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!

In the first installment of Blue Jackets By the Numbers, we’re going to compare all of the returning forwards’ statistics from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

It is no surprise that Rick Nash is at the top fo the list once again. With his 66 points (down one from last season), he put up exactly the same the same points-per-game ratio at 0.88 per game, also the best on the team. Second this season was RJ Umberger, at 0.70, just slightly up from the season before.

The Conundrum That is Jake Voracek
This season, Voracek was elevated to the first line for the majority of the season, where he played alongside (when healthy), Derick Brassard and Rick Nash. At times, the line was unstoppable, and other times they couldn’t seem to find each other or differentiate their head from their rear ends. Jake played just one fewer game this season than last (two games missed due to Scott Arniel’s Healthy Scratch Hammer of Doom™), and put up just four fewer points. So why the drama over his lack of production? His 46 points were only one less than his highly-lauded linemate Brassard, and his plus/minus was better (though still not great). Yet as the season winded down, Voracek was the whipping-boy, with his rough twelve game slump. But why was Voracek so unappreciated over Brassard?

Speaking of Brassard…
Yes, he did look as good as we thought. His ice time jumped over two minutes a game on the average, and in five fewer games, he had eleven more points. It’s safe to say that he stepped up to the plate in his new role on the top line. 47 points, however, is underwhelming for a top-line guy playing beside Rick Nash, but he made strides in the right direction.

Second Line, Where Are You?
Kristian Huselius was limited this year to only 39 games, nearly half of what he played the season before. But when he was in the lineup, Juice and Antoine Vermette were absolutely unacceptably ineffective for a second line – 0.59 and 0.57 PPG, respectively, and down from 0.85 and 0.79. Why haven’t Huselius and Vermette received the kind of slack Voracek has? Sure, Juice wasn’t healthy, but when he was, he wasn’t good. And Vermette had an absolutely brutal season: a drop of 18 points without losing any games to injury. The only saving grace for the second line was the predictably predictable, never-wavering RJ Umberger and his 57 points. The second line – if this is the second line in 2011-12, HAS to be better.

Secondary Step-Up
Andrew Murray lost  most of his year to various injuries, but Weighty put up one more point (8) in only 29 games this season. Derek MacKenzie, finally seeing his first full-time action, stepped up just as beautifully: 23 points in 63 games, while averaging 2:09 more a game. For a fourth-line grinder sometimes thrust into top-line duty, D-Mac took the increased role on well.

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.

Photo by Bridget Samuels

If you, at any point in this game, had any confidence in the outcome of the game, you’re lying. It started interestingly enough, as Rick Nash got off the schneid with his thirtieth goal of the season, assisted by Derek Dorsett and Sammy Pahlsson. Pahlsson chipped the puck to Dorsett along the boards, who flipped it over to Nash who was steaming into the zone full speed. Confidence level at this point: 6! But, of course, that wouldn’t last long as just under two minutes later Minnesota got a goal of their own off the stick of Brad Staubitz, his first of the year. Confidence level: shrinking.

In the second, everybody’s favorite name to laugh at, Cal Clutterbuck knocked the go-ahead goal past Mathieu Garon. Suddenly the Jackets were in full-on defenseless mode, battling with the Wild both competitively and physically. It got chippy — Grant Clitsome was injured on an uncalled knee-on-knee hit — and then Dorsett danced with Staubitz (embarrassingly) after a hit on Sami Lepisto. Dorsett got the worst of the fight and a misconduct and instigator to go along with it, but the team absolutely had a subsequent spike in energy. With under a minute left in the second, a whiff by Nash was redirected by Lepisto to the blue line to Kris Russell who fired it past Backstrom to tie it at two.

Going into the third, after a goal by Jan Hejda and another by the Captain to make it 4-2, things were looking good. But no, this is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Things can’t be that easy, right? A two-goal lead more than halfway into the third… no, no it can’t be that easy. Antti Miettinen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard had something to say about that. Garon gave them too much net to work with and the capitalized.

Off to overtime. Interestingly enough, the NHL.com Event Summary sheet had the score as 5-4 Columbus at the end of regulation, with a phantom goal awarded to Antoine Vermette. Apparently, the NHL has ESP, as Antoine Vermette took a shot right into a flurry of  flustered Wild players in the crease and won the game for the Jackets with 0:34 to go in OT.

Some notes, courtesy of CBJ PR guy Ryan Holtmann:
– Their 17th road victory of the season surpasses the franchise record of 16 previously set in 2008-09.
– Sami Lepisto had three assists for the first time in his career, also setting the single-game assists record for CBJ defensemen.
– Jan Hejda now has a career high in goals with 5.
– Rick Nash & Jarome Iginla are the only two players to currently have four consecutive 30-goal seasons.

– The Blue Jackets lost this game the way they have lost most of their season: by blowing ample opportunities to put the game away. They were able to pull Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask away from his net and give themselves a handful of golden, empty-net opportunities but were only able to capitalize on two chances – one from Scottie Upshall in front of a completely empty net.
— Their powerplay was nothing to write home about. In fact – only Boston scored on the Jackets’ PP.
— Steve Mason made some key stops. He had a quick glove and looked rather confident coming off the big W in Raleigh.
— Fedor Tyutin was – and pardon our Russian – Fyucking Terrible. The last two games especially, Tyutin has been incredibly soft on the defensive side of things. In Carolina he took two penalties while illegally defending because he was too slow to keep up otherwise, and against Boston he was just flat out no good. Yet, Scott Arniel remains a fan and rewards TurnoverTyutin with 25 minutes of ice time on a regular night. Who knows why.
— Paging Rick Nash. Repeat, paging Rick Nash. Where, oh where, has Rick Nash’s scoring ability gone? Somewhere in the septic tank with the team’s playoff hopes. He hasn’t scored since February 22nd. He’s garnered assists – somehow – but his effort has been really poor. It isn’t news to anybody that Rick Nash’s “streakiness” has hints of “just not giving a sh*t” but as the team has dropped out of the running, so has Nash’s momentum. Nash apologists would disagree, but the $7.8M man has been a disappointment when he was needed the most.

Photo: Paul Vernon/AP Photo

In a game started already short their third line right winger Derek Dorsett, injury trouble was the last thing the Columbus Blue Jackets needed. On his first shift of the night, Derick Brassard was hit in the hand and would be lost at least for the immediate future. Not long after, RJ Umberger went down with an apparent knee injury. It looked grim for the Jackets, especially after a Justin Williams goal put the Kings ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard.

As they so often have this year, the Jackets regrouped and recovered. Jakub Voracek notched his eleventh goal of the season, assists going to Rick Nash and – wait for it – Derek MacKenzie. D-Mac jumped up from the fourth to the first line after two of the top six went down, and looked fantastic beside Jake and the Cap’n.

 In the second period, Loktionov put the Kings back ahead, but Nash made it look easy when he roofed a shot past Jonathan Quick, again assisted by temporary first liner MacKenzie. Tie game, end of two.

 Drew Doughty’s (boy, wouldn’t we love to have this guy) eighth goal of the season put the Kings ahead for the third time in the game, and for much of the third period it looked as if it would stay that way. Umberger returned to the game and the first line, but their shots weren’t getting through traffic, even on 1:53 of 5-on-3 power play.

 With just over a minute to go, Mathieu Garon was headed to the bench at precisely the moment Kris Russell flipped a backhander past Quick to tie the game once again. Russell, the object of many a Puck Rakers commenters’ ire for his lack of Mike Green-ness, scored his first goal since December 6th.

 On to overtime. Each time got two shots, but nothing materialized in the extra frame, and the shootout would decide this game. The Jackets were unable to get anything past Quick except for Matt Calvert himself, which to the dismay of many did not actually count. Jarret Stoll scored on Garon to seal the victory for LA.

The Jackets were far from dominant, but they were resilient tonight. In a game spent without two of their top six, at least for the majority of the time, they were able to keep the game from spiraling out of control. One point in the stands beats a goose egg, but two would’ve been twice as nice.

Tonight’s Stud: Derek MacKenzie. He saw 17:12, and was 0-2-2 with +2 and 7 hits. Very effective in his opportunity to jump up with the big boys.
Tonight’s Dud: Mathieu Garon. Specifically on the third goal, Garon was soft on the puck and sloppy. Out of character for him lately.

Where we stand: 28-23-6, 62 points, 12th place (-5, 8th place Los Angeles)
What’s next: Friday at Chicago, 8:30pm Eastern

Other notes:
The Jackets assigned D John Moore to Springfield on Tuesday. Klesla is a week or more away from playing, but the rookie needed the playing time Anton Stralman’s heightened play would not allow him.
— Derek Dorsett is hurt, but nobody’s quite sure how bad. He skated today, so it must be manageable. Though Dorsett would probably skate sans head if he could.

Photo: AP Photo/LM Otero

It was not Fedor Tyutin’s day, but luckily for the Columbus Blue Jackets, it was Steve Mason’s. Tyutin took three penalties in the game, the first of which turned into a Brad Richards goal from the corner. Luckily for the Jackets, Matt Calvert popped a Kari Lehtonen rebound right past him and into a wide-open net. Calvert looked good in his spot duty on the second line during Kristian Huselius’ temporary demotion, but since returning to the fourth line has elevated the play of the trio with Derek MacKenzie and Jared Boll.

The game would move into the second period in a 1-1 tie until Rick Nash did his Tricky Ricky thing and deked Lehtonen into sprawling across the crease so he could roof it. 2-1 Jackets, and that’s where the score would stay. Lehtonen was very good in the game, turning away 37 of 39 shots, but Steve Mason stood tall and turned away 29 of 30 at the other end. Mason has been very good lately, winning four of his last five starts, 7-3-1 in his last 11, allowing three goals or less in all but two of those.

And how about Anton Stralman? Since John Moore was up to fill the spot vacated by Rusty Klesla and his ailing knee, Stralman has elevated his play to a whole new level. He’s been solid, both on offense and defense, and helped set up Calvert’s goal early in the game. Hopefully as Moore returns to Springfield and Klesla becomes healthy, Stralman’s game remains solid.

Today’s Stud: Steve Mason (29/30, .967)
Today’s Dud: Fedor Tyutin (6PIM). Luckily for him, the PK was 5 of 6.

Where we stand: 28-23-5, 61 points, -4 from 8th place Minnesota
What’s next: Wednesday vs. Kings, 7pm

For the first twenty minutes, this game had all of the makings of “one of those nights.” A lethargic, sloppy first period. Colorado as the opponent. The only thing consistent were the punches landing on Jared Boll‘s face off the fist of Cody McLeod. Philippe Dupuis broke out of the pack and netted an unassisted breakaway goal, the only scoring in the period, but after twenty minutes things were looking grim.

Photo: John Grieshop/Getty Images

But that was all the Avalanche would get. In the second period, the Jackets came back to life. Boll fought again – Koci this time, another predictable loss – and three and a half minutes later, an agitated Derek Dorsett dropped the gloves with Daniel Winnik. Another loss there that prompted a hysteric outrage from Fox Sports Ohio commentator Bill Davidge when Winnik landed a punch on Dorsett after he was down on the ice.

Not even thirty seconds later, the Jackets finally got on the board. First from Rick Nash, then seven minutes later Derick Brassard, and after two it was 2-1. They had more than doubled their shots on goal in the second, and Mathieu Garon turned aside all 13 Colorado shots.

The third period started off with a bang. Even before the first whistle, Samuel Pahlsson sent Peter Forsberg flying into the back of Dorsett’s legs, which would literally send him head over heels flying down onto his head. He would leave the game in obvious pain and not return, and head coach Scott Arniel was quoted as saying he had the symptoms of a concussion. Dorsett, who has been playing solidly on the third line with Pahlsson and their rotating left wing, took an elbow to the face against San Jose. Not a good week for the scrappy little guy.

The only other scoring would come late in the game when Derek MacKenzie sealed the deal with an empty net goal at 19:56. Colorado had only seven shots in the third period, though it felt like they all came in the final few minutes of the game as they pressured Garon. The energetic 16,000+ on hand at Nationwide were very vocal in the final frame, applauding the Union Blue when they were able to stifle any Colorado attempts to take over the game.

Studs: Easily the top line. The 61-16-93 line now has 11 points in the last 3 games.
Duds: The first period.

Notable:

  • Marc Methot and Chris Clark each had five hits. It was a good game for the oft-replaced Clark.
  • Nash had a goal and an assist, six shots, and as tweeted by CBJ PR guy Ryan Holtmann, “From Elias: With his 25th goal of the season last night Rick Nash is the only #NHL player to score 25+ goals in seven-straight seasons.”
  • Brassard has been looking better and better every game. His game-winning goal was his fourth point in the last three games.
  • The Jackets only took one minor penalty in the game – a delay of game, at that.
  • For an Avs view of the game, please check out Katie’s recap at Hockey Without Oxygen!

Where we are: 27-23-5, 59 points (12th place), -5, 8th place Calgary

What’s next: Sunday, 3pm, at Dallas.

Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Who is this team, and what have they done with the Columbus Blue Jackets?

In Pittsburgh, everybody showed up to play. The defense was solid – especially the play of frequent scapegoat Anton Stralman. Paired with Hejda, he was a +4 (note: actually +3, the NHL’s statistics gave him credit for the first goal, which he was not on the ice for). Rick Nash got the scoring going early with a beautiful one-timer fed by Derick Brassard. Samuel Pahlsson scored on a delayed penalty, Voracek on a partial break, and Vermette tucked one through on a Pittsburgh giveaway to lead the Jackets to a 4-1 victory.

Cue the excuses. Pittsburgh has no Crosby. No Malkin. No Kunitz. Despite injury trouble, Pittsburgh is (including the L to the Jackets), 7-3-0 in their last ten. That is not a struggling team. The Jackets were simply a better team than the Penguins last night, and for that they prevailed on the scoreboard.

 

Photo: Terry Gilliam/AP Photo

And then they came home to meet San Jose…

For the first twenty minutes, they were buzzing. With two big power play goals from Kristian Huselius and Grant Clitsome, it was suddenly 2-0 Jackets with a whole forty left to go. Unfortunately, the chances stopped coming, despite a massive 44 shots on goal. Niemi stood tall after the first, even when guys like Derek Dorsett and Jakub Voracek peppered him relentlessly with shots (8 and 7, respectively). Even with San Jose’s three unanswered goals, the foot was never entirely off the gas pedal, perhaps just slowed in the middle frame. A heartbreaker. Can’t win them all, but it would have been nice to take that one. 

Where we are: 12th place, Western Conference, -6 points from eighth place Calgary

What’s next: Friday vs. the Foote-less Colorado, 7pm

 

(Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

It started off ugly, and much like many nights the Columbus Blue Jackets have seen this year: lazy defensive plays, penalty trouble, screened shots, and a 2-0 opponent lead before the first period had even settled down. RJ Umberger ignited some life into the team late in the first when some criss-crossing plays with Derek Dorsett cut the deficit in half. It would be just the beginning of what would turn out to be one of Umberger’s career nights with the Blue Jackets.

Kristian Huselius, who one night before in Detroit had become the most recent victim of Arniel’s doghouse, returned in place of Chris Clark. Combined with Umberger, the two were responsible for all four goals and creating opportunities that prior to his benching, Huselius was not finding. The game was tied at two in the second period when Umberger and Huselius connected in front of the net, drawing Khabibulin aside to allow Huselius a half-empty net to shoot at.

John Moore in his NHL Debut (Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

The third period would be a brand new game. One that, as usual, the Oilers would jump out to an early lead in, when Paajarvi would net his second of the game. But Umberger, with two points already in his pocket, wouldn’t let the game go so easily. He took the puck from Kris Russell and worked through all kinds of traffic to get the puck past Khabibulin and tie the game yet again on his nineteenth goal of the season. Huselius would give the Jackets the lead for good just over two minutes later when Russell – the puck moving defenseman – did just that and moved it up the ice to Umberger, who handed it to Huselius to beat Khabibulin. 4-3 Jackets, and that would be the final score. For a team who looked awful in the early going, they recovered nicely on a monster night by their second-line forwards.

Tonight’s Stud: RJ Umberger, of course. Two goals, two assists, and yet another three-period 100% effort by Umberger. Honorable mention: Kristian Huselius.
Tonight’s Dud(s): Russell and Clitsome were out for all four Columbus goals, but gave up a few brilliant chances to the Oilers. Can’t happen that way. Honorable mention: the first line – combined for 13 shots, but all three were minus two with little legitimate offensive impact.

 Notes:
Despite penalty trouble early on, all seven goals were even strength.
— Umberger now has 19 goals, just 7 off his career-high of 26 with the Jackets in 2008-09. Twelve points off his career high of 50.
— Russell, probably partially responsible for the first Oilers’ goal, managed to finish the game a +2 with two assists. The fourth-year defenseman had an ugly night, but was out for all four Columbus goals.
John Moore made his NHL debut and played 12:05. He was a -1, but had a relatively quiet night on the ice. He didn’t look overly nervous or jittery at all.
— Rookie Matt Calvert played just 5:07, only taking four shifts after receiving a high stick in the first. Back on the fourth line after a one-game promotion, he and his linemates all played five minutes or under.
— Three players had a multi-point night: Umberger (4), Huselius (3), and Russell (2).
— This team is not afraid to throw their weight around: Methot & Murray each had six hits. Derek Mackenzie had 3 in just 4:17 TOI.
Rick Nash had eight shots on goal. Yes, eight.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday at Pittsburgh, 7pm.