Thursday, November 20, 2008

the beat goes on

Now the Flames, after giving up 6 goals in 3 of their last 5 games, decide that they can play defense against the Avs.

They have looked downright '04 like with the way theyhave shut the Avs down. I was biting my nails and pulling out my (chest) hair (funny on a couple levels if you know me) in the 4-1 win on Tuesday. In case you didn;t wath, the Flames directed 90+ shots at the Avs net in a 60 minute game. 51 were on net, 25 were blocked and the rest missed. This is not including the three posts they hit. After 1, 1-0 Avs, after 2, 1-1. The Flames finally got a goal with about 7 minutes left, got an empty netter by Iginla and a PP goal by Boyd, in that order, in the lat minute to make Budaj's night look way worse than it was, which is to say the best performance I hve seen by a goalie this year.

Tonight a, 1-0, shut down road game.

Shades of '04...... until the next BIG slump.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

New year, same team

Okay, it has been 15 and most of an ugly 16th game and I think it is safe to say that despite the changes the Flames made, the results are no different than last year.

To review, this team started 1-3-1 and Miikka Kiprusoff was at his early season craptacular best, his GAA hovering over 4.00 and his save percentage well below the .900 level. The Flames then rattle off 6 straight wins, most of them in dominating fashion. Kiprusoff's numbers were down in pre-lockout territory during this stretch. As I write, barring a miracle of gigantic proportion (down 5-1 with 6 minutes left to the Hawks), the Flames will have lost 4 of their last 5 and their record a very familiar 8-7-1. Not good enough to be considered anything but an annoyance, not bad enough for them to be completely witten off, and frustating as all hell for the fans.

I'd like to note that I am not of the opinion that Kiprusoff is the main reason the Flames win or lose most games, rather his numbers are reflective of how the team in front of him plays. For example, anyone who did not watch this game tonight would think Kiprusoff had a bad game, yet he has made amny spectacular saves and the Hawks could really have 10 goals. The Flames have been THAT bad.

On nights when things are going well, the Flames truly look like they can be serious Cup contenders. Nights like these last two, you wonder how they even win games.

I do not believe that the talent level is lacking, in fact I would argue that on paper there are not many teams in the NHL that can compare man for man. So what does that leave? It has been 3 plus seasons since the Flames magical run in 2004, when they won games on effort and strong team defense. Every year since then, this team has gotten more offensively talented and seems to have forgotten more and more what made them a team that was a controversial non reviewed goal away from being Stanley Cup champions.

Keep in mind this team has seen three head coaches during this time. Darryl Sutter coached them following the lockout. He felt he had lost the team, so he promoted Jim Playfair to take over. That did not work, so he brought in his old buddy Mike Keenan and the results have been similar. What has stayed the same are the assistant coaches. How has it not occurred that maybe it's time to scrap the guys who the players get most of the messages from? Mike Keenan is more of a motivational/head game coach, not much in the way of X' and O's. Instead they listen to Rich Preston, Jim Playfair and company. Is that really enough to coax the effort needed from this team to play consistantly?

I think the Flames are running out of options and if that doesn't work, you either clean house in the front office, GM + Head Coach, or you make a BIG time roster shake-up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What the hell is going on?

So I sat through "Zherdev fest" on Friday where the Jackets played one solid period then let the Rags beat them to every loose puck and couldn't win a battle in the corner at all.

On to Minnesota where we let the referees decide the game...and the referees and the NHL are never going to take Columbus's side in Minnesota. Between Wes Walz and goal after inconclusive evidence, we have to have a two goal lead in the last minute to get a win up there.

Then tonight. Beat the shit out of the Ducklings all over the ice for 50 minutes, then just give up and lose 3-2 at home. Home in front of about 8,000 fans...nobody showed up. You need wins, points, and fans and decide to play part of a game. The best players on the ice were rookies...Brassard, Vorachek, and Methot. The veterans gave up. We paid Commodore a huge contract to be a leader and teach the team to win tough games. Um, money well spent so far...

This is beyond annoying. This team should be pissed off after what happened in Minny, but they weren't. They don't care, and we're not even 10 games into the season. I can't wait for the rest of the season if this is how it's going to go...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

WTF happened to the Jackets defense??

You can't tell me Ron Hainsey and Dick Tarnstrom were the difference between responsible defense and giving up 21 goals in the first 5 games, including 3 shorties. Team defense was the strength of the team a year ago, but it appears to be the biggest weakness of the team right now. There seems to be a lot of scrambling and losing track of people in our own zone. Too much overplaying? Overcompensating? WTF is going with these guys.

In the meantime, our goalies are looking like crap. I'm sure there are many fans looking at the boxscores and ready to hang the goalies. Some of it is warranted, but 21 goals through 5 games points to way more than goaltending.

What blows is we're finally scoring some goals, almost a goal per game better than a year ago. But, in giving up waaaaay more than a goal a game than we did a year ago, all that offense is buried underneath the shitty defense.

Hitch is known for his defense, and I'm confident he'll get it turned around, but when? How much longer do we watch Klesla and Tyutin struggle in our end? Maybe it's time to put Klesla and Hejda back together, they excelled late last season. Let Commodore and Tyutin make things happen as a pair.

The upside is Kris Russell looks to have matured nicely. The kid is playing great, not tenative at all, and is moving the puck like a 10 year veteran. But, again, overshadowed by all the gaffes his teammates are making.

Hitch has a couple days to get things moving in the right direction before the Canucks are here, followed by the league leading Rangers and a certain Russian kid I'm sure will be ready to put on a show on Friday.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And so the season is under way...

OK, I'm a bit late to the party. We were in Florida for a week, so I didn't see any of the Jackets first three games. I read all I could on my phone, but that's not the same as watching. So, my first look was last night at home vs. the Preds. Some quick thoughts...

- Holy shit, where is all this offense coming from? I like it, keep it up.

- What the...where'd our defense go? I'm sure it will get there - it's what Hitch does - but would the Fedor Tyutin from the preseason please report to the regular season?

So, we're 2-2, have played some iffy defense, and have taken down Dallas and Nashville. Not bad, but I'm greedy, I want more. Kindly take down the Preds again tonight, boys, and I'll be happier.

Speaking of last night's game, Freddy Modin was an animal last night. I know Nasher's two goals, and captain status, pretty much gave him the #1 star, but Modin was outstanding and maybe should have gotten it himself. He was a one man wrecking crew in the Preds zone last night, hope to see more of that as the season goes along.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Charity Event in London Ontario

The recent London Knights alumni had a skills competition and 4 on 4 game here tonight. Why am I telling you about it you ask? Well, Rick Nash and Marc Methot of the Blue Jackets and Brandon Prust of the Flames were involved.

Here's a list of the 25 players who were there, and their current affiliations, just to show you the kind players that the Knights seem to always find and develop:

Rick Nash - CBJ
Corey Perry - Anaheim
Patrick Kane - Chicago
Sam Gagner - Edmonton
Chris Kelly - Ottawa
Dan Girardi - NYR
Dennis Wideman - Boston
Brandon Prust - Calgary
Kyle Quincey - Detroit
Marc Methot - Ottawa
Chris Kelly - Ottawa
Krys Barch - Dallas
Dan Jancevski - Dallas
David Bolland - Chicago
Rob Schremp - Edmonton
Adam Dennis - Buffalo
Bryan Rodney - Carolina
Alex Henry - Montreal
Gerald Coleman - Anaheim
Danny Syvret - Philadelphia
Dylan Hunter - Buffalo
Drew Larman - Florida
Rob Drummond - signed with Lake Erie, is property of Colorado
Trevor Kell - drafted by Chicago, playing in the ECHL
A.J. Perry - free agent, been to 3 NHL camps, played in Memorial Cup this past year )Corey's brother)

The night started off with a skills competition. Rick Nash was captaining Team White and raced in the relay race. Basically just a sprint down the ice and through pylons on the way back. Nas has great agility but as we all know he is not the fastest skater. He didn't hurt his team as they won.

Nash looks even bigger. The guy is ripped.

Marc Methot was involved in the hardest shot and finished around 4th or 5th. Dan Girardi won with a shot at 150km/h or just over 93MPH. Dennis Wideman was 2nd.

Brandon Prust looked faster than I've ever seen him in the relay, bodes well since he signed a two year, one way deal with the Flames. He also scored two beauties in the 4 on 4.

The 4 on 4 game was about what you'd expect. Team Black won 16-8 in two 30 minute non stop time periods. Nash played hard for the first period, but "played D" the rest of the night, basically floating around and pretending to care about stopping the oncoming 3 on 1.

Some other notes:

- former Wild captain (who hasn't been a Wild captain) Alex Henry scored two of his teams 3 goals (the goalies were awesome), including one after captain Rick Nash chose him to go first in sudden death, LOL.

- Rob Schremp still has awesome moves but still will never be more than a tease. I called this long before he was drafted in junior. A few things I noticed. Every player came out and stretched out and looked like they were preparing for hockey, Schremp was off in one zone practising his lacrosse move. He took slapshots from the hash marks in the 4 on 4 which I'm sure the goalies loved. He's still a hotdog. So glad the Flames did not draft this clown.

- I wish Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner could have played one more year together in London, or at least end up on the same team sometime in their career. These two are unbelievable together. Sam Gagner, as much as I'll hate it, Gagner is going to be a star.

- Danny Syvret should get a shot in Philly. The guy just knows how to play. Not sure why he didn't get much of a shot in Mulletville (Edmonton).

- Wings fans should enjoy Kyle Quincey for years to come.

- Adam Dennis was outstanding in net, Gerald Coleman, not so much. Who is Buffalo's back-up? Dennis may get a shot this year.

- Chris Kelly is fast! I honestly never realized that he has played 243 games in the NHL already. Wow.

- I miss hockey

Friday, July 11, 2008

The dust has cleared...

Well, I think the dust has cleared...

The moves by GM Scott Howson have been pretty well noted, but a quick recap...

Added R.J. Umberger, Mike Commodore, Christian Bachman, Fedor Tyutin, and Kristian Huselius. Gone are Gilbert Brule, Danny Fritsche, and the enigmatic Nikki Zherdev. Still around are Mike Peca and Hitch.

My opinion is we are definitely a stronger club, especially on the back end. Down the middle we're better than we were a year ago, even if R.J. has to move up to play on the top line with Nash, and most likely Huselius.

What the moves didn't really do for me was get me excited about how many goals we're going to score. I still feel we're a player or two short in the scoring department, and shipping off Zherdev put a big blow to that goal total. Especially considering the move netted two mid-range defensemen.

On the blue line, Howson didn't net the big, numer one, puck-moving, power-play-quarter-backing defenseman. We lost Hainsey, who wasn't that guy - and in my opinion iffy in our own zone at best - but didn't really add a guy who put the puck on net like Ronny. Overall the blue line is upgraded, and should be getting the puck out of our zone. Nashville pulled the whole "overhaul the blueline" thing a few years ago, and it worked pretty well for them. And they found Kimmo Timmonen in the process.

Even though we didn't get the big #1 d-man, and are still a scorer short, I still can't help but get exicted about the upcoming season. First off, I'm a fan, so there's always some hope in the offseason.

First of all I'm excited for this season because Howson and Hitch seem to be building an actual team rather a collection of individuals. One by one, Howson's moves make you scratch your head, especially the Zherdev one. But, the overall result is going to be a stronger defensive team, and a team more committed to playing the system Hitchcock has in place. So, while there is much dissention on message boards, we don't know how the team will fare on the ice this fall at all. This is the most change any of us have seen to the line up since we participated in the expansion draft.

Secondly, we look to have two or three rookies coming in that aren't being rushed, that have the playmaking ability that made them top draft picks, and won't have the deer in the headlights look on their face all season. Brassard looks to be a lock at center at this point, and it's three years after he was drafted, so he's got some seasoning. He's also got about 15 more pounds on him since we saw him in January. Add Voracek to the mix, and possibly even Filatov, and could the Jackets be this year's version of the Kane and Toews show in Chicago last year? From a fan stand point, it's about our turn, isn't it?

The slow time of the offseason is almost upon us, so things will drag. But once again, for the umpteenth summer in a row, I'm again looking forward to what happens on the ice in September.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Big Night for the Jackets

One year ago today, I was downtown at the R-Bar getting ready to go into a packed Nationwide Arena and watch brand new GM Scott Howson stride to the podium. It was the beginning of the change that we're all thirsting for in Columbus.

Now, a year later, Scott has positioned himself nicely to make a big change. Two first round picks to work with, and maybe even a couple of players to move. Tomorrow is here for us, and barring big moves on July 1, tonight could be the single biggest day in Columbus NHL history since Bettman stood downtown and awarded us the franchise.

Personally, I'm more excited for this draft than I was the one a year ago. So much could change for us tonight. Stay tuned in Jacketland!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

So Long, Mr, Mac

The NHL, and more specifically the Blue Jackets, lost a great member of their family yesterday with the passing of John H. McConnell. As every Jacket fan knows, without Mr. Mac there are no Blue Jackets. The number of standing ovations he received pales in comparison to what he did for Columbus, though he would always shrug off the compliments. These are the types of things you can read in the Dispatch and elsewhere.

For my blog I can recount the one time I met Mr. McConnell.

It was March of 2001, the Jackets were working their way through their inaugural season and were in Tampa to play the Lightning. Wendy and I had timed a trip south to spend a week with my dad so we could take in a Jackets road game. When walking into the game, we happened to see John H. and his son John P. walking in to the arena. They weren't too close to us, but did see us and pointed at our jerseys and waved at us.

When we took our seats, we noticed that the visiting owners box was right at the top of our section. Between the first and second period, we walked up and Wendy said, "I have to say hi to Mr. McConnell." And so she did. She stopped and introduced herself, but as soon as she finished he thanked us for traveling "all this way" to see the Jackets on the road. He was genuinely happy to see fans of his team on the road, and proceeded to talk to my wife for a few more minutes. It was an amazing experience, and one that confirms all the things you've read or will read in the paper over coming days.

You will be missed, Mr. Mac.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Battle for 6th

First of all, losing games against your top two hated rivals on back to back nights where you had a chance to: a) basically sew up the division and; b)basically kill those rivals' playoff hopes, does not bide well for your playoff chances.

With the division all but out of Calgary's hands due to them crapping the bed against their two biggest rivals, the race is on to finish 6th and face the almost assuredly Minnesota's (2 points for them or the Flames missing two, and only point for them or the Avs missing one gets it done). As I stated last week, the Flames match up best against them, and at this point are the only team I think that Calgary stands a chancde of advancing against in the first round. However, if that does happen and the Flames advance, all bets are off for two reasons. One is that this team plays much better when they are confident and winnign a series does that for a team. Second, and almost as important is that since 1986 any time the Flames have won a first round series, they have gone to the Stanley Cup finals. Granted that's only 3 times, but still impressive nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Flames playoff preferences

I held off on posting this, as the dogfight in the NW divison has made me, however, with a big come form behind victory tonight over Vancouver, the Flames would have to completely fall on their face, and get some help to miss the playoffs. Without further ado, here is my preferred order of opponents and why.

1. Win the division. Home ice advantage is the biggest reason, obviously. The Saddledome is loud and the Flames have almost always been a far better home team than road team. It took a while this season but since January have only lost twice in regulation on home ice. Plus they would likely play the NW division #2 providing Dallas doesn't continue their free fall.

2. Finish 6th. This loses home ice advantage, but damn near assures they will play the NW Divison champ. I would take my chances against any NW Divison rather than play any other Western Conference team with a realistic shot at the playoffs. In order of who I'd like to see most, it goes, Minnesota (Flames dominate them easily), Edmonton (still young, and may run out of gas should they make it), Vancouver (series could go either way, but Flames have more depth and scoring), Colorado (they have the Flames number, the refs seem to side witht he Avs, I know they don't really, and Sakic, save the last two games, lights the Flames up).

3. At this point 7th is almost assuredly San Jose. The Flames match up well against them and it will come down to intangibles. Thornton hasn't really done much in the playoffs, and San Jose always seems to be missing something on what should be an elite squad.

4. The only way I see the Flames facing Dallas is if they take the division and the free-falling Stars get passed by Minnesota (or Vancouver, but that seems less likely after tonight) and finishes 6th. Dallas, despite losing a lot lately, scares me. Turco beats the Flames in his sleep and the Stars can batton down the hatches with the best of them when they need to. Also, this would be the least entertaining of any possible match-up. See last year''s series against Vancouver for reference.

5. 8th and playing Detroit. I know the Wings made the Flames look silly last playoffs, and only the play of Kiprusoff saved the Flames any kind of face. I see a tougher, more veteran Flames team, even if they are incosistent, giving Detroit a better run this time around should it occur. The Wings still scare the bejesus out of me, since when they are on, it doesn't matter how hard you hit them, they find a way. However, it says here that Detroit will not even make the finals for the same reason as years past. They just aren't tough enough to enudre three Western Conference teams who know that they will eventually wear down when you pound them game in, game out.

6. Calagry does not match up well against Anaheim at all. That little prick Corey Perry (who I was a fan of when he played here in London) gets under the whole teams' skin. Getzlaf scores and creates chances like they are going out of style against the Flames. The Michelin man, oops I mean J.S. Giguere, is dam n near unbeatable against the Flames most nights, though when they do get to him, as they did two years ago, at least Bryzgalov isn't there to pick up the pieces. Chris Pronger is a complete douche, but he is one of the few d-men in the league who I could see shutting down Iginla for a series. If that happens, good night Irene. The should be MVP of the league carries the Flames.

I think that about covers it. Just so you know, I am not proof reading this so deal with it. I am on my 6th rye and Coke and it's 12:40....6:00am will come early.

What ever happened to interference?

I'm not talking about the kind where a guy taps the puck carrier on the hip with his stick and gets a penalty. We see a couple of those every game! I'm talking the good old fashioned kind that Gary Bettman and the NHL wanted to get rid of, the kind where the puck carrier chips the puck by and gets held up by the defender thus allowing his partner to gather the puck. It is not called anymore unless your name is Anders Eriksson and you are stupid enough to throw the guys to the ice while impeding his progress.

Shouldn't the tap be let go and the actual interference that effects the play be the one called?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The end is upon us...

Since Day 1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets, David Vyborny has ranked as my favorite Jacket. Nasher has moved into that slot, but V-man has always been right there. I still proudly wear my first season #9 to games, complete with signature on the back.


I think tonight in Montreal has a very good chance of being the end of the Vyborny era in Columbus. Given his play this season, the fickle fan would say, "About time!!" However, this guy holds a number of records for the Jackets, and shouldn't be allowed to just leave without some kind of acknowledgment.

David has definitely faded into the background this season, and that's too bad. From scoring the second goal in Jackets history to his turnaround backhander against the Broons last season, he's been a staple of Jackets hockey since the beginning. First to show, last to go...

So, if this is David's last game as a Jacket, this fan will pull for him wherever he lands. He's quietly amassed a pretty good resume here, and captained his native Czech team more than once. Even with only three goals this season, you will be missed, David.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The 5 things the Flames need to win the Cup!

I will preface this by saying if they get three of these, they have a great chance. They get four, odds on favourite, all five and you can hand them the Cup. Of course, this is true for many team sin the parity striken NHL. Anyway, here we go:

1) Better PP - I don't know if there is a worse team on the 5 on 3 than the Flames. I can't remember the last time that they scored on the 5 on 3. Not sure what the problem is, even on 5 on 4 for that matter. They have Aucoin and Phaneuf on the point, then your choice of Langkow or Conroy at C, Iginla or Nolan at RW and Huselius or Tanguay on LW. WTF? This team should light it up on the PP. Nope, they suck.

2) Better PK - Same deal here, on paper, they have a solid if not top defensive core, yet they rarel play like that. They have spped up front with Lombardi, Moss or Boyd. They have veteran defensive guys like Yelle, Primeau and Nilson. They have others who have played well on the PK in their career like Warrener, Nolan and Conroy, yet the only PK'er that has been good consistantly this year is Tanguay, in a position that he would rather not have.

3) A #1 centre - This is not a knock on Langkow as he is probably in the top 15, if not at least the top 20 as a #1 C, but he is better at, and likely better suited at, #2 centre. In fact, he would be the best #2 centre in the league, IMO. So, get Sundin, get Jokinen, get Hossa and make Iginla or Hossa play centre.

4) Better 1st periods - I am not a mathmatician anymore, I was good at it in University, but I have drank those brain cells away but being -12 or -13 in the season thus far amounts to many 1st periods down or tied against an opponent. Yes the Flames are a pretty good comeback team, dman near .500 when trailing after the 1st (which is amazing) but it happes far too often. This will not work in the playoffs when goals are harder to come by, the penalties are fewer and the play tightens up.

5) Kipper starts winning the odd game himself - You used to be able to count on Miikka winning a game or 4 a month. If Kipper were to steal a game a series or even 3 games on a run, I would take Calgary's chances to win very seriously.

This team is good to very good, but too streaky to really get anywhere. They need more consistency. I really believe that getting one front line C can fix 3 to 4 of these problems. The Flames have a small window here before their top guys get too old, or the cap goes down and they end up in financial hell, to win and satisfy the rabid Calgary fans and the expectations that seem to follow this sometimes great, sometimes well below mediocore team.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

DOOOOWN the stretch they come

In the days following Nasher getting hosed out of being the MVP of the All-Star Game, a number of things have transpired for the Jackets...

- "We're still in it!" has been through the press a number of times. Prior to dropping two straight to teams we're "in it" with, the Jackets were sitting 9th in a virtual tie.

- Jody Shelley got moved to the Sharks.

- Dick Tarnstrom was acquired for the blue line at the cost of Glencross.

- Pascal Leclaire looked human in Nashville.

The Jackets are still in it, more in it than they've been in their brief history. However, the two points looming against the Wild in Nationwide tonight are getting bigger as the game approaches. Can't afford to drop 3 games, or you'll be fighting to get back in it rather than staying in it. No Modin and no Feds won't help, but the rest of the boys in blue have showed they can step up and play in the absence of some of the vets.

Moving of Jody kind of came as a surprise. Him being scratched often wasn't a big surprise, but him not on the roster is a surprise. The guy meant a lot to the team and the community, so hopefully he returns when his NHL days are done. For now, he'll likely get a shot at some playoff games and provide the Sharks with some "punch." Best of luck to the big guy, and hopefully he gets enough games to earn his retirement package from the union.

The acquisition of Tarnstrom yesterday was a bit of a head scratcher. Again, not shocking, just didn't really see it coming. Glenncross, while fun to watch, is AnyNHLer on the 3rd line. He's solid, but not a standout. He'll fit in nicely in Edmonton, maybe even give the sagging Oilers a lift. Tarnstrom brings some puck moving, power play ability to the blue line for the Jackets. The question now: Is a blue liner on the move for the Jackets? Stay tuned.

Leclaire had a real downer against the Preds, but a few of his teammates joined him. Seriously, can we just put a beating on the Preds already? We'd ice the Western Conference All-Stars in Jacket jerseys against the Preds, and the Preds would get every bounce, call, and goal in the game. I'm sick of losing to these guys, especially now that they're no longer head and shoulders better than we are.

With 29 games remaining, the Jackets sit 2 points out of 8th place. Not unattainable by any stretch, but the wins are going to have to come to keep pace. Especially when you consider that the two losses this week are now ahead of us in the standings.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Can't take the All-Star fiasco

I was watching...and not really enjoying...the skills competition last night, when they cut to an interview with Scott Neidermeyer. Scott told us during that interview that the All-Star weekend is, "a nice break in the middle of the season." Um, Scott, you've played 19 whole games. You didn't even start playing until the middle of the season, you need a break already? Maybe you shouldn't have un-retired if you're that worn out by this point.

Toss in Leclaire-gate, and is the point of the All-Star game to showcase the games' current stars, or the stars the NHL thinks should be stars? Neidermeyer getting added after Zubov went down is supposed to be rewarding him for his career as an all-star. OK, then why not take Sergei Fedorov? Mike Modano? Mats Sundin? Rob Blake? I mean, is it this season's all-stars or isn't it?

I understand it's an exhibition, and one that's gotten less entertaining over recent years. It's more of a pond-hockey-embarass-the-goalies type event than a "game." I'm fine with that aspect, but let's at least reward the guys who have survived and excelled the first half of the grind that is the NHL season.

There are two guys getting much needed rest right now rather than hamming it up in Atlanta which they're first half outputs say they should be doing: Brian Rafalski and Pascal Leclaire. Rafalski doesn't really need the rest to propel the Wings into the playoffs, but the days off could help Leclaire push the Jackets into the top 8.

Oh, yeah, the skills competition from last night, I only have one thing to comment on: Artistic merit has zero place in hockey. The rest of the skills comp went downhill from there.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Trade winds blowing

The Calgary Flames are in a unique position in that they believe they have a Stanley Cup contender this year, but they are in a position to remain a good team for years to come. Kiprusoff, Iginla and Regehr are all locked up, at a discount, for the next 5 years. That is great, but they have glue guys such as Langkow, and to a lesser extent Conroy, coming up for unrestricted free agency. Kristian Huselius, who has been Iginla's best sidekick this season, is also up for UFA and is due a big raise. This is all without mentioning that satring all-star defenseman Dion Phaneuf is a restricted free agent at the end of the year and will no doubt be looking for at least a 5 year, likely towards a 10 year, contract.

So what to do? Well, right now, the Flames have enough cap space to bring anybody in to help with this year. The media up here is almost trying to talk the Flames into trading for Sundin. A line of Iginla, Huselius and Sundin would be near unstoppable. The Flames are also rumoured to be following Peter Forsberg's situation closely, though I can't see him choosing Calgary over Colorado, Nashville, Vancouver or (gulp) Detroit. If either of these guys are picked up, look for Sutter to add a depth d-man, a la Adam Foote (if the Jackets are out) and call the team ready to go for a run.

Whether they do this or something else, one thing that has become evident is that Tanguay is as good as gone. He makes $5 million a season and is a second line, 2nd PP and PK guy with the Flames. Don't get me worng, there is nothing wrong with his play, but that money is needed to sign more important pieces mentioned earlier. Montreal seems to be the most common link here, but look for Sutter, if he trades Tanguay, to trade for an upcoming UFA that he will have very little chance, or need to resign. Sergei Federov, a prospect and a pick anyone?

Stay tuned.

P.S. My apologies for not posting after Canada's big win over the U.S. I did however leave Tim a nice voicemail of the Team canada juniors singing the national anthem. I am sure he had tears in his eyes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nash's red mouthpiece not an issue...

As noted last night, the signature red mouthpiece was missing from Ricky's mouth. Apparently, it wasn't the source of his mojo....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My patience has worn thin...

While the Jackets are playing well, I'm running out of patience for Malhotra and Chimera.

This post is coming mid-second period where I've seen Malhotra not see a wide open Dan Fritsche for a probable scoring chance. Or, worse, he saw him and didn't make the effin' pass. That was followed not long after by Chimera trying to chip the puck up the boards and failing to get it by the d-man, but he then just gave up on the play. Then a mere seconds later Manny has the chance to clear the puck by getting his body in front of it and...WHIFF!

Rumor has it the Rags want one or both of these guys...take them. Please.

Also of note from tonight's game, Nash doesn't have his signature red mouthpiece in. Maybe it's been a few games for him with the clear one, but I just noticed it tonight.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Canada v. US recap...US version

Zukes has said he will give the Canadian side, so while I'm holding my breath for that I'll write up my thoughts...

I thought Mason in net and the Canadian defense clearing the few rebounds he gave up were the key. The US had a lot of firepower, but they were getting no second chance shots. Every time the US would get a decent scoring opportunity, it was swept to the corner before it was a serious threat. No traffic in and around the goalie at that level spells bad things for you on the scoreboard...4-1 bad.

The other thing I noticed, was that once the Canadians went on top, they just wanted it more. As the game wore on, that came through all over the ice. Not that the US kids didn't want it, but they hadn't trailed very much in the tournament so far, so getting behind and staying behind took its toll. Snapping the shutout was a moral victory at best, but moral victories at the World Juniors doesn't win you gold medals.

So, once again on the the bronze medal game for the US kids. They'll play Russia, a team the handled pretty well last week in a 3-2 victory. Can they do it again and get the bronze? We'll find out in the morning. (10am Eastern on the NHL Network.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New favorite play-by-play phrase...

With the Jackets out west and FSN Ohio not wanting to put Rimer and Gare on a plane, I'm watching the Ducks feed on FSN West.

During a power play for the Jackets, Klesa moved in and got a good shot off that sailed high, which prompted the play-by-play announcer to say:
"And Klesla gets a good shot off as he walks all the way into the ladies tees!"
It probably sounded funnier than it reads, but I hadn't heard that one before and got a good laugh out of it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Karma's a funny thing...

As I left the house last night, I grabbed a white Jackets hat off the coat rack by the door and commented to Wendy, "I hope somebody gets a hat trick tonight so I can get rid of this thing." Since the Jackets hadn't had a hatter at home since before the lockout, I figured on coming home with my most recently purchased and least favorite Jackets hat.

Then Rick Nash netted his second of the evening, a power play goal off a rebound. A rather Nashesque goal. With only 3 minutes left and a one goal lead following that goal, myself and about 16,000 other people figured we'd see Nasher on the ice with an empty net.

Unlike two nights earlier when Zherdev passed to Beech for the EN goal, thus passing up a hat trick of his own, Nash had nobody to pass to. His one option was to shoot it, setting off a flurry of hats from the stands. From my perch in 209 I took my hat off, looked at Wendy and said, "Honey, I get rid of this thing!" With that I launched it towards the ice.

Physics and wind resistance pretty much ensure I'm not going to get it to the ice, so we in the upper bowl rely on the kindness and hockey mindedness of others to get our hats to the ice. I followed it as it progressed towards the ice. It took three more throws, and it got to the second row. Then the guy in the second row picked it up, looked it over, and tucked it under his arm.

That's right, a hat destined for Rick Nash, or more specifically the hat bin in the concourse, was picked up by some cheap-ass in the second row, looked over, and determined to be a good find. On New Year's Eve, no less. If you're supposed to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day for good luck, what's stealing a hat trick hat got to do for the upcoming year?

The obvious hygiene concern of putting another, unknown person's hat on your head aside, that's just beyond poor hockey etiquette. The hockey gods will not look on this favorably, and hopefully they make the little scrote that kept Nash's hat pay and pay dearly...