Category Archives: Capitals

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)!

At last, a trade!

Been hearing rumors all day that Washington and Columbus were going to make a deal, and finally it is announced: Chimera to Washington for Milan Jurcina and Chris Clark. So, not exactly the big Filatov deal some were expecting.

Chimera seems like a decent enough guy, but he was never my favorite player. Hands and brain just couldn’t keep up with his feet, and he was a source of infinite frustration for those reasons.

Clark was the captain in Washington, so hopefully he’ll add some veteran leadership, something that has been lacking this year. He’s not a big scorer; I’d assume he’ll replace Chimera on the thirdfourthfirst — oh, whatever Chimera’s line was this week.

Jurcina is big and a right-handed shot. He’s definitely not the #1 d-man the Jackets have been lacking, but can hopefully help fill some of the gap left by the injury to Klesla.

Jackets 5, Capitals 4

Wild one this afternoon. For a time I thought I’d be writing about a Jackets’ performance that was not what we’ve gotten used to of late. Then I thought I would be writing about more of the same. Then they proved me wrong. Then more of the same. Then…you get the picture.

This was a fun game to watch. Sometimes there are games that you wish your non-hockey fan acquaintances could see, because they would surely convince them of the merits of the sport. This was one of them. The tick-tack-toe passing on the first Caps goal, and then the individual effort by Nash to tie it up were both just gorgeous, hockey at its best. Umberger’s goal to make it 2-1 was less pretty, coming as it did on a funny bounce off the end boards with Theodore out of the net. But hey, crazy bounces are part of what gives hockey its charm as well.

The third period was when it went all goofy. The Jackets looked to be heading for the win when — shades of Friday night — Brooks Laich scored a couple quick goals to make it 3-2 Caps. And the black cloud of despair started to descend over me yet again. Then Raffi Torres, Mr. Clutch for the CBJ, tied it up, and the mood lightened. Then more despair as the defense broke down and the Caps took the lead late. Same old Jackets — wait, there’s Torres again, tying it up with seconds to go! And then Umberger finished it off in OT. What a game! Vaults the Jackets back into a playoff position, at least temporarily (Vancouver plays later tonight and will put them back in ninth with a win). And lifts my mood considerably after Friday night.

And now for a video…which has nothing to do with hockey, but I’m listening to this CD right now and thinking about how much I hated it when I first heard it, but later it became one of my all-time favorites. Kingston’s own Luther Wright and the Wrongs:

Off-season hockey books and other Toronto tidbits

I was up in Toronto for a few days earlier this week. Mostly work, but I did fit in an awesome Tragically Hip concert at Massey Hall, some visiting of friends, and of course some shopping. Although Amazon and other on-line sources now make it possible to acquire pretty much any book from any place, I still enjoy going to bookstores in Canada to find new books on hockey that haven’t filtered down here yet. Most new hockey books come out to coincide with the beginning of the season, so this is an off time for them. Although I hadn’t been in Canada since my trip to Calgary last March, so the Fall 2008 titles are still new to me.

There were some newer titles that struck my fancy a little, but they were all still hardcovers in the $30 range, so I decided to wait on these ones until they’re in paperback or remainders. Bruce Dowbiggin’s The Meaning of Puck was the most tempting, as I’ve enjoyed his other books and his journalism in general, but I deferred. I’ll probably pick it up on my next trip up. The Rocket by Benoit Melancon, a meaty looking cultural studies tome about Maurice Richard and his cultural impact in Quebec was similarly tempting, and is on the list for later. Not much else really struck my fancy this time.

The books I did end up buying were older titles. Chris Robinson’s Stole This from a Hockey Card about Doug Harvey caught my eye a couple years ago at Pages Books, but it was at the tail end of the trip when I’d already spent too much, so I didn’t get it. Made sure to pick it up this time. I’m a fan of Bill Gaston’s fiction, so his Midnight Hockey, which was on remainder at Book City, found its way into my ownership. I’d seen Mark Anthony Jarman’s hockey novel Salvage King, Ya! at the Kingston Chapters many eons ago, but I barely read fiction as a grad student, never mind paid $20 for a brand new novel, so I passed it up and it slipped my mind. Found it in a used bookstore this time, and I’m about halfway through reading it — takes some getting into, but I am quite enjoying it.

The Leafs have obviously been out of action even longer than the Jackets, so not a whole lot of buzz around them in Toronto these days. More people wearing Jays gear than I’ve seen in well over a decade, and lots of Toronto FC presence as well. And of course lots of Balsillie/Coyotes talk. Even a friend of mine in Waterloo who detests hockey was talking about that. She opined that since Toronto has the Leafs, the Niagara Peninsula has the Sabres, and “I suppose people in Windsor must like Detroit” that London would be the best home for the erstwhile Coyotes. Okay…

It was also nice that in Canada hockey is on channels that are actually available in hotel rooms, unlike Vs., which I think I’ve found in hotels twice. So I skipped a dinner with colleagues in favor of takeout shawarma and Game Six of Pens-Caps. What a fun series that was to watch, even as someone who is pretty much neutral on those two teams! Sounds like Game Seven was a bit of a dud, but I was en route back to Columbus and missed it. Tried to listen on XM, but they had the Pittsburgh feed, and I loathe Mike Lange with the white hot intensity of 1000 suns, so that was a no-go. Can’t say I have a lot of interest in the teams that are left — I’ll probably cheer for Carolina as the last remaining “non-traditional” team insofar as I cheer for anyone.

On that note of playoff ennui for those of us without a rooting interest left, I’ll leave you with a recommendation to check out this right-on Roy MacGregor column about the ever dragging hockey playoffs.

Sunday round-up

We’re drifting into summer now, so I expect to be updating less often, at least until the draft and the UFA madness that follows. I realize that the playoffs are just heating up, but I’m the sort who, once my team is out of it, I still watch, but don’t really get into it that much. And anyway, there are plenty of blogs out there written by fans of teams who are actually still playing, so I’ll let them cover the playoffs. I will say that Game One of the Pens-Caps series yesterday did live up to the hype as far as being an entertaining game to watch. Although who would have thought the most exciting moment would come courtesy of a goalie?

In the ECHL playoffs, the Cincinnati Cyclones progressed to the Conference Finals with a series win over Elmira. They have games Wednesday and Friday in Cincinnati. Those games would actually be next week, not this week. I’m going to Toronto that week and getting a little ahead of myself on the dates…

In other hockey goings on, the eminently forgettable 1986 film Touch and Go was on cable this morning. It stars pre-Batman Michael Keaton as a Chicago hockey star who falls for a single mother and her hoodlum son (who is played by Ajay Naidu, of Office Space fame!). Hockey is really pretty secondary, although there are a few action scenes, which are far from the best I’ve seen, but not utterly unbelievable. I’m pretty sure I watched this movie on cable way back when, although it was completely different from how I remembered it. I think I had it conflated in my head with V.I. Warshawski, another vaguely hockey connected film set in Chicago from the same era. And also with the Booker episode about hockey.

As far as the Jackets go, Jan Hejda and Alex Picard had surgery on their respective left wrists. And the team’s radio and TV broadcasters remain in limbo waiting to see if their contracts will be renewed. If it were up to me, I’d keep the radio guys — who have their quirks, but are beloved by the fans — and look for a new TV crew. But it’s not up to me, so we will see.

And of course, on Friday we heard the sad news of the passing of Ryan Salmons. If you’re not familiar with the Salmons story, read this, and keep a box of tissues handy. It was nice to read that Manny Malhotra and Jason Chimera went to visit Ryan towards the very end. Those are a couple of players I am often very frustrated with on the ice, but they have shown themselves to be class guys off of it. Kudos to them, and condolences to Ryan’s family.

Jackets 3, Caps 0

After a week in which nothing much went right for the Jackets — losses to St. Louis and Detroit, Nash injured, Huselius injured, Leclaire injured in practice — the Jackets surprised a lot of folks, myself included, with a 3-0 win against the hot Capitals in Washington. Huge kudos to Steve Mason (who was himself briefly feared to be injured this week) for standing up to the onslaught of shots and winning this one. I will conclusively say that I was wrong as wrong could be when I said he should be returned to Syracuse to get more seasoning in the AHL. I do just hope he doesn’t get overused and broken a la Marc Denis.

The Jackets are right back at it tonight, at home, against Minnesota. I was hoping to make this the first Jackets game I’ve attended since November, but I’m on IR myself with a lower body injury, and can’t quite hack the walking involved in attending a game. But I’m sure there are plenty of good seats still available for those interested.

Jackets 3, Caps 0

The Capitals may have been playing at somewhat less than full strength, but I’m certainly not going to begrudge the Jackets two points and a fairly dominant performance. Especially after the disappointment of last night.

Steve Mason continues to make the goaltending situation interesting. As noted in this space previously, I tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to bringing young goalies along into the NHL, but it’s getting harder and harder to argue with Mason’s results. Especially with some sub-par performances of late by Leclaire, and with Norrena’s apparently having fallen into the Olentangy and floated away. Looks like he’s our guy, at least for the time being.

I watched this one from home, as I’m still regaining my equilibrium, both physically and financially, from my recent travels. Looked like a pretty good crowd on hand, although it looked like many, many people wearing red. For anyone who was at the game, was the red in the crowd Caps bandwagoners fans, or people wearing Ohio State clothing? It’s always tough to tell when the Jackets play a team outfitted in red, because at any given time, something like 40% of the population of Columbus has on a red shirt.

Canucks up next for the CBJ. They’ve been hot, although they won’t have Luongo (like Columbus ever sees the starters anyway, LOL). Hoping for a two game winning streak to start December. I’ll miss this one, as I’ll be trapped on a plane en route to Phoenix while the game is going on.