Dose of Reality #1

October 30, 2006

I mentioned earlier today that I was hoping to get a new contributor to the site, and I’d like to present to you the first installment of a new series here at End of the Bench called Dose of Reality. This will be the column headers used by our new staff member (pen name as yet undetermined, though I’m hoping he goes for Truth Serum 🙂 ) So anytime you see the post title “Dose of Reality”, remember that it’s not me (Drew) you’re reading, but the other member of the EOB editorial team.

Without further ado, your first Dose:

Dose of Reality #1

Thanks for offering me this platform at EOB. I am honored to have this opportunity to express my hockey opinions to a larger audience than I usually get, which is normally my wife and kids and my one brother who doesn’t hang up on me. And I really appreciate the flattering picture that Drew is using for me; it takes twenty pounds off.

So for my first post, I want to talk about the two recent games, LA and New Jersey. In the first one, you can say the Jackets were lucky to have LA in the building that night and for the second game you can summarize it by saying they looked better than usual while losing. And here in lies a problem.

As a Blue Jackets fan, I don’t have unrealistic expectations. I understand and deal with the fact that the team is not flashy, nor is it tough, nor is it resourceful. All I ask is that when March 1 appears on my calendar, that they are in the hunt for a play-off spot. In the past, when this date comes around, the fans of the team are subject to the various “what ifs?” that team management puts out, such as “what if Federov had been with the team since October?” or “what if Francois Beauchemin had told us he was that good?” when he played here. But we are all accustomed to these talking points that the Jackets present to us and most of us tune them out and still re-up our season tickets for the next season.

But as I said, I want to talk about the two recent games and the problem. To make the play-offs, a team needs about 92 points for the season. Actually, in the competitive Western Conference, 95 points is the magic number. Over the course of 82 games, a team will have to earn 1.12 points per game. This means that although the OT loss to Vancouver was a kick in the shorts, it was better than nothing. But after the first nine games, the Jackets are trending down (again) and as everyone in Columbus understands all too well, the play-off gap quickly widens.

So while the game against the Kings was fun to watch if you sat in the Jackets defensive end for two periods, remember it was against the Kings. They don’t have any shooters and we were supposed to beat them anyway! But hey, the team forgot to play any kind of offense that night. We even got to watch Sean Avery, a guy who normally chases Duvie Westcott all over the ice looking for a fight, hit the post twice and take on the role of playmaker. All that the Jackets could muster was 14 shots. Fourteen shots against a team with a slow, aging defense featuring Rob Blake, a guy Colorado didn’t want anymore. (Sorry BGSU alums.)

So the team flew into New Jersey high on the one in a row winning streak and played the same type of hockey and thought they would get away with it. But New Jersey is currently 1.18 points per game and they have a real French Canadian goalie and he shut the door. Sure, our friend Pascal LeClaire only gave up one goal, but that is all the Devils need to win their games. And yes, the Jackets took a whopping 22 shots on goal, but a number of them were from 60 feet away and do you really think Brodeur is going to give one up from there? I mean, he is over his divorce now and is once again focused, even against the Blue Jackets.

The Jackets historically take a low number of shots, which is OK against Phoenix and St. Louis, but suicide against the upper division teams. And if the team does not start taking more shots, they are not going to hit the 1.12 points per game trend, and that means you will hear new talking points in March, but Doug MacLean will still be purchasing a new BMW.

Every game in the NHL is a challenge, but if you don’t know how you are even going to play those games, you are not going to be successful. You must develop your style of play, exploit the weakness of your opposition, and then execute. Is this an indictment of Coach Gallant? Maybe, but he is not the one who put the team together.


One comment

  1. […] From the sounds of things, I’m slightly encouraged and think the Blue Jackets are starting to turn things around.  But if things don’t change quickly, Truth Serum’s wish to see the Blue Jackets in contention with a month to go will be a pipe dream.  The way things are going, it will take a lot of hard work and luck for the Blue Jackets not to be out of it by mid-January. […]

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