Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
The optimist in us always sees our favorite players increasing their production, especially when they’re still young enough to seem like one of the neighborhood kids.
So it was that the Blue Jackets, coming off their first playoff appearance with a maturing, stable roster that is the youngest in the NHL, figured to take another significant step up in the standings.
Their 5-1 start even seemed to confirm that, which is probably why a lot of people are befuddled that they lost their fifth straight game, 4-3 in a shootout, last night to the Calgary Flames.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Somehow, goaltender Steve Mason was going to be even better than he was as the NHL’s top rookie. Bigger, stronger Jake Voracek was going to be the second coming of Ales Hemsky, or Jaromir Jagr, or Marian Hossa or, well, somebody.
from Amy Saunders of the Columbus Dispatch,
Anna Torres recently picked the worst possible night to attend her first Columbus Blue Jackets game.
The mother of left winger Raffi Torres prepared his favorite chicken stew for a post-game meal on Nov. 11 before heading to Nationwide Arena with his sister-in-law, baby niece and wife, Gianna—who is expecting their first child next month.
Minutes into the first period, a deflected puck slammed into his unprotected face.
Mrs. Torres watched in horror as Raffi lay bleeding on the ice, her eyes locked on him and brimming with tears. He stumbled as he tried to stand, hurt more than she had seen before.
“It was so hard because I can’t do nothing,” the native of Peru said later in her thick accent. “I wanted to go jump on the ice and see him. . . . I just froze. I froze until I saw him again.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Stat of the week: The Columbus Blue Jackets, a team nominally steeped in the art of defensive hockey, have given up six or more goals in a game six different times this season, a staggering total. The Blue Jackets were a respectable ninth in team defence last year, during Steve Mason’s Calder Trophy-winning season in which he recorded 10 shutouts. This year, only the Toronto Maple Leafs have a worse defensive record than Columbus, a weirdly surprising development considering the Blue Jackets were 5-1 out of the gate with a smothering defensive start to the year.
more NHL talk from Eric…
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“The game was eerily similar to the Detroit game,” coach Ken Hitchcock said of a 9-1 loss Nov. 11. “We were light on the puck. Our top players weren’t very good. You’re just not going to win that way.
“We got beat on loose-puck battles. They were a desperate, hungry team, and we didn’t answer the bell.”
Like first-time tourists to the Big Apple, the Jackets got caught standing around, looking at the sights. The Rangers got behind their defense and outworked them along the wall, especially off the end boards.
Even in the Red Wings debacle, the Blue Jackets didn’t come close to allowing seven straight goals as they did last night in a 21-minute, 18-second stretch. That included allowing a franchise-record three goals within 71 seconds of each other in the second period.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
“Rick started off as a quiet guy who knew right from wrong but didn’t say very much, and now he speaks up,” Hitchcock said Monday morning from Madison Square Garden, where his team will play the New York Rangers later in the evening. “If he doesn’t like what is happening, he’ll more than speak up. He has made for a very good captain. He is really emerging as a strong leader in the NHL community.”
Hitchcock nodded his head in agreement when asked if Nash seems way more comfortable this year than last. Nash didn’t stumble on his words when describing the difference, which he believes is massive.
“At first it was just tough to walk down to the room and say something, but as the time goes on you start feeling more comfortable and you get a better relationship with each other,” Nash told NHL.com. “If I need anything relayed from the players I can go down there no problem. He’s a pretty easy guy to talk to and he’s pretty open with me, too. He lets me know what’s going on in the coach’s room and what he’s thinking for game plans and upcoming events, things like that.”
RussianHockeyFans translates an interview from AllHockey.ru with Nikata Filatov after his first game in the KHL…
Are you happy about your return and about today?
Yes, of course I am happy. The first thing I am happy for is my team’s victory.
And three points on your first match…
Yeah, I picked up three. But I never get to a match planning how many points collect, if score or not…The first thing is that my team wins. Especially now that CSKA had a long losing streak it’s a good thing that we interrupted it. We played an excellent game and I think that we deserved to win.
Any regrets for your play in Columbus?
I didn’t even think about it. I will follow the guys and their matches. There is a good team there too. I had no such intentions as to prove something to them. Not now and never before…
Neal received five for boarding and a game misconduct.
added 11:56pm, from Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas,
James Neal will have a hearing with NHL officials on Friday morning in regards to his boarding penalty on Derek Dorsett in the second period. Neal hit Dorsett in the back and Dorsett’s head hit the glass. He was helped off the ice. Neal was given a 5-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
“I didn’t have any intent to injure him,” said Neal, who watched the rest of the game from the dressing room area. “I hope he’s OK.”
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Hitchcock cannot escape criticism. Since the season began, Hitchock has kept Filatov on an impossibly short leash. For every mistake, there was instant rebuke and, at times, a public punishment. Why treat Filatov so? Is not the goal here to take this talent-rich player and mold him rather than emasculate him? Does not a smart coach find a way to teach him—for the good of the player, the team and the organization? Is not Filatov a prime asset?
Filatov is not devoid of culpability. Many Jackets have fresh memories of Zherdev’s enigmatic, and sometimes toxic, presence. Filatov, by comparison, is well-liked. Lately, however, Filatov has moped as his frustration has grown, and it was a source of worry within the tightly knit group of players. There is no room for added drama over a rigorous season. Jake Voracek and Derick Brassard continue to have their chains yanked, but they have responded to challenges where Filatov has not. Ultimately, Filatov used his Moscow escape hatch, which comes with a tax-free contract worth about $1 million.
The nut of it all is this: The general manager, the coach and the player reached the same conclusion, and that is that Filatov will best be served by returning to Russia for at least a year.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have loaned forward Nikita Filatov to CSKA (pronounced CHESH-ka) of the Kontinental Hockey League for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, General Manager Scott Howson announced today.
Filatov has appeared in 13 games with the Blue Jackets this season, scoring two goals and adding eight penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating. He has tallied 6-0-6 and eight penalty minutes in 21 NHL games over the past two seasons.
“Nikita is a top prospect in our organization and we believe it is in the best interest of his development to play more and in all situations in the KHL,” said Howson. “We have agreed to his request to be assigned to CSKA and this should afford him the opportunity to continue to work and develop his game in his hometown of Moscow.”
added 2:37pm, Dmitry Chesnokov of PuckDaddy talks to Filatov,
What are the main reasons of your decision?
There is only one reason. I think this is better for my development to go back and play in Russia. There are more opportunities there to develop as a player and to really compete. At least at this time. CSKA can give me more right now than Columbus, to whom I am thankful. And all I need is to get playing time.
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
Rookie forward Nikita Filatov, who has struggled to remain in coach Ken Hitchcock’s lineup, might be headed back to Russia, perhaps as soon as this week, according to sources within and beyond the NHL.
Jackets general manager Scott Howson would not comment on a potential agreement allowing the 19-year-old Filatov to return to his former club team, CSKA Moscow. Nothing has been finalized, however, and Filatov and the Blue Jackets are expected to talk again today about the possibility of staying in Columbus.
At least one teammate has encouraged Filatov to give the situation more time before making a decision, a source said.
Neither Filatov, a healthy scratch last night against Edmonton, nor his agent Don Meehan would comment when contacted by The Dispatch. Hitchcock also declined comment.
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.
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