Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
What is most surprising about the Columbus Blue Jackets’ pursuit of their first playoff berth?
Well, one of the most interesting components of the Blue Jackets’ surprising play in the second half is a move that received almost no attention. When the Thrashers unloaded veteran forward Jason Williams in mid-January, it was part salary dump and part getting rid of a guy who didn’t seem to fit. Well, the undrafted 28-year-old has fit like a glove in Columbus. He has eight goals and 11 assists since becoming a Blue Jacket and has chipped in on a power play that has languished at the very bottom of the NHL for the entire season.
“He’s been caught up in the atmosphere, that sense of urgency,” coach Ken Hitchcock told ESPN.com on Monday. “I think he’s responded properly to being in that atmosphere. He’s working hard. He’s playing the game honestly.”
more on the Flames, Sabres, Canes, Flames and fighting…
“I don’t care who plays Detroit, if (the Red Wings) decide they’re going to play that way, nobody’s going to beat them. Nobody’s going to beat them in a (playoff) series if they’re going to play that way. Teams are going to be lucky to win games against them.
“They played a deliberate game. They played with work ahead of skill, and when you have their skill level, it’s pretty devastating if you’re the opposition.”
-Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock after losing to the Wings 4-0 yesterday. More on the game from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
Elliotte Friedman of HNIC did a great feature on Columbus goalie Steve Mason last night.
I can’t point directly (no youtube either) to the 5 minute video, but start here, then look to the right for Top Stories then scroll to the Inside Hockey: Steve Mason feature.
Note to Steve- time to update the bedroom!
from Bill Davidge (radio analyst) at ColumbusBlueJackets.com,
It is impressive for all of us to observe the seedling grow into a plant that has expanded its roots a little deeper into the foundation of success. We are all ready for the next stage of success as the trunk gets a little more chaliced for the trip to compete against the Division rivals for the next month.
It begins in Chicago tonight. The start of these Division games is now as important as any games in franchise history. They take on new meaning to all that follow this hockey team. Fans from England, Sweden, and all of North America are embracing the Jackets for who and what they are all about…they are true soldiers dressed in Red White and Blue!!! The teams around the NHL outside the Division are cheering on the plight of the team as they charter through unknown waters.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason made a bee line out of Nationwide Arena before the morning skate. He has a cold that is affecting his respiratory tract and is considered questionable for tonight’s game vs. Pittsburgh.
If he’s not feeling better—or any worse this afternoon—Mason will start. But don’t be surprised if Wade Dubielewicz gets the nod in net tonight against the Penguins.
more on Columbus…
from Dan Pollard of TSN,
Nashville’s Pekka Rinne is giving the Blue Jackets’ Steve Mason a run for top rookie honours. Both have helped put their teams in a position to make the playoffs this year. For Columbus it would be the franchises maiden voyage into the post-season.
There’s not much to choose from when comparing the goaltenders numbers wise.
Other than shutouts, Rinne’s numbers are better or almost identical to Masons.
That being said, when forced to make a choice my support leans to Mason.
read on and more NHL topics (fighting and Daniel & Henrik Sedin)...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets face off tonight in a compelling matchup as both teams keep clawing away in their bid to make the playoffs.
You have to love these stretch-drive, playoff-type games—two teams that need the points so bad.
For Bill Guerin and Antoine Vermette, the meaningful games are a welcome change after spending most of the season on teams headed nowhere.
“You know what, it’s been a lot of fun so far,” Guerin, acquired by the Penguins last Wednesday, told ESPN.com yesterday. “I’ve been having a blast, I really have. The games have been so exciting. We’re right in the thick of things and, for me, it’s nice to have these big games of importance.”
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
One reason veteran defenseman Adam Foote wanted out of Columbus was that he wanted to win, and in the NHL that means — at the very least — making the playoffs.
A little more than a year after he was traded back to the Avalanche from the Blue Jackets, Columbus is in the thick of a fight for its first postseason berth and Colorado is in last place in the Western Conference, destined to be done playing when the regular season ends April 12.
“It’s tough,” Foote said Wednesday. “I don’t think anyone likes it. We have to keep trying to be better.
“You have to deal with it, and there are two ways to do it. You can mope around or keep working hard.”
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers at the Columbus Dispatch,
Captain Rick Nash scored three goals—all of them unassisted. The last time that happened? Try March 14, 1948 when legendary Maurice “Rocket” Richard pumped in four against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. That’s according to Sal from the Elias Sports Bureau….
The Jackets had lost four of their six games and were coming to an arena where they have lost 19 times in 25 tries (6-17-2). They have only lost more games in one arena—the Sommet Center in Nashville. And yet they put together a stellar all-around effort.
Of course, there were two teams on the ice and the Red Wings, a proud franchise, were simply humbled. Do you recall a Detroit squad so loose with the puck? Brian Rafalski should argue he deserves an assist on Nash’s second goal. The Wings have allowed eight goals twice in eight days. The magnficent Henrik Zetterberg was a minus-4.
Bob McKenzie reporting on TSN that Antoine Vermette has been traded to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire.
Update 10am ET: It’s being reported that Ottawa also gets a 2nd round pick in the deal.
Update 10:03 am ET: Link available at TSN.
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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