Category Archives: La Tristesse

Jackets 2, Caps 3

The Jackets actually played pretty well tonight against the top team in the league. If they’d been able to finish some of the good chances they had, this one could well have been a ‘W’ for the home team. Granted, Washington seemed to be mostly going through the motions, but who can blame them? They’re cruising into the playoffs and Columbus will be on the golf course in a week.

Lots of Caps fans in the building tonight, but they weren’t really irritating like some opposing fan bases we’ve seen.

So, one more week and this nightmare of a season will be over. I realize I haven’t posted on the blog in about a month, but my level of interest in the 2009-10 Blue Jackets has been just about nil. I’ve been preoccupied with work stuff, both good and bad, since the start of the new year. And it’s been hard to carve out the mental space to think about this team and analyze their performances. And in a way, the Olympics were the last straw for me — two weeks of exciting, well-played, meaningful hockey in which both of my favorite teams (USA and Slovakia) contended for medals. To switch from that back to, oh, six more weeks of a CBJ season where the playoff hopes were essentially put paid to in November — ugh. I still watch the games, sort of. And go to them when I have tickets (although I did miss three in a row in March for a variety of reasons, the most humorous of which was my car getting completely coated in mud after the Crew home opener last weekend).

I know I’ve made it through lots of bad CBJ seasons before (and a whole string of frustrating Ottawa Senators seasons before that) without getting this turned off. But with the team having made the playoffs last year and looking to be on the upswing, to not even be in a playoff battle is just too much.

But hey, Miami’s in the Frozen Four next week, so there may be some hockey glory for Ohio yet this spring.

And I renewed my CBJ twenty-game pack for next season already. Because hope springs eternal. And that’s why I’m not calling time on the blog, although I strongly considered it at times the past few months. See y’all next season (and probably at some key points before that, like the draft and July 1)!

Been Down So Long…

…looks like up to me.

Apologies again for my absence from the blog of late. My cold, busy-ness at work, stress at work, and other things have gotten in the way of even watching the Jackets, never mind thinking or writing about how they’re doing. Which is still mostly bad, although they looked good for a bit there. At least they seem to be pulling away from the Oilers so maybe they won’t finish dead last in the West.

Boston tonight. I have no real expectations of victory.

Jackets 3, Leafs 6

As I was walking up to my seat tonight, it struck me that this was the first Jackets game I’d gone to since the 9-1 fiasco against Detroit. That seems like ages ago, but between the long road trip and my having had the flu last week, I can’t think of any other Jackets game I would have attended. Surely, I thought, after that realization, tonight has to be better than that.

Sigh.

It was just a pathetic performance by the Jackets tonight. They came out sloppy and never tightened it up. Bad turnovers, blind passes, lazy offsides…you name it, we saw it tonight. Mercifully, another small weeknight crowd, so the damage to Columbus’ collective psyche may have been limited.

And like rain on your wedding day, or ten-thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife, isn’t it ironic that the Jackets outshot the Leafs? Even that’s deceiving, though, as the Jackets spent much of the night playing on the perimeters. Many of those shots on goal were from fairly impossible angles. And even when they did get some quality chances, Joey MacDonald managed to look like last year’s Steve Mason. While Steve Mason looked like this year’s Steve Mason. Which isn’t entirely fair. While Mason wasn’t super sharp (and nor was Mathieu Garon, who replaced him after Toronto scored four times), the defense was lax. So many times when Toronto had the puck in the Jackets’ end they seemed to have all the time and space in the world to move the puck around.

Phil Kessel made himself look worth all the picks Toronto traded for him, scoring twice. And adding a fight with Kris Russell late in the third, which may have been the sole entertaining part of this game for me. Jason Blake also scored two goals for Toronto.

Columbus scored a couple late goals to make the score look more flattering, but don’t be fooled if you didn’t see the game. It was just ugly.

I’m going to the OSU-Michigan hockey game tomorrow. Hope the Buckeyes put on a more credible performance than the Jackets did tonight. Then Saturday Columbus fans finally get a crack at Adam Foote (unless he suddenly comes down with the swine flu). Hoping for better from that game. It’s gotta get better, right?

Jackets 4, Thrashers 3, or something

Yeah, I know there was a CBJ game last night. I was at the Crew game, though, watching them crash out of the playoffs. It’s still painful to think about last nigth’s game. So no MLS Cup repeat for the Crew. And with OSU football having a fairly mediocre season, looks like the Jackets are our last hope for a national championship of some sort in Columbus this sports year. (Okay, I suppose some of the other dozens of sports OSU sponsors might contend for something…) Which is probably a long shot, but hey, the win last night did put them into first place in the Central…

Anyway, Dispatch for the game recap

Jackets 3, Pens 4 (SO)

In the grand scheme of soul-crushing Jackets’ defeats since 2000, or, hell, soul-crushing Jackets’ defeats in the past two weeks, I’m not sure this one should even register. But it does, big time. Yeah, they came away with the loser point, but I still left the game last night feeling eviscerated, and it wasn’t just the Chipotle burrito…

Part of it was of course the presence of large numbers of Penguins fans. I’d say anywhere from a third to half of the fans in attendance were cheering for the boys in baby blue. Hard to know how many of them actually made the drive out from Western PA or Eastern Ohio, and how many were locals, but it does stick in the craw to see your team’s home arena taken over by away fans. Shame on Columbus for not selling enough tickets to CBJ fans to prevent that. And honestly, seeing them all in their brand new Crosby and Malkin jerseys, wondering how many were supporting the Pens in the dark days earlier this decade and not just after a couple of generational talents essentially fell into their laps….yeah. Most all of the Pens fans I encountered were perfectly well-behaved and polite (although sounds like there were some jerks mixed in) and not even especially smug. But this was a group I still very much wanted to send back east to Pittsburgh Reynoldsburg on the losing end.

The Jackets did have some good fortune before the game in the form of Evgeni Malkin’s shoulder injury, which took out a big part of the Pens’ talent. And, once again, they found themselves facing a backup goalie, this time in the form of Brent Johnson.

For two periods, the Jackets played pretty well. They got off to a slightly tentative start, but went up 1-0 in the first on a Rick Nash goal. And in the second, they played a very strong period, limiting the Pens to five shots on goal, while they added two more goals, one from Nash, and a pretty one from Dorsett, of all people. Mason was looking like his old self in goal, stoning Crosby on a beautiful save. Unfortunately, the Pens grabbed a shorthanded goal after some confusion by the Jackets ended with Nash sitting in the net next to Mason. Still, the Jackets took a 3-1 lead into the third, the arena was buzzing with an almost playoff like atmosphere, and it felt good. All they had to do was hold down the fort for twenty more minutes.

They only managed about seventeen, though. And really from the start of the period, you could see the Pens taking control of the game. The Jackets were scrambling more and more, and not looking like the confident team from the second period. A Penguins goal seemed inevitable. And it came. And then another came in quick succession. Watching the highlights this morning on the NHL Network, it looked like Mason didn’t have much of a chance on either one. But the defense broke down.

The Jackets managed to hang on for the remaining minutes of regulation, and the five minute OT, to take it to the dreaded shootout. The only goal was scored by Sidney Crosby. It initially looked like Mason had made the stop, but he didn’t freeze the puck, and it slowly and agonizingly trickled over the line. And that was enough to keep the Pens unbeaten on the road. And send me home feeling like I’d just watched a 8-0 blowout, not a 4-3 shootout loss.

I’m not saying anything novel here, but the Jackets just need to figure out how to kill the game off when they have a lead. A couple years ago, they lost because they couldn’t score. Now they can score, but they can’t seem to hold a lead. Yes, getting Hejda back (sounds like next week) will help. But the whole team needs to figure this out. If they don’t figure it out soon, their playoff chances are going to slip away like a two goal lead. It’s just not good enough.

And it gets no easier tomorrow, when the Jackets face Washington on the road, before coming home to play Jody Shelley, Manny Malhotra, and the rest of the Sharks on Wednesday.

A disappointing Saturday and a date with Detroit

Turns out I didn’t miss much by skipping the Jackets’ last home game to go to the Crew game. By all accounts, the Jackets played a stinker and lost 6-3 to the non-playoff bound Minnesota Wild. Which meant that they failed to clinch the #6 spot in the West and had to wait for the outcome of today’s St. Louis-Colorado game to determine who they would match up against in the first round. St. Louis won 1-0, which meant the Jackets have fallen into the #7 spot and will play the Red Wings. Not quite the optimal outcome. But can you really say they deserved any better with some of the performances of late?

And as it happened, the Crew game was disappointing too. Much like the first home game against Toronto FC, the Crew led for a good long time, and then conceded a late goal to wind up with the draw. At least it wasn’t an own goal this time. But the defending champs are still looking for their first win.

When I got home from freezing at Crew Stadium and started watching the DVRed Frozen Four title game between Miami and BU, it looked for a time like I should have been home watching that all along, and not at the Crew game or the Jackets game. Miami took a 3-1 lead into the final minute of regulation, and looked to be about to win their first national championship. And then — shades of SLU’s meltdown in the ECAC semifinal! — they gave up two quick goals to send the game into OT. Where Boston U ultimately prevailed on a weird bouncing shot.

All in all, a bad Saturday in sports from my POV. Now I’m just waiting for the NHL to release the playoff schedule and trying to figure out what slender threads of hope there might be that the Jackets win the series…

SLU 3, Yale 4: ECAC Semi-Final

What a complete heartbreaker this one was…from so nervously happy to completely gutted in the space of a few seconds. Despite being outplayed by Yale for a good chunk of the night, the Saints had gotten some timely goals and were hanging on to a 3-2 lead with under two minutes left. Looking like they were on their way to the ECAC title game. And then it just all fell apart — Yale scored twice in quick succession to put paid to the Saints’ hopes. And I’m left sitting on the couch in shock and sadness.

There is still a small thread of hope that SLU gets an NCAA bid. If they win tomorrow in the third-place game and if the right teams win in the other conferences, they might still make it. Although UMass-Lowell’s win tonight over Northeastern apparently makes that less likely.