Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tough Week Ends with a Perfect Win

Yesterday Ken Hitchcock was thankful for a complete victory by the Jackets on home ice against the Capitals. In front of a big crowd, Rick Nash had two goals and rookie goalie Steve Mason earned his second shutout in the last two weeks. It's always a tough task keeping down both star Semen and superstar Ovechkin, and Mason was up to the task, turning away all 26 shots by Washington. Mike Commodore keeps paying dividends as a signed free agent this year. He almost always leads the team in ice time and, more importantly, he brings the veteran leadership that the team needs at the blue line.

The game was important for a few reasons. First, Thanksgiving weekend against a good opponent provided a large crowd. Not a lot of large crowds in Columbus these days for the Blue Jackets, so it was great to see the team play well for them (or is that, in part, because of them?) The years of poor play have worn down the Columbus faithful, so it is heartening to see a good crowd get rewarded. The victory was also important after the heart-breaking way the team lost their last two games (Detroit and Phoenix) by late errors. Lastly the team has shown that they can win without Pascal Leclaire. Mason has played well enough to push into the goalie rotation. Leclaire deserves to play again, but Norrena might be working elsewhere soon enough.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Expected Win over Atlanta

If the Jackets expect to be playoff contenders, they need to expect to win games against teams like the foundering Thrashers. Nash led as he is paid to do, scoring the first goal and assisting on Umberger's empty netter that clinched the game. A good team defensive effort against Atlanta, who only mustered 15 shots on goal for the entire game.

Steve Mason earned his first shutout while spelling Leclaire, who needed some relief after the blistering in Edmonton earlier in the week. Recap of that game: Oilers crush the Jackets then leave town. Turnabout being fair play, the Jackets did teh same to Atlanta. Civil War buffs: insert your own (Ohioan) Sherman marches to Atlanta joke here. I apologize to the Shelby Foote estate for even invoking such a joke.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mason for Mayor

Perhaps I have gotten caught up in the political season with the headline, but after wins against Edmonton, Montreal and Calgary rookie Steve Mason has made more than a few fans in Columbus. Saturday night's clash against the Flames was the kind of solid all-around game that Hitchcock is seeking to coax out of his young team every night. 12 of 18 Blue Jackets had a +1 or better rating. Brassard and Chimera keep playing like world-beaters and Malhotra's energy has been a godsend. History tells us this roll will end, but it's fun while it lasts. Hard to believe stat: Columbus is 16-12-1 all-time against the Flames.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Malhotra’s goal gives Mason win in Jackets debut

With Star goalie Pascal Leclaire on IR and Norrena hurting his groin during thw morning skate, Steve Mason got a chance to show us his stuff. He made some solid saves, but he looked like what he is: a good prospect not ready for full time work just yet.
With 1:09 left in the third period Manny Malhotra knocked in a rebound giving Mason a win in his NHL debut and leading Columbus to a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton.

It was gratifying to see hard-working Torres play so well against his old team. It was his shot that Malhotra, another Oiler alum, poked in for the game-winner.

Goals: Malhotra, Kristian Huselius, Derek Brassard, R.J. Umberger and Fredrik Modin. Mike Commodore, Jake Voracek, Rick Nash and Torres each had two assists. After not scoring in his first 9 games as a Jacket, Umberger has 4 goals in the last 3 games.

“At the stoppage of play I looked up and saw there was 1:09 on the board and that was probably the longest 1:09 of my life.” - Steve Mason