Kukla's Korner Hockey
from an online chat today at the Columbus Dispatch,
Prospal, Lombardi, or Antropov, who do you prefer and who currently tops the CBJ’s wish list?
Aaron Portzline: I’m a Lombardi guy because I know he can play center. The other two might be best served as wingers. Plus, Lombardi has a history of playing with Rick Nash in international competition, and they’ve done well together.
What do you believe it would take on our part to get Lombardi here? Do you know if there are any other teams interested in him? What would his cap hit be?
Aaron Portzline: I’ve heard they want a defenseman, so Klesla makes sense. Not sure Methot would do it. Don’t worry about the cap hit, as it’s not really pertinent in Columbus. He’s making $1.85M this season and $2.35M next season. After that, he’s a UFA.
much more on the Blue Jackets…
from Ray Slover of the Sporting News,
Hitchcock believes he has a solid enough defense, with shutdown guys and puck movers. Now, the Jackets need that extra kick for the offense. They miss shiny rookie Derick Brassard, whose season is toast after shoulder surgery.
Does Jordan Staal unbutton your jacket? If the Penguins go into sell mode, he’ll be available.
Does Nik Antropov turn down you collar? The idea of Antropov playing with Nash has Jackets watchers slobbering all over themselves.
Does Erik Cole add shine to your buttons? If he’s on top of his game, Cole could be a Hitchcock player and the power forward they need.
Or is Bill Guerin that trick up your sleeve? That might be a stretch, because of his so-so playoff production, but when Billy’s hot, he’s hot.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Nationwide Arena is dark and quiet when Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock arrives each morning around 6, a newspaper in one hand and a coffee in the other. He doesn’t go straight to his office. That can wait. He heads for the arena’s empty lower bowl.
“I love the solitude of the rink in the early morning,” Hitchcock said. “I can think when it’s that quiet I sit there and soak it all up while I’m getting ready for the day to get rolling. You can feel the building and all the stories it has to tell, almost like it’s alive.
“To me, it’s a beautiful place to be, especially when they have the curtains pulled back from the upstairs windows and the sun comes shining in on the ice.”
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have placed forward Fredrik Modin on injured reserve retroactive to February 14, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today. Modin, who suffered a lower body injury in last Saturday’s 5-1 win at Carolina, was evaluated by team physicians from OhioHealth upon the team’s return to Columbus and is expected to miss at least one week.
from Rory Boylen of the Hockey News,
Here are two tilts I always get up for because the potential for them to grow into something more than just another game is teetering on the edge of all-out war.
Detroit vs. Columbus
These are the culprits from the Friday game I alluded to earlier (and if you haven’t seen Steve Mason’s stacked-pads save on Henrik Zetterberg, two words come to mind: Dear Lord). The Red Wings, so dominant for so long in the barren Central Division, finally have a foe similar to that itch you can’t reach in the middle of your back. The Blue Jackets aren’t deep, they aren’t overly talented and they definitely don’t have much experience past the first 82 games of a season, but they have a hard-working team, a Ken Hitchcock system and this special kid named Mason.
more and a look at Philadelphia/Washington too…
from Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch,
Hitchcock, like Holland, would begin his ideal team with a goaltender. In Dallas, he saw the before/after effect of Ed Balfour, whose work in net helped the Stars win the 1998-99 Stanley Cup.
“You don’t realize how important a goalie is until you have one,” he said. Which is why the Blue Jackets are so better positioned for a deep run into the playoffs, once they finally get there, than many teams.
Would Mason, who appears fully recovered from mononucleosis that kept him out of the previous three games, be able to hold up under playoff pressure? Impossible to know for sure, but the best goaltenders—the ones left standing, as Hitchcock likes to say—are the most competitive ones. And Mason burns with a bristly passion to win.
“There couldn’t have been a better team to come back against,” he said.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have placed rookie goaltender Steve Mason on injured reserve retroactive to February 4, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today. Mason was diagnosed with mononucleosis on January 29.
Mason, 20, has posted a 19-12-2 record with a 2.09 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and seven shutouts in 34 games with the Blue Jackets this season. He leads the NHL in shutouts, while ranking second in goals-against average, seventh in save percentage and is tied for 10th in wins.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
If the Blue Jackets are solidly among the Western Conference’s top eight clubs, and the No. 1 pick can be used to acquire a player whom Howson believes can carry them deep into the playoffs, he might budge.
“Those (first-round picks) are very difficult for me to give up,” Howson said. “But if the deal is right”
The Blue Jackets won’t take on any long term, big-money contracts such as Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lacavalier or the New York Rangers’ Scott Gomez.
They’re willing to spend the money, Howson said, but they must keep payroll space available to keep their cadre of future stars. Steve Mason, Derick Brassard, Jake Voracek, Kris Russell, Nikita Filatov, etc., will need new contracts within the next few seasons.
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
The Jackets are as healthy as they have been in weeks – Steve Mason’s bout with mono aside—but they can’t seem to get their game back.
Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock was steamed and with good reason.
“It’s gonna have to change,” he said. “It’s going to change, immediately. We’re going to go back and play the way we did before, which was very successful. We have to get back to that. It’s going to be a drag for us to get it back to that. It’s the only way we can have success. If the players don’t recognize it now, they’ll recognize it by the time we go to Pittsburgh.”
Forward R.J. Umberger, who scored a power-play goal, and was the Jackets most noticeable player, had a similar take.
“We definitely waited,” he said.” We’re just not playing the style we were – aggressive, getting the puck in deep, just using our size and our speed to outwork them. We’re trying to play a skill game. In the third period we did everything right; we got it in deep, we got pucks to the net, we played hard, but sometimes you come up short when you just play one good period.”
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
General manager Scott Howson confirmed late last night to The Dispatch that Mason has been suffering from mononucleosis for three to four weeks.
The rookie-of-the-year candidate made his 18th consecutive start last night but allowed three goals in the first 11 minutes of a 7-3 loss to the Dallas Stars and was pulled for the first time in his NHL career.
Howson said doctors did not diagnose Mason’s infection until Thursday, and he defended the team’s decision to play him in back-to-back starts this weekend.
“Our doctors feel he’s had it for a while and they feel he’s on the other side of the virus,” Howson said. “The worst of it is probably over.”
Mason’s spleen is not enlarged, one of the complications sometimes associated with mono, Howson said.
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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.
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