Archive for December, 2006

h1

CBJ Prospect Update: Kris Russell

December 29, 2006

I don’t normally mention junior or minor league players in the Blue Jackets system, mostly because for many years there hasn’t been too much to talk about.  The times they are a changin’.

Truth Serum mentioned Kris the other day in comments on his column, and as it turns out he’s not going to be the only one noticing the young defenseman.

Russell, a rear-guard who plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers and currently for Team Canada in the World Juniors, scored two goals for his country to help the team clinch first place in their group.

Full story at TSN.ca

Kris was the Jackets third pick, 67th overall, in the 2005 Entry Draft.

Hat tip to Truth Serum for the find.

Advertisements
h1

Dose of Reality #20

December 29, 2006

Dose of Reality

“Nobody held me up so I kept going to the net, and I shot it,” Datsyuk said of his ninth of the season.

No, nobody held him up. Did the Jackets think that Detroit was going to pack it in and go home early, afraid to make a comeback? If Columbus had an NHL defense, it would be something. Oh sure, there were signs early in the game that the Jackets were going to play this one different. Adam Foote was really giving Tomas Holmstrom a hard time, not letting him stand in front of our goal without a battle. And Rick Nash had an attitude to start the game. But there weren’t many signs of life in the last nine minutes of the game. The CBJ Marketing & Entertainment staff did their best, putting up a rub-it-in-your-face OSU taunt on the big screen, but unfortunately an NHL game was being played at the time, so it was a meaningless gesture.

Which brings me to a topic that seems to mean a great deal to Bob Hunter, Doug MacLean, and a few others. These guys have been going around trying to build (or make up) a rivalry between Columbus and Detroit. Now to have a rivalry, don’t you have to be somewhat equal in terms of competition? I mean, if the results are nearly always one-sided, how can it be a rivalry? And shouldn’t the teams have been playing each other for longer than six seasons? And shouldn’t both of them have accomplished something during their history? If someone thinks differently, please let me know, because the scores are recorded and standings are being kept.

And Detroit fans, do you know how obnoxious OSU fans are when their football team beats the living shit out of Bowling Green, Kent State, or Toledo? Yeah, you know what I mean. So when the Red Wings beat the Blue Jackets, don’t act the same way. Sure, the crap on the scoreboard last night was bush league, but beating Columbus is not the same as winning a playoff game.

You should know, Detroit fans, that a lot of us cheer Detroit when they are not playing the Blue Jackets. Some of us even moved here from other cities and we were hockey fans long before we got an NHL team. And if you feel abused by the Maple Loaf fans, too bad. You have a better team anyway.

OK, I got that off my chest. So, according to Adam Foote, we need to find “competitive composure”; I thought we needed to take more shots and address the weakness that Pavel Datsyuk pointed out. But if that is all part of “competitive composure”, I am all for that. It is great to get all excited when we beat a Vancouver or St. Louis, but the reality is that Detroit is a better measuring stick.

So, I’m going to try and get through the rest of this weekend. Tonight, we have Minnesota and then on Sunday it is Chicago. These are two teams that are just ahead of us in the standings and if we want to show the hockey world that we mean business, we have to compete in these games.

– Truth Serum

h1

A safe and fun weekend for all

December 29, 2006

I’m not sure how much I’ll be available for posting for the next few days, what with even more Christmas celebrations and New Year’s partying going on.

For you Columbus fans, we’re in Minnesota tonight, and then back home on Sunday for the sometime tradition of a New Year’s Eve game which is against Chicago this year.

In a few weeks, the NHL will be on NBC on Saturday’s.  And I noticed on Sunday that they’re finally advertising during the football games.  Good to see. 

Lastly, I hope that each of you has a good time doing whatever it is that you’ll be doing, and that January 1st will find you safe and happy.  Thanks again for your patronage, it’s been a great year. 

See you in 2007 (unless something crazy happens, then I probably won’t resist the urge to hop on here).

h1

A brief thought on realignment in the NHL

December 29, 2006

In the previous post, I linked to the TSN article regarding the realignment proposal that is being floated in the NHL.  To sum up, it involves two divisions in two conferences (each conference would have one seven team and one eight team division), and Columbus and Atlanta switching conferences.

My reaction to the uneven divisions is typical of me, I don’t like it.  It’s unnecessarily difficult to administer scheduling due to the uneven numbers, and it’s not pretty.  Seriously, that idea begs for expansion to 32 teams (or contraction to 28).  I’m not a fan of this ‘solution’.  I don’t like it in baseball (where it makes no sense to me at all), and I wouldn’t be a fan of it in hockey.

Columbus, Atlanta, and Detroit all have very similar longitude and I think any of them could reasonably be put in either conference.  I wouldn’t like to be separated from Detroit by conference, and if Pittsburgh gets moved to KC (a possibility?) the team would be left without a regional rival to play more than once every year or so.

While I don’t like the uneven divisions in baseball, both Major League Baseball and the NFL have a conference/division system I could get behind.  That is having similar geographic divisions in each conference.  MLB has East, Central, and West in both the American and National Leagues.  The NFL has East, North, South, and West divisions in both the AFC and NFC.  This would be, in my mind, the best model to use to equalize (or at least even out a little more) travel issues for teams on the east and west coasts.

It’s been stated throughout the blogosphere and elsewhere ad nauseum how much more travel teams like Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary have compared to teams like the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils.  I completely agree that the current system favors (at least travel-wise) teams in the Eastern Conference.  By incorporating a more level playing field with regard to miles traveled in each conference, you may sacrifice a few of the regional games that are enjoyed now but you would even out the problems currently experienced in scheduling for some teams (the multiple long West Coast trips, many back-to-backs, and long layoffs experienced by many Western Conference teams).

Looking at a geographical map, it’s kind of tough to both preserve current regional rivalries and split teams into even divisions, but I think it could be done.  Two conferences, three divisions each.  I think this plan could be helped by expansion/contraction as well, but for now here is a preliminary look at the NHL through EOB colored glasses.

Conference One (Campbell, Wales, whatever you want to call it)

East Division

  • Tampa Bay
  • Montreal
  • Boston
  • Washington
  • Carolina

Central Division

  • Chicago
  • St. Louis
  • Pittsburgh/KC/Hamilton
  • Buffalo
  • Ottawa

West Division

  • Edmonton
  • Calgary
  • Colorado
  • Dallas
  • Minnesota

Conference Two (again, come up with your historically appropriate name)

East Division

  • Florida
  • Philadelphia
  • New Jersey
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers

Central Division

  • Atlanta
  • Nashville
  • Detroit
  • Toronto
  • Columbus

West Division

  • Vancouver
  • San Jose
  • Anaheim
  • Los Angeles
  • Phoenix

It’s not perfect, but it’s an idea.  One that makes more sense to me than the crap of having uneven divisions and a continued East/West conference format.

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

h1

It’s so quiet…

December 29, 2006

With all the travel and family time linked to this time of year, it’s not surprising that I haven’t had a meaningful post about anything in I don’t know how long.  I have a lot of thoughts in my head that want to get out, just not enough time to get them down.  By the time I make a few minutes, the topics are old and stale (like my upcoming post about realignment).

Mrs. EOB and I watched most of the barn-burner against Boston on Tuesday night.  I tried to turn the TV off a few times, but she made me keep watching (what a woman!)  The last few minutes of regulation and the overtime literally had me on my feet. 

I never do that.

The win was exciting, if only for me to be able to say to the one Bruins fan I actually know, “How about that game last night?!?”

I didn’t get to see the game last night, but it sounds like that might be a good thing.  The final score of 7-4 is one thing, but from what I’ve read the problems are still the same.  Pavel Datsyuk is quoted as saying the following regarding his late-third period game-tying goal.

“Nobody held me up so I kept going to the net, and I shot it,” Datsyuk said of his ninth of the season.

Hasn’t there been much talk around the CBJ blogosphere lately regarding just this?  If we don’t check them, they will score.  Despite the “scoring troubles” the Wings have had compared to past seasons, they still have an unbelievable amount of skill up front and will make you pay.  And did the Jackets ever pay.

Up by one with ten to go.  Down by three at the buzzer (including one empty netter).  We were doing a gift exchange away from the TV, and every time I’d run in the other room to check the score, it kept going up for Detroit.  I wasn’t pleased, but I can’t say it surprised me.

The rivalry IwoCPO wants (not to mention every hockey fan in Columbus) may take a while to fully materialize.  At this point, it’s still the case of the little brother occassionally stealing a candy bar from his older brother while mostly getting his ass kicked.  And if the NHL’s realignment plan gets some legs, we may be done with the rivalry for quite a while.

There’s a game tonight at Minnesota.  I’ll probably watch.  Next week I’ll make a good effort to get things back to normal around here, with your regular diet of insanity.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Have a safe and fun New Year’s, and come back soon. 

h1

Dose of Reality #19

December 27, 2006

Dose of Reality

With nearly a full house last night, the exciting come-from-behind win last night over Boston was a tease, an example of what might have been for the Blue Jacket fans this season. Was it a Christmas ghost of the future? Or was it more like the movie Ground Hog Day, a course of events that the Blue Jackets are playing over and over until they get it right?

David Vyborny won the game with a nice backhand goal that he almost did not get off because of the puck not laying flat on the ice. It was pretty and fun to see Vyborny do something with the puck other than pass it.

Sergei Fedorov played like he was ten years younger, skating with speed and power and finishing two opportunities. Even Jason Chimera put on some heavy mittens while sitting on the bench so his hands would warm up and soften so he could put a puck in the net.

Granted, Tim Thomas, who ironically was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars for the previous week, showed why the Columbus win was strange. Thomas at times looked like a Mite or Squirt goalie, overplaying shots, over shuffling, and going down to block shots but counting to five before he got up. The Jackets took 41 shots on goal, but must have taken another 20 that were at the goal. As I sat in my seat last night I kept thinking that Thomas did not deserve to win the game, but the Jackets would give it to him anyway. And Ken Hitchcock felt the same way, saying, “The second period was the worst period we’ve played all year.”

So anyway, the Jackets won, they get to play Detroit again on Thursday, and then Chicago, two very tough Division opponents, a nice test for the team that is finding a new identity. As fun as it was last night, there some issues that need attention.

Adam Foote did not have a good game. Everyone is marveling about the save that Fredrik Norrena made on Patrice Bergeron’s breakaway with five minutes to go in the game, but it was almost gift-wrapped from Foote. And I don’t want to go into his play on the power play. Veterans of his stature do not play that way unless they are counting down the days to their final game.

Duvie Westcott also got careless and tried to take the puck up the ice when he had Sergei Federov skating near him. I know that there are a lot of Westcott fans out there who appreciate the offensive skills that Duvie has, but there are more fans that appreciate the offensive skills of Sergei Fedorov and would feel better about using Fedorov for that task since they have the stats to back up their confidence.

One area that Ken Hitchcock seems to be addressing is the role of Jody Shelley. It appears that this era is coming to an end and we should prepare for a Jody Shelley Night at Nationwide. Jody got five shifts and 2:42 of ice time, all of it in the first period if I am correct. If the other team is going to play hockey and not dress a goon, then there is no need to give a slot to Shelley. Boston played hockey, didn’t even think about extra curricular stuff, and thus there was no need to play Shelley.

Hitchcock has to be concerned about Norrena playing the next two games against tough opposition. The play of Norrena is fine, but he has shown that he cannot play a lot of games in succession. The team does not have an adequate backup, so Detroit and especially Chicago have to be licking their chops. I would rather see Ty Conklin play against Detroit, in spite of what may happen, and save Fredrik for Chicago. Columbus needs to beat Chicago and pass them in the standings and they have a better chance of doing that with Norrena.

Although I hear that Tampa Bay would like to part with Marc Denis, who always enjoyed living in Columbus.

– Truth Serum

h1

Happy Holidays

December 25, 2006

Things are quiet here at EOB, and in the hockey world in general for the days surrounding Christmas.  It will remain so with travel and family functions ruling the schedule.

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, and look forward to the return of hockey soon.

Best wishes!

Drew