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).