Friday, January 25, 2008

Good Ending to First Half

Ken Hitchcock could not have drawn up a better eding to the season's first half; two hard-fought road wins: a 4-2 victory over Dallas and last night's 1-0 victory in Chicago. Pascal Leclaire, the famous non-all star who leads the league in shut outs, earned his 8th of the season by stopping all 30 shots from a game Chicago team making Jared Boll's redirection second period goal hold up. Khabibulin was spectacular at times, keeping Chicago in the contest with some outstanding saves. Not to be out-done, Leclaire had a few great cross-crease saves, especially a sprawling skate save late in the third period. The Blackhawks have some scary quick young players. It will be good for the league to see a rejuvenated Chicago franchise in the next few years.

The team is playing hard in all phases of the game. Remarkably the penalty killing unit has climbed to #2 in the league. Solid play from veterans has inspired the young guys to raise their game up a level or two. One cannot underestimate the influence of veteran additions like Michael Peca or Jan Hejda in the off-season. With Foote's contract ending after this season, the improved play of the team is the only hedge they have in trying to keep him here. A game after seeing Kris Russell notch his first two NHL goals, it is imperative to keep Foote and let the defense solidify under his proven veteran leadership.

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Listened to Bettman's radio show via podcast the other day. Strange that they leave long periods of silence in the podcast, but not as strange as using as the theme song one that was used for a movie about a male gigolo.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I was at a Winking Lizard with friends. Just letting you know where I was when I saw Rick Nash's goal to beat Phoenix 4-3 for the road win. The goal was that good. Simply a jaw-dropping play that will be on Nash's career highlight reel forever. I loved how Gare just kept laughing as they talked about the goal in the post-game show.

The Goal capped a night that had the Jackets take a lead only to see the Coyotes come back and tie. In fact the last Phoenix goal came on a power play after a high sticking penalty on Nash. Zherdev earlier had given the Jackets a 3-2 lead with his own highlight reel goal. Hitchcock said it best at the post-game interview: "Our two best players did what we needed them to do. They scored goals." Two goals and an assist for Nash and a goal and an assist for Zherdev.

Leclaire got the win, but Tellqvist outplayed him, making spectacular saves early in the game to keep Columbus off the scoreboard.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Home Cooking

The Blue Jackets won their sixth home game in a row and third overall. If only Hitchcock could get the boys to play the same on the road, he would have something cooking. Hainsey (power play), Zherdev (power play) and Chimera had the goals for Columbus. Former Jacket Kris Beech (recently waived by Howson) had one for Vancouver. The victory pushes Columbus into a tie with St. Louis, though the Blues had two games in hand.

In the matchup of top goalies, Leclaire outdueled Luongo. Perhaps it is just me, but I still find it hard to understand how a goalie who is leading the league in shutouts and is second is goals against does not make the all-star team. Hard to overcome the negative stereotype of the hapless Blue Jackets I guess. Only Rick Nash has managed to escape the cloud. Zherdev's play deserves recognition as well.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Shoot Out Win Against Nashville

Fun game to watch with spans of domination by each team. Late give-and-go goal by Klesla from Zherdev tied the game. Leclaire stones Nashville in the shootout for the win. First shot goal by Zherdev proves to be the game-winner.

Plenty of opportunities, but either the goalies came up big or the shooters misfired. Symptomatic of the spell that Nashville has over the Jackets: in the second period the Jackets have a 3-on-1 and Zherdev has the puck. The goalie is set up and Nick goes too high when aiming for top shelf glove-side. The puck careens to Nashville and they convert (interestingly perhaps only to me: Radaulov goes top shelf glove-side against Leclaire).

Signs of assimilation to our culture: mastery of the language. Tollefson replying to Danny Gare's question about how it feels to be on the injured list: "It sucks to be out."
Columbus 6 St. Louis 4

A solid home ice victory earned by a third period in which the Jackets scored three goals. Zherdev had two goals including a power play goal and one on a breakaway after a beautiful long pass by Vyborny. Foote and Vyborny had three assists each.

The victory pulled Columbus within 3 points of second place (and final playoff slot team) St. Louis. Success against divisional opponents will be key in the unlikely drive to a playoff berth. Big game Saturday at home against their nemesis Nashville.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


6-1 losses on the road happen, but that reality does not make it any easier to digest. A lone goal by Nash is sandwiched by a spate of goals by the Blues. Very interesting stat in the storm: Foote and Hejda each were +1 on the game. Everyone else... well not so good. Problems on defense you say? Correct you are.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Jackets 4 Kings 3

I finally got a chance to see this one from tape (well, from hard drive but you know what I mean). A solid road victory for the scrappy Blue Jackets. I have to give the Kings some credit for playing hard and laying some hard hits. Despite its top players being silent, the muckers earned this victory for Columbus. Michael Peca had two goals, Boll and Hejda had two assists each and Lindstrom had a goal and an assist. It was great to see Boll and Chimera grind out those two goals and Federov getting a classic Sergie snapper from teh slot off a quick pass by Lindstrom.

Despite all of this hard work, it came down to goalies. Simply put, Norrena had to make more saves than opponent and he did. The Kings swarmed at times but could never grab a lead because Norrena made the big stops when it was crunch time.

Where would the Jackets be without Jan Hejda? Wow, he has been a great addition to the team. A solid blue-liner who has made a real difference. Give GM Howson some credit for giving a two year deal last summer to this young defenseman.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ending the Year in Style

On New Year's Eve Columbus beats Edmonton 4-2 in Ohio. Rick Nash finishes off 2007 with a hat trick and the Jackets close the year after winning three of four. Jan Novotny and Nickolai Zherdev continue their strong play.

Some new year's resolutions for 2008. Fewer injuries: Michael Peca and Manny Malhotra begin the year on the injured reserve list, newly tonsil-less Gil Brule is still not back and David Vyborny (he of the Ranger rumors) left last night's game with a groin injury. Finishing games: I would love to see the Blue Jackets finish off opponents in the third period, especially on the road. More scoring: getting a hat trick on New Year's Eve hopefully will propel Rick into a streak. Zherdev has been playing spiritedly so if they both can finish off opportunities then the offense will get the needed jolt.

Happy 2008.