Game #16 CBJ vs. Nashville

November 15, 2006

Two days after seeing head coach Gerard Gallant let go, the Blue Jackets play host to the Nashville Predators.  Will the club experience a short-term boost with a new boss, or will the recent drama be the latest in a long line of misguided excuses?  There are so many questions that are not answered right now.  Projections from around the blogosphere say that the West is already down to a ten team race, with the Blue Jackets not in the chase.  I have to say at this point that I’m inclined to agree.  A hot streak would change my mind, but how many of those have we seen in six years?  Two?

Blue Jackets: The Jackets need to turn on the scoring, to flip the switch if you will.  Scoring at 2.13 goals per game is not enough, especially when you are averaging… okay I’ll admit I was surprised to find out the Jackets were ranked 12th in shots against at 29.1 per game.  But still… 2.13 goals for?  Whether it’s Agnew tonight, or whomever in the coming weeks behind the bench, all players young and old must be held accountable to a system.  Offensive systems may be boring to play, but they work the defense to create good scoring opportunities.  Puck hogging and hot dogging create little more than turnovers and odd-man rushes.  How many times has the toe-drag created a goal this year?  How many times has cycling and effective forechecking created a goal?  Granted, the data set is not that large, but I have to think that team play has been more effective.  Getting the young guys to buy into this mindset should be one of the primary charges of the new coaching staff.



Czech teammates David Vyborny and Tomas Vokoun face each other in their Central Division battle tonight.

Nashville:  Playing to an (8-1-1) record in their last ten games, Nashville is fighting with Detroit for the top spot in the Central as expected.  Strong goaltending has become the hallmark of this team, with starter Tomas Vokoun sporting a 2.81 GAA and a .912 SV% and backup Chris Mason posting an even more stellar 1.97 GAA and a .938 SV%.  Steve Sullivan, Paul Kariya, and Jason Arnott lead the offense, while Kimmo Timonen anchors the defense. 

Hometown press

Out of town press

Neutral previews

Fearless EOB Prediction: The Jackets come out with an early punch, getting on the board first before surrendering three Predators goals (probably in the second period if recent history is any indication).  Gary Agnew will not be the coach for more than two weeks.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench. 



  1. Statistically, a new coach wins 2 out of his first 3. It happened in Philadelphia this year. So maybe the Jackets won’t win tonight, but with the anticipated big crowd that the Turkey Shoot brings in, look for a win on Friday.

  2. If the Jackets have any pride at all they will play with some real fire tonight. I wish I was going to the game but I do have tickets to the rematch next Monday. The games are always enjoyable, for sure. I predict a Blue Jackets victory tonight.

    Who do you think our next coach should/will be?

  3. I’m hearing mixed reaction from fans when his name comes up, but I think Ken Hitchcock would be a great fit.
    Discipline and accountability should be starting points for any coach coming in, and I think that Hitch has the right sort of personality to work on these things effectively.

    I’ve heard contrary points ranging from “his record is all in the ‘old’ NHL,” to “good grief, not that a-hole.” Past players may not have liked him, but I’m sure they liked winning. Results can sway opinion. Not to say that getting Ken on board would turn the ship around immediately, but it’s a start (something this franchise has never really gotten).

    I’ve always been more in favor of an ass-kicking coach than one who is more known as a players coach. A few years back, there were reports that Lindy Ruff was in trouble in Buffalo and maybe Columbus should take a look. I remember the reporter asking Jean Luc Grand-Pierre what he would think about playing for his old coach, and I don’t think JLGP was too keen on the idea. Of course, my train of thought says that this is because Jean Luc wasn’t that great of a player and resented getting his butt kicked around the ice in Buffalo compared to Dave King (the “teacher”) in Columbus. I would have loved to have Ruff; or Pat Quinn, who reportedly was interested in the GM position before MacLean was hired.

    Another name I’m hearing through the extreme back channels is George McPhee. Though he’s been criticized by some for orchestrating the fire sale in Washington in 2003-04, it looks like he’s done some good things with the Capitals who are once again on the rise. It would be nice for someone with local ties (McPhee won the Hobey Baker at BGSU) who cares about more than PEI to be in charge.

    What I really don’t want is another MacLean crony behind the bench. Gary Agnew has been with the organization for years, and Kevin Dineen (another name thrown out there by the Dispatch) has played for the Jackets and worked in the organization as well. Whether or not they would allow themselves to be manipulated by MacLean may never be known, but I’d rather have a coach who has been around the block. We don’t need another first-time NHL coach.

    So my pick for should: Hitchcock
    My pick for will: I have no idea. Based on today’s columns in the paper, it sounds like the Jackets will at least be interviewing Hitchcock (which I would not have predicted).

    Is it possible that MacLean cares about his job enough to actually do something smart?

  4. If you read this in the Globe and Mail today, you can see that MacLean has dug himself into a hole. I’m against Hitchcock at this time because I think the team needs clear MacLean out of there and hire a new GM who can clean things up. Let the new GM hire his own coach and put together his own team.

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