Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday vs. Calgary

Jeez... I had this entry written yesterday and I forgot to post it.

On to Wednesday's game. My thoughts on Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf and forward Robyn Regehr have never really been flattering. Phaneuf's a tough guy and plays a bit rough. I can accept that as part of the sport, and I can respect that most of the time. That hit on Umberger Wednesday night (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unZK4sBsuko) was worthy of an ejection and probably a suspension. I doubt the NHL will do anything beyond that, as Umberger finished the game.

Robyn Regehr has always been a hard worker and a rough player. But the cross-check to Derek Dorsett's face, and he gets only a double-minor (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaPGORixIEM) -- and one of those is offset by a matching penalty? You can't really see the profuse amount of blood because the clips is so digitized, but trust me -- it's absolute garbage. The NHL is supposedly looking into it. Again, I'm not holding my breath.

But sadly, as upset as I was about those two things, the one that made me sick to my stomach:

The fact that the winning shootout goal was scored by a man who never should have been permitted to put on pads in the NHL, or any league, ever again. Of all of the ill-advised, stupid things Gary Bettman could have ever done, if the reinstatement of Todd Bertuzzi is not the worst, it’s really damn close.

Can a guy run for NHL Commissioner? I may want to form an exploratory committee...

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Second Opinion on "Dr. Hockey"...

It is official: Pascal Leclaire is out for the season now (Dispatch link here: http://blog.dispatch.com/cbj/2009/01/leclaire_out_for_the_season.shtml). It's such a shame. Obviously, any CBJ fan is overjoyed that Steve Mason has been great in goal. But man, it sucks to lose Pazzy.


Which brings me to this post. So I was checking out Twitter yesterday -- as I recently added a bunch of hockey resources to my "Following" list -- and I stumbled upon this link from canoe.ca (http://vyous.com/sports/nhl/bluejackets/2009/01/19/this-jacket-no-longer-fits---canoeca) from "Dr. Hockey." In it, he talks about Mase's brilliance, obviously... and Pazzy's injury woes. However, he goes rather doom-ish on Pazzy's future, saying he "has gone from being on the verge of star status in the NHL to on the verge of being shipped out of Columbus."

Hold on, doctor. All due respect, but I'm gonna call for a second opinion. Aren't we jumping the gun a little here?

A) Don't get me wrong. We all love Steve Mason. However, no one really knows if he is the Second Coming or not. You can't anoint anyone like that based on one season.


B) When Leclaire is healthy, he is very, very good. Don't write him off just yet.



If you dump a good goaltender just because another one gets a little hot streak going, then you end up with a goaltending situation like the Avalanche. David Aebischer was a good goaltender after Patrick Roy retired. Then Peter Budaj got hot, and the Avs made the mistake of trading Aebby away to Montreal for one of the most overrated netminders to ever put on pads (and Jose Theodore wasn't even HEALTHY when the trade was made), and tried to equate it with the Roy trade of '95-'96. Yep... that helped. The Avs' goal situation has been a mess ever since. Now Raycroft is hot, but are they just going to ship Budaj, or are they going to learn from their mistakes?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Scott Howson can handle this goaltending situation (if there is one) more wisely than Avs GM Pierre Lacroix has handled... well, anything in the past three or four seasons.

Tell you what, Doc. With a healthy Leclaire, the Jackets could have a goaltending tandem that would be the envy of the NHL. Glad I found your column, by the way. It's a good read.

Heal up well, Pazzy. We'll see you in camp in September.

Oilers tonight. Go Jackets!

Eh, maybe just a little adjustment on defense...

So, after an upsetting loss to a good New Jersey team -- decided by a goal that the guys in the so-called "War Room" in Toronto probably should have disallowed -- the Jackets embarked on what is usually a twice-a-year ritual known as the Western Canadian Road Trip to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

For a usually-non-stellar road team like the Jackets, these trips tend to be hellacious. But, especially considering how well they've been playing lately, I was happy to realize that I'd be able to catch much of the game driving back from Hershey, Pa. (more on that later), once I got within range of CD101. We even got home in time for the OT and shootout.

Obviously from Hitch's post-game comments, the rollercoaster ride was not the most preferable way to earn two points. However, you have to like their being able to tie it up at 1 in the first, then come back to tie at 3 way late in the second. By the way, that Rick Nash wraparound to tie it at 3 was so good, it was sick. Nice welcome back from the IR, man. Wow.

So, Edmonton on Tuesday... yet another battle for eighth place (Oilers are up a point for eighth), although Minnesota could push the Jackets to 10th with a win tonight.

Friday, January 16, 2009

About Sean Avery...

The problem with not keeping up with a blog is that sometimes you promise stuff (although I'm not sure anyone's reading this blog yet). In my case, I was going to talk about Sean Avery (see my lone December post, talking point #4).

Now, since the Stars got rid of him after he said incredibly unflattering (putting it very lightly) things to the press about an ex that was dating a Calgary Flames player, I was afraid I'd never find an excuse to weigh in and have it still be relevant.

It may still not be relevant.

However, thank you, Mike Modano.

Modano apparently talked to writers this week, talking about how the Stars could have avoided the whole Sean Avery mess by doing a little advanced research before signing him (http://www.nationalpost.com/rss/story.html?id=1177286). It's a really good point, you know? Look up Sean Avery's track record.

Well, duh. Although Avery's rude comments about his ex were shocking, it wasn't the first time he had opened his mouth. And let's not forget the "Sean Avery Rule." When you're looking at a guy who basically caused the NHL to immediately enact a sportsmanship-related rule on screening a goaltender (clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb4WaZMVtyE) and last year's playoffs, are you really ready to throw about $4 million dollars a year at him?

Even more shocking: While looking this up, I learned that apparently the Stars are still on the hook for all the money in that contract. Four years, $15.5 million dollars.

Nice signing by co-general manager Brett Hull. I seem to recall a CBJ game against the Red Wings on NBC a couple seasons back, in which Hull said something to the effect of the Blue Jackets having the worst GM (Doug MacLean), front office, or something about it being a poorly run team.

A bit strongly worded. Not entirely true, not entirely untrue. MacLean had his moments.

However, signing the NHL's second most annoying player -- whose horrid conduct outweighs his moderate skill in hockey -- to nearly $4 million a year, and then continuing to pay him that money for four years while he "gets help"? In the Salary Cap Era of the NHL, is Brett Hull going to tell people that he's a good manager?

Here's a hint, Mr. Hull: Sean Avery is not going to "get help," or "get better." John Rocker never "got better."

Meanwhile, Sean Avery gets to sit and make money for the next four years, even if no NHL team wants him. He must be one hell of a negotiator to get that.

Well... ya gotta love progress...

... I don't mean progress on my resolution to update this thing more often. Obviously I've blown that for another month.

But let's review:

The Blue Jackets are currently residing in ninth in the West, as Minnesota apparently won last night to go up by a point. The Jackets play the New Jersey Devils tonight, who miraculously are ten games above .500, despite the fact that Martin Brodeur is out until (I think) March (don't quote me on that) after elbow surgery. I mean, really... who knew the Devils had a decent backup goaltender?

Who knew they needed one? I'm not necessarily an expert, but I'd say if you asked your average NHL fan who Scott Clemmensen was before this season. You'd get a blank stare... his or her head might even explode.

Well, apparently, he's quite good this season... probably still has a few seasons to wait for Brodeur to retire before he could ever be The Man in Jersey. He'll probably jump via free agency before that, anyway.

Enough of that. The Devils are usually pretty good. Other than that, who cares....

Back to the good guys!

Steve Mason is pretty much the talk of the NHL right now. He has tended goal brilliantly, sits at 16-9-1 on the season, leads the league in goals-against-average and shutouts and is second in save percentage. Jackets have won seven of their last nine games, and four of Mase's six shutouts have come in that span. En fuego is only the beginning of how to describe it. Oh, and he's the NHL Rookie of the Month for November and December (and C Derick Brassard won it in October).

And he's 20 years old. Is he the next Patrick Roy? Well, if we win the Cup... I don't think many would argue with me. Maybe that comparison isn't quite appropriate, actually. The Star-Ledger of Trenton reported today that Mase actually grew up idolizing Brodeur (http://www.nj.com/sports/index.ssf/2009/01/devils_brodeur_was_columbus_go.html). Oh, well.

Anyway, tonight's game will mark the first for Jason Williams as a Blue Jacket. The CBJ traded for him this week to get help on the league's worst (by no small margin at 11.0%) power play (Phoenix and Nashville are 28th and 29th with 13.4%). I'm a little bummed that Clay Wilson is gone. We saw him a few times as a late-season call-up, and man, did that kid have some energy. He played his ass off.

Nash might play tonight, and I think Raffi Torres is expected to be back tonight. Either one (or better, both) would be good news tonight. I'm actually almost glad I'm not going to be at the Arena tonight. When the wind tunnels down the Arena District, it is nasty. And it's supposed to be minus-whatever again. Ouch.

Go Jackets!