Panther Preview: Who Are These Union Blue Boys?




Tonight the Florida Panthers host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a non conference game at the Bank Atlantic Center.  Rather than give you the typical pregame notes and predictions that you usually get, I thought of something completely different.  Since the Blue Jackets are a team that we rarely see I was trying to figure out a way for us, and you to get to know them.  So I asked our FanSided opponent, Mary O’Malley the lead writer over at Fire That Cannon to help us out.  She was all for it and more than willing to trade barbs, and even place a little wager on tonight’s game.

So here we go:

Me:  What’s the best way to describe the style of play that Columbus will bring tonight?  Who should we be “scared” of? And is there anyone that’s just outright giving you goosebumps?

Mary:  Well, this is the frustration that everyone in Columbus has…we know what they can do, it’s just how it falls into place or falls off the rails.  Dorsett is always exciting to watch…he’s fierce.  Wilson has a style very similar to Nash and Calvert and Clitsome have been huge…already.

Me:  What can you say about the play of Rick Nash so far?  With the change of coaching this year to Scott Arniel, has his game changed much since Ken Hitchcock was the sheriff in town and if so, would you say he’s playing better, harder or about the same.

Mary:    Nash is Nash, period.  That’s why he’s on the NHL All-Star team, that’s why he’s an Olympian, that’s why he wears the “C”.  He’s super-talented and can work magic when we need it.  He’s capable, able and a force on the ice.  That never changes.

Me Krissy Huselius.  Yes, that’s exactly what I call him, last played for the Panthers five years ago.  I remember him as being extremely talented, but unwilling to go into the corners, work hard and basically stay away from the dirty areas.  Mike Keenan traded him, then Krissy got to play for Mike in Calgary and then Hitch in Columbus.  What’s your take?  To me his numbers seem really disappointing.

Mary:  Hmm.  I believe the nickname is Juice. He’s a mainstay with the Jackets.  Like you, talent…we all see it…the bigger yield has yet to come to flower.  I think we’d all like to see the full potential.

MeSteve Mason won 33 games for you in 2008-2009 and lead your boys to the playoffs for the first time while winning the Rookie of The Year Award.  What the hell happened since then?

Mary:  Well, look.  He’s struggled.  No doubt.  But there’s also no doubt this kid’s destiny is brilliance.  He’s young and he’s working thru whatever growing pains the NHL brings.  He’s come back from an injury and looked like the Mason we all want in the net.  And, to be honest, his team has struggled as well and all of the woes can’t be pinned on the kid.  He’s got a great mentor in Garon, and Columbus has plenty of faith in both net minders.

Me:  What’s the hockey culture of a place like Columbus?  An expansion team that hasn’t been in the league too long and hasn’t had many playoff experiences, what is it that you like about them and what makes you “believe” in them?

Mary:  The hockey fans in Columbus wake up every morning, clutch the sheets and thank God that the NHL came to our town.  We love our team and they love us back. (Exceptions here for Adam Foote) We’re big on history and loyalty.  Everything from the colors and design of their uniforms to the little nuances before our games (carrying the flag, cannons and film of Union soliders on the field) lend itself to that.  The Blue Jackets Foundation is as strong a team philanthropy as you will find anywhere.  They’re not just a team, they’re part of our community.  There’s a soul to this team…and we’re on the cusp of something big here.  What’s not to like?  What’s not to believe?

Thanks Mary for doing this.  Hopefully our fans have a better idea of what to expect tonight from an opponent that rarely comes to South Florida.  Remember to visit Fire That Cannon. Mary took a few slapshots from me as well.  Today we’re friends.  Tonight, we’re looking for a fistfight!

For the other stuff about today’s game here’s the TSN Gameday Preview.

Don’t forget to vote for Panther Ice Dancer Meg in the Ice Dancer Contest.  Hit the like button.

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Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets Fire That Cannon Florida Panthers Kristian Huselius Mike Keenan Rick Nasah Scott Arniel Union Blue

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