Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post,
For the third time in six games, Florida carried a lead into the third period Saturday night and was unable to hold it, falling 3-1 to Columbus at the BankAtlantic Center.
What made this one even tougher is the Panthers still clung to their 1-0 lead with three minutes to play before the Blue Jackets’ Raffi Torres got the tying and winning goals 1:13 apart.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
In 1986, Hitchcock and Burns met in the most intense of environments, the Memorial Cup, junior hockey’s version of the Final Four.
Hitchcock, who coached the Kamloops Blazers, was a former sporting goods salesman from Edmonton, Alberta. Burns, who ran the Hull Olympiques, was the police officer still walking the beat in Gatineau, Quebec.
Neither had played professionally. Both had belonged to a workforce bereft of pampering and privilege. The detail-oriented, demanding coaches formed an immediate bond.
“Coaching for a living was a goal; wherever it went, it went,” Hitchcock said. “We both could have stopped at junior and been happy.”
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Back to this year’s Western Conference race for a moment. After last night’s late games, 12 points separated fourth-place Vancouver and 12th-place St. Louis. But maybe more to the point, there were only six points separating the sixth-place Blue Jackets and the Blues. Four teams that are currently out of the eight playoff spots are two wins from being in.
Hitchcock said basically said this tight playoff race may be pretty much the status quo from now on.
“This is the wave of the future,” he said. “This is it. When you look at the young teams, the young teams are going to be better next year and they’re right in the race now. So how many of those teams are going to be in the dog pile? I foresee a situation where you could have 15 teams going for eight spots and getting it down to seven or eight games, and all 15 teams are still in the mix. I see a day that’s gonna come.”
more from Hitchcock…
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Isn’t this playoff-race stuff great?
“This stuff really affects your sleep pattern,” Hitchcock said. “Because you’re sitting there watching games until midnight and you’re mad that a couple of games are in shootouts, or you want to choke a couple of guys with Colorado because they let a goal in with 1:46 left. You want to phone somebody you know there to blast them for allowing the goal.”
Hitchcock doesn’t stay up until every game is finished, but after he finally hits the sack, it’s the first thing on his mind when he wakes up.
“First thing I do is the Blackberry, 5:30 in the morning, scores,” he said. “You’re brushing your teeth and it’s (bleep!). Those three-point games, (darn) it. First place I go is on that TSN Web site and there’s that (darned) 2-1 score in Edmonton in a shootout, and you’re just cussing both teams. Every night you last as long as you can and then you’re up four or five hours later, watching again.”
from Jim Hughson of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
Here are four teams you might not want to face in the first round – that is, if they get in.
Okay, so it’s no revelation that a Stanley Cup finalist with two of the top three scorers in the league would be a tough match up for any team, but consider how bad the Penguins looked before the coaching change.///
Tomas Vokoun has one of the best save percentages in the league and is capable of winning games single handed. In front of him, the Panther defence is as good as any and better than most….
Columbus Blue Jackets
Hitchcock has a playoff-ready style, which means the Jackets don’t give their opponents many chances to score….
more on each team plus the Stars are mentioned too…
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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