Welcome to Boyfriend of the Week, which is almost like it sounds but not quite. No, ladies, this isn’t our weekly gab sesh about who is looking mighty fine (heeeey, Antoine) and who’s starting to look rough around the edges (sorry, Calvert, you have to get those teeth fixed) –that’s Twitter, of course. This is merely my overeager way of talking about my choice for player of the week. And my opinion counts (to me).

As we roll into Friday the 14th of October, one short week after all of the cannon-blowing, gigantic-screen-dropping festivities prior to the Nashville game, we’re looking at a record of 0-3-1, less than ideal attendance, and suddenly all of Canada laughing at us and paving the road to Quebec City (joke’s on you, you can’t have them until 2040). The numbers alone speak for themselves: this kind of sucks. But if you look at it on a game-by-game basis, really only the road game in Minnesota was thoroughly awful. The Nashville game started with promise and kept up with a decent pace. Damn that Pekka Rinne. The Vancouver game was full of fireworks and blowing a lead for likely the first of many times, and a third period that fell apart. The Colorado game was full of promise and felt good, like aloe on a sunburn. Kind of like this: Ahhhhhhh, we’re going to do this, we’re going to get that first win. I can’t wait to enjoy this over a donut on the way h –ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? Oh, the elusive first win.

So how do you pick Boyfriend of the Week when the team is struggling and an overwhelming chunk of the team is underachieving drastically? Well, there is always Rick Nash, with his five points in four games and a pretty decent game vs COL. But he’s Rick Nash, and let’s face it, I can’t pick him every week. So this week’s choice is:

VINNY PROSPAL

Let me admit, when we signed this guy, I didn’t know anything about him other than his name is Vaclav… or Vinny… or something like that, and he’s kind of old (I mean, compared to Ryan Johansen). I thought, “Great. Another Chris Clark/Ethan Moreau/feelsorryfortheoldwashedupguy signing.” But! I have been pleasantly surprised by Mr. Prospal. He’s one point short of Nash so far – he has 4 in 4 games –on a top line that has produced nearly all of the team’s offense. Prospal has brought an unexpected spark on the ‘Superstar’ line, and has looked very, very good. So, in Week One, I salute you, Vinny Prospal, my boyfriend of the week. Keep up the good work, and don’t forget your wallet. I don’t cook on the first date.

Statistical odds and ends, courtesy of the NHL.com Event Summary for the 10/7/11 game:

  • Marc Methot had only 15:33 TOI, the least of the entire D corps, though he was far from the worst. His last shift was with four minutes left in the third. Likely because they were looking for an offensive push on the blue line in the waning minutes, but never the less bizarre. He drew a minute and a half less PK time than Martinek & Tyutin, also.
  • Sometimes the numbers do lie (despite Mike Commodore’s insistence that his -8 last season was the statisticians’ fault): Cam Atkinson was a -2 on the night, the worst on the team (his linemates were -1 each), but otherwise, Atkinson did not have a bad night. He wasn’t a force to be reckoned with, but he had a few great  opportunities dissolved by Pekka Rinne.
  • Let’s talk about Jeff Carter on the face off dot. 24-7? That is more than half of the team’s combined 42 wins on the draw. He looked a little lost at times (we’re not in Philadelphia anymore, Toto), but a 0-2-2, 6 SOG, +1, 77% face off percentage earned last night’s paycheck for Goldilocks.
  • Hit me with your best shot: Without a whole lot of bumping & bruising, the Jackets still took the line on hits, 23-10. Dorsett had 4; Russell, MacKenzie, and Pahlsson each had 3. No word on if Russell’s check on Rick Nash counted toward that number.
  • Give it away, now: Clitsome (3), Atkinson (2), & Russell (2), cost the team, contributing to the ugly 11 team turnovers.
  • TOI leader: Clitsome, 24:29
  • TOI loser: Calvert, 8:55

 

 

Fan Fest is tomorrow – all deets are here – and look at all of those great things going on at once! But how are you supposed to keep track of who is going to be where, and when? You need your jersey signed by the new guys and a picture of Mason with his Claim to Fame Trophy, but how can you make sense of this schedule? Naturally, the answer to this problem is… a spreadsheet! Fangirl-in-chief, here, did all of the grunt work, so enjoy. And don’t blame me when Jeff Carter’s Sharpie runs out of ink because you got there at 6:51. And don’t forget, 8:15 for the on-ice skills competition!

Yellow boxes: Autographs
Smushed up blueberry color: Q&A sessions
Blue: Hockey-related (pass/shoot, street hockey, etc)
Orange: Photos
Green: Video Games

With training camp just one (!!!) short week away, and players already taking to the Nationwide Arena ice for informal practices, and there now being not one but two (!!!) Russells around, your fangirl-in-chief here decided it would be a good idea to step up to the plate and make a study guide in case you’re faced with the awkward situation of a Russell without the benefit of a nameplate, and don’t want to be that guy. Without further ado, we present, “Know Your Russell.”

September 7, 2011

“Heaven is a better place today because of this, but the world is just not the same.”
 The Tragically Hip, “Heaven is a Better Place Today”

Vitaly Anikeyenko
Yury Bakhvalov
Aleksandr Belyayev
Mikhail Balandin
Aleksandr Vasyunov
Josef Vasicek
Aleksandr Vyukhin
Robert Dietrich
Pavol Demitra
Andrei Zimin
Marat Kalimulin
Aleksandr Karpovtsev
Aleksandr Kalyanin
Andrei Kiryukhin
Nikita Klyukin
Igor Korolyov
Nikolai Krivonosov
Yevgeny Kunnov
Vyacheslav Kuznetsov
Stefan Liv
Jan Marek
Brad McCrimmon
Sergey Ostapchuk
Vladimir Piskunov
Karel Rachunek
Evgeny Sidorov
Karlis Skrastins
Ruslan Saley
Pavel Snurnitsyn
Daniil Sobchenko
Ivan Tkachenko
Pavel Trakhanov
Igor Urychev
Gennady Churilov
Maksim Shuvalov
Artyom Yarchuk

Crew
Andrey Solontsev
Igor Zhevelov
Sergei Zhuravlev
Vladimir Matyushkin
Yelena Sarmatova
Nadezhda Maksumova
Yelena Shavina

Hospitalized
Alexander Sizov
Alexander Galimov

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow is the first day of the first month of our favorite time of year. The ice is currently freezing on the floor of Nationwide Arena, and if you’re into keeping tabs of your favorite players on Twitter, it appears the vast majority of them are already starting to come “home.”  Just about a week and a half from now, the first installment of the new pre-season “Fan Fest” will be underway (RIP, Hockey Fest, we had good times together). That morning the kids bus off to Traverse City for the Prospect Tournament, where they will hopefully not embarrass us this time (no pressure). A week later, the big boys report for physicals, the next day they take the ice, the following day is the ever-popular Owner’s Tournament where we install false hope in players who look really good up against junior players. Soon there will be real games (that don’t really count), daily practices, an inevitable injury (I’ll take a refill on my Pepto-Bismol, please), frequent Puck-Rakers posts about which washed up veteran they should trade a talented player for. Then there will be Fox Sports Ohio broadcasts, John Michael’s corny jokes and Jeff Rimer’s incoherent ramblings, the Bill Davidge Drinking Game, and very, very soon it’ll be like we never counted the days, minutes, seconds between putting last season into its shallow grave and breaking the bottle on the bow of this year.

So with that, put on your big boy (or girl) pants, buckle up, and get ready to make fun of a whole brand new year of what hopes to be a lot less dysfunction and a whole lot more fun. And if not, keep the Pepto on standby.

Come to Ricky.

1. Rick Nash will stare longingly into the FSO Cameras an astounding and terrifying 1,372 times.

2. Scott Howson will accidentally pull the wrong Russell aside to tell him he’s been demoted to Springfield. And then demote the other just to save face.

3. Jared Boll will go 1-20. In fights, not points.

Oh... Oh... Ohio State!

4. Jeff Carter will consume 465 gallons of Bud Light (ugh…), and the Ohio State freshman class’ female persuasion will be the happiest it’s ever been.

5. Mike Commodore will be just as slow and crappy as ever and continue to think he’s attractive to young women in their 20s, and that buyout will look better every day.

6. Rick Nash and Jeff Carter will combine for 81 goals and 77 highlights for Skraut’s next video.

Ah, f#@K, not again...

7. The Ghost of Christian Backman Past will again possess the body of one CBJ defenseman, despite numerous attempts at exorcism.

8. On one of their two (2!) Versus appearances, Eddie Olczyk will refer to James Wisniewski as Espen Knutsen, and Mark Dekanich as Ron Tugnutt.

9. The team will score a record-high amount of “goal scorer’s goals.”

10. The Blue Jackets will unveil a new way to enshrine themselves in a brand new embarrassing phallic reference.

 

Oops.

Any other predictions for this year? Fire away!

The largest source of criticism over the signing of James Wisniewski is the amount of money the team has committed to him in his spanking-new contract, and the ensuing argument has been whether or not he was deserving of that type of money. So, why not find out for ourselves? The table below lists the top ten scoring defensemen in the 2010-11 season (Wisniewski ranked fifth):

G A P +/- PPG GW HITS BkS GvA S% 2011-12 CAP HIT
Lubomir Visnovsky 18 50 68 18 5 4 52 116 45 11.8 5.6 M
Nicklas Lidstrom 16 46 62 -2 7 1 49 92 33 9.1 6.2 M
Keith Yandle 11 48 59 12 3 0 30 103 61 5.5 5.25 M *
Dustin Byfuglien 20 33 53 -2 8 6 140 72 59 5.8 5.2 M
James Wisniewski 10 41 51 -14 7 2 108 119 67 6.3 5.5 M +
Tobias Enstrom 10 41 51 -10 6 0 30 137 29 8.8 3.75 M
Christian Ehrhoff 14 36 50 19 6 3 54 108 47 6.7 4.0 M #
Dan Boyle 9 41 50 2 4 2 55 139 51 4.5 6.7 M
Kris Letang 8 42 50 15 4 2 167 109 52 3.4 3.5 M
Shea Weber 16 32 48 7 6 3 211 113 51 6.3 UNSIGNED ^
AVERAGE 13 41 54 5 6 2 90 111 50 7 5.08

* first year of a new contract, increased from 1.2 M in 2010-11
+ first year of a new contract, increased from 3.25 M in 2010-11
# first year of a new contract, increased from 3.1 M in 2010-11; heavily back-loaded contract, actual salary is $10M + $8M bonus, cap hit is seriously misleading
^ unsigned; previous cap hit was 4.5 in 2010-11

The green highlighted boxes on Wisniewski’s stat line are where he is above the average of the ten. He is above average in assists, power play goals, hits, blocked shots, and giveaways. Sixty seven giveaways is certainly nothing to write home about and has him quite a bit ahead of the average, but he also ranks above his high-scoring comrades in other defensive stats (the good ones – blocked shots & hits). Wisniewski’s -14 is also misleading: he was an uncomfortable -18 on the Islanders before being traded to a stable, playoff-bound Montreal team where he was a +4.

Provided that Wisniewski continues his gradual yearly progress (he only had 30 points the year before – still nothing to shake a stick at, though), he appears (at least on paper) to have a good balance of offense and defense. That balance is something the Jackets have long been lacking: what offense they’ve seemed to extract has sometimes seemingly come at the cost of a solid defense (guys like Stralman & Russell, for example).

At a cap hit of 5.5 million, that shakes down to $107,843.13 per point. Compare that to Fedor Tyutin, whom the Jackets are paying approximately $105,324.07. Hardly more than they are paying Tyutin on a per-point basis, with a lot more production. And if you compare Wisniewski to a guy like Shea Weber, whose contract has yet to be market-inflated, they’re paying him only a million more than Weber made last year, and less than he will likely make next year. Compare that also to Christian Ehrhoff who has made out like a bandit from the Sabres’ wallet; his one-point-less has garnered him a Swiss bank account to envy.

In the scheme of things, Wisniewski seems like an overpay, but among his top-10 scoring defensemen, he is absolutely middle of the road. Unless he suffers a steady decline, the Jackets should get exactly what they paid up for.

The verdict: DEAL.

As announced earlier today, Marc Methot has re-upped with the Jackets for four years, and according to the Dispatch, the deal breaks down as follows: “$2.25 million this season, $2.75 million in 2012-13, $3.25 million in 2013-14 and $3.75 million in 2014-15″ (source). Methot, aged 26 and a veteran of 229 NHL games, averaged just under twenty minutes of ice a night, including a regular helping of shorthanded time (second to only the departed Rostislav Klesla). In just his third full season, he has elevated himself to the second pairing and can be depended upon to bring a heavy physical presence to the lineup. But did the Jackets make a good deal signing him to a deal with an average cap hit of $3M? Here is how Methot compares to a handful of his defensive cohorts across the league:


Hits BkS GvA TkA Pts Cap Hit
Marc Methot 176 98 27 21 15 $3M
Braydon Coburn 177 133 51 32 16 $3.2M
Cory Sarich 175 109 51 15 17 $3.6M
Greg Zanon 169 212 28 21 7 $1.9M
Jan Hejda 152 158 30 21 20 $3.25M
Mike Weber 158 99 34 14 17 $950K

Highlighted are both Methot and his most comparable from the above list, Mike Weber of the Buffalo Sabres, who comes in with a surprisingly low $950K cap hit. Methot’s hits – all 176 of them – put him in good company with Braydon Coburn and Cory Sarich, though he is much less likely to cough up a turnover (hey, we like that out of our defensemen, right?), but also much less likely to block a shot. His 98 was only good for third among Jackets defenders, behind departed Hejda (listed for comparison) and Kris Russell (fewer hits, fewer giveaways, $1.3M hit). Methot’s giveways/takeaways are similar to Greg Zanon’s, but Zanon held a considerable edge in blocked shots. These comparisons aren’t worth the imaginary electronic paper they are typed on, but if we pretend that they are, Methot’s deal value can really go either way. It could be argued that Coburn and Sarich’s deals are overpays – thus causing an overpay of Methot – when compared to Zanon & Weber, but we’re going to go on a whim and call this a deal for one reason: the graduated structure of Methot’s contract. His salary for this coming season is only $2.25M, climbing yearly up to $3.75M. If he continues to progress the way he has over the last three seasons, by the conclusion of his contract he should be a mainstay on the top pairing along James Wisniewski and almost a steal at that value, and by the time his salary touches three million, the bottom portion of the defense should be filled out by names like John Moore and David Savard, who will likely still be entry level or on sub-million contracts.

The only question left to be asked is, with the commitment to Methot, what and who can they afford to round out the second defense pairing with?