Blue Jackets end their losing streak against the Red Wings, Holmgren’s plans

Good Morning Sports Fans!

The Columbus Blue Jackets ended their losing skid last night with a 1-0 overtime victory against the Detroit Red Wings. This was a rematch from December 26th except this time, it was the Blue Jackets who came out on top.

The Blue Jackets have struggled on defense this year but did something most teams have had trouble doing against the Red Wings over the past several years; keep them scoreless through three periods. Jackets starting goaltender Steve Mason finished the evening with 34 saves and the Blue Jackets were able to keep the Red Wings lineup quiet. The Red Wings may be having a down season but keeping them scoreless is still a difficult task.

Halfway through overtime, Blue Jackets forward Fredrik Modin put one past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard for the victory. The goal was Modin’s first of the season and could not have come at a better time.

The Blue Jackets have ended their losing streak and have the opportunity to continue their winning ways. The pressure to end the streak is off and the team has an opportunity to turn things around.

On Monday, the Blue Jackets starting making some roster moves as Jason Chimera was traded to the Washington Capitals for right winger Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina. The Capitals needed size and grit and will get lots of help from the trade. Chimera is not outspoken, can play well with just about anyone, and can throw his body around if needed. The Blue Jackets will get leadership from Clark, who served as the Capital’s captain during his tenure in Washington. Clark will get more playing time as a result of coming to the Jackets and Jurcina will help strengthen a defensive core that has been inconsistent this season. The Jackets trade also shaves off $2 million from the payroll and will open up room for more trades.

Moving from center ice to the gridiron, Mike Holmgren met with reporters yesterday and has decided to wait until the end of the season before making a decision on Eric Mangini. Holmgren will meet with Mangini after the season is over to decide whether or not the coach will be retained. Holmgren has praised Mangini for his work during the past three games but will look at the entire season before making a decision. Taking a look at the bigger picture, there is a lot Holmgren will have to consider.

The team has turned around a bit in the past three games but the team looked awful in the beginning of the season and have still not played to championship caliber. Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison have stepped up for the Browns but the offense still struggles in their passing game and the defense still needs another good defensive back and another linebacker. Many of the players on the roster have stepped up but there is no clear distinction as to why they are choosing to respond to Mangini this late in the season.

When looking at the past three games, the Browns have played better but against struggling teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t exactly “unleash hell” in December and were on a losing streak when they played the Browns. The Kansas City Chiefs were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention about the same time the Browns were and Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders was a reminder as to why the Browns traded away Charlie Frye in 2007.

Mangini has proven the following this season:

1) He can find a million ways to fine players

2) He can find ways to get players to hate him

3) He has a desire for Lebron James to join the team

4) He can find every which way to make a trade with the New York Jets

5) He can beat struggling teams

Mangini has beaten the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders but could not beat divisional foes in the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens. A good majority of the Browns games next season will be against their division and if they cannot win in divisional games, the team will continue to struggle. Holmgren comes from coaching in a couple of the toughest divisions in the NFL and should take this into consideration.

During his coaching days, Holmgren was married to the West Coast Offense, which is something Mangini has only dabbled in and isn’t a big fan of. Holmgren was successful using a West Coast style while it took Mangini almost an entire season to figure out which type of offense he needed for the team. Holmgren prefers a 4-3 defense instead of Mangini’s 3-4 defense and there is still no telling that he and Mangini can co-exist. With plans to hire a General Manager, Holmgren will need to consider whether he, Mangini and the new GM can co-exist on a daily basis. There was obviously something wrong with Mangini and former General Manager George Kokinas not existing together and Holmgren will have to take that into consideration as well.

The Browns are on the right track by hiring Holmgren in the first place. Browns owner Randy Lerner obviously did not want to do the day-to-day operations for the Browns and hiring Holmgren will take that load off his shoulders. Holmgren understands he needs to hire a General Manager and address the coaching situation as soon as possible. Holmgren does not believe in an overhaul of the roster and understands what this team needs to win.

That’s it for now. Keep it real.

Jeff

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~ by jeffrsabo on December 29, 2009.

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