Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Detroit 3 Columbus 2 Two third period goals by Detroit lifted the Red Wings over the Blue Jackets at Columbus. Robert Lang's 30th goal was the game winner. The Blue Jackets had two unassisted goals: Letowski (14) and MacLean (1).

This game turned on goaltending. Detroit's MannyLegacy was outstanding and outdueled Mark Denis. With Hasek and Cujo being the story during teh season, Legacy might just be the story in this year's playoffs. Key play of the game: Legacy stoned Rick Nash on a breakaway during the second period.

The Red Wings' Kirk Maltby checked Columbus defenseman Rusty Klesla into an open Detroit bench door. Klesla was down for a while and was taken into the dressing room with a badly bruised thigh. I wonder if the league will look into this questionable play?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Columbus 3 Nashville 2 OT A great road win against a team in a hot playoff race. Tyler Wright gets the game winner in overtime. Denis sparkles in goal, stopping 36 of 37 shots on goal.

After a scoreless first period, Nashville jumped ahead 2-0 on goals by Dan Hamhuis and Andreas Johansson. Normally a 2-0 deficit leads to a Blue Jackets loss, but not last night. Rick Nash earned his 40th goal of the season to close the lead to 2-1 at the second period intermission. Nikolai Zherdev netted a power play goal with assists from Alexander Svitov and Rick Nash. The Russian rookie has been on a tear. It seems that getting the legal matters regarding his possible deportation out of the way has lifted his spirits and consequently his level of play.

Shelley served his second of a three game suspenson. Manny Malhotra sat out with a sore ankle.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Columbus 3 Anaheim 1 A hard fought victory against a game opponent, last year's loser in the Stanley Cup finals, the Mighty Ducks. Fred Brathwaite got the start and made the most of the opportunity by stopping 43 of 44 shots. Despite being outshot by 17, the Blue Jackets maange to win their second game in a row. David Vyborny netted his 21st goal and Tyler Wright got his 9th to provide the offense. Nikolai Zherdev claimed an empty net goal (to go along with an assist on Wright's goal) with 52 sconds left in the game.

As predicted here, Jody Shelley was suspended for three games by the league for his sucker punch on Alex Henry. We like Shelley's tough play generally, but his action clearly merited a suspension.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Columbus 2 Minnesota 0 A strong defensive performance not only from goalie Mark Denis but also the entire team. The players executed their assignments to perfection and held the Wild to only 20 shots on goal en route to a shutout for Denis, his fifth of the season. Blue Jacket goals were scored by Aaron Johnson (2) and Rick Nash (39). Nash's goal moves him back into a tie with Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta) for the goal scoring lead.

Jody Shelley was given a game misconduct for sucker punching a Minnesota player. Given the shenanigans around the league as of late, look for the NHL to come down hard on Shelley. Later Minnesota's Jason Wiemer was given a game misconduct penalty after instigating a fight with David Ling.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Columbus 5 Vancouver 4 Finally a win... and on the road no less! Columbus erupts for three goals in the third period, including two goals by rookie Nikolai Zherdev.

Brian Holzinger got things rolling for Columbus in the opening period with his sixth goal, assisted by Nikolai Zherdev and Todd Marchant. Rick Nash netted an unassisted goal in the second, his 38th of the season. The two goals by Zherdev were augmented with a goal by Todd Marchant, his ninth goal was on the power play and ended his long goal drought. No goals for former Blue Jacket Geoff Sanderson in his first game against his former club.

The Blue Jackets scored five goals on 23 shots. Obviously a poor night for Moose Hedberg. Denis faced 27 shots on goal.

The five goal output marks the first time in the month of March that the Blue Jackets scored at least five goals. The drought is over, but we'll see if it was a fluke or signs of good things to come.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Calgary 2 Columbus 0 No offense once again as Columbus drops a road game at Calgary. This game was a hotly contested game exaggerated a bit by a late empty net goal by Jarome Iginla. In the second period Matthew Lombardi netted his 13th goal and provided the Flames with the game winning goal.

Goalies Denis and Kiprusoff put on a show for the Calgary fans. Denis faced 34 shots and turned away 33. Kiprusoff only faced 23 shots, stopping them all for his third shutout of the season.

Columbus was a horrid 0-8 on the power play. Calgary went 0-4. Iginla's goal was his 37th, tieing him with Nash for second in the league. Todd Marchant has gone 18 games without a goal.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Edmonton 3 Columbus 2 Yet another close road loss. Blue Jacket goals by Alexander Svitov and Andrew Cassels; Oiler goals by Marc-Andre Bergeron, Georges Laraque and Ethan Moreau. Denis and Conklin in goal.

Bolstering a lackluster offense will be the focus in the off-season. Despite Nash's emergence as a sniper, the Blue Jackets desperately need to punch up the offensive firepower. Outshot and outscored on a nightly basis, Columbus faces the necessity of a major upgrade in offense in the wake of a trade of their all-time leading scorer Geoff Sanderson (who immediately starting pumping out points in Vancouver). Who will take over behind the bench for "interim" Gallant? Lots of questions for next year and this season still has games left.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Minnesota 3 Columbus 2 A tough loss for the Blue Jackets, who played a solid game on the road. Columbus jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals in a wide open second period. Minnesota also scored twice in the second. Alexandre Daigle scored the game winner in the third. Goalies Fernandez and Denis both played well though Columbus onkly managed to get 21 shots on goal to Minnesota's 30. Denis wishes he had that last goal back - he picked the wrong time to miscue on a play that should not have resulted in a goal. A fluky bounce and the game was lost. Seems familiar.

The power play unit kept Columbus in this game as both goals were on the power play. David Vyborny opened the scoring wth his 19th goal. A torrid Trevor Letowski got his 13th and fourth goal in the last three games.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

St. Louis 5 Columbus 3 The Blue Jackets fall again to a quality team. The weak finish is not going to help Gallant if he wants to get the permanent coaching position. Quenneville to Columbus... that would be great.

Alexander Svitov scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket and Trevor Letowski continued his hot play as he netted two goals. Keith Tkachuk continued his Columbus killing season as he added a power play goal and an assist. There simply is no one on the Blue Jackets who can match up with Tkachuk. He's too large and athletic a cover for them. Three goals in the third period iced the game for the Blues, goals scored by Savage, Tkachuk and Sillinger (who also had a short handed goal in the first period.).

Gallant pulled Denis for Brathwaite, but Fred let in a goal as well. Osgood solid again for St. Louis. A case of too much talent for the Blue Jackets to sustain against for a full game. To their credit, the team is still playing hard.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Detroit 4 Columbus 2 A game against a quality opponent spells defeat for the Blue Jackets. They played the Red Wings tough, but Detroit had too much talent for the young Columbus team. An empty net goal made the margin look wider than the game played, but make no mistake: Detroit controlled this game.

Trevor Letowski opened the scoring by beating Curtis Joseph (playing in his first game since recovering from an ankle sprain) with a neat wrap-around goal. Nikolai Zherdev added a second goal in the second period after a pair of goals by Detroit's Jason Williams. Brett Hull scored mid-way of the third period to provide the game winning goal.

Dennis played even with Joseph, as each goalie made some key stops. Spacek was -2 for the game. Many factors relate to plus/minus differential, but as of late Spacek seems to be on the ice for too many opponent's goals. The team's player with the worst differential? Surprisingly it is point leader Rick Nash with -30. Their best differential is defenseman Anders Ericksson at -1.
Vancouver forward and all-star Todd Bertuzzi was suspended this morning for the remainder of the year, regular and post-season, and possibly into next season (if there is a next season). Anyone reading this blog (all two or three of you) are aware of Bertuzzi's vicious hit on Colorado's Steve Moore: the mother of all sucker punches and smashing of Moore's face into the ice caused Moore's neck to break.

Hockey is a violent sport that is packaged as such. Fighting is a part of the game, as is punishing bodychecking. Heck, the dean of the sport is Don Cherry. Enough said. What Bertuzzi did is outside of the scope of even Cherry's vision of what hockey should be. Tough play does not equate wih cheap shots and the NHL is on the right track in its decision to issue a long suspension. In my view, Bertuzzi should have to wait until Moore takes the ice again then suspend Bertuzzi for additional ten games. If Moore never plays again, neither should Bertuzzi.

Biblical punishment, eye-for-an-eye, for a heinous crime. In my opinion, the NHL should not wait until major injuries occur to institute a get tough policy. Rules infractions that cause inury should have heavy consequences for the offender. Earlier this season Columbus defenseman Rostislav Klesla got grabbed and tossed into the boards - a clear penalty that got the offender two minutes in the box... and Klesla out for more than two weeks. Tie Domi's cheap shot elbow in the playoffs a few years ago also comes to mind. A small suspension serves to reward the brutal act. Hopefully the NHL will take more than just this first step in eliminating the cheap shots. The health of its players and credibility of its image is at stake.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


The Blue Jackets traded left wing Geoff Sanderson to Vancouver on Tuesday for a 2004 third-round draft pick. Geoff was an original Blue Jacket and the team's career scoring leader. In 192 games, he scored 75 goals and 139 points.

Center Lasse Pirjeta to Pittsburgh for center Brian Holzinger, who won the 1995 Hobey Baker Award at Bowling Green.
Carolina 4 Columbus 1 Another home loss wherein the Blue Jackets got dominated. Goalie Fred Brathwaite got shelled by 38 shots and took the loss. Despite allowing four goals, it is clear that the lack of offense is killing the team, not the goaltending (Carolina's last goal was an empty netter). Rick Nash scored his 37th goal, yet another power play tally. Defenseman Duvie Westcott was activated after recovering from his broken hand and defenseman Darrel Scoville was sent to Syracuse.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Vancouver 4 Columbus 0 A bad loss at home. The Canucks only managed 24 shots, but Denis and the defense allowed four goals. Defenseman Spacek was a horrid -3 on the evening. The Blue Jackets looked strong at the start of the game. At one point Columbus had a 10-0 shots on goal edge, but they could not beat goalie Johan Hedberg. Columbus was 0-6 on the power play. They have to play better than this at home.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Tough right wing David Ling has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch, the club's AHL affiliate. Ling had one goal, three points, and 72 penalty minutes in 41 games. He always showed heart, but he needs to step up the scoring to remain in the NHL. Hopefully Ling's demotion will be a sign to Jody Shelley to keep up his recent good play to go along with his tough guy role on the Blue Jackets.
On Thursday an arbitrator ruled rookie forward Nikolai Zherdev does not have to return to Russia. This decision is a major break for Columbus who faced losing the exciting rookie to an extended army hitch. GM Doug MacLean said, "We have maintained all along that we complied with all regulations regarding the signing of Nikolai Zherdev and are very pleased that the arbitrator is in agreement. This has been a difficult few months for Nikolai, but he is to be commended for the way he has handled everything since he made the decision to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL last December." Good news!
Dallas 4 Columbus 2 - Bill Guerin earned his third hat trick of the season in the game at Dallas. Rick Nash scored Columbus' two goals, both power play tallies. The Blue Jackets went an impressive 2 for 3 in power play opportunities. Denis was under siege again as Dallas launched 36 shots on goal to only 17 for the Blue Jackets. A solid win for Dallas as they chase San Jose for first place in the Pacific division.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Columbus 3 Carolina 0 Another quality victory, and this one was on the road. For the second time this season the Blue Jackets have won three in a row.

The player of the game was goalie Mark Denis. He earned his fourth shutout of the season by stopping 25 shots. Denis made several point blank saves that kept Carolina from getting into the game.

Goals by Rick Nash (his 33rd goal and 16th power play goal), Trevor Letowski (9) and Manny Malhotra (12). Assists for Spacek, Vyborny, Zherdev and Svitov.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The fate of Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Nikolai Zherdev will be announced this week. In the meantime, Zherdev can play for the Blue Jackets. Expect a decision on Tuesday or Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed!