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.