Archive for the ‘Fredrik Norrena’ Category

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OK, I’ve calmed down.

July 4, 2008

I’ve caught my breath and had time to think about the Jacket roster moves over the past few days.  It’s not easy to take them in single servings, not knowing what else is going on or negotiated without all the servings on the dinner plate.  And as I write this, the team is working on other trades, so things could change even more.

First off, the team replaced David Vyborny’s numbers with Raffi Torres.  Torres is a tougher player who will certainly hit harder than Vyborny and will play adequate defense.

With the signing of Kristian Huselius, the team has picked up the numbers that Zherdev had and a little more.  Huselius won’t make me forget Nick and I admit that I think Z will get better, but he won’t have the mental lapses like Zherdev did, and will pass the puck a bit sooner and shoot quicker.

RJ Umberger will get his 20 goals and maybe (negative comment coming) get Jason Chimera to improve his game.  If Fredrik Modin can play a full season and get his 25 goals, things look bright.

On defense, the team certainly improved.  The team is now bigger, even if Kris Russell stays on the roster.  Ron Hainsey is gone, but it would have been interesting to see what kind of numbers he would have put up on this new 2008 team.  Tyutin is now the guy, unless Klesla can find more goals or someone like Clay Wilson can fill that role.  The team definitely is stronger at the blue line.  Can they score a few more goals?

Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek have replaced Gilbert Brule and Dan Fritsche, even if they don’t make the team in October.   I liked Brule, but he needed a change of address and he too, will probably have better numbers in Edmonton.

Pascal Leclaire has to put up the same numbers and Fredrik Norrena has to improve his game.  Two or three more wins from Freddy would be great.

The team looks better now, but what about the other factors?  If the team can play as well as or better than last season, it needs to also play even against Nashville and win half those games.  It needs to continue to play well against Detroit.  It needs to win against Chicago and St. Louis and stay even with them in the standings.  Five more wins will go a long way, in the standings and at the bank.

The team is now different, but they are not out of the MacLean hole yet. They are on their way to fixing that with a few more roster subtractions and scouting changes. It will finally be Scott Howson’s team at that point, resembling a modern NHL franchise instead of a PEI social club.  That will be a nice way to show John McConnell our thanks and that we won’t forget him.

-Truth Serum

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Well, well …

February 28, 2008

Well, well, the Jackets did have a game last night after all. I was under the impression that they were going to fold the team after failing to land Brad Richards. How could they possibly think of playing hockey without Richards or Adam Foote? I’m going to put my “Loser” hat away for the time being and follow the team, but I am willing to turn on them if necessary.

So let me get this straight; Tampa Bay was willing to trade Brad Richards to Columbus, but they wanted a goalie in the deal. It’s safe to conclude that they did not mean Freddy Norrena even though our local media did not report that item. So the Jackets put together a deal that included Gilbert Brule, Dan Fritsche, and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. Unless I’m mistaken, none of them has seen time between the pipes this season and that imbecile Scott Howson did not throw in Pascal Leclaire or Steve Mason. Howson probably has some notion that he doesn’t want to mortgage the future to appease the local media, but I could be wrong. So no goalie, no trade. Pretty simple, and I think most people would agree that Leclaire and Mason are worth holding on to.

By not making this deal, Scott Howson gets castigated. Who’d have figured that?

Then, he dumps the aging mercenary Adam Foote for a #1 draft pick, also cutting payroll at the same time. The only people who are probably unhappy with this are the Realtors in Tartan Fields who now have another over-priced property to peddle. I never thought we could get a #1 for Adam Foote, but what do I know? I try to keep up with hockey and read Puck Rakers every day, but that may not be enough.  I will miss the untimely penalties that Foote used to take, however.

Sergei Fedorov is now gone and in return we got some kid who is confused about his first name. All season, people have talked about dumping Fedorov and the team has finally complied, even getting something for him. But they didn’t move Peca or Vyborny, so I shouldn’t be happy with the millions that the team has saved. Maybe nobody wanted Peca or Vyborny, so that is why they are still here.

I’m going to keep attending Blue Jacket games and support them. Even if Rick Nash picks a useless fight, I’m going to support them, but ask Rick if he would not follow the Adam Foote leadership model.

-Truth Serum

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Calling Reggie Dunlop

January 10, 2008

One of the “professional” sports writers in town, Aaron Portzline, posted a piece this morning, “Gentlemanly and disturbing”, calling out the team for being soft and overall pussies. Either AP has been locked out of the CBJ dressing room and therefore doesn’t care about lack of access, or he ghosted an article for Ken Hitchcock. Whatever, I have a few problems with it.

First off, if you want to see that kind of hockey, you’re too late, because the Chill left town. There are only a few teams in the West that play with an edge, Nashville and Anaheim being the prime examples. Calgary has a few guys, Minnesota has two goons, and Edmonton has to put a show on for their fans. As for St. Louis, did he forget the last two games with them? The shutout in Columbus and the loss in St. Louis? I believe that one of the pussies that he called out, Jason Chimera, spent some time in the box for a cheap-shot on Barret Jackman.

But Portzline wants the team to use Jody Shelley more to stop other teams from taking advantage of them. I hate to go negative here, but when is the last time you saw Jody beat somebody in a fight? Jody is tough, but he is a bleeder and at best can only hold his own. And then there is the “code”, which dictates that Jody has to hang around with his own kind. That would be D.J. King on the Blues, maybe Jackman, and Jamal Mayers. After that, the pickings are slim.

Rusty Klesla was called out in the piece, but since he clipped Tuomo Ruutu last year, he has limited his toughness to holding and hooking.

Manny Malhotra? I thought we needed him to win face-offs and play his defensive game. Dan Fritsche? Aren’t we still trying to develop him, take advantage of his speed and defensive skills?

I will admit to being discouraged by the play of Chimera. If he’s not off-sides, he’s missing the net if he can hold onto the puck. But I can’t see him dropping the gloves or finishing more of his checks as a way for the team to become more competitive.

The Jackets are soft along the boards and in front of the nets. If there is a battle for the puck along the boards, only a few guys will consistently come away with the puck; Zherdev, Peca, Vyborny, and Russell. Adam Foote can win some of the battles, but that’s because the NHL lets him get away with a lot.

In front of the net? That has been a problem all season. If you want to see someone fight and slash, keep your eyes on Fredrik Norrena. Again, Foote will throw the forearm and Hejda works hard, but the rest of the defense hasn’t shown much.

How about in front of the other net? Jared Boll will fight for position, but he has a tendency to get too close to the goalie and has been called too much for interference. Nash is good down there, and Zherdev will take a beating, but when Glencross goes for position, he has trouble matching up.

Notice the name Fedorov missing?

The team needs to learn how to win hockey games and go from there.  You win games, the toughness is an add-on.  You skate faster, be strong on the stick, battle,  hold your composure, and you win.

I guess I’m surprised that Portzline felt the need to write this piece. The Jackets need to work on a lot of things, but I would not place being a hard-ass at the top of the list. Holding onto and controlling the puck better would be a good place to start. If Portzline feels that way, I know where Lyle Odelein can be reached. We got rid of him along with Oliwa

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Rally!

December 6, 2007

For those of you who stayed home to watch Kid Nation, you missed a great comeback by the Blue Jackets. For the first two periods, the Jackets stunk the place up. In fact, I thought Hitch was going to call Stanley Steamer to have the brown stains removed from the ice. But they got their act together in the third and put the Avalanche away, 5-4. Had they played that way for the entire game, the score might have been 9-2.

Frederick L’Ecuyer worked the game last night along with Don VanMassenhoven as referees. (Go here to see their files because the NHLOA won’t let me link.) Young Frederick is starting his second season as an NHL official, although this is his first season in the big show as he spent last year in the AHL. Officials always pack a spare whistle in their pocket while working and probably have a reserve of six or seven in their equipment bag. If I were Acme Whistle Company, I would make sure that L’Ecuyer has at least a dozen in his bag because he is going to wear them out. His call on Dan Fritsche for goal tender interference should have set the standard for how the game was going to be called last night, but then I don’t know if he was looking at one of the Mountain Dew girls or what, but he and Don missed Ryan Smyth committing a much greater violation of the same rule that actually led to a goal. If I was playing in that game last night, I would be totally confused.

The Blue Jackets overcame this and their own sluggishness and put on a show. The switch was turned on and they didn’t let up. Fred Norrena came on in relief of Leclaire and got credit for the win. The only goal he gave was when the Jackets had a momentary breakdown and left Scott Hannan alone in the slot. But he did the job and stopped Colorado.

This obviously was a much better game than Monday, with the third period being an extended commercial showing why hockey is best to watch live at the rink. After Rick Nash scored his second goal of the game to make it 3-2, you could feel the team come alive and you just sat back and waited for the frenzy to begin. Joakim Lindstrom got the monkey off his back and tied it, Nikolai Zherdev brought back the toe-drag and gave the team a temporary lead, and then Fritsche put the game away for good. Adam Foote led all players with 27:40 in ice time, a number that needs to be examined later to make sure he can deliver for the entire season.

Now the team awaits Minnesota on Saturday. I think we’ll hear a lot of whistles in that one.

Before I go, I need to give a gratuitous plug to Caribou Coffee in Dublin, who let me sit in their store and use their free WiFi to post this. It’s great that they didn’t notice me hanging around for an hour without spending much money. Thanks to the staff. Maybe I can get my boss, Drew, to pay for my coffee next time.

-Truth Serum

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Did you miss me?

October 3, 2007

It’s been awhile, folks.  I’ve had something like eleven meaningful posts since the Stanley Cup was awarded to Anaheim.  Kudos to Truth Serum for keeping things rolling with thought provoking material during the slow months.

Hockey season is upon us once again, and every fan of every team is filled with hope and excitement.  Some fans mask their hope embarassingly in false bravado, others (like myself) in cynically guarded optimism (if this makes sense to you, please let me know exactly how I feel).  But as we work our way through the final hours prior the start of the NHL season, we all think there might be a chance.

I’ll have my predictions (by conference) up very soon, so you all can begin the mocking process because I didn’t pick your team to finish at the top.  Until then, it’s a reprisal of the quick hitter column.

Wednesday Quick Hitters

  • Kris Russell and Jared Boll have surprised more than a few people by making the roster.  Steve Mason will also serve as the third goalie for the time being.  With no evil GM overlord issuing edicts as to which junior player will be thrown to the wolves this year, it’s safe to assume that these young guys have proven themselves worthy of the opportunity.  And if you’ve seen any of them play (even if it is preseason), you know that this is true.  Russell may be smaller than most, but he makes Duvie Westcott look positively expendable (my wife is going to kill me for writing that).
  • Adam Foote, Fredrik Modin, and Michael Peca are all currently on Injured Reserve.  It’s been reported that Modin and Foote are merely there to assist in trimming the roster to 23 and should be on the ice when the season starts this Friday.  Peca is a different story, as he is not expected to suit up for the opener.  After missing the entire preseason due to a groin injury, and now having questionable status due to back spasms, Peca is a bit of a health concern going forward.  I’m doing my best to not be hasty in my judgement, and I’m not going to allow myself to issue any I-told-you-so’s at this time.  I’m sincerely hopeful that he can rejoin the team on the Nationwide ice soon and help us win some games.
  • Sheldon Brookbank was last year’s AHL Defenseman of the Year.  The Jackets signed him as a free agent, and there was some hope that he could help bolster the depth on the blueline.  I did not hear much about him from training camp or the preseason, so it’s hard for me to have an opinion about seeing him snagged off the waiver wire by the New Jersey Devils.  Does anybody else have any better insight here?
  • We’ve got a cannon this year.  Seriously, we do.  Be prepared.
  • Sergei Fedorov has won Survivor: CBJ Center and gets to play between David Vyborny and Rick Nash, at least for a few games.  It appears, however, that this will indefinitely be an open position.  Look for a few others to get their shot, maybe even Derick Brassard at some point in time.
  • There are two “Number One” goalies on the roster.  Head coach Ken Hitchcock says, “I told them both that we will reward really good play by either one of them. That’s just how it is. If a guy is on a roll or he’s getting shutouts, we will reward that.”  I’m okay with either.  I’ve been more of a Norrena man in the past, but honestly I’m going to support whomever gives the team the best chance to win.  Freddy has the stoic confidence of the old wise man, and Pascal has the sick flashy moves of the brash youngster.  Still, both have conducted themselves in a very professional manner through it all.  I hope this is a good battle, and not one of the lesser of two evils.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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Spotlight on: Goaltending

August 20, 2007

In the final installment of the season ending review process, here is Drew’s look at the Blue Jacket goaltenders.

Goaltenders

Fredrik Norrena

– Age – 33

-Status – Signed through 2008-09

-Pros – Lightly tested early last season, Norrena proved his mettle and earned his stripes as the Blue Jackets number one goalie.  Confident without being flashy, Norrena seems to have the ability to put inexperienced defenseman more at ease and enable them to play within themselves.

– Cons – At the age of 33, it’s too soon to say Norrena is over the hill, but it would be nice to have a legitimate contender for his job under the age of 27.  If the staff decides not to go with a platoon system and give the top netminder 60-65 games, can Steady Freddy handle the load?

– If I were GM/Coach – Norrena is locked in for the next two seasons.  He starts this season as the No. 1 goalie, with the added task of assisting in the development of the much younger Pascal Leclaire.  The hope would be that he can help bring Leclaire into the realm of a very good young goalie.

Pascal Leclaire

– Age – 24

-Status – Signed through 2007-08

-Pros – Speed.  Pascal has the quickest reflexes we’ve seen of any goalie donning the CBJ crest.  Frequently comes up with saves that simply woud not have been possible with Tugnutt or Denis in net.

– Cons – Another young Blue Jacket who wears the scarlet letter of injury, Leclaire has never managed a full professional season without some time on the bench.  His resulting lack of consistent playing time has stunted his development.  Not being between the pipes for more than a few months at a time, it has to be hard for management to know if this is a franchise guy to invest in, or a short lived shooting star.

– If I were GM/Coach – I encourage a year-long training program to facilitate endurance and develop some toughness.  It seems that the new regime in Columbus is more encouraging of the fitness aspect of sports, and is not looking to repeat the Francois Beauchemin mistake.  Leclaire has the ability to be a top goalie in the league, but even Martin Brodeur couldn’t win a Vezina from the press box.

Tomas Popperle

– Age – 22

-Status – Signed through 2007-08

-Pros – Had a good year in Syracuse, his first season in North America.  Popperle has the potential to challenge for a position in the next few years.

– Cons – He has not played enough in Columbus (mop up duty in two games only) for me to form an opinion, but I will list inexperience as a con.  On the bright side of this, Popperle is only 22 years old.

– If I were GM/Coach – I keep Tomas in Syracuse this year, and don’t call him up unless I absolutely have to.  He needs game experience, and as the No. 1 for the Crunch he will get it.  Sitting on the bench in Nationwide Arena he will not learn as much.  I’m very hopeful that the new management team will allow Popperle to develop properly and not rush him to flash-in-the-pan status.

Position overview

Experienced is not a word to describe the Blue Jackets netminders.  The three players listed above have a total of 116 game appearances between them.  Contrast that fact with this one: the top three Detroit netminders have a total of 1,319 game appearances.  Simply put, this is not exactly an area of strength in a developing organization.  The potential is there for many seasons of success, but there is a lot of growing up to do before that level is attained.

Talking heads around the country have mentioned Columbus as a potential landing spot for aged veterans like Ed Belfour and Sean Burke.  If I were in a position to do something about it, I’d let other teams take their chances with these guys.  Not that they couldn’t possibly help the Blue Jackets in the very short term, but it’s not a long term success strategy to throw the big money that would be required to lure one of these guys just to win a few games (right, Doug?!?).  More experienced teams with goaltending needs can afford the trade-off.  The Blue Jackets are not built to win now, and I see a move like that as a great detriment to “moving in the right direction.”

See the rest of the Spotlight Series here, or visit:

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Denis moved to Tampa Bay for Modin

June 30, 2006

Early Friday afternoon, the Columbus Blue Jackets moved goaltender Marc Denis to the Tampa Bay Lightning for winger Fredrik Modin and international goaltender Fredrik Norrena. I happened to see this first on Spector’s Trade Rumors.

The trade clears the picture up for the 2006-07 Blue Jackets. It appears to me that Pascal Leclaire is the #1, and that the top two lines are fairly set at this point. Modin should fit in well with Fedorov and Zherdev on the second line. Michael over at Army of the Ohio wonders if Gallant will put Modin on the first line with Nash (and most likely Brule) because he has somewhat more experience and better production than Vyborny. I don’t think this is likely to happen, mostly because of the chemistry that exists between Vyborny and Nash. This is not to say that there couldn’t be good karma between Nash and Modin, but I think that going into training camp we’ll see Modin on the second line.

Fredrik Norrena is a goalie with no NHL experience, but plenty of international time. Where Norrena fits will depend on how MacLean and Gallant wish to use Leclaire. If, as I suspect, Leclaire is now the uncontested #1 netminder I think Norrena will see 15-20 games as his backup. But if management is not 100% sold on Leclaire as the current full-time guy, I see the Jackets going after one of the many goalies on the free agent market and running a 50-50 split for time (Norrena in Syracuse). The first option is most attractive to me for three reasons. First, I happen to think Leclaire is capable of handling the load. Second, not a one of the potential goalie pick-ups is going to want to play only 41 games. Lastly, why take on $1.5-3 million in salary for a “name” goalie for half your games? I’m guessing that was part of the reason we shipped Denis, so the organization could give Leclaire a raise and bring in a serviceable backup.

I wish Marc Denis the best in Tampa Bay, and I think he has a great opportunity to experience regular season and playoff success. Marc was a class-act from Day One in Columbus, and I expect that Lightning fans will find more of the same in the future. We’re now down to two original Blue Jackets (Vyborny and Klesla), and I’ll be the first to say I’m not too sentimental about that fact. There were only a few pieces from that original squad that I was sad to see go. While Denis was one of them, it seems at this point that the organization is moving in the right direction.