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Game #16: Blue Jackets vs. Predators

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Columbus Blue Jackets (5-9-1)


Nashville Predators (10-4-1)

So, I heard that there's this team in Columbus. Apparently they play hockey, or some sort of sport with discs and sticks?

Sort of crazy to finally be sitting down and getting out a pre-game overview for the first time since just a few days shy of three weeks ago. When I got in to Columbus, the first thing I did? Took in how cold it is! Seriously, I'd been molting like a frikken' bird in the summer while over in New Jersey, and then for the few days I was in Carolina ... but let's not get in to that. Either way, I'm glad to finally be back in some more hockey-friendly weather.

What happened while I was away, anyway? Apparently not much, as the Blue Jackets went 2-3 between the 3rd of November and now, notching their 4th utterly offensive failure (see: shut out) out of 15 games against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. You know you've got it bad when you get shut out by the Blackhawks ... and who is supposed to be their back-up, no less (Brian Boucher)! Then again, our own backup -- Fredrik Norrena -- was just as much on the ball if the 1-0 result is any indication, even if the shot count was low against him (just 19 in all).

Besides the total ineptitude when it comes to the Jackets' offense right now (the three losses all involved 1 goal or less), we've all heard and read the news about Gerard Gallant's unceremonial firing, seemingly against the wishes of Doug MacLean. But then again, regardless of MacLean's possible shortcomings as a GM, he was smart enough to know if he didn't listen to the McConnells and their desire to see Gallant gone, that GMDM would've been run out on the same rail at the same time.

In his place, Gary Agnew has been promoted to interim coach, but anyone except for MacLean would be a fool to believe he'll be keeping that position. I give the guy credit, as he's at times made the Blue Jackets' power play modestly potent. Despite the total power outage Sunday in Chicago, the PP still ranks 14th in the league, in large part thanks to Agnew's methods. But that doesn't mean he should be given a permanent spot behind the bench as head coach.

I also want to point out that the Blue Jackets penalty kill has actually been pretty respectable as well, currently ranking 11th in the league. And then all one has to do is look at how the defense is working (11th in goals allowed and 12th in shots allowed), and you're really left scratching your head.

These Blue Jackets were supposed to be a total bomb when it came to defense and a wild card goaltending card, right? And yet here they are with an above average defense, while the heralded offense has about as much firepower as a 9mm handgun compared to a howitzer, ranking dead last in goals and 26th in shots per game. It doesn't add up!

I'm not going to spend any time right now projecting who I hope or think will get the coaching job. For all I know, maybe Agnew's power play touch carries over to the offense as a whole now that he has the reigns of the team, and he makes the coach decision for management and ownership a lot harder after winning a few games from the get go.

Not that that is an easy task or anything. Opponents over these next four games in six nights? The Predators for breakfast (today), with a portion of Predators for dinner (Saturday), and a little Predator a la mode for dessert (Sunday). Oh, and toss in a little Colorado Avalanche for lunch (Friday).

Mmm-mmm-mmm! Sure makes my stomach get all rumbly!

But analogies to food and daily meals aside, Agnew has got his work cut out for him. We'll see what he's got hidden up his sleeves this evening, though.

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Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
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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