Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
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.”
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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