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Blue Jackets Links

Who? What? Huh? ... yeah. Um.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
With the possibly permanent hiatus being taken by Predsguy over at Predspage, I find myself a little antsy at the sudden lack of any real blogs for three particular teams in the league. More so because two of those teams are also members of the Central Division. In no particular order ...

Blackhawks - Come on, people. There has to be at least one blogger out there that covers and follows the Blackhawks, despite the way that Billy Wirtz has just about buried this team in a mile deep grave. This team has such a long and storied history, it's a depressing surprise that there isn't a single blog out there on them. It also makes talking about them during game time depressing; I have no one to rib!

Predators - I think what surprises me the most is that it was only Predsguy who I knew of that wrote about the Predators, considering how they've been moderately successful over the past three seasons now (this one included). And now that he's gone, I'm even more concerned. Is it really that dead in Nashville? I know that James Mirtle has a link to a forum-based blog by the Predators themselves it seems, but it isn't really the same.

Coyotes - Yeah. The 'Yotes. I guess I can't really blame the lack of a blog for this team on anything in particular. Even so, there must be someone out there that writes about this team and follows them. Anyone? ... anyone? ... Bueller? ... Bueller?

In any event, I also just wanted to thank the recent string of a few people who added me to their blogrolls. Every new link definitely means a lot, since it gives me even more to read when I manage to squeak in some free time amidst new jobs and bucketloads of classwork. Incidentally, if I ever improperly put down someone's blog's name? Feel free to let me know and I'll fix it post-haste. As it stands, I get that often enough: "The Army of Ohio", "Army of Ohio", and so on (I take full responsibility for the name being "armyofohio" in the URL, but that was just so it wouldn't be pointlessly long).

Don't blame me, though, for the rather broken English name: Army of the Ohio. Blame those geniuses back during the 19th century and the American Civil War, since the name is based off of the real Army of the Ohio.

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Beaten by milkbaggers; Leclaire still proves he isn't down and out.

It sure does. What's up with those Canucks, anyway? Milk in bags? How crazy is that!?

What a horribly painful way to lose. Sixth shutout this season (more than all of last season), third 1-0 shutout (the other two coming against the Blackhawks and the Devils), and the second 1-0 loss that Pazzy was in net for.

I wouldn't blame him if he decides to go a little crazy-go-nuts with his goalie stick in the locker room. Anyone who watched tonight's game saw just how insane several of the saves he made were, all because of numerous odd man rushes against the Blue Jackets.


Come to think of it, wasn't Hitch's coaching and game plan supposed to remedy those sorts of problems? Why yes, I believe they are supposed to do just that.


But, no. Hitch isn't to blame for tonight's loss. After what amounted to about four failed power play opportunities in a row in the first period, including a 30 second 5-on-3, the Blue Jackets just went completely and totally flat from the midway mark of the first period up until around the final ten minutes of the third period. Like the game just didn't matter. After that, they seemed to forget all about whatever Hitchcock had taught them leading up to this game, going willy-nilly every which way and not working as a team.

Naslund continues to be a Blue Jacket killer, unfortunately. I believe Rimer was talking about how he has the most goals out of anyone in the league against the CBJ, something around 15 to 17 goals in all. The one he got was a result of some pretty soft defensive play, and a chip shot over Leclaire's outstretched leg to give the 'Nucks the one and only goal they needed to beat the hapless Jackets.

Poor Leclaire; it's probably been said numerous times by everyone else out there in the blogosphere and on FSN Ohio, but I'll say it as well: he did not deserve this fate. He outworked Luongo, outplayed Luongo, made better saves than Luongo, and was simply better than Luongo.

But all that matters is whether or not you get the win. So enjoy your victory, Vancouver.

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Game #23: Blue Jackets at Canucks (10 PM EST)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Record: 6-14-1-1
On the road: 2-7-0-0
Last 10: 2-7-0-1
Blue Jackets blogs/local media:
Death Cab for Woody
End of the Bench
The Jacket Times
Top line combination clicks for Hitchcock - The Columbus Dispatch

Synopsis:

This is Hitch's third game behind the Jackets' bench, after going 1-1-0-0 in two games in which the CBJ showed some real energy in both a tough loss to Philly and a dominant win over Minnesota. Fedorov is about as hot as molten lava at the moment, with 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) in the two games under Hitchcock so far. Pascal Leclaire is most likely making the start tonight, and a win for Pazzy could go a long way in getting some confidence. Right now the goals he is letting in seem due to losing getting into his head more than anything else.


Team: Vancouver Canucks
Record: 11-12-0-1
At home: 5-5-0-0
Last 10: 4-6-0-0
Canucks blogs/local media:
Canucks Hockey Blog
Hockey Rants
Vancouver Canucks Op Ed
Naslund not biting - The Province

Synopsis:

For the love of all things manic and topsy-turvy, the Canucks have had victories over the Stars and the Red Wings in their past 10 games, but at the same time have been royally spanked twice in 6-0 games against the Predators and the Ducks in that same span. Luongo has been pretty much as advertised, and it certainly helps that the Canucks rank 3rd in the league for shots against per game. Don't expect any power plays to help when facing the 'Nucks either, who rank a strong 7th on the penalty kill.

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Every day should be Civil War reference day!

The optimism out of The Columbus Dispatch ever since Saturday night's win against the Minnesota Wild has been so thick you could cut it with a knife. Seriously, you could just drown in how much praise Hitchcock seems to be getting!

Don't take what I'm saying the wrong way or anything, though. It isn't like General Hitch of the Union Army doesn't deserve it; and I got to admit, the liberal dose of Civil War references that The Dispatch writers have been using makes me grin like a total history nerd, considering this blog's name inspiration and my own interest in the American Civil War. But right now, the team is eight games below .500, and has a long climb upwards to make before I'm ready to start talking about how amazing the team's new 'work ethic', 'motivation', or 'fighting spirit' is.

But I can't deny it; Saturday's win over Minnesota, in dominating fashion no less, made it feel like a whole half a dozen cases of Labatt Blue have been lifted from my shoulders, which have been in a perpetual state of slumped depression since around the early part of November when this whole losing streak started.

What's more surprising, and what's been pretty much the majority of conversation concerning the 5-3 win over Minnesota, is the outright total offensive explosion that came from the Carter/Fedorov/Zherdev line. Nine points, 17 shots, +10 plus/minus rating, and more hustle than you can shake a stick at is what the line combined for.

It's pretty hard to compare the line's output to any possible time they may have had together prior to the past week, in large part because lines changed regularly and sporadically when under Gerard Gallant's watch. Surely the three of them did have time together at one point or another in the first 15 games under Gallant, or a game or two under Agnew during his five-game stint as interim head coach ... but it's almost impossible to pinpoint any specific games where they did, and to gauge how long they were kept together.

Either way, it's about as plain as day that Hitch will not be breaking that line up for now. It'll be good to see how they do in more than just one game. Should they be expected to have the same output against Vancouver tonight that they had against Minnesota? Probably, if they're as good as a line as we're being led to believe ... but I don't expect another nine point outing tonight. Let's keep expectations to something more along the lines of 'cautious excitement/optimism' concerning the projected success for the three of them.

Tonight's game in Vancouver starts a pretty long, five game trip across Canada and then to Colorado and St. Louis. Let's see if Columbus' favorite new Civil War-loving head coach can lead his Blue Jackets to a few victories on the road, and instill a bit of fear and respect into some opponents while they're at it. I leave you with three burning thoughts and/or questions:

Modin is Mod-out: The 'lower body injury' that has been bothering sniper Fredrik Modin finally got the best of him, and so Freddy is staying in Columbus to recuperate during the CBJ's road swing. The guy has been a trooper the past few games, putting pucks on the net in a seriously stunning fashion from all angles. Here's hoping that whatever ails him is able to be remedied by the time the team marches back to Columbus, and in time for the October 10th game against Ottawa.

Goalie controvery? Or just healthy competition?: It isn't like Fredrik Norrena and Pascal Leclaire don't get along. On the contrary, past articles in The Columbus Dispatch and elsewhere have led me to believe that the two actually get along pretty well ... and there's a lot to be said for your two goalies being on good terms. However Norrena recently getting the nod to start in four of the last eight starts must have numerous Jackets fans wondering if we've reverted back to the way the team did things last year with Leclaire and Marc Denis, setting up a back and forth tandem.

I still have as much confidence as I did at the start of the season in Pascal Leclaire, and even considering flaws he has in his game at times, he is still who I feel is this team's best hopes for the future. But that doesn't mean I'm against the two goalies swapping games. If it works, it works, and Norrena is a proven contender who has had to deal with a series of unfortunate events when it comes to the support the team has given him in a majority of the games he has played (five started, seven counting times when he has come in, in relief).

No longer last in goals scored? Unpossible!: After Saturday's five goal output, the Blue Jackets jumped from dead last in goals scored to 29th, a whole one goal ahead of Chicago. This also puts them behind St. Louis by four goals, who will also be playing tonight. Don't expect to see them breaking in to the top 20 (or even top 25) any time soon when it comes to goals for, but if the recent upswing in shots for is any indication (106 in three games!?), expect to see them getting out of the basement sometime soon.

And with all that said and done? CHAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGEEEEEE!!! ... and stuff.

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Game #22: Blue Jackets vs. Wild

Saturday, November 25, 2006
Columbus Blue Jackets (5-14-2)

vs.

Minnesota Wild (13-8-1)


Uh oh! I vanished again for another few days, didn't I? Forgive me, the few readers who check in here every day or other day, but even though I didn't go anywhere for Thanksgiving this year, I just didn't have the time or the energy to come around the blog and get the ball rolling with any new entries. I've been juggling a wide variety of things from my usual class assignments to Christmas shopping, as well as getting back in to an exercise routine after taking a near month hiatus from anything exercise-heavy.

But enough about me. The Blue Jackets have been extremely busy since Kenny Hitchcock was hired on Wednesday, losing in OT to the St. Louis Blues (nice parting gift before Agnew took over his role as assistant coach again, huh?), having a Thanksgiving morning practice to get to know the players and run through a few things, and then a very spirited effort against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, which ultimately ended in a painful loss.

The Columbus Dispatch ate up that loss to Philly, though; both Bob Hunter and Aaron Portzline speak of how even though the team didn't come away with two points (or even one point), the Jackets looked like a team that was trying, and how the whole team seemed to have an extra bounce in their step, so to speak. And I mean trying. Throughout the game the team outshot, outhit, and out-[insert several things here] the Flyers. But it just wasn't enough. One key thing that stood out to me was the power play, which still looked as lost as ever at some points, and just plain unlucky with bounces at other times. Adam Foote had me ready to tear out my hair at the numerous opportunities during the PP in which he would have been better off just shooting the puck.

Hunter and Portzline are on the mark, and I can say that with certainty a day later, having let my emotions run their course from the game. The Blue Jackets were a team last night that despite fatal errors leading to a loss, worked much more cohesively than they have practically all season so far.

The big question is whether or not this was energy from trying to please a new coach, or something more. Remember the first game of Gary Agnew's interim coach tenure, where the Jackets went blow for blow with the Nashville Predators before losing a heart breaker in the third period, 5-4. After that game, they futily flailed and were crushed by the Preds twice, and the Avalanche once in the next games.

Which is why tonight's game against the Northwest Division leading Minnesota Wild is so important. We need to see if last night was just a fluke. We also need to see how this team responds to now having Hitch behind the bench and running practices for three whole days now, and whether or not any tangible changes will reveal themselves.

The one thing the Jackets have going for them right now is that the Wild are coming in looking sort of dazed, just by the look of their recent record. The team is 3-6-1 in their past 10 games, and a shaky 2-5-0 on the road during the month of November so far. This is as good a time as any to take advantage of a team that is most likely going to be going to the playoffs, but is currently looking a little worn down.

I'm going to be at tonight's game, by the way; I am very eager to see Hitch coach his first game here at Nationwide, and it'd be a shame if I missed it. Win or lose, I want to see in person how he coaches and what he'll do tonight.

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Hitch gets hitched by the Blue Jackets; honeymoon ends Friday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
So here we are, folks. The Blue Jackets have a new coach, and all is right in the world! Welcome to the bottom floor, Kenny; hopefully you know which buttons to press in the elevator of hockey to get this team moving upwards.

Things are still very fresh, so just two points of interest that stick out to me, then I'm off to have some dinner while watching Ice Breaker:

1) A three-year contract? Wow. I'm actually a little surprised at the length.

2) Hitchcock will officially join the team for a Thanksgiving practice on Thursday, and his first game with the Blue Jackets? ... why, it's against the Philadelphia Flyers, in Philly! Talk about your comedic yet tragic twists. There doesn't seem to be a lick of animosity known of between Hitch and his now former team, whom he'd been working for as a scout after his firing last month, but that doesn't mean he might not want to make a statement. Question is if he can light a fire under the CBJ's collective posterior with just two days to prepare.

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Game #20: Blue Jackets vs. Blues

Columbus Blue Jackets (5-13-1)

vs.

St. Louis Blues (5-11-3)


Whoops! No sooner do I tease the other CBJ bloggers about the silence after that Predators smacking around on Saturday night, I go AWOL over the start of the week and miss out on the second smacking around by those same Predators. Talk about your irony, right? But alas, I've been busy with my classwork. Funny how even though I am only taking two classes this nine-week block instead of the standard three I'd been used to the last three blocks, it seems even more time-consuming.

That, and I have a job now! I'm now working at The Blueline. It's just part-time and in retail, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? I start Sunday afternoon when I work one of the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets games.

However this brings up an interesting conundrum: should I be concerned about being found out here? Bear in mind I've been using my real name from the start, which makes it impossible for me to try and take on an alias, like how Truth Serum at EoB does. We've all heard the horror stories about how someone writes something bad on their blog about their superiors or people in the business network (example: me taking GMDM and the ownership to task a few entries back), and next thing they know they've been pink slipped and shown the door.

I'm going to have a headache over this for a while as I jump between excited to nervous. But I think in the end, I won't be sacrificing my integrity as a fan of either the sport or the team, even as I ask people to buy cute Stinger dolls and autographed jerseys. And who knows, maybe this will actually be a good combination of things!

Let's get to talking about tonight's game, though. Coming to Nationwide tonight is our fellow cellar dwellers from Missouri, the St. Louis Blues. Two points ahead of the Blue Jackets by the good graces of having 2 more OTLs than the CBJ, the Blues are coming off of a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, where they were shelled 44-21 in the shots department. For all intents and purposes, the Blue Jackets have yet to officially hit rock bottom. With the exception of a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Chicago and a pair of losses to Colorado this month, all other recent losses have been to obviously stronger teams such as the Red Wings, the Predators, and the Oilers.

But if they lose to the Blues? Well, let's just say if MacLean wasn't so attached to Gary Agnew, he'd be sitting on the curb outside of the Bud Light Arena Pub entrance down on Nationwide Blvd. after tonight. It isn't that Agnew hasn't tried to right this sinking ship, or anything ... he's tried, as much as he could be asked to try as an interim head coach thrown to the lions during a swing of games that's been extremely daunting. But during this 0-4-0 period under Agnew, the bread and butter of why he was brought up as an assistant coach in the first place -- the power play -- has dropped from a modest 14th place in the league to a depressing 21st place. Blame can go beyond just Agnew and to the players, of course, but once again this was his responsibility and why he was brought up from Syracuse in the first place.

Besides issues with Agnew, the Blue Jackets have to deal with the possibility of a scratched Rick Nash, who is dealing with a groin injury right now and is day-to-day. But, I don't know ... could it be a good thing if he has to sit out? Nash has been unable to produce in almost any way, and has not been able to meet expectations with about a quarter of the season over. While being scratched because of an injury is certainly different from being a healthy scratch, this may still give him time to take a deep breath, step back, and think. Right now his problems seem to be of the mental variety, so an extra day or two of rest and recovery could very well help.

Meanwhile, Stevie Goertzen has been sent down to Syracuse, and who will come up in his place? Geoff Platt! Platt hasn't been up with the CBJ since the second game of the season, which was a 5-4 win over the Blackhawks back in early October. He scored no points in two games, had one penalty, and was a -1. But even so, I've felt all along that the team should have given Platt more time in Columbus at the start, considering he was the most productive Jacket during the pre-season. I have a soft spot for Platt and the fact he was an undrafted signing by the Jackets last year.

Maybe he can instill a little youthful energy into this team, the likes of which we haven't seen in weeks.

Go Jackets!

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Blue Jackets: 2 ... Predators: 4 (or the day the CBJ blogosphere fell silent)

Sunday, November 19, 2006
I can't be the only one who noticed that not a single one of the CBJ bloggers out there -- including myself -- has posted on Saturday night's loss to the Predators. Herring, Drew and Truth, or Tyler. Though I guess the other four might be busy celebrating something positive, like the Ohio State victory over the hated Michigan Wolverines, right?

Incidentally, does anyone wonder how a team like the Blue Jackets manages to have five devoted bloggers, while regularly victorious teams like the Devils, Predators, or Lightning are lucky to have just one (now none that I know of for the Preds with Predguy's possibly permanent hiatus)? I guess you could say this is one great example of how the fans in Columbus are some of the best: that so many people are devoted to a team that's about as bad as that girlfriend or boyfriend you had that keeps leading you along by a dangling carrot.

That, or Columbus is filled with masochists. I'm leaning towards the latter.

I watched the game on and off, pretty much throwing my hands in the air and muting the television after the end of the 2nd period. I never would have imagined I'd hate Jason Arnott so much after all he did to help the Devils win a Stanley Cup in 2000-2001. But here I am, shaking my fist and hoping that he'll rue the day he made a mockery of the Blue Jackets with two goals on Saturday night. Not that he needed to mock them or anything; the Blue Jackets have self-mockery down pretty well at the moment.

Pascal Leclaire was once again left high and dry, and boy you could just see how angry he got with every goal he let in. If he was Marc Denis, he probably would have broken his stick by the third goal. Only one goal really seemed to beat the guy cleanly, and that was a slapper from the circle. The others were flat out defensive failures that Leclaire couldn't do anything to rectify. At least the team wasn't shut out.

You can thank one of the only bright spots on the team for that: Dan Fritsche. And then Fedorov also got a goal. It's actually pretty depressing. After I saw the score was 4-2, I kept the game muted and watched a little more intently. And you could see that the team was practically buzzing with that same desperation they showed last season during that come from behind win against Detroit that all CBJ fans know and will forever remember.

But desperation and last minute heroics won't always work, and when you're down four goals, even in this faster-paced and offensive-minded NHL, you'll probably end up on the losing end of the game if that's the difference leading in to the third period.

Well, chin up, I guess. This week we hopefully find out who the new head coach of this aimlessly drifting team is. Though the news out of sources like James Mirtle leaves me a little pessimistic, with concerns about whether or not a guy like Kenny Hitchcock would even come to Columbus, let alone wants to.

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Game #18: Blue Jackets at Predators

Saturday, November 18, 2006
Columbus Blue Jackets (5-11-1)

at

Nashville Predators (11-4-2)


I've seriously got a headache the size of the mean streak in my last post. I walked 40 minutes to Lenox Town Center (Columbusians know where that is), then 40 minutes back, since I knew getting a ride there or some other mode of transportation would've taken even longer. Why? Because of some big football game. Apparently it's the game of the century against these two random teams. I hear there's been a lot of hype about all of it. I don't even know their names!

I really got nothing to say on tonight's Blue Jackets/Predators game, though. I mean, just how much can you harp and snark on a team until it just becomes redundant? It's especially difficult when they don't do anything, either. All I can really think to say is ...

a) Please stop trying to do so many things on your own, Zherdev.
b) For the love of God, just score a goal tonight.
c) Please give the goalies some support. Their own mistakes notwithstanding, they're still being totally left for dead by the team.

With that, I'm off to pop some Aleve and watch the rest of the Buckeyes / Wolverines game. I might not like football, but the energy around here is just too contagious to try and ignore. So with that, I leave you with the best "Without sports ..." commercial ever, especially considering today's game:



Rah, rah, Go Jackets, etc. etc.

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Blue Jackets: 0 ... Avalanche: 3

Friday, November 17, 2006
It burns us, preciousssss! Burns usssssss!

I'm starting to learn a lot about how I handle a horrible team I put a lot of energy and devotion into after the past two seasons with the Blue Jackets. Like I mentioned in posts long ago, I grew up in New Jersey and up until around the lock-out, was a devout follower of Lou Lamoriello and the Devils. "In Lou We Trust", neutral-zone trap, legendary goalies, three Stanley Cups in nine years, and so on and so forth.

So you get used to winning. Even if it bores you to death, like the Devils would do for those last two Cups, you still enjoy knowing that the playoffs are pretty much a lock.

What are the Blue Jackets supposed to do? Nothing is going right. Why isn't Doug MacLean fired yet? Everyone is clamoring for GMDM's head on a pike in Columbus, and yet the McConnells and the rest of the ownership seem content to let him twist in the wind, and as a result let the Blue Jackets continue to do so by association. Why aren't fans getting angry at the ownership for taking this long to do something about this hole that's been dug? How many General Managers would have lasted this long, even with the free pass of the CBJ being an expansion team, which has now long expired?

I don't know. Maybe my anger is misguided. But to tell you the truth, I hear very little rage towards ownership. Part of it might be that while they seem to have made a horribly fatal error in keeping GMDM around so long, their intentions are noble and they really want to see this team thrive. If I had to make an analogy, I'd say this smacks of the recent elections here in the U.S., where slick Dick Cheney (GMDM) seemed to have all the right words to keep his power and also keep friends such as Donald Rumsfeld (Gerard Gallant) in power, while George W. Bush (ownership) naively went along with things until the voters (CBJ fans) called them all out with a referendum.

The analogy is pretty slipshod, but it still illustrates my point: ownership has been too naive to GMDM's pure and utter failings, and doesn't seem to have the stomach to kick the guy out.

Ever since I arrived in Columbus and started to pick up on the Jackets, something that always stood out to me was the "friendly" atmosphere that the team seems to have. I can't put my finger on it, but to sum things up, I'd say that the whole team and management is just plain soft. That's the best word I can use to describe why nothing seems to be done around here. Management is too busy double talking and trying to appeal to fans with regular interviews and radio shows, players are too busy being chummy with one another, and ownership is afraid to do anything extremely drastic or take any real risks with an organization shake-up.

You want to win? Then stop being so fu-- ... gosh-darn soft. What the Hell does this team have to lose? They're last in the division, the conference, and the league! When you hit rock bottom, you have all the ability in the world to start trying something different, which this team needs to do.

Bench Nash. Fire GMDM. Bench Foote. Put the Pepsi Patrol on the roster and replace Pascal Leclaire with the freaking Mongolian BBQ mascot out on the concourse. I don't care! Just do something!

This rant was brought to you by the number 3.141592653... and the letter Ж.

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Game #17: Blue Jackets vs. Avalanche

Columbus Blue Jackets (5-10-1)

vs.

Colorado Avalanche (7-9-2)


Dear Hockey Gods,

I don't like what you gave me for my birthday yesterday. You made sure Chicago, Phoenix,
and Nashville all got points yesterday, even though two of those teams (CHI/PHX) were facing each other? Can I return this gift for a refund? Please?

Sincerely,
M.T.

P.S. The Philadelphia
Flyer gift card you attached to said present was also very distasteful.

So, yeah. The Blue Jackets now sit 15th in the Western Conference after
last night's SO win by the lowly Coyotes, and even further behind the Blackhawks in the division after their loss still potted them a point. To add insult to injury, the Philadelphia Flyers then somehow stormed back from 2 goals down in the 3rd period against the Kings for a 4-3 regulation win, dropping the CBJ to 30th in the league.

But, hey. At least Rick Nash is now scoring, right? Let's hope he is able to score a little more when the Avalanche come to Nationwide Arena. I'd originally been planning to go to this game, but a run-in with overdue cable fees has sidelined me at home for the rest of the day and squashed my birthday treat. Man, when it rains it really does pour, doesn't it?

The Avalanche aren't exactly playing any better than the Jackets are so far this month, going 2-5, including the 5-3 backhanding they gave the CBJ at the start of the month. They're currently in the throes of a 4-game losing streak, which honestly scares me a little, since teams like the Avalanche -- even during a harder season like this -- don't usually go in to losing stretches like this that much longer before they stomp on an unsuspecting team (see: Blue Jackets).

This will be Gary Agnew's second game as interim head coach, and from the looks of it, he has at least a week or two before a new coach is ushered in. The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Kenny Hitchcock will be interviewed next week, meaning Agnew has at least two more games after this one (both against Nashville) to make a name for himself. Or at the very least get the Blue Jackets back on track. Seriously, if he can just eke out a 1-1-2 record, then at least they'll be making some headway despite the rather cumbersome search for a new, more permanent head coach. It's pretty bad when you're asking for a record like that on a 4-games-in-6-nights schedule in the middle of November.

If Agnew can show people that Wednesday's offensive output was not just emotional backlash and fervor from the Gallant firing and help the team pot a good few goals two games in a row, I'll start backing him up for staying with the organization. As it stands, you never know whether or not a new coach will want to bring in their own team or not, so even if the writing is already on the wall for Agnew's chances as a more permanent head coach, he still has to show some coaching prowess to impress whoever comes in to take the main job.

The good guys
End of the Bench
The Jacket Times

The not-so-good-guys
Jerseys and Hockey Love
The Post-Pessimist Association

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Blue Jackets: 4 ... Predators: 5

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CRAAAWWWLLLIING IIIIN MY SKIIIIIIN!
THESE WOOOOUNDS THEY DOOOOOO NOT HEEEAAAAALLLLL~!


Sorry, Drew. I just had to after tonight's game, even though you told me not to bring back any Linkin Park to C-Bus. Any Blue Jackets' fan who isn't totally emo after coming back and taking the lead twice, only to blow it all twice -- the last time with about 8 minutes to go -- has most likely totally numbed themselves.

(Sidenote: Oh God! I can't stop laughing the moment they bust out in that trademark chorus! It's like no matter how hard I try to keep a straight face, I keel over in stitches. At least I feel better now.)

What to say, what to say. Jeez, I don't even know where to begin. I feel like my head is in a vice and a blender at the exact same time. Don't ask about the physics behind such a thing, as you'll just get a vacant stare if I had to explain how this feels or if that is even possible.

What did I say in my last post? That the offense was pathetic yet the defense had been pretty damn good and the goaltending was around the average/above average end of things? You know, maybe I should say both things suck, and see if that results in a 7-0 thrashing of the Avalanche this Thursday, right?

Yeah, wishful thinking. Anyway.

I guess there's really just a few things I can say about all of this, when it comes down to it. First? Don't call for Gary Agnew's head, CBJ fans. He had all of one practice and one day to pull a totally lost and disheveled team together after Gallant was dropped off the edge of a cliff by the ownership, and MacLean. In all honesty, who here thought Agnew would be able to will this team to a win? Come on, be honest. At that, who thought he could do something to make the offense actually spark itself?

I still don't think Agnew is the best guy for a head coach position. And I probably won't have enough time to decide for myself if he is the guy for it, or if we want to go with the flow of media speculation which states Hitchcock is the top candidate. I do hope Agnew continues to stay on as the head of the power play, if only because except for the recent few games, it has been good and shown solid effort, as I mentioned in the last entry and pointing out the current ranking in that department the CBJ have.

Besides coaching, how about Rick Nash, right? Two goals and an assist, after being largely lethargic, frustrated, and unable to do much of anything for the past month. He really got down and dirty tonight, doing all he could to get in people's faces and slam that puck right in to the net when he had the opportunity. That is the Rick Nash we want to see here in Columbus; someone who isn't afraid to bang around and use that big body to send people to the wayside.

But ... what's happened to Pascal Leclaire lately? It's actually really frustrating and upsetting to see him struggle the way he has been lately. Earlier in the season, many people -- including myself -- were quick to defend Pazzy, as a lot of times the defense left him hanging in so many ways. Even though the defense has been better on paper and statistically as of the past few games, they still let him down at several times, including odd man rushes and a shorthanded goal. But those issues aside, he struggled tonight. And he has been struggling for a little while now. Maybe he is just trying way too hard? I know if I was in his position I'd feel that way, since the team in front of him has had all sorts of trouble giving him goal support, among other things. And tonight when they finally give him that support, he just isn't on his game. It's very frustrating, and really makes you get angry.

In a manner of speaking, while one part of the Blue Jackets 'body' wants to go to the right, the other wants to go to the left. If the defense is working hard, the offense slacks ... and vice versa at other times.

Back to the old drawing board before Thursday rolls around, I guess. Let's see just how long Agnew has to run this team before he's chased back to assistant coach (or worse) if the team doesn't win on the 17th.

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Game #16: Blue Jackets vs. Predators

Columbus Blue Jackets (5-9-1)

vs.

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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Fired coaches, and drunken hirings!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Still in New Jersey! And still enjoying myself, even though I just found out the news that ol' Gerard Gallant was given the pink slip yesterday. Poor sod ... he's the kind of guy who you like, but you just should not give the reigns to something important (such as coaching an NHL team).

I'm sort of groggy this morning after a long night, and being on "vacation" still, I'm just here to let everyone know that I am indeed alive, and I will be back in Columbus on Wednesday morning, in time to jump in to the thick of things for the game against Nashville that evening.

While I am here, though, I decided to do something a little silly with what will probably happen with the current vacant coaching position for the Blue Jackets (unless you count Agnew's interim position as sufficient). Yes, I am totally ripping off Sherry from Scarlett Ice here ... but I'm on a borrowed laptop I'm totally not used to (mine's broke and in the shop for another week to two weeks), and so I can't exactly make anything myself (this touchpad is killing me!). Here's hoping she doesn't get mad. :D

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And with that, I'm out like Paul Kariya after that hit in the 2002 2003 (thanks, ES!) Stanley Cup Finals (I so didn't mean the joke in a mean-spirited way. Explanation within my own comments ... though now I feel pretty lame. :-/ ).

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About Me


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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