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Stunning turn around by Mason and Jackets has fans hopeful

By Peter D. McAlister

There was a different feel in Nationwide Arena last night during the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. There was optimism, excitement and most of all hope, something that has been lacking for a majority of this season in the Arena District.

The announced crowd of 15,234 – minus season ticket holders and suite no shows – were into the game from the drop of the puck to the final horn. It is amazing what seven days can bring. This is what true CBJ fans expected since opening night of the current 2009-2010 season. A Jackets team that plays like a team, veterans who play like veterans and youngsters who step up for a full sixty minutes and perform to their capabilities.

For the third straight home contest goaltender Steve Mason has performed like the Mase of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoff team. While the Jackets have outscored Dallas, Buffalo and San Jose 9-1 over this span, Mason has stopped an incredible 90 of 91 shots, including 40 last evening, while earning the NHL’s first star for his efforts. During this past week, Mason claimed that he holds no ill will against former Head Coach Ken Hitchcock but you can’t but feel that a weight has been lifted off of his young shoulders. It has allowed the franchise net minder to relax in the crease and trust the defensive effort in front of him.

Not to be lost in this Jackets resurgence is the more balanced ice time that interim Head Coach Claude Noel has delegated to all four lines. It has allowed younger players such as Derick Brassard and Jake Voracek to gain confidence knowing that they will be given opportunities to contribute, during certain game situations, that they hadn’t had prior to the late season coaching transition. It is obvious this team now feels that the handcuffs are off compared to Hitch’s time behind the bench, and rightfully or wrongly so, it is working.

Before a two week break in the schedule to accommodate the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, with two wins the Jackets can reach the .500 mark for the first time since early December. If they can accomplish this many devoted fans will have hope that over the final 19 games of the season their team will make an all out assault on a playoff berth. Meanwhile, GM Scott Howson will have to ponder whether to stay put and risk losing unrestricted free agents in the off season, become a seller, or do the unimaginable at the trade deadline – be a buyer.

31 comments:

  1. Peter, the playoffs are out of the question. Howson must sell, sell, sell! They already have 47 million in payroll committed for next season.

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  2. the jackets looked great last night and they can do it, have optimism, but if they lose the next two before the Olympics, I say sell as well.

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  3. You Jacket fans are so band wagon. Jump on at the beginning of the season, jump off, jump on again - sort of. Just become Penguin fans and root for another Pittsburgh winner.

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  4. Three wins do not make a season or the beginning of a new one. Time to throw out the old and bring in the new and start over. Players and friont office.

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  5. Peter,
    Once again your normal measured insightfulness. What about Claude's job though. There is now some hope in Columbus and with Jackets Nation!

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  6. I must admit, after watching the last couple of games on the tube I will once again be venturing up I71 Sunday to take in the Blackhawks game.

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  7. First you ask for Howson's head and now it seems you are giving him a pass. Which is it? I think he has to get the yank like Hitch but we all know that is not going to happen.

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  8. The Jackets are only eight points out of the playoffs and if they were in the Eastern Conference they would only be four points out at this time. Quit bitching and write something positive for once. It is the same old thing every article, how do you have a job with these clowns?

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  9. Hey Mac, don't get too discouraged. The Jackets aren't making the playoffs but they do have six players in the Olympics, seven if R.J. catches on with Team USA, and at least one of them have to come home with a medal.

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  10. I told you the CBJ would get an AHL coach and they got him - Claude Noel! After the honeymoon it will be the same old crap again next season! Howson will sit back and smile and tell all us idiots that all is well.

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  11. How does Howson and the players get a pass and Hitch gets his throat slit?

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  12. Peter, I am surprised by the Jackets recent success but I am not getting overly optimistic either. You just don't know with this team when they are going to decide to shut it down or use the Olympic break as an excuse.

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  13. hey, did any of you Jacket and hockey losers even take the time to watch the Buckeye ballers thrash Indiana last night Oh, I forgot you were busy getting excited about watching a bunch of total flames skate around in feather dresses at the olympic

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  14. I am looking forward to the Vancouver game. I admit that I have been sucked back in by the CBJ with their last three wins but it is better than the crap we put up with the past two months.

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  15. It's late and time to go to bed after work but I want to make three comments. The Jackets have no chance to make the playoffs, the idiot that continues to push the Buckeyes on a hockey site is trailer trash, and I will be at the game Friday hoping for the best.

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  16. go canucks beat down the jackets tonight!

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  17. Peter, I should have never made the trip up from Cincy - you were right!

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  18. on to the olympics and hoefully the jackets come back with the playoffs on the mind

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  19. Hey Peter,
    Sid and Nash on the same line in Vancouver, the party is over for the USA and everybody else. Thorton on line two, unreal. Simply put, gold medal for Canada.

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  20. Peter - Sweden, Canada, Russia or the good old USA? Unassisted goal for the USA already against the Swiss, my money's on our boys.

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  21. 3-0 USA in the first period, are snow days great or what?

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  22. When the Jackets trade Torres before the deadline, PLEASE Jackets do not do it for draft picks! A package deal with a couple of other players or CBJ draft picks for a NUMBER 1 center is the only thing the fans want. We have waited toooooo long!

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  23. Hey Peter,
    Please tell me you are going to be a good Yank and get behind Team Canada Sunday because your boy Nasher from the Jackets will lead them to the promise land of gold. Your boys have no - NO - chance of of winning. Canada 5 USA 2 - you heard it here first!

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  24. hey ed you clowns are going down like the soviets during the cold war, with those red and white jerseys you must be a bunch of commies like say healthcare, get a clue from toronto and at least have blue and white on the sweaters

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  25. CANADA FIVE / USA TWO - ENOUGH SAID - TALK TO ME TOMORROW AFTER THE MATCH! AND CHECKMATE JR!

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  26. hey eddie and anon, good call 5-2, yeah right, ooooooooooooooooooh canada i want my momma!

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  27. Come on so called USA hockey fans - where have you been the last four years. The only people that actually believed that the Yanks would beat Canada in BC live in mental hospitals. Good game yes, but this isn't close to being over. My boys can still win GOLD by crushing the field starting Tuesday - and that includes your boys.

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  28. Sorry all my USA friends. Canadian GOLD, maybe next time but great effort!

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  29. The trades sucked! Draft picks? Future considerations? Down the road? Howson has to go!

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  30. Kansas City here we come. the new 2010-2011 slogan for the Blow Jackets. bottom line they SUCK

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