Kukla's Korner Hockey
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…
from Phil Coffey of NHL.com,
These are heady days in Columbus, where the Blue Jackets look like a team that is bound for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the first time.
According to coach Ken Hitchcock, the race to the postseason has been a boon to the team’s fans.
“We have been in playoff fever for a month now, and fans have come out now in droves. I mean, the building is packed. We are into the standing-room situation,” Hitchcock said. “The buzz in the city is unbelievable. It feels very much like any good Midwest city, whether it’s Canadian or American, about sports here right now. It’s the topic of conversation everywhere you go—coffee shops, sporting goods places, restaurants. It’s everything. It’s engulfing and it’s great to see from where we were at the start of the year to where we are now.”
more on Columbus and many more NHL topics too…
from Aaron Portzline and Theodore Decker of the Columbus Dispatch,
As a loud, passionate crowd celebrated one of the Blue Jackets’ most emphatic victories in franchise history Thursday night, some scary moments played out behind the scenes in Nationwide Arena.
Two threats to shoot the Blue Jackets’ rookie goaltender, Steve Mason, and another threat to bomb the arena led to an arrest on the Northwest Side before the game ended.
Peter Stenzel, 52, was charged with inducing panic and menacing, both misdemeanors, after police traced the phone calls to his apartment at 6115 O’Sweeney Lane….
His sister, Wendy Tanaka of Worthington, said that Stenzel is an avid hockey fan, but “to threaten someone like that, that’s not him. Not even if he had a million dollars on the game.”
Stenzel, who is single and has no children, makes a living working on computers. He was born in Toronto and maintains dual citizenship in Canada and the United States, Tanaka said.
“I don’t know how people can take such things so seriously,” Tanaka said. “Sign of the times.”
from Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald,
First, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat them 2-0. Then, on Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked them 5-0.
“It’s frustrating to get embarrassed like that,” spat defenceman Adrian Aucoin. “Tonight in particular. We lost every battle. Power play. Penalty kill. Even strength.
“We just didn’t make the easy plays. We didn’t play as five-man units out there. They really exploited us for it.”
Fellow defenceman Robyn Regehr offered up a similar assessment.
“We got out played in every area tonight,” he said. “It comes down to work. They out-played us on the penalty kill. The power play. Even strength.
“We’re just losing way too many battles. One –on-ones. In front of the net. Everywhere.”
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
With 10 games left in the franchise’s eighth NHL season, the Blue Jackets need simply to hold serve the rest of the way—a 6-4-0 or 4-4-2 record, for instance—to finally reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.
If that happens, don’t be surprised to see the Jackets mentioned by analysts as a sleeper pick to pull off a first-round upset, or go deeper into the playoffs than most expect.
Even at this stage of the season, the Blue Jackets are popping up on teams-that-nobody-wants-to-face lists as the playoff picture starts to come into focus.
Why? Two reasons.
First, rookie goaltender Steve Mason.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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