Category Archives: Oilers

Two in a row!

Apologies for being quiet when the Jackets have actually managed to string together a princely two wins in a row. I’ve been continuing to fight this cold, which while not that severe, is doggedly determined to hang on forever, and just going to work is kind of taking everything out of me. By the time these late games start, I’m falling asleep. I didn’t make it through the first period of the Oilers game, and that was only at 9PM. But the handy boxscore machine tells me the Jackets won that game 4-2.

I did manage to watch most of last night’s game against Calgary, and the Jackets looked pretty good. I’ll admit, when Calgary made it 3-2 in the third, I fully expected the CBJs to give up the tying goal, lose in a shootout, the whole pattern we’ve become accustomed to this season. But they didn’t. Garon held the fort, and the Jackets have now climbed up to 13th in the West.

It’s a modest winning streak to be sure, but it might have saved Ken Hitchcock’s job. For the time being at least.


Some reading for a rainy Sunday

I just finished reading Gretzky’s Tears by Stephen Brunt. It’s a stand-out among hockey books. My review (as posted on Goodreads):

Stephen Brunt is one of my all-time favorite sportswriters, and has been for years. I always loved his columns in the Globe & Mail, enjoyed Searching for Bobby Orr very much. He’s a very skilled writer and very smart, able to weave in wider social and cultural context to writing about sports.

This book is no different. He discusses the events leading up to the Gretzky trade. At this point, there aren’t really any revelations — I think anyone who has paid attention to hockey since 1988 knows that Gretzky was sold to LA because Peter Pocklington was having money problems. The PR line at the time, that Gretzky asked to be traded to the Kings so his new wife could continue her acting career, was discredited soon afterwards. But Brunt’s perspective on the trade is still welcome and fresh, because he does provide a lot of background information on what went on from people involved, like Bruce McNall, or Peter Pocklington’s PR man.

And he goes beyond just a retelling of the trade itself into looking at what it meant in terms of the direction the NHL took post-1988, what it meant in terms of how Canadians viewed hockey and the NHL, and so on. There’s some really insightful writing in here about the meaning of sports in contemporary culture. He also explores the unraveling of the fortunes of both Bruce McNall and Peter Pocklington in more depth than I’d personally read before.

Brunt’s pretty cynical about the post-Gretzky NHL and American expansion in general. I suppose that leaves a bit of a sour note for me, just given that he implicitly at least would deny my favorite team the right to exist. Although his wider point about the illusory nature of NHL expansion in the U.S. is taken.

The chapters at the end about Gretzky’s role in Phoenix do seem a bit rushed and not as artful as the rest of the book. But I’d highly recommend this to any sports fan as an essential work in understanding the contemporary NHL and how it came to be as it is circa 2009-10.

Unlike many hockey books originating in Canada, this one seems to be pretty widely available in the U.S. I picked up my copy at the Borders on Kenny Rd.

Another hockey book I’ve been wanting to read turned up today the the Barnes & Noble/OSU Bookstore, where I was ostensibly shopping for a gift for our holiday exchange at work, but instead came home with Bob McKenzie’s Hockey Dad for myself. This one is of course of above-average interest for me, since Bob’s son Mike plays for St. Lawrence. As I believe I’ve noted here before, I’ve seen the senior McKenzie in the stands at some Saints games, and, memorably, in the corridor at the University Inn first thing in the morning, the last time I was up in Canton. Looking forward to reading this one.

Jackets 3, Oilers 2 (SO)

Jackets took a measure of revenge on Edmonton for the collapse last month, coming out with the win in the shootout.

This was a chippy, tight-checking affair in which neither team really got a lot of good even strength chances. And in fact every goal was scored on the power play. There were two fights within the first three minutes, Blunden and then call-up Sestito dropping the gloves. First period was pretty even. Columbus dominated shots in the second, but each team let in a goal. Edmonton dominated the third pretty well, but the Jackets managed to get it into OT and then to the shootout. Three in the past week….ugh. Even when my team wins, still not a fan.

Mathieu Garon was pretty solid in net again tonight. Countdown to the official “goalie controversy” in Columbus: 10…9…8…

I should also make note that Anton Stralman had a goal and an assist tonight. He’s a player of whom I am not overly fond, given some of his lapses on the defensive side of things. But he has managed to contribute decently on offense, something Jackets blueliners have not done much of in the past couple of seasons. Now, if he can just turn around that terrible +/-, I might find room in my heart for the Swedish power play specialist.

Jackets, currently sitting in sixth in the West, leave on a long and meandering road trip that takes them from Texas to Quebec, and various points in-between. All of the teams they play in the next week have fewer points on the season, with the exception of the Rangers. Which gives some hope for a decent record on this road trip.

Jackets 4, Oilers 6

The score was a little closer in the end, but honestly this was uglier than the Calgary game.

Jackets went down very early again, as in Calgary. But unlike that game, they roared back with some strong play by Voracek and Huselius, and ultimately took a 4-1 lead. Then the wheels fell off and Edmonton went on a tear, with the final score 6-4 bad guys. Five point nights by both Penner and Hemsky.

The loss drops the Jackets into ninth in the conference, out of the playoffs. It’s early yet, so we needn’t panic too much, but it’s always best to avoid the wild scramble at the end of the year.

Hejda and Commodore can’t come back soon enough!

On to Anaheim…

Jackets 1, Oilers 0

Big win tonight for the CBJs. They outplayed the Oilers but looked for a long while like they weren’t going to get anything past Dwayne Roloson, who has a bit of a history as a Jackets killer. Raffi Torres (who had probably his best game as a Jacket) finally got the winner against his old team, and Steve Mason pitched another SO.

Still only the tiniest amount of breathing room above the eighth place bar for the Jackets, but every win gets them a little bit closer to claiming a spot in the playoffs.

Oilers 4, Jackets 3

Just when I really start believing in this team, when I really start to think that they can make the playoffs this season, they let one go like this. Granted, this is a fair-to-middling NHL team, I can’t expect them to win every game…on the road…yadda yadda yadda. Still, though, I have a bad feeling that come April, if the Jackets are on the wrong side of eighth place, losing this one in the final seconds will be one of those games we look back on and say “if only…”

Doesn’t get any easier from here — they’re in Calgary tonight.

Jackets 2, Oilers 7: Photoblog

“B is for bullshit and you fed me some.” — Kathleen Edwards

This was one to be forgotten. The Jackets actually managed to control much of the play for about two and a quarter periods, but despite a huge margin in shots on goal, they couldn’t get many quality chances and couldn’t put anything past Roloson. The power play continued to look inept. And despite Edmonton having single digit shots on goal through two periods, the Jackets defense made some crucial gaffes, hanging Leclaire out to dry and putting them down 2-0 early. For a brief time in the third, it looked like the Jackets might make a game of it, but then the wheels came off for Pascal, and it quickly turned into a slaughter. Chants of “We want Mason” and sarcastic cheers when Leclaire made routine stops filled the air. Just an ugly game.

But hey, at least a Columbus team that knows how to win was in the building — the Crew was honored during the first period as they prepare to head off to LA. I look forward to cheering them on out there and forgetting about this one.


Nash and Brassard contributed to the few highlights for the CBJ this game.

Ales Hemsky

My soon-to-be neighbor Manny Malhotra tries to get past Steve Staios

Voracek chases the puck

Roloson stops Jason Chimera

Freddy Modin looking intense

Roloson holds onto the puck

Peca and Modin confer

Hey, what’s that in the back of the net? The Jackets finally get one.

Pascal loses his lid and the Oilers score

Hejda and Penner joust in front of the net

Commodore on the PK

Peca defends with no stick

And it just got worse for Pascal

Lots of this in the third

Leclaire’s body language says it all

Not many fans hung around ’til the bitter end