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.