Monday, April 12, 2004

Columbus Signs Maine Defenseman

University of Maine defenseman Prestin Ryan was signed and assigned to AHL Syracuse (who is still in the playoffs). In his senior season, Ryan had four goals, 18 assists, and 148 penalty minutes. On Saturday Maine fell to Denver in the NCAA championship game, losing 1-0. The Blue Jackets' most glaring need is defense and this signing is a good start.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Columbus 4 Detroit 1 The Blue Jackets finish the 2003-2004 season with a win over the powerful Detroit Red Wings. Columbus dominated a game in which Detroit seemed willing to coast through and ease into the playoffs.

Goalie Mark Denis was sharp for Columbus. Denis is easy to overlook given the poor win total of the Blue Jackets. A bit of perspective is needed to truly assess the goalie. His save percentage is quite good, .918, and tied him with Toronto stopper Ed Belfour. Some experts toss around Belfour's name as an MVP candidate, so Denis is in good company. Another year of experience for the defense should push Denis' win total up next year. Hopefully he will not be second in saves (1970 shots on goal against Denis this year) again next season.

Rick Nash netted his 41st goal of the year. Hopefully that will be enough goals to earn his a share of the goal scoring title. Nash is being closely tracked by Kovalchuk and Iginla. We'll see. Good luck, Rick!

Blue Jackets' D Rusty Klesla missed the game because of a charley horse sustained Thursday night against Detroit in Columbus (when he was checked into the Detroit bench door). Columbus also was without centers Alexander Svitov (ankle), Todd Marchant (groin) and Manny Malhotra (ankle).

End of regular season.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Colorado 4 Columbus 2 The Blue Jackets were outgunned by a tough Colorado team. Three unanswered second period goals by the Avalanche put the game away. Paul Kariya had an empty net goal to ice the game for Colorado.

Rookie Nikolai Zherdev started the scoring with a power play goal, assists by Andrew Cassels and Jaroslav Spacek. The avalanche from the Avalanche came in the second period. Goals by Marek Svatos sandwiched a tally by Joe Sakic. Petr Forsberg did not get a goal, but his presence was felt from his tough play and three assists. In the third, Spacek got a goal to pull the Blue Jackets to within one, but Kariya's empty net goal iced the game. Svatos' second goal banked off of a defenseman then Denis. A bit fluky but they all count.

Jody Shelley returned to the lineup after a three game suspension. Saturday's game against Detroit is the season finale. Before the game, Columbus owner John H. McConnell spoke to the capacity crowd in a video. "We've got some great young players coming up who will be superstars in the future," he said. "Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev are just two; there are many more in the wings. You're going to see a great hockey team in the future." We hope so, John.