Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick Thoughts from Pepper

Chicago did a lot of celebrating last night at the Jackets expense.

Anyone with eyesight brave enough to sit through the entire Blackhawks - Blue Jackets reality check last night can see that the gap between the two teams is a lot greater than the 3-0 score. The hawks moved the puck and created quality scoring chances at will. At times it looked like a demonstration put on by an experienced gamer against the CBJ in rookie mode. You're welcome for such an eloquent analogy.

Anyways, the Hawks came out with the intention of taking two points in front of their home crowd and they did it, controlling action from start to finish. Mathieu Garon was outstanding in net of the Hawks would've put up at least a touchdown on the Jackets. With Steve Mason's season, Garon has proven to be a good off season pick up.

In my opinion, the difference between these two teams clearly lies with their defense. Aaron Portzline at The Dispatch asked if Chicago was the new Detroit, I'll admit that was exactly what I was thinking when I was watching the game. It pissed me off to think that the best team in the NHL always seems to be in the Central Division. It's tough to hit a team that skates that well, moves the puck that well, has tremendous skill and can finish. Last night's game showed the need for a high quality defensemen with the subtlety of a kick to the groin. Having John Moore in the pipeline is a really good thing, but the Jackets need someone with his skill set that has some NHL experience under his belt. I'm sure Scott Howson has figured this out, we'll see what he does about it between now and then. My bet is that the CBJ are more likely to have a number one defenseman at camp next year than Nikita Filatov.

A bright spot in last night's game was Derick Brassard. I thought he looked to have good energy and he was one of the few Jackets I noticed in a positive sense. Brass was one of the few Jackets who looked capable of being able to keep up with the Hawks. Hopefully he can finish some of his chances in the coming weeks and finish the season strong. Having he and Vorachek going into next year with some confidence and another season under their belt will make the outlook next year a lot better.

I hate to say it because he's my favorite player and I'm more fan than hockey writer, but the Captain doesn't look good. He draws a lot of attention from the opposing d and since the Chicago d is able to keep the puck away from him, he was invisible. I watched him specifically on a couple of shifts and he either looked frustrated or exhausted or both. I hope he's able to get some wind in his sails again as this is a pretty important time in his captaincy.

Bottom line, the Hawks out skated, out hit (hello, Andrew Ladd), out passed and just flat out played the Jackets. Let's hope the Jackets are able to dictate what type of game is played when these two teams get together again Saturday afternoon.


  1. Good piece -- I have two comments:

    1) The great disparity between the two clubs is development of young talent. The CBJ invested a lot into the theory that our young talent (Mason, Voracek, Brassard and mabye even Methot) would be much more productive. They have not been. I think this brings up a larger issue of player development.

    2) Nash is exhausted and frustrated. I'm not defending his recent lack of impact, but on some level you have to empathize. He made a commitment to the franchise and to the city -- and he was rewarded with a shoe-horned/rotating center position and Juice on his wing. That is not how you support a world-class goal-scoring talent. He's tired of carrying that line and probably has lost some of his motivation. The understandable problem that fans have is that he is wearing the "C" and should rise about that. However, he's still human. He needs a spark on that first line and I think that spark will come from working with young, skilled players like Voracek -- not stick-handling turnover machines that won't hit.

  2. I'm with you....I think they should go ahead and put Jake up there with Nash. Rotate Brassard and Vermette in there with them and hopefully they can start to gain the zone with some speed.