Monday, November 22, 2010

Jackets Third Jersey?

Is this the Jackets third jersey that's set to be unveiled on Wednesday night at Tuttle Crossing? If so, I like it and also find irony in the fact that deposed head coach Ken Hitchcock's "cannon" has become such a rallying cry for the franchise.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

#1 Miami cruises past Lake St. 6-2

photo: Rachel Lewis Photography

October 29, 2010 - Oxford, Ohio

The #1 ranked Miami RedHawks opened an early 5-0 lead en route to a relatively easy 6-2 victory over Lake Superior State at Steve Cady Arena Friday night.

The RedHawks (5-1-1, 3-0 CCHA), who were averaging nearly five goals per game, did not disappoint with the top line of seniors Carter Camper and Andy Miele and sophomore Reilly Smith leading the way with ten points between them. Camper, the nation's leading scorer, notched his eighth goal of the season and 20th point in just his first seven games while Miele recorded his second straight four-plus point night with a line of 1-3-4. The reigning national player of the week took over possession of second place in the national scoring race (4-12-16) behind his linemate. And, the real benefactor of playing with these two veteran seniors has been Reilly Smith who tallied his sixth goal of the season and now has a line of 6-3-9 in six games. In 44 games last season as a freshman, Smith had eight goals and 20 points. The Dallas Stars draft pick is doing his best to pick up the scoring void left by the graduation of Jarod Palmer and the early departure of Tommy Wingels for the pros.

Playing their first game without shutdown junior defenseman Will Weber, the RedHawks limited the Lakers to just 18 shots on goal as junior Cody Reichard improved his perfect season record to 4-0. Reichard took a shutout into the final period, but a series of Miami penalties provided plenty of chances for LSSU who went 1 of 6 on the powerplay.

Frankly, Miami played a very sloppy third period but it's evident early when the legs are going, the RedHawks have greatly improved their speed and puck movement over a year ago. They are playing with unmatched confidence and great skill that will help them against small, speedy teams that have typically given them fits. And, when they finally field a complete, healthy team, they should be a joy to watch this season.

At the start of the final period, and after a lengthy discussion, Miami senior captain Carter Camper was issued a five minute major for kneeing at :44. It was Camper's first career major penalty and led to a Laker goal from Chad Nehring at 2:14.

Sophomore Curtis McKenzie answered quickly for Miami and reestablished the five goal margin at 6:33. For McKenzie, it was his second goal of the season and an absolutely beautiful finish as he accepted a perfect saucer pass from senior Pat Cannone and roofed a backhander over Laker senior goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson.

Miami would take five penalties in the third period and LSSU was able to capitalize late in regulation just after the expiration of another Miami penalty to make it a 6-2 final. The RedHawks must find a way to cut down on penalties which have been a problem over the past several years.

The series with the Lakers concludes tonight at 7pm at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford.

  • Junior assistant captain Alden Hirschfeld returned to the lineup after missing the last five games due to injury. He picked up where he left off by notching what turned out to be the game-winning goal, his fourth of the season. He now has a line of 4-3-7 in just three games this season.
  • In the aftermath of junior defenseman Will Weber's neck injury, several Miami players including Carter Camper and Curtis McKenzie wore protective neck guards for perhaps the first time during last night's game. And others, like Andy Miele and Garrett Kennedy, had them on during warm-ups, presumably to try them out.
  • Camper's early statistics are eye-popping. He leads the nation in goals (8), assists (12 - tied with Miele) and points (20) after seven games and has a +11 rating.
  • The RedHawks have scored at least four goals in all of their victories and have topped six goals four times this season.
  • Miami's six goals were scored by six different RedHawks.
  • Miami has outscored its opponents 19-3 over the past three games.
  • The win was Miami’s seventh straight over the Lakers (2-4-1, 0-3 CCHA).
Coverage links

Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Week That Was/The Week That Is

photo: Rachel Lewis Photography

Oct. 29, 2010 - Oxford, Ohio

The Week That Was

What a week for the Miami RedHawks.

Coming off two consecutive weekends of non-conference action against top ten opponents, Miami opened the defense of their CCHA championship by sweeping winless Northern Michigan by a combined score of 13-1.

In doing so, junior netminder Cody Reichard registered his first shutout of the season blanking the Wildcats 4-0 on Friday night. The shutout was the eighth of Reichard's career leaving him four behind school leader David Burleigh's twelve. Reichard also improved his season record to 3-0 with a 2.14 goals against average and .910 save percentage.

However, the real stories of the weekend occurred on Saturday when the RedHawks trounced NMU 9-1.

  • Sophomore Reilly Smith recorded the first hat trick of his career.
  • Seniors Carter Camper and Andy Miele combined for ten points on the evening.
  • For his weekend efforts, Miele (2-7-9) was named national player of the week by Inside College Hockey and the CCHA's Offensive Player of the Week. In doing so, Miami has claimed the first three weekly offensive awards from the league (Hirschfeld, Camper).
  • Junior Trent Vogelhuber had a nice night scoring his first two goals of the season. The second of which came on a nice wrister to the top shelf.
  • Seniors Pat Cannone (101) and Andy Miele (100) became members of Miami's 100-point club.
  • Junior goaltender Connor Knapp made 15 saves to earn his first victory of the season evening his record at 1-1-1.
If those accomplishments weren't enough, the weekend sweep also vaulted the RedHawks back atop both major college hockey polls. Miami is once again the #1 team in the nation and has been for 28 of the past 75 weeks. Since the beginning of last season, Miami has been ranked in the nation's top four throughout both campaigns.

Then, there was also a "minor" story involving junior defenseman, Will Weber. Weber was injured near the end of the first period when an inadvertent skate blade from Northern Michigan's senior captain Phil Fox caught him under his cage resulting in a laceration running from beneath his left ear to his chin. The game was stopped with 2:59 remaining in the period to clean blood off the ice from Weber's injury. The teams went to their respective locker rooms and played the remainder of the first period before changing ends to begin the second period.

Weber, who needed 100 stitches and 15 staples to close the wound was seen back at Goggin Ice Center as soon as Tuesday and Justin Vaive provided us with this look at the injury.

From all accounts it appears Weber will make a full recovery and rejoin the RedHawks sometime in the coming weeks or months. If I had to guess, I'd say we'll see Weber back after the holiday break, but perhaps sooner.

The Week That Is

Tonight, the #1 Miami RedHawks (4-1-1, 2-0 CCHA) focus their attention back to the ice and take on the Lake Superior State Lakers in a two-game series at Steve Cady Arena in Oxford.

Last season Miami swept the Lakers in Oxford by scores of 2-0 and 10-4. As you may recall, that series was marred by the untimely death of former student manager Brendan Burke on Friday night. And, on Saturday, the RedHawks played with a major burst of emotion overwhelming the Lakers en route to the lopsided victory.

Miami enters the game with the nation's leading scorer, Carter Camper (7-10-17) propelling an offense that is generating 4.83 goals per game (3rd NCAA) while the Lakers are scoring just 3.17 per night while surrendering 4.17 goals per contest.

Last weekend, the Lakers (2-3-1, 0-2 CCHA) secured their first victories of the season by sweeping Colgate at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. LSSU is led offensively by sophomore forward Domenic Monardo (3-3-6), senior forward Rick Schofield (3-5-8) and sophomore defenseman Zach Trotman (3-3-6). In net, the Lakers will be carried by senior Brian Mahoney-Wilson and freshman Kevin Kapalka.

The Lakers are 0-2 away from the Soo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

RedHawks Knock off St. Cloud 6-3

Camper's two goals lead #4 Miami over #11 St. Cloud State

St. Cloud, Minn. - Senior captain Carter Camper tallied on the powerplay and added a shorthanded goal to lead #4 Miami to a 6-3 victory over #11 St. Cloud State.

After surrendering an early first period goal, Miami would recover on the strength of two powerplay goals by senior Andy Miele and sophomore Curtis McKenzie to lead 2-1 after one period. The RedHawks were able to withstand early energy from the Huskies who were playing their home opener after splitting a pair at the Maverick Stampede last weekend in Omaha, Neb. On Friday the Huskies defeated Frozen Four upstart RIT 3-1, but fell to Clarkson 6-2 in Saturday's finale.

The RedHawks rebounded nicely from a subpar outing last Saturday night against then #10 New Hampshire when they surrendered five second period goals en route to a 6-3 loss at Steve Cady Arena. Though they were outplayed in the first period of tonight's game, they found themselves ahead 2-1 after one period despite a 12-5 SOG disadvantage.

Miami took control of the game in the second period on the strength of Camper's powerplay marker and freshman Bryon Paulazzo's first career goal taking a 4-1 lead into the final period. The RedHawks imposed their will in the second period carrying the play and reversing the SOG deficit by outshooting the Huskies 14-4 in the period.

The Hawks put the game out of reach in the third on goals by Camper and sophomore Reilly Smith, but took five penalties in the frame allowing two Husky powerplay goals during garbage time. Miami needs to clean up their play in order to finish off St. Cloud tomorrow night in the series finale (8pm EST).

Junior netminder Cody Reichard made 21 saves and recorded his second win of the season to run his record to 2-0. For the game, Miami outshot the Huskies 31-24. St. Cloud was 2-7 on the powerplay while Miami converted three of six opportunities with the man advantage.

- Junior assistant captain Alden Hirschfeld, the reigning CCHA offensive player of the week, did not play this evening and apparently did not make the trip to St. Cloud.
- Camper has five goals already this season in just three games.
- Miami is now 8-1-1 all-time against St. Cloud State.
- The Huskies are coached by former Miami assistant Bob Motzko, a George Gwozdecky disciple. Motzko actually mentored current Miami head coach Enrico Blasi when he was a player for the then Miami Redskins.
- Sophomore defenseman Joe Hartman is making a homecoming this weekend. Hartman is originally from St. Cloud, Minn.
- Curiously, each of Miami's three games has finished with identical 6-3 scores.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CBJ Round Table - Part IV

Welcome back, my firends, to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside.

For those who are stumbling upon this blog for the first time, welcome to Jackets Required! For our loyal readers returning, please remember to take your dirty shoes off. Part 4 of the CBJ bloggers Round Table is here! Today's questions address the view of the mainstream media towards our Jackets, and Arniel's decision to take #61 off the Penalty Kill. Enjoy!

QUESTION #7: The larger “hockey media” has largely written off Columbus for dead due to the low roster turnover and coaching changes. Give a few reasons why they might be wrong…and a few reasons why they might be right?
Tom Felrath, Dark Blue Jacket: Boilerplate answers all around: Negatively, poor performance with no major personnel shakeup equals history repeating itself. Hence, the 14th-15th rankings in the West. On the bright side, the core of the roster is relatively young and maturing. Every year of experience is...another year of experience to build upon. Plus, the new coaching staff and playing philosophy should be helpful in shaking the team out of the doldrums. And these guys know that they have a lot to prove after falling down last season.
Dan Parker, Waiting for Next Year: They might be wrong because there is finally a system in place that encourages the younger, generally more skilled guys to open it up and let their talent take over. Couple in the general development of those young players and adding in the potential of a guy like Filatov, and this team should score some more goals. Steve Mason probably can't play any worse than he did a year ago (one would hope), so even if one takes the defense exactly as bad as it was last season the offense should be improved enough to mitigate some of it right there.However, they might be right because frankly, the Jackets blue line was atrocious last year, and it's all the same guys coming back and being asked to play in a system that encourages more pushing up and less staying at home on defense. They could get burned A LOT. If an injury here or there on offense slows down the output and the defense is as bad as it potentially could be, another 14th place finish is certainly a strong possibility.
Mike MacLean, The Cannon: Why they might be wrong? Laziness. You look at the team's standing last season (14th in the West) and you look at their roster changes (Moreau, Wilson...low-key to say the least) and without doing their homework it's easy to write the Jackets off again. If Mason, Brassard and FIlatov don't take the next step, or if anybody else on the roster regresses, they may be correct.
Lee Auer, The Jackets Blog: Scott Arniel's system could work perfectly, the Jackets end up with Rick Nash, Jake Voracek, Antoine Vermette, and Nikita Filatov scoring 30+ goals, Derick Brassard becomes the player we caught a glimpse of in 2008, RJ Umberger contributes 60+ points on the 3rd line, Kritian Huselius keeps up his usual 70-ish points a season, and there are no major injuries, this team can score with anyone. Not to mention the addition of grit with "teeth" (aka Ethan Moreau) and an angry Mike Commodore, this team could be a big thorn in the side that catches many teams off-guard again.
On the contrary, if you take one second to look at our roster, there isn't much reason to expect the Jackets to be contending for Lord Stanley's cup in early June. The biggest reason for this being the blueline. Jan Hejda and Fedor Tyutin *might* serve as a second pairing on the upper echelon of teams, and most of our defensemen might not even play every game. Not to mention, but there is a very real possibility that Scott Arniel's system could prove impotent once opponents figure out how to beat it.
Red Dog, Red Dog Rambling: -breakout year from Voracek-Filatov with a memorable first full season in the league-Mason will prove his mettle-Commodore will surprise with his effectiveness in Arniel's system-Arniel's system-Moreau is not washed up, is hungry, and will be a mentor to many of the youngsters-Brassard will grow more and more solid and become a notable playmaker-there is suddenly more depth in the AHL than this CBJ fan can remember seeing (Savard, Moore, Guenin, Kubalik, Calvert all seem ready - or near ready - to fill in when needed, and none of them were available a year ago.
TopShelf, Jackets Required: Reason they might be wrong: There are 2 main reasons for optimism in CBJland. The first is that Steve Mason will be better, the question is how much better. He single handedly took the team to the playoffs two years ago. If he can return to 80% of what he was his rookie year, that will go a long way to the Jackets being in the hunt. The second reason is that the Jackets offensive production will be much improved. Voracek, Nash and Filatov, in that order, will lead the team in goals. More goals scored + fewer goals allowed = playoffs.Reasons they might be right: In 9 previous seasons, we've only overcome their no-playoffs predictions once, and it was a surprise to everyone. If Mason is an average NHL goalie and the new system does not translate into more goals (or leads to more penalties than new goals), the jackets will be in line for another awesome draft prospect to build the future around.

Jeff Little, Ten Minute Misconduct: Focusing on roster turnover is too simplistic. Due to the burden of the Foote and Fedorov contracts, Howson has really had two years to turn the whole ship around. We had guys underperform last year, in a system ill-designed for their talents and with a coach who was not equipped to deal with younger players. You can't blow up the roster every year, looking for the quick fix, when things go south. People need to get used to the fact that this is the pros, not college. This is a long term enterprise -- and we have a big stockpile of young talent. That being said, some players should be looking over their shoulder --- Methot, Boll, Dorsett, Clark. If Mason does not rebound, Howson may make a move. The greater hockey media is fascinated with the status quo, and respond to major personnel moves, of which there were . . . zero. The only two deals worth talking about ended up with the player staying put.
Matt Wagner, The Cannon: On the plus side, this is a team finally playing the type of hockey that they’re best suited for. Guys like Nash, Filatov, Voracek, and Brassard didn’t become top NHL draft picks by playing the trap or heavy defensive systems. They were in high offense, run and gun, aggressive teams. Taking the dogs off the leash should have exciting results. We’ve also seen players like Steve Mason and Mike Commodore start to rebound from bad seasons last year, and they seemed to improve even more in this pre-season. If they can continue to return to form, suddenly this team seems much more like a playoff club than a lottery team. On the down side, it’s still a young club, and changing offensive and defensive philosophies is tough. If they cannot adapt to the demands of playing for Scott Arniel quickly, it can be easy to dig themselves into a deep hole that they cannot recover from – look at Toronto last year, with a 0-8-1 start that pretty much torpedoed their season.
QUESTION #8: Will reducing the time Rick Nash is on the PK give him a better shot to lead the team offensively?
DBJ: Gosh, I hope so. He won’t have the excuse that he’s tired.
Dan Parker: I think it's a non-starter, actually. I think that if the top six can be consistent and can pick up some slack--as they did down the stretch--Rick can relax, play his game, and do what he does without having to try to be the everything on offense as it looked like he tried to do at times last season. And, as an aside, I'd just love the chance to see the Nash from the Olympics last year who used his size and skated like a banshee to become a super-force on offense. It always pains me to see what he's capable of with a lot of talent around him and when he's, how you say, more motivated.
Mike MacLean: I think so. If he can focus on putting up points, the team will be better off. There are a handful of great PKers on the team, so that will allow Nash to focus on offense.Lee: Another question that I have been trying to figure out for myself. At no point did I feel that he wasn't contributing offensively as much because of his time on the kill. I think Rick would agree with this statement, but he would not be the player he is today without Hitchcock's time in Columbus and making him play on the kill from the get-go.
I hope this move doesn't bite Arniel in the butt, but instead makes him look like a genius and Nash puts up 50 goals. I think a lot of Rick Nash's "lack of" scoring has more to do with the lack of consistent effort on his part.
TopShelf: I understand the line of thought here... keep Nash off the PK to keep him fresh for offensive needs. The problem is he is arguably our best penalty killer. If someone steps up and can be strong on the PK in Nash's place, then this is an okay idea. My gut feeling is that we will have more players stepping up in the goal scoring dept than in the penalty killing dept, and we will want to keep Rick on the PK. I would like to be proven wrong on this.

Andy Newman, The Cannon: Rick Nash should absolutely be a better player now if he's playing less minutes overall, with more time on the power play and in scoring situations. Ken Hitchcock helped make Nash one of the best two-way players in the league. But it's evident in international competitions and All-Star games, Nash is one of the premiere scoring talents in the world right now. He could hit 50 goals in the right situation. It's important to not overlook his value to the penalty kill, but with R.J. Umberger, Antoine Vermette, Sammy Pahlsson, Chris Clark, and even Jake Voracek, the team should definitely be able to spread the minutes around.
Red Dog: I like him on the kill, but rest is good, eh?
Jeff Little: Over the long haul of the season, it should enable him to stay fresher, but I don't think it is a big factor in his productivity. With Hitchcock's system, our offense was basically playing 3-on-5, and the defense could key on Nash. With the possession game and the defense involved, a la Chicago and Detroit, more time and space will be created for all of the forwards, including Nash. What Nash, and the other forwards, need to do is put the puck on net more consistently -- not "Chimera" the puck over the bar or wide.
Matt Wagner: Nash played an average of five minutes a game more than his linemates. He was the guy most often double or triple shifted, and it took a toll on him. Some of that is conditioning, which he seems to have improved, but certainly asking him to play more time at even strength or with the man advantage should be good for his offensive skills and to help him develop a little more on-ice swagger.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CBJ Roundtable - Part III

In the third installment of this weeks Special Feature, the Jacketsblog hasthe next round of questions and answers posted. Todays topics concern which players have more to prove this season, and if there is a leadership issue with the club. Be sure to check it out. These are bloggers who watch a lot of hockey, not just the Jackets, and there are some good thoughts on the Jackets and their issues.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CBJ Roundtable, part deux

"Nikita Filatov, and Restricted Free Agents"

The next series of questions is being hosted by The Dark Blue Jacket, one of my favorite CBJ blogs. Be sure to check it out. Today's questions concern breakout players and what to do with Anton Stralman.
Who do you think will be the offensive breakout player this season?