Cannonball: Jones Out & the Captain leads the way

Damn it Jonesy

Arguably our best overall defender, Seth Jones, is officially on IR for at least the next three weeks with a hairline fracture in his foot. Jones has led the team in ice time with an average of 24:14 per game. His presence is going to be missed dearly. Statistically he has been more than solid. With three goals and three assists, all at even strength though he had a game winning goal in OT, he is currently tied for seventh on the team in total points (6) with Josh Anderson. He is also tied for first, with Jack Johnson, in blocked shots at 21 and is sixth on the team in hits (14). With Jones out, it most likely means that Dalton Prout draws in on the last pairing and Murray gets pushed up to the top pair with Werenski.

I’m the Captain Now

Through the first ten games of last year’s dreadful season Nick Foligno had one goal, four assists, and a +/- of -9. Compare that to this year where Captain Foligno has four goals, eight assists, and a +/- of +4. Not only is he currently tied as the points leader for the Jackets (tied with Wennberg, 12 points), but he also has finally embraced the role of Captain by leading by example on the ice. On two separate occasions where the team could not seem to get the motor running, Foligno dropped the mitts and kick started the team into gear. He seems loose, has been fantastic¬† getting possession on the boards and through his play (rather than his words) has lead the team to a start that has the city of Columbus paying attention. May he keeping giving Bobrovsky that post game hug more often than not.

 

Cannonball: Six games until first divisional play

Stars in Columbus

After starting 3-3-1 (7 points), the Jackets begin a busy November that includes four back to backs and their first three games against two divisional opponents (New York Rangers/Washington Capitals x 2). Tonight the Dallas Stars come to Nationwide looking to avenge the 3-0 shutout delivered to them in Dallas. Bobrovsky starts again in goal (he will have to rest at some point) and holds an 8-1-1 record against the Stars. The first match-up saw a goal from a pass off a linesman, Bobrovsky stonewall a flurry of shots in the second period after we returned to turning the puck over in our own zone, and the first game where the Jackets played all but 5-7 minutes consistently and well.

Dallas has the ability to to turn up the heat quickly with Seguin and Jamie Benn bringing both speed and scoring ability. Benn was out of the first meeting for a brief time taking a five minute penalty after mixing it up with Brandon Dubinsky. Murray returns to the lineup scratching Dalton Prout (who has been more of a liability than normal lately) and Dubinsky is clean shaven in an attempt to make any change that gets his offense going.

The penalty kill was a big part of the last game for both clubs, with the Jackets shutting down 5(!) power play attempts to Dallas wiping out two of the Blue Jackets advantages.

A tough schedule lies ahead, these early season points prior to metro play, seem more important than normal.

The Eye Test

An observation. In the games that we have won, we have done a much better job taking the puck off of the wall and possessing it down the ice. In the games that we have lost, it looks like we are simply whacking at the puck hoping for something positive to come about.

Possession crossing both blue lines is something that I believe separates the elite teams from the middling ones. If you want to have good offensive chances, the puck has to be on your stick. Dump and chase has never been our strongest suit.

The Excitement is Back!

After the 0-2 start, it seemed like it was going to be a glum task doing this writing challenge for the entire season. The last four games however, we have looked way more like a team that can compete in every game going forward. Seeing Foligno start well carries over to the rest of the guys, Bob is doing Bob things (the good kind), and Saad seems to finally be finding himself again in the early going. The young guys are hard to miss. Anderson and Werenski both are making names for themselves in Columbus (Werenski outside of Cbus too) and Seth Jones has a crazy high ceiling.

The excitement is back. Let’s Defend Nationwide. Let’s Go Jackets.

 

The list: Halloween/Superhero Edition

Periodically I am going to create a list involving the Blue Jackets roster. It is going to be total non-sensical fun. Remember that. It’s for fun.

For the preseason list I have taken a few members of the CBJ roster and tried to see which comic book superhero they most resemble or share attributes with.

The Hulk: Dalton Prout – This is a no-brainer, with the only difficulty being I can’t envision any aspect of Dalton Prout’s demeanor matching up with the mild mannered Hulk alter-ego Bruce Banner. Also, I doubt Dalton has the science chops of Bruce Banner. As for the green guy version of Bruce Banner, ole number 47 seems to do a pretty good hulk smash.

Ghost Rider: Brandon Dubinsky – While I don’t think Dubi has made any deals with the devil, I don’t think it would take much convincing to get people to believe he is possessed. He has that Johnny Blaze edge, with the nice-guy persona mixed in there too (who wouldn’t buy an engagement ring from Dubinsky’s jeweler of choice?). In my far too rampant imagination it would be awesome if his head burst into a skull of flames every time he began to lose it on the ice. Crosby is already a little scared of him. This might be unfair to the flightless bird’s captain.

Deadpool: Scott Hartnell – A foul mouthed, always under the skin of whoever is in front of them wise-ass – this just fits too easily. Can we all agree though that as much as we like Hartnell we will pass on seeing him in a red skin-tight spandex suit?

Captain America: Brandon Saad – While not the captain of the hockey team, to be Captain America you must actually be American (unwritten rule). He seems to always have a smile on his face (even after a puck tried to take most of his teeth last year) and even has that combed to the side hairdo like Steve Rogers. Leads the team in offense, leads the avengers in his spare time.

Beast: David Savard – Go to the team website. Go to google images. Go anywhere you can see a picture of David Savard. Tell me I am wrong.

Wolverine: Boone Jenner – Somewhat ill tempered, operates on his terms, is the guy that bring the team together. While I wish Boone had that adamantium skeletal system two years ago when we lost him to the back injury, he is currently the glue to the Jackets physical presence on both ends of the ice. I also would like to think that if he had Wolverine’s claws he would do us all a favor and use them on Pittsburgh fans.

Nightcrawler: Cam Atkinson – Quick, can show up out of no where thank to teleportation, and always an integral piece of the story, just never the lead. I am sure if I did research there would be an issue where Nightcrawler delivered a dog to someone – I just am not that into researching for these lists. No word if Cam was found at a circus like his comic book alter ego.

Lois Lane: Sidney Crosby – Always in trouble or starting trouble and letting someone else fight their battles. If Superman hadn’t spun the world against its rotation would have died under a pile of dirt. I wish someone would do this and take last year’s cup out of Pittsburgh.

 

BOF Report: 10/25 Kings (OTL 3-2)

Basically:

The story of the season thus far is how the Jackets special teams are playing so dominantly. Saad gets on the board for the first time this season and Gagner creates a goal for Atkinson (a beauty). Bobrovsky continues to look tough and was tested with some looks that easily could have been goals, especially in the first period. Transition back in overtime ended up costing us the second point, but Jones has played well thus far so we cannot hold this turnover against him too much. We take the point and move on to back to backs with San Jose and Anaheim.

The Overreaction:

I understand that Murray is hurt, I get it, and to a certain point I am used to it. But why in the holy hell do we keep putting Nutivaara and Prout on the same pairing?!? We might as well hang on sign around Bob’s neck saying “here’s your chance”.¬† These two haven’t been able to get the puck cleanly out of our own end yet. Is Harrington worse than this? WTF?

Final Thought:

Werenski finally had a game where he didn’t make it onto the score sheet. Even without notching a point, it is impossible not to notice him in every game. We constantly hear about developing talent, but this kid has “it” and he showed up in Columbus possessing it before we made any adjustments.

Point Scorers for CBJ:

Goals: Atkinson, Saad

Assists: Foligno, Gagner, Savard, Wennberg

 

BOF Report: 10/15 Sharks (L 3-2)

Basically:

We looked frantic in the first, and for about half of the second, period(s) on the puck. Not only in our own zone, but also on offense. I like the idea of the Jackets playing fast, but being fast without control has never worked for anyone in any professional sport. We settled in towards the end of the game and had some chances that should have been converted (so did they) that could have made for different ending. Bobrovsky has looked good two games in and the great line shuffle to find cohesiveness in-game began. I don’t like that we are 0-2, but am not going all Michael Arace yet in exploring next year’s draft options.

The Overreaction:

Here we go again. Pack it in kids, eliminated from the playoffs before the end of freaking October. Our top line might not make have enough to play third line on some other clubs right now. We have to finish the easy looks. Anderson had one in the first period, Karlsson in the second. Stop thinking and put the puck in the net. Another thing. Don’t talk to me about conditioning ever again, conditioning has nothing to do with the ability to pass the puck from one Blue Jacket to another successfully. Can we also please never put Prout and Nutivaara on the same defensive pairing. That was hard to watch. Get it together!!!

Final Thought:

Bobrovsky had 35 saves for a .946 save percentage. He is doing his part, now we just need to get the offense rolling and that cannot be done if we cannot keep possession of the puck coming out of our own zone. Luckily, other than the Penguins, all other metro division teams have at least one loss or overtime loss so the hole is not as deep as it could be. Chicago comes to town on Friday, have to find a way into the win column.

Point Scorers for CBJ:

Goals: Anderson, Werenski

Assists: Atkinson, Hartnell, Wennberg

Sharks swim into Nationwide

While San Jose made the Stanley Cup finals last year, they did so on a hot playoff run after finishing 3rd in the Pacific. Their power play unit is something to be feared, capitalizing on just over 20% of their opportunities last year. Their goal tending is reliable with Jones in the back and Joe Thornton apparently has found the lazarus pool and still looks just as much a force on the ice at 37 as he ever has. I think it was LeBrun that stated he projected Thornton to get another three year deal. He is the Randy Couture of hockey.

The Jackets best opportunity tonight lies in our power play as this was a glaring weakness in the Sharks game play. The scored on just over 20% of their PP opportunities and gave up just over 20% on the PK. If we stay out of the box, our chances go up exponentially.

With Ryan Murray out after blocking a shot against Boston, Dalton Prout draws in on the 3rd pairing with Nutivaara. To say this makes me nervous is an understatement. Nutivaara looked every bit like a rookie against Boston and Prout has had games in the past where he became a turnover machine in our own zone. We need this line to punch above their weight class tonight.

Let’s Go Jackets. Get on the win train tonight!

The list: Preseason Edition

Periodically, I intend to post a list akin to a high school year book (think “most likely to _____”). It’s for fun, try to remember that.

Most likely to have a breakout season: Alexander Wennberg

Player I would most like to have a beer with: Scott Hartnell

Biggest surprise of the season: Bobrovsky is healthy for the entire ’16-’17 season

Most likely to throw all of the sticks on the bench onto the ice in pregame: TIE Brandon Dubinsky/John Tortorella

Best hair: William Karlsson

Player that is not allowed to meet my wife: Alexander Wennberg

First player to take penalty minutes: Boone Jenner (it’s a positive, he plays aggressive)

Player I would let babysit my children: Nick Foligno

Player I would definitely not let babysit my children: Cam Atkinson (no more pets)

Biggest impact in first 13 games: Sergei Bobrovsky

First CBJ player to drop the mitts this season: Dalton Prout (who else?)

Most likely All-Star game selection: Brandon Saad

Surprise All-Star game selection: Seth Jones

Name that isn’t household yet, but will be: Zach Werenski