Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
It sounds as if the Detroit Red Wings think the Blue Jackets are pretty much a one-man band.
They would deny that, of course, but there might be enough evidence to convict. Consider Henrik Zetterberg’s reaction when he was asked about facing the Blue Jackets and their rookie goaltender, Steve Mason, in the first round of the NHL playoffs:
“He’s basically taken them to the playoffs by himself,” Zetterberg said. “It’s easy to play well when you have a goalie like that that really stops the pucks. They have good confidence in him.”
The Jackets obviously have one or two other players who might have lent a hand in the playoff drive—hey, if Zetterberg tries real hard, he could even come up with three or four—but Mason leaps to the Red Wings’ minds because they had so much trouble with him this season.
The Blue Jackets could have forward Fredrik Modin in the lineup as early as Game 1. Modin practiced yesterday and said his injured knee felt strong enough to play. Coach Ken Hitchcock was not divulging his lineup, but kept hinting the lineup the Red Wings see on Thursday night could be different than the one they are expecting.
Jackets forward Kristian Huselius also said he’s a go for the series opener.
The wild card is rookie center Derick Brassard. Brassard visits his Cleveland Clinic doctor on Wednesday hoping to receive medical clearance on his injured right shoulder. Assuming Brassard gets the green light—and there’s no guaranteed he does—don’t be surprised if he’s in the lineup for Game 3 in Columbus.
Blue Jackets fans are asked how the playoffs work…
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
Veteran center Michael Peca will not play on fan appreciation night against the Wild.
“Day off,” coach Ken Hitchcock said when asked why Peca was out of the lineup.
Is he injured?
“Day off,” Hitchcock responded.
Are you happy with the way Peca is playing?
“Day off,” Hitchcock said.
There’s two ways to view it. Hitchcock is trying to hide an injury or he’s sending a message to his 35-year-old alternate captain. Interesting.
more on the Blue Jackets…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Nash scored the tying goal late in the third on Wednesday, his fifth in five games, to once more underscore his importance to the Columbus franchise. But while he’ll now finally get to play in a Stanley Cup playoff game, the elephant in the room is that he has one more year on his contract at $7 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Talks will begin this summer, and it should be obvious to Columbus GM Scott Howson after watching the Marian Gaborik episode play out in Minnesota and the Jay Bouwmeester situation crystallize in Florida that if the Jackets don’t have a deal with Nash done by September, there’s an excellent chance he won’t be re-signing at all.
If that’s the case, the smart play may be to trade him before next season even starts.
He’s from Brampton, so the connection to the Maple Leafs has been made repeatedly. Analysts suggest he’ll come in somewhere between Henrik Zetterberg’s $7.5 million salary and Alex Ovechkin’s $9 million on one of those whopper long-term deals, so this is his shot at a career contract. The Jackets, however, lost about $12 million last season and are probably deeper in the hole now, with playoff revenue set to possibly improve that figure.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers at the Columbus Dispatch,
Blue Jackets fans, you’ve waited a long, long time for this. You’ve invested lots of time and lots of emotion to get to this point. You’ve thrown lots of pillows at the TV and stalked out of Nationwide Arena lots of times, either because of blowout losses or late-game collapses.
This night was for you. Now eight seasons in the league, the Blue Jackets have earned the right to compete for the NHL’s ultimate trophy. This night was for you, and it was for the biggest fan of them all—the man who plunked down the $80 million check to finance an expansion franchise, late owner John H. McConnell.
added 10:11am, from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
Enjoy the playoffs, Blue Jackets fans. Your team is going to be a pain in the butt for someone.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
To say that Peca has been pacing himself wouldn’t be entirely fair. The first 70 games of the season matter, too, and he has been a solid player all season.
“Sometimes the seasons get really long,” Peca said. “When you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can see the playoffs are right around the corner, my play has always gotten a lot better.
“I’ve always played in climates where the winters are gray and cold. When it starts to clear up a little bit, I tend to play a little better.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Six points separate sixth-place Columbus from 11th-place Minnesota with Nashville, St. Louis, Edmonton and Anaheim sandwiched in between. Five of those six clubs play Tuesday night as the dance continues.
Every game matters, every single point is crucial. We know we’ve been talking about parity for a few years, but seriously, have you ever seen anything like this?
“No, I have not,” Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock told ESPN.com. “And teams have been in this playoff mode for a long time. There’s about eight of us that have been in this mode for a long time. We’re just used to playing this way.
“We’ve been saying around here, ‘You play 82 playoff games just to get into the playoffs.’ And that’s exactly what it is.”
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Pestilence, War, Famine and Death rumbled down Front Street on Sunday night. The Blue Jackets lost a game. Heavens.
Columbus and its fans are in a playoff race, and every shift is taking on biblical proportions. Victory is redemption. Loss is damnation. Isn’t it fun?...
During the weekend, the Jackets had a home-and-home series with the St. Louis Blues, and the Jackets were less than inspiring. They lost in overtime in the Scottrade Center and got thumped 5-2 in Nationwide Arena. As the fans filed out of the building into the chill of Sunday night, their thoughts could be read, as if they had cartoon bubbles floating above their heads.
“We’re so close.”
“Why, God? Why?”
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
Last night, after Rick Nash was steamrolled by T.J. Oshie, the smallest player on the ice was the first responder with his team trailing the Blues 3-1 early in the third period. Kris Russell, all 5-foot-10, 180 pounds of him, went after Oshie. The hit produced a wild scrum and landed Russell in the box for four minutes (double minor, roughing). Oshie went for two minutes.
The entire sequence seemed to wake up the Jackets who responded with two quick goals from Kristian Huselius and Nash to tie it. The Jackets eventually lost 4-3 in a shootout, but coach Ken Hitchcock was proud of the response on individual and collective levels.
more on the Blue Jackets…
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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