Thursday, December 27, 2007

Part of the Plan

Two games demonstrate this season for the Blue Jackets: a beautiful 2-0 victory over Atlanta followed by a 4-3 loss to Nashville. The team shows the hard-checking ferocity one night then get outplayed by their bitter rival. Nashville has their number, it is clear.

To watch the team scramble in fear of Heatley and play every shift with importance was fabulous television. I reveled in seeing Chimera and Boll provide the only goals and Leclaire claim his 7th shut out. The commentators groaned about following such a gritty game with a trip to Nashville the next day. They were prescient.

Two third period Predator goals carried them to victory. The Jackets seemed tired and could not hold off the pesky Nashville squad on their home ice. Mason outplayed Norrena as Leclaire was wisely held out from playing back-to-back nights. With the unbalanced schedule, the Jackets cannot improve unless they start winning games against Nashville. It is simple as that.

Nashville has now beaten the Jackets 112 games in a row. 12! Goals by Beech (power play), Vyborny (power play) and Novotny. Nash was out again due to his throat problem.

Dan Fogelberg RIP.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nashville 3 Columbus 1

Another game given away late by defensive breakdowns. Two goals in the last minute gives away at least one point to chief rival Nashville. Norrena stops 29 of 31 shots and they still lose. The bottom line is that they simply are not getting enough production. Coach Ken Hitchock speaking about offense: "We're not generating enough to give ourselves a chance to win." Amen.

How can the team win when their third leaing scorer has 17 points in 35 games? Evne worse is the fact that this -6 +/- player is the formerly formidable Sergei Federov. Injuries have slowed David Vyborny, but that does not explain 10 points in 28 games. Is the answer that the increased defensive responsibility imposed by Hitchcock has shown the weakness of the players? Simply not enough good two-way hockey players are on the roster and that fact is even more annoying considering that the goalies have a combined goals against average of 2.12 that ranks them 4th in the league.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Playing through a funk

After losing two games in a row, the Blue Jackets suck it up and defeat the Kings in Columbus 2-1. Zherdev gets his reward (goal and an assist on Novotny's second period goal) for his spirited play as of late. It was nice to see the team play hard through the third period, getting 15 shots on goal in the final period. Troubling to see the Kings get 7 power play attempts though they only had one goal with the man-advantage; Columbus went 0-2. Norrena started in goal as Leclaire should be held back until his hamstring is completely healthy. During his start against Calgary Lecalire looked a bit shaky in the 3-1 loss. Why rush him back? It's along season.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Strong Like Boll - Blue Jackets 4 Avalanche 1

Great energy game from the Jackets in Columbus. The fans were revved up in a game against a team that has some excellent players but not as much depth as one would like. Good early spirited shifts from the team (even Shelley had a few nice shifts). Good to see the defense give Smith a run after a laate poke at Norrena. In general the Blue Jackets took the body, especially Boll. A big welcome back to Novotny and Malhotra. What a difference their presence makes. In the first period Dan Fritsche mucked the puck off the boards and set up Manny for 1-0 lead.

Zherdev was playing on a different plane than everyone else. He and linemates need to step up and finish off the deal, but it is good to see him playing hard. In the second Boll blasted one low glove-side to regain the lead. Good to see his hard work rewarded. His shot was the first one in second period for Columbus - it took 11 minutes to get. Wow.

A huge save by Norrena near the end of a penalty kill at the end of the 2nd period after a late penalty on Hainsey. The Jackets look tired, but they got out of the period leading 2-1. That Smith-Stasny line looks electric at times.

Beautiful big Beech goal! He hustled after the puck then beat Theodore with a sweet backhand, assist to Novotny. At the end of the game a Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon-like half-ice looping backhand empty-netter for Federov.

Not many shots on goal this game: only 16 for each team. The teams went a combined 0-5 on the power play. Colorado won the faceoff battle 27-18. Norrena was very solid in goal against not many shots, clearly outplaying Theodore.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Giguere the Difference

A hard fought 4-3 overtime win for the Ducks in Columbus was a tough loss. Anaheim goalie Giguere made the big saves in the third period to send the game into overtime. That toe save on Zherdev's leaping shot was a killer. Later a penalty in the overtime period led to Chris Pronger's game-winner.

This one was hard to swallow as at times the Jackets played great hockey. Zherdev was flying all over the ice and played his best game of the season. Scoring a goal and assisting on Beech's goal, Zherdev was impossible not to watch - he was the best player on the ice or either team. If we see that kind of effort every night, then the team will succeed. Anaheim showed why they were champions lat year - good goaltending, solid checking and tough defensemen.

Columbus out shot (35-28) and won the faceoff battle (35-23), but they gave up three power play goals. In the third period the Ducks got a power play goal when Peca broke his stick while killing a penalty. Near the end of the kill if Peca had his stick there was a chance for an easy clear, but the Ducks were able to capitalize on the unlucky break. Power play effectiveness: Ducks 3-6 and Columbus 2-9. Another Jody special: 5 minute fighting major in 3:18 of ice time.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Another Home Loss

In a game that had several good indicators, the Jackets lost to Minnesota in Columbus. That fact alone should be a sign of a slump since the Wild have not won here in five years. The credit lies with goaltending. As good as Leclaire has been, he was outplayed by Backstrom. Withstanding a third period flurry of shots by Columbus, Backstrom held fast for the road win.

Good things: Zherdev scored in his fourth game in a row and his 11th goal means that he now has more goals than he had in all of last year.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

OT Win in Calgary

Strange game with a good ending. Norrena is tough in goal and Curtis Glencross scores two goals including the game-winner in overtime off a neat pass in front by Beech. Not a bad night for a kid playing with friends and family in the crowd.

The Jackets look like nails after the first period, jumping to a 2-0 lead on goals by Zherdev and Glencross. In mid-second period Nash got hauled down in front of the net and a penalty was called. The station goes to commercial, but when they come back the Flames have a power play: PENALTY ON NASH. Huh? A minute later the game is 2-1. The second ends with the game tied and Calgary looking as good as Columbus did at the end of the first.

Beech gets a goal off the stick of a Calgary defenseman and literally seconds later the game is tied when a shot deflects off of Foote past Norrena. Vicious elbow to Tollefson's head by Nolan draws only a 2 minute penalty. Is this the commitment to protecting players that the league has previously touted?

Columbus wins the faceoff battle 35-28. Good example of why faceoffs matter in the first period. Peca wins a draw in the Calgary zone, Nash nudges it to Zherdev who wrists it by Kiprusoff's shaky looking glove.

Weird night as college football takes center stage. West Virginia loses to Pitt and Oklahoma blasts a Missouri team that looked invincible against Kansas last week. Ohio state seemed out of title contention. Will they now be in the championship game? Somehow it seems likely.

The game was the late game on Hockey Night in Canada. The chippy nature of the game must have made Don Cherry happy (though I expect he was at the Toronto home game for HNIC). If you haven't seen the CBC coverage, do yourself a favor and visit the web site.. When I lived in Buffalo we picked up CBC and HNIC was a weekly treat. Sadly you just don't see such thorough coverage here in the U.S.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Canucks 2 Jackets 0

The Jackets came up against a stone wall in Vancouver. Robert Luongo earned his third straight shutout and has not allowed a goal in almost 200 minutes. Two second period goals were enough for the victory.

Norrena was solid in goal. Leclaire was out as he is hampered with a slight hamstring pull that happened in Edmonton. Another Jody special: 4:51 ice time with 7 penalty minutes. Columbus continues its season-long strength in faceoffs, winning 36 of 58 in the game.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gut Check: Passed

After jumping to a 2-0 first period lead only to see the Red Wings even the score in the second period (with goals 5 seconds apart!), the Jackets held on in the third and won in a shoot out against a very game Detroit squad.

Both goalies had their moments, though Osgood looked fantastic at times. Not to be outdone, Leclaire kept Detroit from taking the lead during a critical third period two man advantage for the Red Wings and ultimately he stoned Zetterberg in the shoot out to then see Zherdev follow with the game winner.

I missed the Jody Shelley Sunday special 4:46 ice time and 5 minutes in penalties. Jody and Downey dropped gloves early in the first period. The Jackets went 0-4 on the power play; Detroit was 1-3. Regular time goals: Malhotra (4) and Zherdev (7). Vyborny's assist was his 300th and came in his 500th game as a Blue Jacket.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Now We're Talking

If Ken Hitchcock were to draw up on a board the dream road game, it would look like today's game: success on special teams, hard checking and good goaltending. The Jackets scored two power play goals (Peca and Vyborny) and added a short-handed one by Dan Fritsche. For good measure, Rick Nash netted his 16th goal with assist to Peca.

It is clear that Pascal Leclaire has shaken off as temporary what detractors figured was a slump indicating the end of his great run. He stopped 32 shots and gave the team a much-needed road victory. Perhaps the downward momentum has not been stopped, but at least it appears to have been slowed. We'll see who starts in goal Saturday with the skillful Red Wings in town.

Stats deceiving territory: Minnesota out-shot Columbus 32-29. In the face off battle, the Jackets proved strong again, decisively winning that stat 38-17. Another Jody Shelley special: 7 penalty minutes in 5:46 of ice time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bad Loss in St. Louis

The Jackets dropped into a mathematical three-way tie for last in their division though having played three more games than St. Louis makes them effectively at rock bottom. In the two previous games this season against the Blues, the team had been shut out by Pascal Leclaire.

Nash scored a meaningless goal after the Blues iced the game with an open net goal. Hainsey and Klesla assiisted on Nash's tally at 19:54 of the third period. Curtis Glencross scored his second of the season with assists to Zherdev and Westcott. Norrena was solid in goal, stopping 20 of 22 shots. Legacy was even better, turning away 28 of 30 including some clutch third period saves during a Columbus two-man advantage.

Columbus won the face-off and shots-on-goal battles, but they went 0-6 on the power play. Nash had an incredible 7 shots on goal. Jody Shelley had more penalty minutes (5:00 for fighting) than ice time (3:29).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jackets 4 Blackhawks 2

The Jackets won their first must-have win of the year. Following up after three losses, the team pulled together for the win. Three players had a goal and an assist: Chimera, Federov and Nash. Balance is good.

The teams combined for only 39 shots (Columbus had the slight edge: 21-18). As usual face-offs went to the Jackets, 25-22. Jody Shelley sighting - Jody was on ice for 8:50. The game a had few scraps and was tense. That's good after a frustrating stretch for the team. Leclaire got the win.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nashville 4 Columbus 3 SO, Nashville 4 Columbus 1

This weekend gave the Jackets a chance to gauge their new-found respect in the league. A home-and-home match-up against division rival Nashville was the litmus test. Well the test results are in, and after dropping both games (and three in a row overall) it is clear that the Jackets have work to do.

The better game played by the Jackets came in Nashville where they ran into a hot goalie in teh shoot-out. Leclaire lost both games and some of the magic that he had early on this season. The real test of where is they are is how they react to adversity. Will they turn it around quickly? This scenario is why they hired a veteran coach. Let's see what Hitchcock come sup with now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Columbus 3 St. Louis 0

Another home game, another Pascal Leclaire shutout. Repetitive, but far from boring. Five shut outs in nine starts, darn nice way to start a season! St. Louis must be happy to get out of town - both times they have played Columbus Leclaire has shut them out.

Nash scored again, netting his 10th goal. Chimera added his fourth and Malhotra his second. Solid on the blue line all season, Adam Foote had two assists.

Each team went 0-4 on the power play. Columbus out-shot the Blues 25-21, but St. Louis won the face-off battle 32-30. Last year the Blue Jackets did not have 8 wins until December so they are one month ahead of that pace. Better yet is that the fan base has something to latch onto after years of failure. The team is playing solid all-around hockey. Who can ask for more?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tough Loss in Anaheim

In the off-season if one were to state on a blog that the Jackets would hold the defending champion Ducks to one regular time goal in two games, you would be flamed to a crisp. Well, it has happened. The team dropped a tough 2-1 shoot-out loss in Anaheim. A match-up of Giguere versus Norrena did not disappoint. Norrena stopped 34 shots to Giguere's 20, but Giggy stoned the Jackets in the shoot-out. Zherdev netted his 3rd goal on the power play, poking in a rebound past the Duck's net-minder. The second period was sparkled with fights here and there, perhaps springing from the first game of the season when Columbus' Jared Boll laid a hard but clean hit on Ducks' Travis Moen that knocked Moen out of the game.

Anaheim was 0-6 on the power play. Columbus went 1-6. Tollefsen has 17 penalty minutes including a game misconduct. Norrena Norrena started for the first time in nine days. Such is life behind a hot goalie like Leclaire.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Impressive Win over San Jose

Pascal Leclaire made goals by Federov (power play) and Fritche hold up for a hard-fought 2-1 home ice victory over the Sharks. In a close checking game, each team was stymied by defense and solid goaltending. Kudos to SJ goalie Nabokov as he singlehandedly kept them in the game. A particularly incredible save came against hard luck David Vyborny. Nabokov was on his back and stuck up his left pad in the nick of time, robbing Vyborny of what would have been his first goal of the season.

The game had a dearth of shots on goal: Columbus out shot San Jose 18-17. One source of improvement this season: the Jackets penalty killers have been great. Power plays: Jackets 1-6, Sharks 0-5. The team has also converted consistently when they have the man-advantage. Malhotra had two assists and was flying around the rink. I liked his attitude after the game, getting in Jeremy Roenick's face after time expired as Roenick had piled on Leclaire.

Standing up to a tough, skilled veteran team like San Jose is a very good sign: a sign that Coach Hitchcock has his thumb print on the team this season.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Road Win

Rick Nash continued his scoring ways, scoring two goals and adding an assist, to power the Blue Jackets past the Blackhawks 7-4. Other goal scores for Columbus were Federov (power play), Zherdev, Tollefsen and Novotny (2 goals). Michael Peca continued making his mark, adding three assists.

Norrena faced 28 shots and Columbus fired 26 on goal. The Jackets center-men again did their job, winning the face-off battle 26-23. Peca and Zherdev both were +3 for the game.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Vancouver 4 Columbus 1

The Jackets lose convincingly to a tough Vancouver club. Leclaire comes back to earth and is handed his first home ice loss of the season. Rick Nash scored the lone Jackets goal, again on the power play.

Surprising only perhaps because of the final score, the Jackets both out shot (39-19) and won more face-offs (42-32) than the Canucks. Columbus was a disappointing 1-10 on the power play (and Vancouver was also a poor 1-6).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jackets Blank Sabres 3-0

Pascal Leclaire is hot. With three shutout already this season, last night he stoned the explosive Sabres. Perhaps they are not as explosive as in years past, but they are still a formidable team. His third shut out of the season, but it was the first one on the road. Columbus has been horrid on the road, so this trend would be a welcome one.

The important part of the solid offense so far this year is not merely that they are scoring (which is indeed a welcome change), but who is scoring. In this game, Michael Peca netted his first goal as a Blue jacket. The team is relying on his solid two-way game and leadership skill to help them make a push for the playoffs. Rick Nash scored again, this time on the power play. Even if it was an open net goal, it was good to see Zherdev get a goal.

Surprisingly the Jackets out shot the Sabres 29-21. Ryan Miller stopped Nash on a penalty shot. Seems hard to believe but Nash has never converted a penalty shot (0-3) in his NHL career.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tough Shoot Out Loss

The Jackets dropped their first game on home ice after a 3-2 shoot out loss to Dallas. Stars Jussi Jokinen scored the lone goal during the shoot out to hand Columbus its first loss in three home games. Fredrik Norrena was solid in goal, allowing two regular time goals in 30 shots on goal.

Columbus edged Dallas in both shots on goal and face offs won, respectively 35-30 and 33-29. Power plays: Jackets 1-5, Stars 0-3. Blue Jacket goal scorers were Rick Nash and Jiri Novotny (power play). Two assists for Nikolai Zherdev.

The Nationwide Arena crowd of 11,820 was the smallest announced attendance for a Blue Jackets regular-season home game in seven years in the NHL.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's About Time

The league finally started backing up its words about getting tough on stick work. Today it was announced that Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice was suspended 25 games for hitting Vancouver's Ryan Kesler across the face with his stick, making the suspension the longest single-season suspension in NHL history (tied with the suspension given to Chris Simon for his two-hander to the face of Ranger Ryan Hollweg).

Perhaps mitigated by the lack of a long-term injury, the suspension is not long enough for some commentators. 25% of the season seems like a good warning to goons. Stay tuned for the next time when someone sustains a substantial injury. We'll see about the conviction of the league at that time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Leclaire Second Shutout in a Row

Pascal Leclaire made it 2-for-2: two games, two shutouts. Not a bad way to start the season. The Blue Jackets won their second home game by shutout, blanking Phoenix 3-0.

Goals from Malhotra, Chimera (who added 2 assists) and Boll powered Columbus who out-shot the Coyotes 33-31 and won the faceoff battle 32-30. Phoenix had too many power play opportunities, but the defense held firm against 7 power plays.

After missing two games with a groin injury, Michael Peca made his debut as a Blue Jacket. Winger Jared Boll's goal was his first in the NHL.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bad Habits Die Hard

They didn't listen to me... they played another game. As in seasons past the Jackets let a third period lead on the road slip away. Despite special teams goals by Hainsey (power play) and Foote (shorthanded), two third period goals by the Wild propelled them to a 3-2 win. Columbus was out-shot 31-21 but won the faceoff battle 33-21. Zherdev made the seemingly impossible happen: he had two assists and still managed to be -2 for the game (-4 for the season). It's early, but his complete failure as a defender is painfully obvious.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

End the season now!

The Blue Jackets start the season right: winning 4-0 against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks. It's all downhill from here folks, so let's bask in teh glow for a while.

Many good things to point out. Shutout! Leclaire is back as starter in goal and he pitches all zeros against a good club. This performance goes a long way in answering questions about coming back from an injury plagued season.

Power play success. Three goals from three different players (Federov, Nash and Hainsey) as Columbus goes 3-10 on the power play and holds Anaheim to 0-7. Special teams advantage is a must if the team is to improve this year.

Shots on goal. It is not nit-picking to consider that Columbus needs to generate more opportunities in the offensive end. They have been routinely out-shot and they need to turn those tables by clearing the defensive zone and taking the open shot. The extra pass seemed to plague the team last year. Nash and Modin had 13 shots between them, and the Jackets out-shot the Ducks 37-28.

Now that's a good start.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Comings and Goings... for the better

I'll admit up front that I simply do not like Alexander Svitov as a player. He seemed to lack the edge that is needed to play in the NHL. Last season was filled with talk of his potential. Well, now he has chosen to fulfill his potential in Russia. Despite being under a fresh month-old contract with Columbus, he signed and left for Europe. Good.

Better: the signing of Michael Peca. A tough, defensive thinking veteran, he has made it to the Stanley Cup final twice. He brings the edge that Svitov lacks and the defense that nearly all Blue Jacket forwards lack. Rick Nash will have a model to watch in his attempt to shed the deserved tag of one-way player. Thanks to the Rangers for dragging their feet! The 33 year old forward signed only a one year deal, but he should become a fan favorite in his (likely) brief stint in Columbus.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Captain Howston at the Helm: is he seaworthy?

It's a sign of a brave man; he who agrees to be the general manager of the Blue Jackets. No shallow water sailors need apply. Or is it the sign of a mad man? Either way, Scott Howson is now the culpable one... err I mean the GM, come hell or high water.

Even the casual fan couldn't help but notice the splash of high-profile signings this week (Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Paul Kariya, Daniel Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Smith) and wonder when the Jackets will jump into the water. Resigning Alexander Svitov and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen may be nice, but new players are needed to infuse change.

We're onboard captain, but we'll need to see improvement and team commitment to prevent mutiny.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Young Winger Taken First in Draft

The Blue Jackets made winger Jakub Voracek their first round selection in this year's draft. The youngster (only 17) had a great season for the Halifax Mooseheads. Born in Slany, Czech Republic, Jakub looks to be a complimentary wing to the team's young centers. A tall playmaker, Voracek may need another season in the minors before the jump to the NHL, but you never know.

Here's a link to the Blue Jackets information page for Voracek,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nash Shine for Canada at World Championships

Rick Nash scored two goals to help Canada beat Finland 4-2 and clinch this year's world hockey championship in Moscow, Russia. If you have a chance, visit YouTube and see Nash's amazing goal to ice the game. Wow!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Russell Named WHL Player of the Year

Defenseman Kris Russell was named the Western Hockey League's player of the year for the second straight year. A player under contract with the Blue Jackets, Russell of the Medicine Hat Tigers led his team in scoring, netting an impressive 32 goals to go along with 37 assists in only 59 games. Perhaps we will see this young player on the team. A scoring threat from the blue line would be a welcome addition to the team.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Disappointing Seasons Leads to MacLean's Dismissal

Today the Columbus Blue Jackets fired president and general manager Doug MacLean after starting this season with some mild expectations only to finish 33-42-7. MacLean leaves the team with a dismal record of 172-258-62 under his six-year tenure.

No one can argue that he did not have enough time to make the team a winner. The only argument that can be made at this point is why did the move take so long? Look for the team to hire an experienced hockey man who will step into a situation with some young, underachieving talent.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Late Strides

Seemingly inspired by the lure of the off-season, the Jackets have been on a tear. Modin and Vyborny have been carryign the team. Modin has scored in three straight games and now has 22 goals tralinig Nash for the team lead by two goals. Vyborny continues to lead the team with 64 points. Wins over Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis has the team riding on a mini-streak of 3 games.

Hitchcock has them playing hard at season's end, making a run at St. Louis for the 10th spot in the conference. To keep things in perspective, Colorado right now sits in 9th place and has 14 points more than Columbus, who trails St. Louis by only 3 points.

Rebounds: The Blue Jackets are 21-1-4 when leading after two periods. This season David Vyborny scored 11 points (1 goal and 10 assists) against St. Louis.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Winding Down

As another blah season rolls to a close, we can focus on what the team needs to do next season. Tonight the team defeated the Blackhawks 5-2. The team's most valuable player, David Vyborny, played another stellar game, serving up assists on each of Modin's two second period goals.

The failure of the young guns has been a theme for the season. Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev have underperformed this season, playing well below expectation. Gil Brule will no longer be given slack next season. All three young stars must be better for the Jackets to succeed. They are a combined -41 ... a staggering number symbolizing
their poor defensive play.

Hitchcock have the team playing at roughly a .500 clip. A slight improvement, but not competitive hockey every night. If the team can fight into the 11th slot of the conference, it would be a good start on next season. Next season is all that we have too look forward to... again.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Glass is Half Full? Okay, maybe 1/4 full

When is a very good hard-skating win against a division-leading opponent like Calgary not a win to hang your hat on? When you got pasted in the three previous games.

The enigmatic Jackets once again show that they can skate with anyone when the focus and effort is there. All the right people were on the plus-side and were involved with the scoring: goals by Vyborny and Modin with assists from Nash, Federov and Zherdev (and Eriksson too). Only 9 penalties total for both teams made it a clean game. Solid goaltending at both ends with Norrena out-dueling McLennan.

This game is how home games should look. The disaster trip out west (ending with losses to Phoenix, Calgary and Edmonton) needs to be forgotten. If it were only that easy...

Misc: When Vyborny finally scored, that broke a string of six periods in which Columbus had not scored. Yikes! Including the win tonight, the Blue Jackets are 6-27-1 when the opponent scores first.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Columbus 3 Minnesota 2

Back-to-back strong skating games leading to 3-2 victories. Vyborny continues being the best player on the team, assisting on two goals. I hope folks appreciate what he is doing on a bad hockey team. Klesla, who tonight scored and assisted on another goal, and Foote each played 28+ minutes are were a combined +2. That is the solid defense play that the team needs.

Goalie Norrena left the ice during the second period with an injury and was replaced by Ty Conklin. Named the starter in the preseason after Marc Denis was traded, Pascal Leclaire remains on IR after knee surgery.

Misc: Zherdev did not play tonight. The Jackets were 1-7 on the power play; Minnesota went 1-9. The Jackets were again outshot, this time 37-22.
Jackets 3 Sabres 2

A win at home against the league's best team... what could be better to start after the all star game? Okay, a few wins tacked onto that unlikely victory.

The team will go as far as the defense and goalie Norrena will carry them. Facing against 38 shots on goal, Norrena came up with big stops, including stoning Paille on a second period penalty shot and later a neat glove save stopping Drury's chance for a hat trick with less than 30 seconds left in the game. Too many shots/opportunities for Buffalo, but they are not 33-13 because they don't score.

Star Activity: While Nash scored a power play goal, assisted by Federov and Vyborny, Zherdev only plays 9 minutes and does not have a shot on goal. Two assists for Malhotra, who seems recharged as of late.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

At the Half

The Blue Jackets enter the all star break with a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. A solid home win against a good foe is a nice way to enter the break (even if they allowed Norrena to be shelled by 42 shots). The team went 4-5-1 in their last ten games. Not a spectacular record, but a slight improvement to work on once play starts again.

The key looks to be whether they can keep their stars healthy and if the young guys step up during the rest of the long season. They need Nash and Zherdev to play to their potential. The young stars are a pathetic -8 (Nash), -17 (Zherdev) and -20 (Brule) in plus/minus ratings. To contrast Vyborny (+3), Anson Carter (0) and Jason Chimera (0) are playing solidly at both ends. Not to spare the defense, only Anders Eriksson is in teh plus range (+3) and that won't get you much in the NHL.

Monday, January 15, 2007

No Rest for the Weary

The honeymoon is over for Hitchcock as the team has won 3 and tied 2 in their last 10 games. Losing both ends of a home-and-away series with Nashville settled who is in charge in that matchup.

At this point, a look to who is not playing says more than a look at the active roster. Out with injuries are: Berared, Federov, Foote, Leclaire, Nash, and Wescott. The simple, sad truth is that regardless of who is coach, the team will not win with many of its better players on the IR. Scotty Bowman could not salvage the team at this point. Let the young players play and... sigh... wait until next year.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Columbus 4 Anaheim 3

Some victories are better than others. This come-from-behind win against Anaheim was one of those special victories: four third period goals to beat a strong first place team. Manny Malhotra scored at 18:40 to complete the unlikely victory.

After star Teemu Selanne scored his 24th goal to make the Anaheim lead 3-0, only true believers kept watching the game. Lucky for me, I watched this game via video tape! Once Rusty Klesla scored his goal in mid-second period, the momentum seemed to slowly change. Kudos to players and coaches for keeping the effort despite being down. Klesla scored again then modin scored less than a minute later to tie the score. Malhotra's late goal shocked the California crowd and the unbelieving Ducks squad.

Stars: Zherdev (2 assists), Kelesl (2 goals), Svitov (3 assists) and Malhotra (game winning goal).