Columbus Ohio is home

Embed from Getty Images As a person who was born in Columbus Ohio but grew up in East Grand Rapids Michigan, I was fighting myself. For decades, that is no joke. When my family moved back to Columbus Ohio in the late 1980’s I fought it. I dug my heels in and put up a wall. Michigan was home because, Michigan was safe.

Being adopted out of a child abuse background and an unstable family life, I moved to Michigan before the age of five. Living in Michigan allowed me to heal from the pain I suffered. I was able to leave the past behind and start a new. It was glorious.

Time and circumstance gave way to a move back to the state I did not want to be in let alone then city I most definitely did not want to be back in. Yet, God is funny, and although it has taken me a very long time I now accept that the Lord wants me to be in Columbus Ohio.

It is a getting out of the water moment for sure. To take the Lords hand and be grateful for all He has brought me through in my life. The least I can do is be thankful for His plans for me.

I am not a fan of Ohio State at all. I am a rather large fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets. But hockey is my favorite sport. More on that as this blog site will sift to Columbus and a steady diet of Blue Jackets content.

Columbus has a lot to offer families even during the current pandemic the Ohio economy not to mention the Columbus economy is in better shape than many states.

Through the loving of a very patient and talented wife (Erin I love you!!) as well as my children growing up and loving Columbus, not to mention a big conversation with Almighty God, I am finally at peace.

Columbus Ohio is home. It feels good to finally be able to say that and actually mean it.

Oliver Bjorkstrand has found consistency and may be the Columbus Blue Jackets best player

Embed from Getty Images That shot! That unbelievable, beautiful shot! It is a weapon Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has always possessed. It forces defensive players to overcommit while goalies hope it does not find the back of the net. Bjorkstrand is a finesse hockey player. He needed to find a physical edge to his game and improve in the defensive end. Oliver Bjorkstrand has done that.

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella has seen the Danish forward take a huge step forward in his game. Bjorkstand who in previous seasons would be hesitant to jump into the mix on the boards now leads the charge. He is playing the puck harder.

In 2017-18 Oliver Bjorkstrand’s first NHL season, he put up 11 goals, 29 assists in 82 games played. The 2018-19 season the young forward had 23 goals and 13 assists. The reason, Bjorkstand was asked to pass less and shoot more. After all he is a pure goal scorer.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, projected as a 30 goal 60+ point player when he was selected by Columbus in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft. He carried the Cleveland Monsters (Blue Jackets minor league affiliate)  to the Calder Cup with 15 points in 16 games played during the 2015-16 AHL season.

The always smiling Bjorkstrand has been called “The cold-blooded Danish assassin” by his Columbus Blue Jackets teammates. Oliver was challenged to step up by the Blue Jackets coaching staff. Bjorkstrand got to work. His intense work ethic and drive to be even better has lead to Bjorkstrand beginning to live up to his draft day projections.

This is good news for the Columbus Blue Jackets, as I said before, Bjorkstrand has the ability to put the team on his back and carry them. He is that good and that talented.

In a league full of good young talent, fans of other teams are taking notice of Bjorkstrand. His game has come so far in a short amount of time. The sky is the limit for Oliver Bjorkstrand and the young Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Columbus Blue Jackets power play has been awful for a while, it is time for Brad Larsen to go

Embed from Getty Images This is a brutally honest look at The Columbus Blue Jackets power play which has been awful, and it has been for quite awhile. It is time the coaching staff be held accountable for a unit that is a very important unit of every hockey team.

Back at the start of the 2016-17 season until New Years Eve (December 31, 2016), the Columbus Blue Jackets played 35 games. They posted a record of 26-5-4 and led the NHL with 56 points. The Blue Jackets also had  a league leading 27.5% power play. The team scored 28 power play goals on 102 opportunities. 23.1% of the team goals scored over that 35 game stretch were scored with the man advantage. Those were the good days.

Starting on January 1, 2017, things fell apart. From that moment until this season the Columbus Blue Jackets have the worst power play in the NHL. The team has scored just 91 power play goals including Alex Wennberg’s goal on Monday night in 585 opportunities, good for a 15.6% conversion rate. Of the 640 goals scored during that time, just 14.2% have come with the man advantage. In other words, horrible.

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, kept Brad Larsen in charge of the power play when he took over the Columbus hockey team four years ago. The fact that the Blue Jackets beat reporters do not ask pressing questions after the game is inexcusable.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have tried moving players around, shuffling personnel, everything that has been tried has been player related only. There are many times fans see players standing in their designated areas, unwilling to move around and change passing lanes in order to force a defensive reset.

For now the third season in a row, the Blue Jackets have the worst power play in the NHL. Any and all questions that have been asked, have been largely ignored, or played off entirely.

The answer is clear. It is time to remove Brad Larson and replace him with a fresh pan, a fresh set of eyes. The question is why has it not happened yet?

The Columbus Blue Jackets ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Embed from Getty Images It was a dream come true for long suffering fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team swept the might Tampa Bay Lightning in round one of the playoffs. Round two saw the Jackets matched up against the Boston Bruins. The Blue Jackets lost the series.

There is a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the goalies, Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Blue Jackets  Sergei Bobrovsky two heavyweight goal tenders going head to head. Bobrovksy finished the series with a .921 save percentage and should not be catching too much blame, even if he recorded a .901 save percentage over the final three games. Meanwhile, Rask had a vary strong finish to the series, compiling a .948 save percentage over the six games. He had a shutout performance in Game 6 and it should be noted that he deserved a shutout in Game 4 as well .

Boston kept firing the puck at the Columbus until they broke through. Columbus looked lost at times in the offensive end of the ice leading to bad shots and not grabbing enough rebounds to keep pace with the Bruins.

The Columbus Blue Jackets did an excellent job of shutting down Boston’s stars through the first half of the series and it was the biggest reason why Columbus was able to jump out to a 2-1 lead.  The series started to shift when Pastrnak scored two huge goals in a pivotal Game 5. Boston’s stars heated up. Columbus’ stars cooled off.

Over the final three games, the Blue Jackets managed just one goal from the collection of Artemi PanarinMatt DucheneCam AtkinsonPierre-Luc Dubois and Nick Folignoup front. The lone goal came from Panarin in Game 4. The three previous games saw a handful of guys who accounted for five goals and were a big reason why Columbus claimed a series lead.

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella guaranteed the series was going to go seven games. Boston seemed driven to make the coach eat crow. So once again, Columbus Blue Jackets fans stood and cheered their team after the game six loss.

Perhaps, when fans stop cheering losses, the team will respond with more wins.

Eastern Confrence Semifinal Series, Boston Bruins vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Embed from Getty Images Having surprised the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games, the Columbus Blue Jackets sat, skated and practiced while waiting for their next opponent. The Blue Jackets are well rested and have healed up for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs round 2.

The Columbus Blue Jackets will begin their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup Thursday in Boston. A place that has not always been kind to Columbus. That does not matter now, in the playoffs everything is out the window.

What to look for, Boston is an older team who plays physical. They are nowhere as fast as the young Blue Jackets. Boston likes to get scoring from the sides unlike the Tampa Bay Lightning who likes to work the puck down low for shots.

The Blue Jackets need to enter this series with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. The Blue Jackets have one of the best defensive units in the NHL, it gets better added to the roster is Vladislav Gavrikov, a Russian defensemen the Blue Jackets drafted in 2015. Gavrikov elected to play in the KHL and not the AHL. Given the tougher league the Jackets were happy to allow him to play there.

Why is Vladislav Gavriko in Columbus? His KHL contract was up, at 23 years old he has fully developed and projects as a top line defensemen.  In short this means the Columbus Blue Jackets will have a shutdown top line defensive player most likely on the third line. Breaking news, that is excellent for the Blue Jackets.

Columbus, needs to keep their sticks on the ice and take away passing lanes just as they did against the Lightning. They need to use their team speed to frustrate Boston, while staying out of the penalty box. If they do, this could be another quick series for the more talented Blue Jackets.

Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, there is nothing like it. Turne in Thursday night for game 1.

In what is the biggest upset in NHL playoff history, the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning

Embed from Getty Images The Columbus Blue Jackets stunning upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning, caught many fans and sports media off guard. A closer look at the series shows just how dominant the Blue Jackets were.

Two seasons worth of playoff failures paved the way for one of the biggest upsets the NHL has ever witnessed. The Columbus Blue Jackets showed they learned lessons and them applied them to perfection.

Two years ago against the Pittsburgh Penguins the Blue Jackets skated around with their sticks in the air. This year they masterfully had sticks on the ice taking away passing lane after passing lane and frustrating mighty Tampa Bay.

Last season the Washington Capitols out hit and were the more physical team in route to the Stanley Cup. This season the Blue Jackets out hit and were more physical than the Lightning.

Only one team has ever swept the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the first round of the playoffs and that’s the 2019 Columbus Blue Jackets. That is nearly unbelievable.  Columbus is riding a seven game road winning streak, outscoring opponents 32-10 in those games away from Nationwide Arena.

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s save percentage in the four wins was .932. Bobrovsky had an .891 save percentage in the Blue Jackets’ three regular season games against Tampa Bay. Goalie Bob showed up in a big way.

The Blue Jackets  outscored the Tampa Bay Lightning 19-8 in the series after the Bolts had beaten the Blue Jackets in three regular season games to the tune of 17-3. More impressive, 12 different Blue Jackets lit the lamp in the series.

The Blue Jackets have won 11 of their last 12 games, going back to the regular season. The Jackets have outscored their opponents 54-22 over those 12 games. To say they picked up the pace is kind.

Columbus’ odds to win the Stanley Cup,  currently second best in the playoffs   according to Money Puck’s model. Three weeks ago, their odds to claim the Cup were just 1.5%.

With the Columbus Blue Jackets sweeping the Lightning all  31 NHL teams that have now won a playoff series. The Blue Jackets were the last team to advance past the first round.

Now it is on to round two.

In stunning fashion the Columbus Blue Jackets lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0

Embed from Getty Images Overwhelming favorites to win the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning look completely lost and over matched against the Columbus Blue Jackets. How did this happen? A closer looks shows us what has happened.

The Tampa Bay Lightning winners of 62 regular season games and 128 points in route to the Presidents Trophy, were heavily favored over the Blue Jackets. However, the Columbus Blue Jackets have shown they should not be treated lightly.

Game one of the playoffs saw the Lightning jump out to a 3-0 lead. Then the bottom dropped out. The Blue Jackets stunned Tampa and came back and won. Game two saw Columbus put the pedal to the metal and cruse to a 5-1 win and a 2-0 series lead.

David vs Goliath, Buster Douglas vs Mike Tyson pick your analogy. Columbus fought and barley made the playoffs. That does not matter. Tampa has looked like the 8th seed.

The Lightning star players have gone silent. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point finished the season with 40 goals each and a combined 318 points!  Through two games they have zero goals and zero assists. Kutcherov and Point are -2 and Stamkos is -3. No hockey fan or writer saw that coming.

Heading back to Columbus, Kucherov has been suspended 1 game for a bad hit to the Blue Jackets, Markus Nutivaara. Dealing the Stanley Cup favorites what could be a death blow.

Another reason Columbus has taken control is they have been more physical than Tampa Bay. Blue Jackets defenders have punished Lightning offensive players. Columbus has been dominant on the forecheck knocking the Lightning off their game.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been unreal. After a shaky start to game one. Bobrovsky has looked like the two time Vezina Trophy winner. Since giving up 3 game one goals, Sergei Bobrovsky has stopped 40 of 41 shots. Proving his elite status and when he is on Bob is a game-changer.

What has set Columbus apart is they are getting scoring from all over the place. Tampa Bay has had no answers for the speed Columbus has. It has been a full Blue Jackets effort.

The Lightning had the top ranked power play and penalty kill during the regular season. Yet, Columbus is 3 for 6 with a man advantage and are a perfect 5 for 5 on the penalty kill.

The Lightning are in trouble leading head coach Jon Cooper to say his team is in “a five-alarm fire.”

 

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Tampa Bay Lightning series preview

Embed from Getty Images In what could be one of Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella’s best coaching jobs to date, he somehow managed to rally a Blue Jackets team that had many different distractions this season. From pending free agents to a goalie who struggled for most of the season to find his game. Tortorella held the team together.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs! That is the good news. The bad news, the Tampa Bay Lightning awaits them. The same Lightning team that won 62 regular season games and racked up 128 points. The fourth best numbers seen by an NHL team, ever.

Tampa Bay lost back-to-back games only two time this season. The Lightning were so good they finished the season with a +103 goal differential. One more point the Tampa Bay Lightning were 3-0 verses Columbus this season.

So the real question is do the Blue Jackets have any real shot to slay the beast from the East? Let’s take a look.

The Columbus Blue Jackets absolutely need to steal a win at Tampa. Does not matter what game. They need to win on enemy ice to take home ice advantage away.

Two time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky who’s playoff struggles have been well documented needs to have the series of his life. Bobrovsky played very well coming down the stretch. That needs to carry over into the playoffs.

Last season the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Washington Capitols. Then they could not stay out of the sin bin. Penalties suffocated the team and Washington took the series. The Blue Jackets must stay out of the penalty box against Tampa or they will fair no better than last year.

Columbus goal scoring was great down the stretch. The Jackets outscored opponents 30-6. They are playing as well as any team right now. They need to keep that momentum up.

If Oliver Bjorkstrand can keep up his scoring the Jackets have something the Lightning do not. Secondary scoring off the bench.

The Blue Jackets defense needs to keep the play in front of them and not allow anything behind them. It will not be easy. But Tampa does not have the team speed Columbus does. I think this series could be closer than many.

 

In a bit of a surprise the Columbus Blue Jackets call up top prospect

Embed from Getty Images 19 year old Alexandre Texier from Grenoble, France, has been called up by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He will join the team tonight as the Jackets take on the New York Rangers in a huge game for Columbus.  Texier has one of the highest ceilings in the entire Blue Jackets pipeline of prospects.

Alexandre Texier,  has a genuine chance to be special with his play. He plays both center and left wing.  Texier isn’t a one-dimensional player, he plays very well in the defensive end of the ice. Alexadre  is a dynamic offensive talent who is mature and can handle playing against any competition.

Current Columbus Blue Jacket Alexander Wennberg seems to have fallen out of favor with the entire Blue Jackets organization. His poor play and lack of goals at $5.4 million per season has placed him as a regular healthy scratch.

Tonight, the Columbus Blue Jackets will play their biggest game of the season. Win and they will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team has once again scratched Wennberg in favor of  the speed demon Texier who possesses  good goal-scoring ability and puck-handling skills that set him above Wennberg skill wise.

If you can not tell I am VERY bullish on Alexadre Texier because he has the tools and pedigree to become a top-line player. Alexadre projects as having a point-per-game  potential.

The young player from France,  skates well, handles puck well and and also has  good sense. Very good upside. One more point, if fans want something else to drool over Texier has lightning fast speed. When he takes the ice tonight at Madison Square Garden Alexandre Texier will be the fastest player on the ice for both teams.

In what is critical to his development Texier rarely looks overmatched on the ice. That could be the reason Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen made the call to bring the young player up and give him ice time right off the bat. It is a daring move to be sure. But, it is a move that could pay high dividends for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus Blue Jackets sign defenseman Andrew Peeke

Embed from Getty Images Having just completed his third season at Notre Dame, Andrew Peeke totaled 119 games, 12 goals, 40 assists and a plus 20 rating. Peeke is a Columbus Blue Jackets second-round pick- No. 34 in 2016, he agreed to a three-year entry-level deal.

Andrew Peeke, was captain of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team this season. He is a big, mobile defenseman that plays great in his own zone and gets the puck moving up ice quickly. Andrew Peeke is not a player that will put up great offensive numbers. For the Columbus Blue Jackets he does not need to.

It is a safe bet however, the Blue Jackets will encourage Peeke to shoot the puck more.  Andrew has a terrific shot and had an 8.8% shooting last season. In a move that is not typically seen in Columbus, Andrew Peeke is headed to the Blue Jackets, not the Cleveland Monsters.

The team is willing to burn through the first year of his entry level contract. The Blue Jackets have a log jam of talented defensive players, the team obviously sees something in Peeke that can help them coming down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Many NHL teams covet and put a premium on defenseman who are right handed puck movers. Which is exactly what Andrew Peeke is. Not only that but Andrew has  great size and strength. Strength is something that usually hampers rookies. Making his three seasons at Notre Dame valuable.

Andrew Peeke projects as a shutdown defenseman with some offensive upside. He should fit in with the Blue Jackets pretty quickly. During his time in college Peeke was a model of consistency. That is a trait general managers and coaches prize above all else.

Andre Peeke said he likes to watch a player like Seth Jones, a two-way player who can shut opponents down in the defensive zone while adding something in the offensive end, the two players are now teammates.

Andrew Peeke is expected to arrive in Columbus Ohio,  Monday afternoon.