Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hockey Talk: End of the 2012 Season

The regulation-play season of the NHL has ended. For the 14 teams that did NOT play well enough to make the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's time to go play in international games, to recuperate or refuel, or to play golf.

This year's Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ) were stuck in the basement of the standings since November of last year. They ended their season with a total of 65 points. Conversely, the St. Louis Blues (STL), our division rivals, finished their season with a total of 109 points. Our overall record was 29-46-7 (wins, losses, overtime victories) compared to the STL record of 49-22-11. So....yeah, STL was basically twice as good as us.

There's been a lot written about the Year in Review, so I thought I would chime in with a few comments.

Jeff Carter was supposed to be our saviour, the All-Star Center who Captain Rick Nash had been waiting for. However, Carter never really clicked in Columbus and certainly the Nash-Carter team never gelled. When the CBJ management had a chance to trade Carter to LA for Jack Johnson, they jumped at it. The differences between Carter and Johnson were dramatic, right from the start. When Carter was traded from Philadelphia to Columbus, he pined away in seclusion for several days, moping; when Johnson was traded from LA to Columbus, he hopped on the first airplane out of there and played for us the next day! He is now one of the fan favorites and the talk is that he will be the next Captain. My money is still on RJ Umberger, but we'll see....

The Carter-Johnson trade is indicative of how stupid CBJ management really is. The wholesome trade of players who want to be here for players who don't is just stupid. Except for Jack Johnson (and, to a lesser degree Vinny Prospal), no "new" CBJ player has hit it off with the fans. We love the new kids, and then they are sent down to CBJ farm-team! Players like Grant Clitsome, Matt Calvert, Jan Hedja, Kris Russell, Rudy Klesla, Antoinne Vermette, and Jake Voracek may not be great players, but they were OUR great players. We the fans had emotional connections with these guys, and to replace them with "better" (so-called) players is an admirable goal, but these guys are gone and the CBJ still lost! Was it really these players' fault? Most of these guys wanted to stay in Columbus and work for us; who did we get for them?? Exactly.

My favorite game of the season was the March 23 victory over Carolina Hurricanes. It was my first "hat-trick" where I actually threw my hat onto the ice.

Is that my hat from RJ's hat-trick?
Looks like it!
My favorite moment of the season was my question being used in the March 28 program. It's not all that interesting a question, sure, but it's still cool that I had my name mentioned in an NHL program.

My favorite players are still Derek Dorsett and Jared Boll. Hopefully both of them will be back next year. And of course I still like the Russell Brothers (Kris now in STL, Ryan employed by CBJ but sent to the farm team in the AHL).

This year was the worst in CBJ history. Okay, fine. But other teams have had slumps, too. So let's re-arrange the team and re-commit and study those teams actually in the Playoffs and do better next year! If we are the Chicago Cubs or the Boston Red Sox of the NHL that's fine; it just means we have to try harder!

Sure, my enthusiasm for the CBJ has diminished some, but I still love hockey. I look forward to a better season next year. I look forward to the All Star Weekend coming in January 2013. I look better than 65 points! Come on, Blue Jackets, I know you can do it!

My predictions for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Ottawa Senators in 6
Boston Bruins in 5
New Jersey Devils in 5
Philadelphia Flyers in 5

LA Kings in 6
STL Blues in 6
Phoenix Coyotes in 6
Detroit Red Wings in 5

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