October 10, 2011

Mental Monday (10/10/11)

Who would have thought that after two games we would be hearing fans telling other fans that they shouldn't be panicking, or to "back away from the ledge." I've always found it funny when someone who senses a panic coming on tries to calm everyone down. It rarely works. In fact, it seems to always have the opposite effect.

The word panic has a negative connotation for most people, but it can actually be a good thing. First of all my favorite band is Widespread Panic, so whenever somebody says "panic" it usually puts me in a happy place. Second, sometimes panicking (and doing it early) is good, like when it gives you a head start and might help you avoid getting trampled.

What I find interesting about the "don't panic" talk in Jacketsland so far is that it seems to be suggesting that we shouldn't be freaking out about the defense being so bad. Really? I don't know what anyone else was thinking, but I kind of figured this group of d-men was going to give up lots of goals. There really isn't one blue-liner on the roster that you can call a shutdown defender. Telling people not to panic about the defense is somewhat misleading, like it might get a lot better. And quite frankly, it might not

This year's team is going to sink or swim based on its offense. The additions made to the roster in the off-season by GM Scott Howson were all about offense. Carter, The Wiz, Prospal, and even the rookies that made the squad --  mostly all offense. Sure, Wiz is a blue-liner, but one who has earned his stature as an offensively gifted one. Same goes for Savard. Any panic needs to be about the offense, about how we are 0 for 11 to start the year on the power play. Or about how this team looks no better at protecting the puck than last year's squad. 

Just remember that this is a very young team (6th youngest in the NHL). We should all be expecting some growing pains. When the offense starts to click, the defense is going to look a lot better. Besides, strong starts the past two seasons by the Jackets added up to nothing. The teams that make the playoffs are the ones playing well at the end of the season, not necessarily in the first 20 games.

So, if we are going to panic, let's at least panic on the same page together. It isn't about how this team looks right now,  and especially how it looks defensively. It's about how they look a week from now, two weeks from now, two months from now, etc. Is the offense getting better? Is the power play improving? Are we starting to score goals in bunches?

If people are going into panic mode already, so be it. Given the immense pressure for this organization to win and win right now, it's justifiable (or at least excusable) to panic now. The pressure isn't going to go away. It's going to grow and it has the potential to get as big as a referendum to reverse the announced deal that would "save the team" and have the city buy the arena. The sooner this team learns to deal with the pressure the better. So go ahead and panic. About the offense. 
This and that
  • Some props are due to the new game ops people at Nationwide. The introduction of the team on Opening Night kicked some serious hind end. A cylindrical curtain extended from the top of the scoreboard down to the ice. Four projectors were aimed at the curtain from north, south, east and west, turning the curtain into four gigantic big screens for a packed, standing room only crowd (the second largest in team history). The opening video, backed by Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters, was spectacular. It wasn't as good as Skraut's Kickstart My Heart, but it was close. (Skraut has undoubtedly raised the bar.)  The players were then introduced over the PA, and one by one those on the Opening Night roster skated around cylinder. Once the intros were finished, the cannon was fired and the curtain fell, exposing the entire team in the middle of the cylinder, sticks raised. An appreciative crowd roared. Good stuff.
  • If you are looking for some lighter fare while you wait for the early season indigestion to subside, try this from ESPN: Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger Talks Food, Routine. You are what you eat and Umberger just signed a $23 million contract extension. But don't call Umberger a big chicken.  
  • John Michael, the guy who did all the CBJ player interviews for Fox Sports Ohio telecasts the last two seasons, is moving on. Long rumored to have been separated at birth from former Blue Jacket Raffi Torres, Michael is set to become the next voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I for one will miss Michael's perma-grin. Even after a bad period, down 2 goals, Michael would be there outside the locker room door looking like Torres on laughing gas, ready to ask a CBJ player what they were going to do to turn things around. Fare thee well John!

On tap

Aside from Yuengling, here's what's on tap for Columbus this week.
  • Tonight the Jackets welcome the defending Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks to town. Last year's record against the Canucks: 0-3-1. Ruh-roh.
  • The Colorado Avalanche will invade Nationwide Arena on Wednesday evening. This will be the Jackets fourth game in 6 days.  It is also the only game of the year that will not be televised in some way, shape or form. The Jackets went 2-1-1 against the Avalanche last season.
  • After two well-earned days off, the Jackets fly to Dallas on Saturday to take on the Stars. Last year Columbus split their season series with Dallas,  2-2-0.
Have a great week!

1 comment:

  1. I think it's an interesting take, and I definitely agree. I think the focus needs to be on supporting the team and trying to help gain back momentum when they are on home ice.

    With all that said, I wish some of the veterans would have come out a lot bigger. The only time I can't tolerate losing is when I feel like guys could have done a lot more, and I walked away from both of those games feeling that way.