All good things

December 4, 2008

Must come to an end.

It is with a certain degree of melancholy that I am announcing the end of the End of the Bench.  This decision has been brewing in some shape or form for almost 12 months now, and with a good deal of thought process behind me, the decision has been made to pull the plug.  I am enjoying myself much more on the couch these days, just sitting and rooting my favorite hockey team on to victories, losses, and all the minutes in between. 

My life has shifted from where it was when I started this site nearly three years ago, and while I love hockey and reading about hockey, I do not feel the burn to post regularly any longer.  To those who have made the End of the Bench a regular read; to those who took the time to comment and carry a dialogue with the authors; to those who joined the EOB team (Truth Serum); to those who linked to us; to those who put up with our real life rants and encouraged us to commit them to cyberspace: thank you.  It’s been a great ride.

The site will remain as is for now, so you can still go back and read all your old favorites.  But new posting will be non-existent.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  It’s been fun.

– Drew


It was so bad

November 19, 2008

I had a meeting last night and couldn’t make the game, but I was able to watch it on SportsNet through Center Ice.  I got home in time to see the Jackets already down 2-0, but it was early in the game and the Jackets did come back from the same deficit the last time out against the Oil  But not last night.

It was so bad that Leclaire couldn’t stop a beach ball rolled in from the red line.

It was …  Never mind, you get the idea.  It might be a historic game for the franchise, as in the beginning of the end in Columbus.  I love hockey, I own a couple of PSL’s that I bought the first day they were offered, I am friends with a lot of people employed by the organization, but last night was not good.  How on earth can anyone be persuaded to shell out $100 in this economy for two tickets to see a debacle like that?  The team is not going to win them all, but how about not losing so bad in front of the fans at home?

Either we have the wrong players or we have the wrong coaches, one or the other.  I tend to think that most of the players are the right ones but I don’t want to think about the other part of the equation.  And you can always make the case that as good as Rick Nash is, there is someone out there who is better.  But I’ll take Nash and Brassard and Leclaire and most of the others.

But do we have the right coaches?  Are the players listening to them?  Are we using the right strategy and tactics for the players that we have?  Are we playing 2008 hockey, or are we behind the times?  What is going on?  The players aren’t soft.  Anyone really think Jared Boll or Jake Voracek or Mike Commodore is soft?  We have guys who can put the puck in the net, like Nash, Brassard, even Chimera.  We have two solid goaltenders.  Are the players being used appropriately?

That was not pretty last night and after the home loss to Phoenix last week, I won’t even begin to make the case for buying tickets.

-Truth Serum


HD Update

November 16, 2008

I have good news and bad news for you HD lovers.  The Blue Jacket game on Wednesday against Edmonton will be broadcast in HD.  Now the bad news:  It will not be shown on FoxSports.  If you are a Center Ice subscriber through DirecTV, you will see the game via SportsNet in HD.  I am not familiar with Time Warner’s policy here and do not know if they allow local Center Ice customers to receive out of market broadcasts.  So maybe you’ll get it and maybe you won’t.

The game against Atlanta on Saturday, 22 November, is scheduled to be shown on FoxSports Ohio in HD.

-Truth Serum


It’s an HD World After All

November 14, 2008

Why no HD offerings, FoxSports Ohio?  We CBJ fans in Central Ohio have a weekend of TV watching with the team in Buffalo and Minnesota.  But the games are not televised in HD.  I’m a DirecTV customer, so I thought that perhaps my provider was being cheap and not offering an HD broadcast, so I checked the Time Warner listings.  No luck, standard definition only.

Why is that FoxSports Ohio?  For tonight, I don’t see a Cavaliers game scheduled at the same time, which would give you the excuse of using your HD equipment for that event.  No, those of us with HD sets get to format the picture and watch your broadcast featuring all the technical quality and wizardry of the 1980’s.

I know the ratings aren’t the best, but wouldn’t they improve if you offered a better product?  Not the one on the ice, but the one in my home.

What really makes things worse is that I also subscribe to Center Ice and I can see that the Buffalo fans will get the game in HD.  You have have the legal right to blackout their signal from the Columbus market, so if my remote accidently tries to tune the MSG-Buffalo broadcast, I get a black screen telling me that I am not allowed to enjoy their quality product.

Earlier in the season, when the team went to Minnesota for a game, it was not televised by FSO, so I was able to watch the game in HD on FoxSports North.  It was a real joy and it reminded me how far the Blue Jackets organization needs to go to interest more fans.  Watching a standard version of anything on TV, especially sports, is not the same.  It’s having your television set restrain itself just to satisfy a local monopoly.

I would love to know why we local fans have to be treated this way.  Does some of the blame lie with the team?  After all, they can’t be bothered with replays for those fans who pay good money to attend the games at Nationwide.  Is there another villain out there?   Please let me know, because this is the equivalent of broadcasting the games in black and white.  Show it in HD and the FarmersOnly.com audience will double.

-Truth Serum


Phoenix Rising

November 13, 2008

The loss to Phoenix last night was a sign that even though the Blue Jackets didn’t play that badly, the Western Conference is better than it was last season and teams like much-improved Phoenix cannot be taken for granted.  The Jackets played OK, but the Coyotes played a lot better.  I’m not going to speculate on Rick Nash getting called out by Ken Hitchcock or his possible injury because I’m just a blogger without a press pass.  The shots were there for the home boys last night, but standing in front of the other net was Ilya Bryzgalov, who played very well.  It would be nice if Nash would start scoring and dominating like he has in the past, but he’s not and other than the Jason Chimera, Jake Voracek, and Derick Brassard, the offense is not effective yet.

The defense was another issue and I think that Scott Howson has to go shopping.  Half of the defensive corps is playing to expectations (the coaches’s, not the public’s) and the other half is braindead.  Howson should look for defensemen who will play their position and pass to players on the same team.  Steve Mason was competent once again and deserves to start the next game.  His effort on the Coyotes fourth goal was terrific, even though he couldn’t keep the puck out of the net.  He actually stopped Shane Doan’s shot, but his momentum carried the puck behind the goal line.  Instead of praising Steve Mason, I want to ask why Shane Doan had two breakaway goals.  Anyone out there have a clue?

The team needs Nash to get out of his funk, the defensemen to stay on the right side of the puck and pass to the guys wearing the same color uniforms, and other players to step up and generate offense other than the kids and Chimera.  It would be nice to see last weekend’s Blue Jackets show up in Buffalo and Minnesota.

-Truth Serum



November 11, 2008

Some observations:

1.    With the NHL now taking notice of the Blue Jacket rookies, Derick Brassard and Steve Mason (don’t forget Jake Voracek), will the team get some National TV time?  Neither of them is in Sidney Crosby’s class, but they have made a grand entrance into the league and have to be taken seriously.  And they are fun to watch.

2.    Jason Chimera has changed his game a bit.  Teams can no longer count on him putting his head down and skating hard to the net for a three-foot shot.  He is taking advantage of his speed and strength and firing the puck from the top of the circles more and he has scored some nice goals.  A simple adjustment, but more goals.

3.    Fedor Tyutin has gotten better and shown his upside.  He will still make the giveaway or extra pass, but he has already made me forget Rusty Klesla.

4.    Kristian Huselius has produced as expected and is playing even better with Brassard and Voracek.  He is a scorer and even though he played well with Rick Nash, he can now be more independent playing on this other line.  I think being Rick Nash’s line mate means always being in a set-up mode for the captain.  Adjusting your game to feed a non goal-scoring (at this time) Nash had to be tough.

5.    I think the team will keep all three goalies for the time being.  Mason has the job until he loses it, Leclaire is ready to regain the limelight, and Norrena is their insurance, too expensive to play in Syracuse.  One of them will leave the team by Christmas, probably Freddy No.  If he isn’t traded or loaned, look for him to land in Europe, still under contract with the team.

6.    All in all, there are a lot of positives to see on the Jackets.  The team is winning without Rick Nash scoring, the back-up goaltender is now the #1 and then some, the defense is getting better and more confident, the power play can’t get any worse, and the NHL has stopped using Columbus games to instruct referees on the various calls they can make.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?  This weekend will not be easy for the team, so a win tomorrow over Phoenix would be a nice cushion.  The rest of the month is going to be tough, even Atlanta.  For those of you still with employment, get your butts down to Nationwide on Wednesday to see the game.  You get to watch the Jackets and see Wayne Gretzky on the visitor’s bench, well worth the price of admission.

-Truth Serum


Jackets Avoid OT, beat Oilers

November 6, 2008

“To be quite honest with you,” Hitchcock said, “this is just our team. When you play young, skilled players, you’re going to go through peaks and valleys during a 60-minute game.”

So those off-season acquisitions of skilled, seasoned, competitive players have given way to using young, skilled playes, eh?  The evidence was there last night as I watched Derick Brassard and Jake Voracek skate around like they’ve been in the NHL for five years.  They were controlling the play, possessing the puck, and making Kristian Huselius look better.  Sure, Voracek commited a give away that led to the second Edmonton goal.  But it was a higher-priced veteran who left Kyle Brodziak alone to score the fourth Edmonton goal.  So if this is the team, I’ll go with the kids.

As for Steve Mason, he was acceptable.  He made the saves he was supposed to make and did not overplay the puck.  The guy hasn’t even played five games since last spring, so he will only get better.  But in reality, this was a game that even another Jacket goalie would have won.

Two more tests coming this weekend, Montreal and Calgary.  The Calgary game on Saturday will be televised by CBC as part of Hockey Night In Canada.  Do everyone a favor, Columbus fans, and show up for the game so we look like a real hockey town to our friends up north.  You can record the OSU-Northwestern game and watch it later. This is a chance to see a good game against a Western Conference foe, a game that will mean something in April.

-Truth Serum


Jackets Give Up Two In OT, Fall to Islanders

November 4, 2008

If you can’t say anything good about someone, then don’t say anything.

-Truth Serum


What was said at intermission?

November 3, 2008

If I hadn’t been absentmindedly watching it myself, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what I am right now: a different Columbus team took the ice in the third period than that which I saw in the first two periods tonight.  Battles are being won, passes are connecting, and the effort is there.

Three goals in around 8 minutes to match the three in 11 minutes the Islanders potted in the second.  The Jackets are presently killing a power play.  Which team will skate the last five minutes?

Update: The Islanders put in the game winner in overtime on a somewhat broken play.  Norrena was caught very far outside his crease and Chris Campoli netted his second of the night to close the game.  Still, kudos to the team for coming back from a three-goal deficit.  The next benchmark would be in not finding yourselves in that sort of situation.  Getting a point for the third consecutive game (4 of 6 available) is better than what has been done in the opening set of games, but more will be required to sniff the playoffs.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

– Drew


Ten Powerplays for Columbus?

November 3, 2008

OK, the boys in TO must have felt sorry for Columbus, so they ordered the officials to cut the team some slack in the Chicago game.  And the Blue Jackets were given ten powerplays and converted one of them.  The generosity also included a very nice, long two-man advantage, nearly four minutes long.  But the team couldn’t take advantage of that or the fact that Chicago had a tough game the night before against Dallas.  So I guess I can blame Howson for this too, right?

Seriously, I was there and it was an OK game to watch, but you could see that the Jackets couldn’t put the Blackhawks away.  I don’t know if this is due to the lack of a killer instinct or because the team can’t recognize these situations, but to be competitive, you have to win these kind of games.  Because there will be games where you will be on the other side, praying for the final horn to sound.

The team has to go into Long Island tonight and take this game.  I’ll accept an OT or SO loss if the Islanders play over their heads, but the CBJ have to start making their own breaks.  No more crying about bad calls, or injuries, or suspensions.  They should feel at home tonight because the Islanders don’t draw any fans, either.  The building will be empty like Nationwide, but they have replays.

Get your message out, Hitch.  If the players don’t respond, we have a problem.

-Truth Serum