Prediction Time: The Final 10 – and predictions for all teams in the Presidents’ Trophy Race.

We. Are. In. Stanley Cup Playoffs, here come the Jackets. This last prediction piece is going to be a little different. There are currently four teams (CBJ, PIT, WSH, CHI) that have a shot at the Presidents’ Trophy for best regular season record in the NHL. So I am not just going to predict the Jackets last 10 games, we are going to do all four teams. But first, here is how my last 7 game prediction fared:

Predicted: 6-1-0
Actual: 5-2-0

Close, but I really didn’t think we would lose to Buffalo in either of those games. Didn’t play well in Buffalo and they had to be motivated having dropped the last four before that game. The loss last night was tough to watch. A five minute PP and nothing to show for it, but Toronto is really coming on and the win last night vaulted them into third in the Atlantic.

Before I start predicting, what an incredible season. We set franchise records all over the place, have a rookie in the Calder conversation and a keeper who should win the Vezina. We still have the Presidents’ Trophy to play for, its going to be a photo finish.

Blue Jackets

@Washington – The Caps may have taken a nap at the beginning of march but they are 3-0-1 in their last four. Jackets are playing a b2b here. Jackets win to come even with the Caps in the standings.

Philadelphia – 5-2-0 in their last seven, this team may already be on the golf course. Jackets win at home.

Buffalo – Out of the playoff race but still playing tough. They owe me a loss from my last prediction. Jackets make it three in a row.

@Carolina – CBJ sit 2-1-0 on the season against the Hurricanes. The loss came when we were in Carolina. We avenge it – 4 game win streak.

@Chicago – Four game win streak over. 6-0-1 in their last seven (as of 3/23), they are in playoff mode. In their barn, second game in a back to back – it isn’t our night. Jackets lose.

Washington – If my predictions for both the Jackets and Caps are correct, both teams will be coming into this game at 108 points. This game is Nationwide. Goes to OT. Jackets win – Seth Jones snipe 3 on 3.

@Pittsburgh – We are 2-0-1 against the flightless birds this year. Last two went to OT. This could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. Jackets lose in OT.

Winnipeg – Last home game of the regular season. I think coming off the murderers row of Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh we drop a winnable game. CBJ fans already playoff focused.

@Philadelphia – Philly is out of the playoffs, phones this one in. Jackets get back to their winning ways.

@Toronto – My name is Joshua Anderson, you hurt Bjorkstrand. Prepare to die. Jackets win headed into the playoffs.

Prediction: 7-2-1. – That would be 115 points on the season.

Pittsburgh Penguins

@Ottawa – 1-2-2 in their last five. Pittsburgh’s due for a loss Ottawa wins.

Islanders – This game has OT written all over it. Islanders are fighting for their playoff lives. Pittsburgh gets the W in OT.

Philadelphia – Philly has moved on to the first tee box. Penguins win.

Chicago – Tight game against two playoff regulars. Chicago thumped them 4-1 in Chicago. Pittsburgh returns the favor.

@Rangers – Pittsburgh has gone 2-1-0 against the Rangers this year. Two of those wins were by 5+ goals. Rangers remember, get revenge in MSG.

Carolina – Carolina is down two strokes to the Flyers at the turn. Season over. Checked out. PIT wins.

Columbus – Pittsburgh is 1-2-0 against the most attractive looking team in the Metro this year. Last two went to OT. This could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs. Penguins win in OT.

@New Jersey – The Devils skipped golfing and went straight to the 19th hole. Pittsburgh wins in New Jersey.

@Toronto – Toronto’s playoff berth has the potential to still be on the line here. Maple Leafs are more motivated, take this one.

@Rangers – Clean skating pillow fight as both teams don’t want any injuries going into the first round. 2-1 Pittsburgh finish.

Prediction: 7-3-0, 115 points

Washington Capitals

Columbus – The team that everyone swoons for comes to town motivated after coming off a loss to Toronto. Bob between the pipes. Caps lose this one.

Arizona – Coyotes are terrible. Caps win.

@Minnesota – Locked into a playoff spot, Dubnyk makes a last push at the Vezina. Minnesota wins.

@Colorado – Only team more terrible than the Coyotes. Caps win in an empty stadium.

@Arizona – Coyotes skill has not improved in the short gap between games with Washington. Washington wins again.

@Columbus – If my predictions for both the Jackets and Caps are correct, both teams will be coming into this game at 108 points. This game is Nationwide. Goes to OT. Jackets win – Seth Jones snipe 3 on 3.

@Toronto – Toronto continues to battle for their playoff slot. Toronto wins.

Rangers – Caps take it to the Rangers, give them a preview of what a match-up in the playoffs might feel like.

@Boston – Caps just want to avoid injury going into the playoffs. Boston wants a playoff spot. Boston wins.

Florida – Caps finish the regular season with a win over the Panthers, sweeping their three game series.

Prediction: 5-4-1,  113 points.

Chicago Blackhawks

Dallas – Stars aren’t making the playoffs but break Chicago’s six game point streak. Stars win.

@Florida – Jaromir Jagr and the Panthers can’t keep the Blackhawks out of the net. Chicago bounce back, takes this one.

@Tampa Bay – No Stamkos, No win. Chicago wins again

@Pittsburgh – Tight game against two playoff regulars. Chicago thumped them 4-1 in Chicago. Pittsburgh returns the favor.

Columbus – Jackets are on a back to back, Chicago wins at home.

Boston – Boston is pushing hard for the playoffs, more motivated than the Blackhawks, steal one in the United Center.

@Colorado – Colorado is abysmal. Chicago is not. Chicago wins.

@Anaheim – Ducks fighting to stay out of the wildcard spot. Ducks win.

@Los Angeles – Chicago ends the season with a W. Jeff Carter sprains both ankles in warm-ups. All of Columbus rejoices.

Prediction: 5-4-0,  110 points

I believe that this would make the Blue Jackets the Presidents’ Trophy winner based on the tie-breaker of more wins (minus shootouts). Like I said, photo-finish.

Here’s hoping for a CBJ v an Atlantic team first round!

Let’s Go Jackets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prediction Time: Next 7

Here is how I did on the last 13 games: P= Predicted, A=Actual

Vancouver – P: W – A:L

Detroit –P: W – A: W

NY Rangers – P: W – A:L

Toronto – P: L – A: W

Pittsburgh – P: W – A: W

Nashville – P: L – A: L

Islanders – P: W – A: W

@Rangers – P: L – A: W

@Montreal – P: L – A: OTL

Minnesota – P: W – A: W

@Ottawa – P: OTL – A: L

@New Jersey – P: W – A: W

New Jersey – P:W – A: W

Predicted: 9-3-1  – – Actual: 8-4-1

Not bad if you ask me. For this round of predictions, I am only doing the next 7 games so that my final regular season prediction (we are going to the playoffs baby!) is the last 10 games. Let’s chase that President’s Cup.

Buffalo – The Sabres have dropped their last three. We are at home, Bob is in goal, this one’s not close. Jackets win.

@Buffalo – The Sabres have dropped their last four. We are away, Korpi is in goal, this one is closer, Jackets still win in the home/away back to back series.

@Philadelphia – We beat them in OT the last time we faced them, beat them in regulation this time. Jackets win.

Florida – We are 0-2 against the Panthers this season. I don’t think we get up for this one either. Lose a snoozer at home.

NY Islanders – Islanders are trying to keep Toronto at bay for the wild card. We are 2-1 against them, beating them 6-2, 7-0, and losing 4-2 at their place. Florida loss wakes us up, Jackets win 5-2.

@New Jersey – We just beat New Jersey in two of the most boring games of the season. We do it again in New Jersey.

Toronto – Another team fighting to get into the playoffs in that wild card spot. This one is close for two and Jackets pull away. We are getting into playoff form.

Predicted record: 6-1-0

Let’s Go Jackets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prediction Time: Predicting the next 13 with 30 games to go

Current CBJ Record:  34-13-5 (73 points), 2nd in Metro

How we did in the last 13: Not Good. Predicted 10-2-1  Actual – 6-6-1

Game by game recap:

@ Carolina – Prediction – W    Actual – L 3-5

@Tampa Bay – Prediction – W    Actual – W 3-1

@Florida – Prediction – L    Actual – L 3-4

Carolina – Prediction – W    Actual – W 4-1

Ottawa – Prediction – W    Actual – L 0-2

Carolina – Prediction – W    Actual – W 3-2

@Ottawa – Prediction – L    Actual – W 7-6 OT

@New York Islanders – Prediction – W    Actual – L 2-4

@Nashville – Prediction – W    Actual – L 3-4

@ New York Rangers – Prediction – W    Actual – W 6-4

@ Pittsburgh – Prediction – L    Actual – OTL 3-4

New Jersey – Prediction – W    Actual – L 1-5

@Detroit – Prediction – W Actual – W 3-2 OT

Not so hot in the last thirteen, so on to the next 13! I do not think the CBJ we have seen over the course of the last 13 games is the team we will see going forward. If this was our “dip” I will take it. We have really missed Savard the last few contests.

The next thirteen games features 7 straight home games (defend NWA), 6 metropolitan division games, and only one back to back. It appears we are currently tracking to play Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs as long as we can hold off the New York Rangers in the metro standings. The trade deadline will also pass during this thirteen (3/1) and I have to believe some type of move is made, even a small one, to help improve the lineup for our playoff run.

On to the predictions!:

Vancouver – They have looked really soft in the two games I have watched. Jackets win at home, get the home stand started right

Detroit – After the way our last game in the Joe went, this is going to be must see TV. Really chippy physical game. Jackets win with Korpisalo in goal.

NY Rangers – The rangers are perpetually the team we give up bunches of goals to in short durations of time. Close game, Jackets win.

Toronto – Trap game. Toronto has great young talent and this game is squeezed between two metro opponents. Jackets lose in OT.

Pittsburgh – We are feeling good being home this long, win in front of a rowdy nationwide Friday night crowd.

Nashville – The team is already one foot on the five day break, drop a second game to Nashville.

Islanders – Last game in our 7 game home stretch. Jackets win holding Tavares without a point.

@Rangers – Rangers look to gain on the CBJ in the standings, Rangers win in Madison Square Garden

@Montreal – Price finally plays against the Jackets, Habs fans want blood after dropping two games to the Jackets earlier in the season. Jackets lose second in a row.

Minnesota – No streak on the line in this game. Bob and Dubnyk put on a show, maybe each team has some trade deadline additions? Jackets win 2-1 at home.

@Ottawa – Korpisalo looks to make up for the 6 goals he gave up against Ottawa on the last trip. Jackets win in OT.

@New Jersey – We remember the 5-1 thumping we took at home. Repay the favor, Jackets win

New Jersey – We remember the 5-1 thumping we took at home. Repay the favor, Jackets beat New Jersey for the second time in under a week.

Prediction for next 13: 9-3-1.

After this 13 game stretch, only 17 games remain before the playoffs!

Let’s Go Jackets!

Cannonball: Jackets at the Joe One Last Time

Built in 1979 and named for Detroit boxing legend Joe Louis, “the Joe” has long been a hockey temple – a place any self respecting hockey fan has been for at least one game, even if their team wasn’t on the ice. The Detroit Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups in their time in the Joe and hold a record of 25 consecutive trips to the playoffs.

It appears the consecutive trips to the playoffs will end this season as we also say goodbye to Joe Louis arena. I have been to many games and concerts in the Joe and while I am sad to see its tenure end, anyone who has been inside that arena in the last decade knows that this is long past due.

The first time the Blue Jackets played in Joe in October of 2000 Brendan Shanahan had a goal and assist to go with Lidstrom’s two assists and the CBJ fell 4-1. I think our final trip to the Joe leads the Jackets back to the win column tonight after getting thumped at home by an underwhelming (though currently surging) Devils team.

Let’s Go Jackets!

Cannonball: Preview of the Predators

Tomorrow the Jackets travel to music city to visit Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators (6-3-1 in last 10). The Jackets have hit a bit of a skid as of late (5-5-0 in last 10) and have not looked good even in the games we have won as of late. With all-star weekend providing a much needed break to most of the team (except for Jones, Bobrovsky, and hopefully Atkinson now that Malkin is out) which may be just what they need. Not to sound like a grade school coach, but it just doesn’t look like they are having much fun out there right now.

The last three meetings between the Predators and Jackets have not been all that exciting with Nashville taking two out of three games played and all three were won by four goals. Both teams enter this game with a new marquee defender on the roster Nashville via trade (Weber for Subban) and the Jackets via draft (Werenski) and both enter Thursday sporting injuries on defense (Josi for NSH, Savard and Nutivaara for CBJ – Savard may be available).

Here is a quick team stats comparison:

Offense Ranking:   CBJ: 3rd  NSH: 12th

Defense Ranking: CBJ: 4th  NSH: 10th

Power play ranking: CBJ: 1st  NSH: 16th

Penalty Kill Ranking: CBJ: 8th  NSH:10th

Goals per Game AVG: CBJ: 3.30  NSH: 2.75

Goals Against AVG: CBJ: 2.32  NSH: 2.52

PIM per Game: CBJ: 9.1  NSH: 9.8

Shot Differential per Game: CBJ: .32  NSH: .92

Player Highlight:

For the CBJ Cam Atkinson just keeps scoring goals (second in the NHL only to some guy named Crosby) and has done so in the last two games even with being taken off the NHL’s #1 power play unit.

For NSH while former Jacket Ryan Johansen leads the club in points (36), Filip Forsberg has been coming on over the course of the last 15 days after a tumultuous start to the season. He is currently 15-17-32 with a -4 +/-.

Game Insight:

The current question is who will start in goal for the CBJ? Korpisalo has not been strong in his last full showing giving up six in a win against Ottawa (though he did stop the bleeding against NYI once Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up four), and Bobrovsky is coming off a game in which he was pulled (his third this season, Boston, Washington, New York Islanders). Bobrovsky has been the winning goalie in each start following being pulled thus far this season. With Bob’s selection as an all-star, I have to believe he starts against Nashville and then sits against the Rangers immediately following the all-star break. If Bob is in, we most likely win – rhyme optional.

Our vets have to get going. Brandon Saad is on a cold streak that has to end (right?), Dubinsky has been strong in the faceoff circle but only possesses a 7.7% shooting percentage, and Boone Jenner has been invisible for the majority of games this season. On the young guy side of the roster, no one has emerged as dependable in the faceoff circle with both Karlsson (44.8% face off wins) and Wennberg (46% face off wins) continuing to struggle. Luckily, the predators face a similar issue with their 3rd and 4th line guys struggling to get the puck off the dot too (Ribeiro 41.2% and Sisson 48.9%).

For me, this game is less about the Predators and more about the Blue Jackets getting back to better play. Our ten game record does not accurately reflect how poorly we have been defending or that we have gone back to primarily dumpling and chasing rather than possessing into the offensive zone. This involves playing more than one period per game well. We will be a playoff team this year and we have to start gearing up for that level of play.

Worthless stat:

So far this season, Nashville wins 65% of its home games and Columbus wins 65% of its away games

Interesting stat:

The Blue Jackets currently have ZERO players that have played in 10 games or more with a negative +/-. Even lifting the 10 game criteria only two are negative (Milano -1, 2 GP and Bjorkstrand -1, 5GP).

Let’s Go Jackets!

Prediction Time:39 in, 43 to go

We continue to make predictions in 13 game bunches. Let’s take a look at how we have done thus far:

Predicted total record (since beginning of season): 24-12-3

Actual total record: 28-7-4

60 points in 39 games! We are just about to the all-star break and the playoffs are within reach, even with the Metro collectively outplaying the rest of the league. ESPN keeps us at #1 in their power rankings for the third week in a row and we are back in the W column.

The McElhinney move today has left me guessing what game(s) our young Forsberg will be filling in, but here goes the prediction through game 52.

We play Carolina three times in a little under three weeks. Once away and twice at home. Two back to backs in this group of games and our first trips to Pittsburgh, Madison Square Garden and Nashville. Exciting times.

@ Carolina – divisional game against a team that has been in almost every game they have played. OT win carries positive vibes forward, Jackets win.

@Tampa Bay – Bob in goal on the front end of a back to back, Stamos still out of the lineup – three game win streak for the Jackets

@Florida – Forsberg gets his first NHL start of the year. Jagr and company stay out of the penalty box, we drop game one of our two games in the sunshine state

Carolina – Jackets are a different beast at home this year. Take down Carolina for the second time in seven days.

Ottawa – Senators have had a knack for giving up 3+ goals in their losses this season. Load up the cannon, Jackets win.

Carolina – Final game of the groundhog’s day series. OT win for the Jackets who sweep the Puxatony Hurricanes.

@Ottawa – Revenge game after being embarrassed in Nationwide. End up in overtime for the second consecutive game, don’t win this one.

@New York Islanders – Tavares and his crew are missing the magic this year. Jackets win in a tight divisional game.

@Nashville – Seth Jones returns to Nashville, defense stands tall – CBJ 2-0

@ New York Rangers – We lost to them in the last 16 seconds of the last meeting, we beat them outright in the Garden.

@ Pittsburgh – Crosby and company have not forgotten 7-1. Jackets drop in a really physical game.

New Jersey – Return to Nationwide, return to the win column.

@Detroit – Wings aren’t making the playoffs this year, they also aren’t winning this game. Jackets win.

Prediction for this 13 games – 10-2-1.

I am not in love with this prediction as this hopes that Forsberg has a much better showing during this trip up from the AHL

Cannonball: The streak, my fandom and avoiding the jinx

On November 29th the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. It didn’t seem all that significant at the time. Tampa Bay was playing without their all-star captain Steven Stamkos and we had just beat them at their place before we lost in a shootout to Florida three days prior. No one could have known that a shootout loss potentially cost us setting an all-time win streak record just as the NHL prepares to celebrate 100 years. No one could have known that win against Tampa Bay would start a streak that would bring so much media attention that even the guys that sound like buffoons when they mention anything ice related (Mike and Mike) would be giving it that coveted ten seconds before they jump into a stamps.com advertisement.

The guys that write about hockey for a living (outside of our guys at the dispatch of course) wrote about how this fluke would end soon and the team would finally revert to the Blue Jackets they expected – taking their place in the middle of the metropolitan trending towards the bottom. Fans of original six teams cheekily commented how it was cute that the CBJ was finding ways to win games against back up goalies and half-assed competition. We got to 10 straight and the editorial sports writers wrote about how we were defying all logic and our power play couldn’t keep this blistering success rate.

Then, in game 11 we played Pittsburgh at home.

The puck dropped and scoring opened with Sidney Crosby doing his thing batting an airborne puck into our net with an obscene amount of hand eye coordination. After that, it was all Jackets – all the way to a 7-1 win. Just after Foligno hugged Bob that night, the perspective about our Columbus hockey club changed. We went from a plucky bunch of guys punching above their weight to a threat. Top of the NHL in points. Top performing power play. A goalie, coach and rookie being mentioned as candidates for some of the most prestigious hardware the NHL has to give outside of the Cup itself. Hometown fans began scrambling to find out how the expansion draft would affect what is sure to be a dynasty. I became positive that I may never have to write on my blog ever gain.

Every year I pick a small self improvement project to stick with for one calendar year. Many of these endeavors have failed: going vegetarian (lasted 15 days – in retrospect this also was not self-improvement), going gluten free (lasted less than one day), learn a foreign language (banõ is about the extent of what I learned), learn to play the acoustic guitar (I have four chords that I am really, really skilled with as long as you only want to hear them one at a time with no consistent strumming pattern), and increase the business of my side consulting gig (success!). Seeing the above track record, I knew for the 16-17 period (this typically starts in the summer) I needed something that would be low on time investment and it had to fit in with things I enjoyed recreationally. Enter the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I have been a fan since we were blessed with a franchise as a part of the 2000 expansion draft that brought both the Jackets and the Wild into the league. I graduated high school in 2000, I was drinking beer with Jody Shelley and Rick Nash on campus on 15th avenue in 2002 (don’t calculate my age, just know I look a lot like my older brother – at least in his ID photo). When we made the playoffs for the first time against the Detroit Red Wings in the 08-09 season I could not wait for the first home playoff game. I sat with one of my closest friends in the highest seats that nationwide has to offer. Long before we became the 5th line, I spent over $200 (that I really didn’t have) on bourbon in nationwide arena after Detroit scored inside of the first minute never looked back sweeping us out of the playoffs.

I sat in Nationwide at the end of the shortened lockout season watching the Minnesota Wild on the scoreboard lock us out of the playoffs by winning and getting the edge over us via tie breaker. I celebrated our move to the eastern conference and no longer falling asleep on the couch in the middle of all our never ending west coast games. In 2014 I bought tickets to every home game in the playoff series against the penguins. I remember wondering if I had actually gone deaf as I left the stadium after our OT win in game four. I will never forget Dubinsky’s game tying goal or Umberger’s sprawled out poke to Foligno for the OT game winner. My wife and I took our then six-month old son to game 3, the first of many questionable parenting moves we have made – though my son (now 3) may be a bigger CBJ fan than I am playing hockey year round in our living room even though I never actually played the game myself.

The Blue Jackets officially  became a part of our family tapestry that year.

I remember only half-way joking that a fan would get to play if one more person got hurt in the 14-15 season. Hope abounded in the offseason prior to 15-16. I told everyone (much like all CBJ fans were doing) that this was our year, we were going deep in the playoffs and Joey was about to blossom into the all-star we all knew he could be. Bob was going to be Vezina Bob again. We traded for Brandon Saad. Ryan Murray was finally going to be healthy. We named a captain finally.

We sucked. We sucked bad in 15-16.

We traded Joey, fired our coach, replaced him with the coach that tried to fight another coach in the dressing room, and were still enjoying the privilege of watching David Clarkson remind us that Nathan Horton’s contract wasn’t insured every time his overpaid keister skated down the ice. Poor Rimer discussed Torts training camp every ten seconds trying to give us a reason to stick with the team and I think it took 30 games for the commercial with John Davidson telling us how we are here to play for the Cup came off the air. I watched all 82 games, even after being knocked out of the playoffs by Thanksgiving.

This brings us back to my self improvement project for the year. I watched the CBJ already, I wanted to get back to writing in some form, writing is easy (hahahahahahaha), so this would be a breeze. We were the league darling prior to the 15-16 season and our pieces had largely remained the same. I was cautiously optimistic. I had written out some preseason player profile and predictions, but I had not yet named this blog thing. Every pundit in the world was predicting bottom of the heap for us and I thought about a National Lampoons Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold Christmas night type melt down if we had another season like last year. JacketsRant.com was born.

Once the season began I learned two things:

  1. Writing, even about something you enjoy immensely is not easy. At least not writing something remotely interesting. Also if clever doesn’t come naturally to you, it isn’t magically going to come to you when sitting in front of your MacBook.
  2. Just because you write it, doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it.

I struggled finding what I actually wanted to write about, I really enjoyed doing the game predictions, but post game recaps added nothing that wasn’t already out there and bed outweighs staying up to write 10 out of 10 times.

A decision was made. I would write only about one out of every five games, and just give my own editorial about what I saw on the ice – no one was reading it anyway. I picked a game to start this tradition – our rematch with the Montreal Canadiens, they would look to avenge the 10-0 beating we put on them early in the season (my son was in attendance for this game too, he still thinks that when he goes to nationwide that we will hear the cannon every ten seconds).

Then we beat Pittsburgh 7-1. The streak was alive, we were legitimized in the eyes of the national media and I didn’t want to write a damn thing in fear that it would surely jinx us. I was convinced that if I wrote a positive word and expressed any public optimism that even with essentially zero readers that this would cause Bob’s groin muscles to eject from his body, Werenski would remember that he is just a rookie and David Clarkson would somehow be back on the ice giving me a karmic middle finger.

Instead, we won 16 straight. Instead Blue Jackets games weren’t just must see tv for my family, but almost everyone we knew. Instead I got text messages asking me about rules and strategy from non-hockey fans trying to understand the rules so they could claim to be the world’s biggest hockey fans come Monday morning around the water cooler. Our bandwagon was (and still is) taking on all comers. We not only finally began defending nationwide arena, we filled it up. Every game felt like a playoff game. It was absolute magic.

We were present for #16 over Edmonton. I will never forget it. My appreciation for what they accomplished and the timing of it (over the holidays) added something to it that is indescribable. This city wants to love this team. I want this city to love this team.

I am going to complete this writing project as I had planned prior to the streak. One game out of every five games. No deadline other than to myself. Unless of course, the Jackets win ten in a row and then no one would be happier not to write a word.