Jackets love from afar

December 15, 2006

While scouring the usual suspects (ye olde sidebar, et al) on my daily news roundup, I came across a few interesting tidbits related to the team I follow, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It’s not all that uncommon, but it’s usually of the following nature:

  • Doug MacLean = worst NHL GM
  • Why doesn’t “x” player that I love get more playing time on this crappy team?
  • My sides have repeatedly split thinking about how much this team sucks.
  • Five wins in a row by a Central Division team. “Who are the Detroit Red Wings, Alex?”
  • Duvie? With a name like that, his mom should be shot.
  • It’s easy for Detroit to win the President’s Trophy when they get 24 games per year against the likes of Columbus, Chicago, and St. Louis.
  • And my personal favorite of late: they may be playing better now that Hitchcock is in town, but they’re just now reaching the level of “mostly suck”.

First, over at the Checking Line, the guys doing the daily predictions had the Jackets outmanning the Coyotes 4-1. We all know it didn’t happen that way, but I can’t tell you the last time I saw a non-CBJ fan/blogger pick the boys to win one. And that the folks making the prediction accurately predicted the four Jackets goal scorers, quite interesting.

Next, over at Hockey Rants where the CBJ never get any love because of some weird man crushes on Gilbert Brule, Jaro Balastik, and Tomas Kloucek (kidding Jes and Greg), we have Avs/Thrash writer Greg saying that he didn’t mind the 3-0 whitewashing the Avs suffered last Tuesday. Why, you ask? Well, apparently he’s a sucker for no-name 30-something rookie goaltenders who have a sweet week in the NHL (and don’t even make the league’s three stars of the week). Freddy Norrena is impressing folks outside I-270, and if the team is to accomplish their goal of sniffing the playoffs you’ll probably be seeing #30 as a game star more as the season progresses.

Looking back on last night, it’s a little sad that I’m happy to have picked up a point. But I think it’s justified. Of the ten games Hitchcock has coached, last night was the first time the team had been badly outplayed for an extended period of time (and they still picked up a point). Columbus was having a terrible time staying out of the penalty box. While I didn’t have a problem with most of the calls, I was curious about the lack of action against the Coyotes for similar infractions. Michael over at Army of the Ohio seems to think the answer starts with “D” and ends with “on Koharski”. Me, it was sad to see the parade of white to the sin bin combined with the lack of hustle evident at times on the PK.

Down 4-2 midway through the second, I was conducting experiments to see if my TV remote can fly (it can’t) and trying to decide if I’d rather watch the Rangers/Stars game instead. Hitch called a timeout, and tried to convince his team that despite what they’d been trying to show everyone watching the game that they were still in it. It worked. A short-handed marker from Sergei Fedorov (set up by some serious hustle by Rick Nash) and a nice goal by David Vyborny (also set up by Nash) tied the game at fours.

The third was largely uneventful, if nerve-wracking. As the clock wore down, my old fears about giving up the game-winner with less than two minutes crept in. I kept seeing visions in my head of Jean-Luc Grand Pierre, Scott Lachance, and others out on the ice wondering how they just lost. Both teams held on through regulation and overtime, picking up a point.

The shootout for the extra point was anticlimactic for Jacket fans, as Vyborny, Nash, and Fedorov were all denied. Norrena stopped shots from Perreault and Zigomanis, but couldn’t close the elbow to the body fast enough on Mike Comrie’s wrister which trickled through for the game winner.

It was a bit deflating a just shy of midnight, but taking 11 of the last 12 available road points isn’t too bad. The team must make the most of their upcoming home opportunities to keep the wheel of progress rolling.

The boys take on Chicago at home on Saturday night in Nationwide. If you have the Time Warner HD package in Columbus, check out the game on channel 753 for some high definition hockey. It’s quite nice.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench. Truth Serum and myself appreciate your patronage. Come back soon.



  1. some weird man crushes on Gilbert Brule, Jaro Balastik, and Tomas Kloucek (kidding Jes and Greg),

    I can’t speak for Greg, but Balastik and Brule are definitely not man crushes. I reserve that level of respect for Jiri Slegr.

    *dreamy sigh*

  2. I haven’t laughed that hard while home alone in a long time.

    Thanks, Jes.

  3. You have to admit that last night’s victory over the surging(Late in the game) Red Wings was kind of a benchmark for this team. Detroit was coming on like a tornado late in the game and the Jackets were full value for hanging in there when it seemed that the Wings were going to tie it up. But ask yourself this question, “If it were not for Noreena would we be having this conversation?” Have to admit that Feddy N. is the best thing to happen to the Jackets in a long, long time. “Show me a great team and I’ll show you a great goaltender”. With apologies to Scotty Bowman, Toe Blake, Jacques Demers, etc. ( In reference to Ken Dryden,Jacques Plante and Patrick Roy). No coincedences there folks!

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