Tag Archives: Kris Russell

Boyfriend of the Week: Week 2

Well, after an explosive (or, shall we say, implosive) first week of the season, jammed-packed with four games, week two was not so accomodating. With only two games on the schedule — both against Dallas, both losses — there wasn’t much to work with in picking this week’s Boyfriend. Yet again, we got only two goals in each game, each coming from a different guy (Prospal, Giroux, Brassard, Russell). Secondary scoring finally showed up, yay! It would be easy to pick Prospal again, especially on the basis of: he’s leading the team in goals and his public calling-out of his teammates’ effort in the Dispatch (speaking of — good on you, Vinnypants, let’s go on a second date?). But… I don’t make anything easy! In lieu of starting repeats already, I’m going to pick a brand spankin’ new boyfriend this week: KRIS RUSSELL. 

D'awww, don't act like you didn't see this coming.

In honor of his greatly improved play from Game One until now, and despite the fact that he was a part of the group EpicFailure that allowed Jamie Benn’s highlight reel goal, he did score a pretty fantastic goal from the blue line that we need to see a lot more of from our defensemen. Especially him. Not to mention, shortly after his goal, he showed tremendous battle and kept Dallas from scoring on the vacated net in the waning moments of the game Tuesday night when the pressure cooker was turned up on high. The little guy is showing great “compete” (as our trusty broadcasters like to say) and his effort has picked up ten-fold. At a point (already) in this season where effort level may be the deciding factor between 0-5-1 and, perhaps, 3-3 or better, it’s important to give kudos (or brownies, or cupcakes) to a guy who has not taken a night off. Since Opening Night, anyway. But we’re going to pretend that game didn’t happen.

So, Krissyface, much to the groans and chagrin (also, “non surprise”) of my friends, you are Week Two’s Boyfriend of the Week. #10 in your programs, #1 in your hearts! (Or just mine.) Keep playing well and pretty soon the media will be forced to find even more creative ways to make fun of you! ;)

Blue Jackets by the Numbers: 10/7 vs. Nashville

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

Know Your Russell

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.”

Ten Perfectly Serious Blue Jackets Predictions for 2011-12

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!

Blue Jackets By the Numbers: Part II [Defensemen]

For part two, we’re analyzing 2010-11 output [only] for all of the defensemen who played a measurable amount of time in a Blue Jackets jersey. It is no secret the defensemen were terrible, but let us illustrate, anyway.

Among the things that stand out:

Plus Minus: Only three guys maintained a plus-rating in their tenure. One being Rusty Klesla, whose numbers are diminished by the fact that he was traded at the deadline and was not around for the final damning slide. Two others who maintained a plus are Grant Clitsome and Marc Methot, who easily were the team’s best defensemen. Plus/minus, of course, is an oft-argued, hard to defend (pun intended) stat, but it can often be so telling. Fedor Tyutin being even at home, but -12 on the road? Kris Russell being +1 on the road but -10 at home? Hejda clearly much worse at home than on the road? These guys could use a dose of consistency.

Blocked Shots: Apparently this is something that Jan Hejda and Kris Russell have learned to do, but not many guys are following suit. Surprising for Methot to have only blocked 98, given his strength and size, same for Tyutin. These guys have to get over whatever fear they have of laying down in front of a puck. As defensemen, you know, it’s their job. The more shots they block, the less Mason/Garon/Goaltender-to-be-named-Later have to turn aside. Novel idea, yes? Let’s work on this, boys.

Anton Stralman, you heartbreaker: For the guy acquired to be the offensive touch and PP QB and who argued his case damn near into arbitration and to an overpriced deal, who has been given chances upon chances when he probably didn’t deserve them, Anton Stralman had 1 goal (on the powerplay, hooray!), and 17 assists (I’ll take those). A minus rating both on the road and at home. The team scored only 45 goals while he was on the ice. He only had 39 hits, 46 blocked shots, 15 takeaways - are we sure this guy is suited to be a defenseman?

Grant Clitsome just makes everybody better: Grant Clitsome played 31 games and had 19 points. Two power play goals (more than anybody else), a shooting percentage of 8, was out for FORTY goals-for (remember, in less than half as many games played), only 27 goals against (Tyutin, Hejda 90 and 89, respectively), and while he did spend time on the PK unit, only 4 PPG against. Grant Clitsome, welcome to the NHL. If the Jackets don’t re-sign him…

Next Year: Only Tyutin and Russell are under contract for next season, along with a handful of AHL rookies who will be fighting to make the jump in camp. The Jackets should undoubtedly reward the matured play of Methot and Clitsome with contracts. The verdict is out on Hejda, who supposedly is looking for a multi-year deal. It’s hard to jive with that when his effectiveness has declined with each year. Stralman just needs to go. His good play was so shortlived it’s hard to believe it even happened.

Defending the Defenseman: Kris Russell starring as… Kris Russell

It’s almost comical how the perceptions fans – and sometimes media – have for players is how a player is expected to develop. Obviously you expect good things from first rounders (Derick Brassard, Nikita Filatov) or guys who have big first seasons (Steve Mason).  Sometimes you’re gifted with met expectations (Brassard, to some degree), and sometimes you’re left wanting more (Mason, Filatov). But realistically, not every first round draft pick is going to turn into a Rick Nash or a Steven Stamkos. The talent is not always that deep. As evidenced in the 2010 draft – there were two primary prospects who were expected to be the crème of the crop. (Were they, in retrospect? Not yet, at least.) The other 28 kids taken in that round were, essentially, the actual first round. You can’t expect #30 to be #1, and you can’t expect it overnight.

Photo by Elise Lotz

Similarly, why does anybody expect Kris Russell to be Drew Doughty or Cam Fowler? They were different-round picks. Different ages. Different sizes. Different backgrounds. Russell was a 30-goal scoring WHL Defenseman of the Year, but he is a 5’10” (generous), 180 (again, generous) sometimes-clumsy-but-speedy skater. He was also a third round draft pick because of one thing: his size. That is the same reason teams were hesitant to draft him higher and is the same reason he has gone through growing pains in the NHL. He isn’t conveniently large like Marc Methot – he has to use his feet, stick, and mobility to get into places the bigger guys just are. (Sidenote, Russell has 31 more blocked shots than Methot and 37 more than Tyutin, our so-called defensive defensemen.)

And who says he’s got to score 20 goals to be effective at his “style” of play? He is a “puck-moving defenseman” not a “goal scoring defenseman” and has excelled in moving the puck up ice as he’s expected to (in a way that only he and Clitsome have managed to do). But that doesn’t always translate to the score sheet. If the forwards aren’t effective with the puck themselves, the ability of the defenseman to move the play out of his zone goes unnoticed on the score sheet and shamefully, to the eye of most of the fans. But for the most part, Russell’s ability to move the puck forward does not come at the expense of the defense the way it hurts Fedor Tyutin or Anton Stralman.

Is it because the Dispatch and the media like to tout every player as “the next [insert player here]” that people build up unreasonable expectations of players? Did Scott Arniel or Scott Howson ever tell you that Kris Russell was going to be a Norris Trophy winner? No. He fits the bill for a third-rounder, 5’10”, low cap-hit player moving into his fifth season in the fall, and that’s exactly what he is.

Carrying the Flag: Around the CBJ Blogosphere

    Kris Russell will miss the IIHF World Championships
  1. From Puck Rakers - Russell Out of Worlds: Update on defenseman Kris Russell, who according to Scott Howson has a spiral fracture of his tibia. He’s been ruled out of the World Championships, but who isn’t? Rick Nash (Canada), Fedor Tyutin (Russia), and Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic).
  2. From Carry the Flag – Methot Set to Wear Half Shield: With Marc Methot‘s decision to switch to a visor for 2011-12, Dan – a hockey player himself – gives us his $0.02 on the matter.
  3. From The Cannon – Game 80: Insult and Injury: As always, Matt conjures up a pretty in depth look at the last game, with a pretty interesting point – “Does anyone else feel a moment of bemusement that there was a disputed goal in yet another game against Dallas, and Derek Dorsett was involved each time?”
  4. From the Dark Blue Jacket – DBJ’s crowdsourced ballot for the 2011 NHL Awards: In lieu of our beloved (protesting) NHL writers doing it, DBJ is running a fan vote for the NHL Awards. Check it out and weigh in on his Facebook page.
  5. From Fire the Cannon – Eric Smith’s Weekly Podcast: This week featuring Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch and rookie Cam Atkinson.

Jackets Lose Game, Defenseman

What is there left to say? Much like their previous game against St. Louis, the Jackets played a listless, sloppy game against the Dallas Stars. They tossed 23 shots at Lehtonen, but he was able to turn aside all of them. At the other end, Mathieu Garon made his third straight start with Mason on the wayside, and stopped 27 of 28 shots, but all it took was one by Steve Ott to break through and win the game. The Stars would get two empty net goals after a last minute desparation goalie-tug, and the Jackets weren’t able to materialize anything in response. They were again without the services of Rick Nash (injury), Jan Hejda (suspension), Anton Stralman (illness), and Steve Mason (injury) among others, but it’s hard to say if any or all would have made any impact.

It was an uneventful game, lacking fireworks yet again. It’s hard to believe a week ago the same team put up a 60+ minute effort and walked away with points from Washington and Chicago both, only to turn around and play dead against St. Louis and ghostwalk their way through sixty minutes against Dallas. It could have been much worse in Dallas, had Garon been shaky, or had Dallas really ever been on their game. Instead, they lose 3-0. Clearly, they have mailed it in and are thinking about  next season. Unfortunately the rest of us are trying (unsuccessfully) to enjoy the 120:00 we have left in this one.

On only his second shift of the game, Kris Russell spun around in a twisted heap after Antoine Vermette shoved a Dallas player around the net into Russell. He crawled, literally, to the locker room tunnel and was helped the rest of the way out. After the game, @APortzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported the defenseman broke his ankle and, obviously, is done for the remainder of the season. Tough break for Little Shake who had been struggling of late after a long, slow start to the season recovering from a knee injury. Hope is that he heals up quick over the summer and comes back better than ever.

Jackets drop two & other notes

  • Friday, vs. Chicago: The Jackets got off to a slow start (sound familiar?) and allowed Chicago to jump to a 2-0 lead in the first, but goals by Maksim Mayorov (the first of his NHL career) and Derick Brassard (his 16th) had the game tied at 2 after two periods. Samuel Pahlsson gave them the go-ahead goal, but wouldn’t you know - a minute and a half later, Bryan Bickell tied it back at three. The game would go to a shootout and in true Columbus Blue Jackets fashion, they would go 0/3. Viktor Stalberg beat Garon to seal the victory. Money quote, by head coach Scott Arniel (source): “We’ve made a decision as a league that we’re going to entertain at the end of the night and we’re not going to go home with a tie game. We’ll work on the shootout part… but we don’t back off in overtime. These guys learn how to play in pressure packed situations. It’s unfortunate we’ve lost so many shootout games, but we’ve done a great job of learning how to play under pressure.” Are you sure about that, Coach? I’m a supporter of Arniel for the most part, but I don’t think he knows his team any better than we do.
  • Friday, part two: With Steve Mason sidelined with some sort of undisclosed injury (bruised ego? mono? the clap? softgoalsandnodefenseitis?), David LeNeveu was brought up from Springfield (the Falcons, not the Indians, because this is not 1994). In 41GP with SPR, LeNeveu was 16-20-2 with a 2.97/0.896. His prior NHL experience, with Phoenix, is limited to 21 games. We won’t share those stats, because you don’t want to know.
  • Also on Friday, forward Derek MacKenzie was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He was the Blue Jackets’ nominee for the award. The Masterton Trophy is awarded, “under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.” MacKenzie is a veteran of 124 NHL games – half of which have come this season in his first full NHL campaign – and 550 games at the AHL level, where he spent parts of nine seasons before going full-time. MacKenzie is a small, defensive forward without a whole lot of talent, but what he lacks there he compensates for in his grit. He’s contributed 9 goals this season playing in a variety of situations.
  • Jan Hejda was suspended two games for an elbow to the head of Blackhawks’ Marcus Kruger. It was clearly unintentional but deserved, a consequence of the league’s wanting to cut back on careless hits to the head. Hejda is the first Blue Jacket suspended since Jared Boll was assessed a one-gamer in October of 2008 for a late instigator penalty.
  • Blue Sunday: Apparently the Blue Jackets were not privy to their own schedule and forgot to show up to Sunday’s matchup with St. Louis. They were a listless, sloppy, passive bunch in a 6-1 loss. RJ Umberger, playing in his 243rd consecutive game as a Blue Jacket, got the only goal (a power play one, at that). He set a new career high in points (56) and is one off his previous record of 26 goals. Jaroslav Halak turned away the other 23 shots he faced – most of which really were not great ones. Garon was replaced by LeNeveu in the third period with the score already 4-1. Stralman, Upshall, and Russell were each -3, and the only highlights of the night were a long battle between Derek Dorsett and the much-heavier Ryan Reaves, and a not-so-spirited battle of the under-six-feet club between Kris Russell and Vladimir Sobotka. It’s okay to laugh, really.

Avs 5, Jackets 4: Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea…

Rick Nash, in full streak-mode, knocked home his 32nd goal of the season just 2:14 in the first period with some help from Derick Brassard carrying the puck coast to coast. Brassard and Kris Russell both assisted, bringing them each to a career-best 28 assists for Brassard and career-high 23 points for Russell. Ryan O’Reilly evened it up just a few minutes later as bodies were flying in front of Steve Mason and a series of passes drew the defensemen away from the net.

For the first two periods, the Jackets didn’t amaze anybody, but they played a tight game. Midway through the second, with Marc Methot in the box, Derek Dorsett intercepted the puck at the blue line and dropped it across to Derek Mackenzie who was able to knock it past netminder Brian Elliot for their first shorthanded goal of the night.

In the third, RJ Umberger tore out of the defensive zone on another Avalanche power play and ripped an easy shot over the shoulder of Elliot to make it 3-1. According to the Blue Jackets PR department, that was only the second time in team history they scored two shorties in one game. The other came in February 2007.

But nothing ever comes easy. With their foot off the pedal, Matt Duchene popped a pinball past Mason at 7:44 (just forty-four seconds after Umberger’s shortie) and 14:36. Colorado was abuzz in the third with their gained momentum, and both Duchene goals could have been prevented had the defensemen and Mason both had any sense of each others’ whereabouts.

Hopefully you had your seatbelt fastened and your seat in the upright position. It got bumpier from there. Two minutes after Duchene’s 3-3 goal, Umberger clobbered Elliot and squirted the puck past him. Why wasn’t that goaltender interference? Who knows, but the Jackets had taken another lead! 4-3, under four to go.

Good to go, right?

Wrong. Daniel Winnik had something to say about that. With four seconds left in the game he tied it at four. There was no excuse for the Blue Jackets to give up that goal. Sure, it was six-on-four, but clearly they were already thinking about the bus ride to the airport. The net was half empty for Winnik’s shot. Both teams had some brilliant chances in overtime, but ultimately it would go to everybody’s least-favorite overtime of overtime.

Do we need to elaborate on what happened next, or can you guess? Columbus was 0/3. Milan Hejduk, the never-aging pest of a Jacket killer, scored. Colorado 5, Columbus 4.

The Jackets have lost six consecutive shootouts.

The broken record sings on.

Columbus is back at it on Thursday against Phoenix. Make sure to take your Dramamine and/or Pepto.

For a Colorado look at things, check out Katie’s recap at Hockey Without Oxygen.