don't expect it. Is Duvie Westcott (not Wescott, Bob) a first pair defenseman in the NHL? No. But he does things that you don't, Bob. Like give effort in the face of adversity (or lack of talent as I'm sure you'll point out without viable backup information), and stick with things when the going is bad.

    The last three games, the CBJ have been outscored 14-5. We (those who aren't afraid to commit our thoughts to our own forums) know things are not good. At some point in the future, things will improve. I hope you don't run out of things to complain about when they start winning (whenver that may be).

    Lastly, I really enjoy how you comment here at Army of the Ohio when it was you and I who had the running dialogue on Foote and Westcott. Good to see you so excited in the misfortunes of true CBJ fans that you forget who you were talking with.

    Mike, sorry for highjacking your blog for five minutes. Resume being the #1 CBJ blog I've found. Thanks!

  • At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Bob said…

    My dear. I didn't know this was CBJ Lover's only site, no typo's allowed. Owning PSl/Season Tickets (paid for with my own money, not corporate) since day one does not give a person the right to comment negatively, either.

    You are correct about one thing and that is at some point in the future things will improve. But until the team is freed from Doug MacLean, that is not going to happen. Until the team can find a player to compliment Duvie WESTCOTT, that is not going to happen. Until the team can get Adam Foote to earn his money, that is not going to happen. These last two points are also under MacLean's responsibilites.

    I will leave and let you guys enjoy your team and blog(s). Maybe you will see me at the game tonight, cheering the team, but not standing up to watch Jodie Shelley do his act.

  • At 10:25 AM, Blogger Michael Turner said…

    Well, I could say to take this elsewhere, but then I'd be a total hypocrit since I turned your own blog into a mini-battle with Tyler just a week or so ago, huh, Drew? *Laughs.* Really, I have no problem with anyone airing their gripes. It isn't like Bob is just some random lamer who pops up to spite me or the CBJ. If you want to see an example of that, you should check out the people who regularly invade AQ's blog sometime.

    Listen, I see both sides here. The whole "negativity so thick you could cut it with a knife" does grate on me a little, I admit ... but at the same time, it is agitating to see the Blue Jackets come out flat three games in a row. 5-0, 4-2, 5-3 ... at this rate maybe we'll see a progression to an OTL against San Jose tonight! Awesome!

    Not really. :-p In any event, even if Doug MacLean was out and someone new was in as the GM, what could they do? I am under the impression that the Blue Jackets don't exactly have a lot of room under the cap ... maybe $5 million? $6 million at most? And it would be risky to make any moves so early in the season, when there's still a whole 76 games to go. What if that cap space is needed later?

    No, Foote isn't earning his money on the ice, and that's a shame. I like the guy, and regardless of the play quality, he so far has brought a positive aspect to the team (though whether or not it's working is debatable due to the lack of energy output by said team this past weekend).

    As of right now, I just can't think of anything that could really be done to help out the team on the blue line outside of grabbing leftover free agent scraps that are still out there. Syracuse, for all the forward depth we have in guys like Picard and Platt down there, is really weak in the blue line depth, so calling someone up doesn't seem feasible right now.

  • At 12:50 PM, Blogger Drew said…


    Apologies for coming across strong. I just get so darn frustrated sometimes. I expect smart-ass comments like (paraphrased) "did you enjoy Duvie giving the game away? I can't believe you think this guy is NHL caliber talent!" from people who aren't CBJ fans. I don't expect it from one of us.

    Based on my previous conversations with Bob (on my blog and via email), I've tried to add the bits of levity I like to share with fellow fans. Like offering to send Bob a t-shirt saying "Bob was right and Drew was wrong, see it here at [whatever the URL was]" or something like that after Adam Foote has been sucking it up. I just don't feel like I get the comraderie in return. It's like I'm trying to look at both the good and bad, and all Bob can do is take things uber-seriously. So when I read Bob's comments, I read them with a non-fan's voice and it really sounds like he is joining the chorus of folks across the land that mock CBJ fans.

    I'm willing (again) to admit I was wrong. It is not my intention to stir up crap. I was only responding to what I perceived as someone else stirring the pot.

    To Bob - don't stop reading Mike's blog on my account. It's the best CBJ site out there that I've found. I promise, I'll only harass you (I'm kidding here, remember:)) on my site. I apologize for any misunderstanding, and I'll read any future comments with a 'true CBJ fan' voice. I promise.

    To Mike - Sorry, again. I get a little hot headed sometimes (red hair and Irish temper), especially after three brutal losses. I don't want you to lose readership because a guy you've never met can't keep his darn mouth shut. If Bob truly doesn't come back, let me know and I'll read your site four times a day (instead of the two I already do). :)

    Okay, I'm done apologizing. Hopefully the Jackets can do something tonight (anything?). And I'll look for Bob in the stands, cheering on all but Shelley.

    Go Jackets!

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Name: Michael
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About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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