Monday, October 27, 2008

Leclaire on IR

Goalie Pascal Leclaire was placed on injured reserve with a sprained ankle. He is expected to miss at least a week. Vital to the hopes of making the playoffs, it is better to be conservative on bringing him back. It's always rough to lose your stopper, but at least Columbus was able to activate Jared Boll. Norrena's ability, or lack thereof, to carry the team will be critical. This stretch will be a good (albeit unwanted) test of the backup goaltender.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Offense Lacking

Looks like the offense needs a shot in the arm to get itself going. In consecutive game losses to the Rangers and Wild, the Jackets managed to tally only one goal in each game. Zherdev had his best game as a Ranger in his first game against his old team, scoring two goals and an assist.

Line tinkering season is upon us. Umberger was dropped to third line and Malhotra was paired with Nash and Huselius to seee if they could create a spark. Nash's potential game-tieing goal was disallowed due to touching with a high stick. The video review by replay seemed too close to overturn in my opinion. Earlier Backstron stopped Nash on a breakaway. The team's leader needs to break out of his unlucky streak as no one else has stepped up aside from Chimera and Huselius. Last night Leclaire sprained an ankle in the second period and was replaced by Norrena.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Solid Effort

Simply put, the Jackets outplayed the Canucks and won the game. I describe it this way because similar games against Vancouver have the tendency to go their way because of Roberto Luongo. In the game Leclaire bettered the opposing goalie and let the offense carry the day. Back after missing one game with a hand injury, it is clear that a healthy Leclaire is the most important part of attempt to make the playoffs.

Misc: Goals - Chimera, Huselius (power play), Dorsett and Nash. Malhotra made his first on ice appearance of the regular season because Modin was placed on the injured list.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big Home Opening Win

The game was an early important game. First, early wins helps fan interest after the years of losing. Second, it was Nashville. The Predators owned the Jackets last year, winning all games against Columbus, and gaining early confidence against a prime rival is key for a good start.

The play went according to a dream script: goals from Nash (2), Chimera and rookies Jake Voracek and Nikita Filatov. Leclaire did leave the game with a "bruised thumb." He is doubtful for Saturday's re-match in Nashville.

Misc: Two power play goals (Nash, Chimera). Tyutin led in ice time (25:48). The league office cut Peca's 10 game suspension to 5. Before the game, the Blue Jackets raised to the rafters a banner with the name of team founder and principal owner John H. McConnell, who died last spring.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Filatov Gets His Chance

Tough forward Jared Boll was placed on injured reservebecause of a head injury and Nikita Filatov was recalled from AHL's Syracuse. Boll is expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days. Apparently Boll has been injured since his fight with Barch in Dallas on opening night. The 18 year old Filatov, this year's first round pick and No. 6 overall, scored each of the first two games at Syracuse.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coyotes 3 Jackets1

I expected a let down and got one. Columbus committed an unbelievable 8 penalties in the first period to hand Phoenix two power play goals. brassard scores on a power play early in the seond period, but Nash missed on two breakaways to seal their fate.

The NHL explained the game misconduct penalty that seemed mysterious during the season opener. Peca was suspended indefinitely for making contact with the referee when pleading his case about the apparent tripping peanlty that was missed by the officials. I admit to not seeing it during the broadcast and the Dallas anouncers seemed as surprised as I was. The Jackets need his leadership and solid defensive play so hopefully the suspension will not be too long.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jackets Win Opener in Dallas
The Blue Jackets earned their first ever road win on a season opener by beating Dallas in overtime 5-4 via a Rick Nash 45' blast from the off-wing. The game had a strange but entertaining ocean wave feel ot it. There were times when the Blue Jackets clearly outplayed the Stars and then there was the second period. In that brutal period dallas looked like they were wearing rocket-powered skates and the jackets are wearing anvils on their backs. Outshot 15-2 in the period, Leclaire the only reason why they were down by 2 goals and not 10. It was discouraging to say the least.

Whatever Hitchcock said in the lockerroom worked as the third period mostly went the Blue Jackets way. Goals by Huselius, Murray and Brassard allin a five minute span seemingly put the game away. However with 3 minutes left a bank shot off of a defenseman then off of Richards shin pad somehow found the net. That fluke was followed by a more standard goal (though Leclaire seemingly did not see the shot with traffic in front of him) less than 30 seconds later allowed Dallas to tie. turco made a couple of great saves late, sliding across to stop a Chmera one-timer comes to mind.

In overtime Turco again looked like he was going to singlehandedly keep Dallas in the game, make three spectacular saves from uncovered player right in front of the goal. Nash and Umberger looked like a tough pairing for Dallas during the 4-on-4 session. Chimera's drop pass to Nash then beautifully placed top shelf shot from beyond the top of the circle put it away.

Many players played well. Brassard (+2) and Chimera (+3) looked solid throughout the game and Russell (+2) was solid at the blue line. An exciting opener tto watch. Hopefully the team can get some rest before tomorrow night's game in Phoenix.

Goals: Voracek, Huseius, Murray, Brassard, and Nash.

NHL Gamecenter is in its free weekend. Delays logging in caused me to miss the first period. I understand they will be swamped by demand during this free weekend, but I still was not happy missing game play. Live scores weren't updating regularly and my flat panel isn't big enough to see the play-by-play area so I turned all the "extras" off: the weird "lights" feature, live score & clock, live scoreboard, and play-by-play. As far as I can tell "lights" only changes the background of the informational areas. Handy for someone I guess. It was nice to be able to shift from game to game (when bandwidth was cooperating). it was not good for the live game scores feature to lag and not present correct scores. A decent start but I am not sure that I will drop the sale price of $150 down when they offer only "selected" playoff games. Only in Bettman logic has a season pass not covering the whole season.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Drop of the Puck

A few thoughts as the Jackets' season begins tonight.

I was surprised when the Blue Jackets left Nikita Filatov, the No. 6 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, off the roster and shipped him to Syracuse of the AHL. I realize the position is one of the few slots of strength (with Nash, Picard, Murray and Modin), but the rookie looks to have star potential. I don't imagine we will have to wait long to see him in Ohio. Bummer to see Malhotra injured again. Injuries to Manny and Torres out of the gate change the feel of the team. At Dallas for the opener will be a tough matchup. I will be trying the free preview of NHL Gamecenter, the league's Internet push for the year. At $150 for the season it is tempting though I wasn't too happy to see the addition of "selected" playoff games.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On Season's Cusp, Torres Injured

Veteran free agent signee Raffi Torres separated his shoulder during a fight in his first game back from knee surgery early this year. I was looking forward to seeing the potential monster grinding line of Torres and Jared Boll around center Michael Peca, but we'll have to wait for that line. With luck and quick healing, Torres will miss 15 games. Not an auspicious start to the year for someone seeking to bounce back after a serious injury.