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Category: Columbus-Blue-Jackets

The Fragile Blue Jackets

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Nobody would fire a coach at Christmas, right? Not even the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose bench boss, Ken Hitchcock , was feeling the heat thanks to a dismal December in which the NHL team went 1-7-3 to slip to the bottom of the Western Conference? What ailed the Blue Jackets from the start was goalie Steve Mason ‘s sophomore slump, in which he was consistently giving up goals early and often, putting his team behind the 8-ball.

More recently, the Jackets look like a fragile team, their confidence in shreds, skating as though on eggshells. Coaching changes don’t fix that – just ask the Philadelphia Flyers, who are struggling as badly under Peter Laviolette as they were under John Stevens.

continue for more hockey notes…

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Blue Jackets In The Midst Of A Bad Stretch

from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,

Kristian Huselius spent most of the day in the team hotel, fighting through a bout with the flu from his bed. He should have stayed there.

Huselius made two brutal plays that led directly to two Stars goals and a 3-1 loss before 16,532 in American Airlines Center.

It was a night that demanded dialed-up play from everybody in the lineup, but the Blue Jackets didn’t quite get it. Huselius was the poster child. He was on the ice for all three Dallas goals and finished with a well-deserved minus-2….

The Blue Jackets now get two days off for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Before you sharpen your talons, this is not a Ken Hitchcock decision. It’s an NHL rule that teams can’t practice or play on Dec. 24-25.

Maybe the Blue Jackets will get better luck for Christmas. Or some heart. Or character. This is a brutal stretch, indeed. This is the worst 18-game stretch in club history. When you know this club’s history, that’s really saying something.

more on the loss to the Stars…

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Afternoon Line

“Our challenge right now as coaches is to find a way for the players to stay in the moment.  The toughest thing for the player is to get overwhelmed by the end result. It’s like playing golf; if you’re standing there worried about what tee shot you’re going to hit on 18, you’re not going to play the first 17 holes. Our job right now is to help the players really narrow their focus. They need to enjoy that and stay in the moment.”

-Ken Hitchcock, Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  More from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Trying To Fix Columbus

from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,

GM Scott Howson, coach Ken Hitchcock and entire coaching staff had a lengthy meeting in the corner of the hotel lobby this morning. Then they stepped into a conference room with 10 veterans on the club—Rick Nash, Antoine Vermette, R.J. Umberger, Kristian Huselius, Jason Chimera, Sammy Pahlsson, Raffi Torres, Fedor Tyutin, Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda—and met for 30 minutes.

Clearly, this has now gone beyond Xs and Os. This club may or may not be well constructed. They might not even be playoff caliber, as some believe. But there’s no reason for any NHL club to win only two out of 17 games.

continued

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Bad Month For The Blue Jackets

from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,

The ugly numbers continue to mount. The Blue Jackets have lost seven in a row overall, nine straight on the road and 15 of their past 17 games. They are 1-7-3 in December….

“Every mistake we make right now is ending up in our net,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We made two mistakes and those are the first two goals right there.

more on the loss to the Coyotes…

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No #1 In Columbus

from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,

With their losses mounting and the season slipping away, the Blue Jackets are taking a new approach to their goaltending.

Before practice yesterday, coach Ken Hitchcock informed the club that Steve Mason no longer is the club’s undisputed No. 1 goaltender.

Mathieu Garon will start at 9 tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes. If he plays well, Garon will keep playing, too, not resort to the backup role he’s held up to this point.

“Win and you’re in,” Hitchcock said. “That’s just where we’re at now. If a guy wins, he gets to keep going.

“We can’t wait any longer to get going.”

continued

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Don’t Worry Columbus, The World Is Not Ending

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

I do not believe that firing Hitchcock, at this juncture, would be an intelligent move.

I do not believe the players have quit on Hitchcock. The 2001-02 Dallas Stars and the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers quit on him. There are no signs that there is any sort of revolt afoot in Columbus. If anything, the Jackets still buy into the coach’s message. They might roll their eyes in the next video session, but they will understand the message, and they will believe in it.

I believe the Jackets need a defenseman, and an enforcer, and that Howson must address these concerns. I believe that, other than some tinkering, the answers to the present problems are largely within the grasp of the players in the locker room.

After the loss in Denver, the Jackets find themselves on a 2-9-5 jag.

I think they lost their identity and suffered a crisis of confidence.

I do not think it is the end of the world.

more

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Filatov Can’t Get Hitchcock Off His Mind

from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch, 

Blue Jackets prospect Nikita Filatov regrets some of the comments he made after leaving the club a month ago, while saying that others were taken out of context.

But the 19-year-old winger, who went home to Russia unhappy after being unable to earn substantial ice time under coach Ken Hitchcock, stands by one of his primary reasons for departing.

“I got my own opinion about Hitch and about what I think he thinks of me,” Filatov wrote in an e-mail to The Dispatch. “I am not going to let everybody know about it. I think it’s pretty clear that he didn’t give (me) a chance and opportunity to prove that I can play.”

continued

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  Tags: khl, nikita+filatov

Have Some Players Stopped Listening To Hitchcock?

from Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch,

Hitchcock sees it as his job to educate these lads. So he explains. And explains. Unfortunately for him, the attention span of a 19-year-old twitters out at 140 characters.

So the issue with Hitchcock is not that he ignores young players, a reputation that he feels is undeserved, but that they ignore him.

Young talent especially tunes out when it thinks it knows it all. That occurs when the team is winning, which creates a stress point because Hitch’s toughest teachings follow wins, when he talks of exposing the hard truths.

“It’s an attitude of you win and you want to get better, rather than we won and ‘Aren’t we good?’ What I want to do is help players win, and have them come back in the room the next day and ask, ‘Where do we get better?’ That’s what great teams do.”

The problem with such harping is it wears on young players who want to run free, who want to enjoy the wins instead of learn from them, which might explain why the Jackets (14-14-6) have stumbled after a 12-6-2 start.

more

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Tough Trade Market Right Now

from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,

“We’d like to add to our defense with (Rostislav Klesla) going down to an injury,” Howson said. “But we’re not close right now on anything.

“The (trade) market is tough. It’s as tough as it’s ever been, with so many long-term contracts out there, with so many clubs up against the salary cap, and with so many clubs still thinking they’re in the playoff race. It’s hard to get any movement on a trade right now. It’s hard to shake anything loose.”

Howson said nothing is imminent, that the groundwork for a trade hasn’t even been put into place. And it’s not just the Blue Jackets. Nothing seems to be shaking for anybody right now, and the NHL roster freeze kicks in on Dec. 19.

more on the Blue Jackets…

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

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