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Blue Jackets Links

Blue Jackets: 4 ... Hurricanes: 1

Friday, September 29, 2006
And with that the pre-season draws to a close for the Blue Jackets, who finish with a surprising 4-3 record.

It was just a wonderful feeling to see the Jackets on TV once again, exhibition game or not. And this one was actually a pretty good match with some strong rosters on both sides, too. I counted Staal, Cole, Brindy, Commodore, and several other notable Hurricanes. Cam Ward also played half of the game, coming out at around the 10:03 mark of the second period to let John Grahame get some play time in as well.

The whole telecast had a bunch of little gems. First and foremost? No commercial breaks! Well, with the exception of intermissions, of course. But beyond those, whenever there was a television time-out, instead of going to commercials, Danny Gare and Jeff Rimer had lined up nearly a dozen different interviews with current Blue Jackets players such as Nasher, Chimera, Malhotra, Foote, Brule, and others. There was also an interview with new goalie coach Clint Malarchuk.

Interesting side-story of the moment? When Vancouver rolls into town next Friday, Clint's new student -- Pascal Leclaire -- will be facing off against his old and prized former student, Roberto "Yo!" Luongo.

In any event, there are several things to touch on that range from the good to the bad to neutral. Let's start with the bad, since it's best to get that out of the way.

- SHOOT THE DAMN PUCK ON THE POWER PLAY!! For the love of [insert your favorite deity here], it was like a comedy of errors when the Blue Jackets had any of their six power plays, including a 5-on-3 which was about 1:10 in length. Nasher, who was a healthy scratch and in the booth with Gare and Rimer during the 5-on-3, spoke about how the focus has been on moving the puck to the slot or point and looking for a shot. Frankly, it's not working. All it's doing is causing a lot of nothing going on, and there were several dangerous moments when turnovers either did occur or almost occur to give the 'Canes shorthanded chances.

- There still seems to be a lot of discombobulation concerning both the last line for the Jackets forwards, and the defense as a whole. One thing that stood out for me, for example, was the pair of penalties Mark Hartigan got one after the other, which led to Carolina's lone goal on the night. There's still some sloppy play going on when protecting the net. It's getting better, but it's still a far cry from playoff caliber teams.

As for positives ...

+ If Geoff Platt isn't on the roster for opening night, I'll choke whoever comes up with that line-up. Seven points in seven games, for one. The fact that he just appears out of nowhere scares the frick out of me at times (it's probably due to his 5'8" size) also helps. And it's just amazing that he's able to do so much stuff despite never being drafted! Platt is probably the ultimate diamond in the rough for the Jackets right now, considering he's been playing at a level equal to, if not greater than, heradled first round picks Gilbert Brule and Alexandre Picard. Which isn't to say they haven't played good, either.

Okay, done gushing.

+ Last week when I did my interview for Christy at Behind the Jersey, I mentioned how I really liked Jason Chimera, and how he reminded me of a more rough around the edges John Madden in terms of their strengths in speed and breakouts. Watching him score that shorthanded goal on Cam Ward tonight and beating out a surprised Erik Cole to the puck as he did so pretty much cements that opinion, too.

+ Pascal Leclaire once again showed off those flashy and fast legs of his, only letting in one goal on 26 shots.

+ Another shootout exhibition post-game, and this time the Jackets won it (this time it was just the average best of 3 and not best of 5 like the previous exhibition game). And who scores on the first shot by the Blue Jackets? You guessed it ... Jaroslav Balastik.

As for some general things?

= Ty Conklin has been placed on waivers, and barring another team picking him up will end up in Syracuse. You almost get the feeling that it may be a combination of his exhibition play and something else, since he was more or less on par with Norrena, stats-wise this pre-season.

= Anson Carter was slated to play tonight, but after the opening skate around opted against it due to the tendanitis in his foot, which was mentioned in a previous post. It doesn't sound like it's too big a deal, though, and he will be ready to meet the Canucks next Friday. Also out was Rick Nash, who was simply being rested. He spent a bit of time in the booth with Gare and Rimer in the second period.

= Berard apparently has not yet gotten the MRI that was mentioned to be happening earlier in the week. Or if it has, nothing has been mentioned publicly yet on the results. You get the distinct the feeling that he'll probably not be ready for opening night, considering how serious of an injury this was back when he was operated on.

= On the flip side, both Fedorov and Svitov are ahead of schedule in their rehabilitation, and are already working on bikes and have the green light to get back on the ice! Awesome news right there. Don't expect to see either Russian ready and suited up for opening night, though. Good shape or not, there's no need to go rushing either of them back just to appease an opening night crowd. That'd be the worst thing that can be done.

= Zherdev could very well be back by Wednesday of next week at the earliest, all depending on how quickly things are processed in terms of getting permission to come back to the United States. Here's hoping our wonderful American government and federal system can get this taken care of quickly.

All in all it's been a pretty long day for me, so I'll wrap things up here. It was just great to see with my own eyes the Jackets back in action again after that last game in April I went to. For people in the FSN Ohio region, don't forget that the best four games of last season will be aired between October 2nd and October 5th. So if you want to see the one win the team got against the Red Wings in the shootout, the OT winner against the Stars in the final game of the season, or the shorthanded goal that Foote blasted on Nashville to stop their early season winning streak again, be sure to tune in!
  • At 12:30 AM, Blogger Herringbone said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 12:31 AM, Blogger Herringbone said…


    Since I am not in the FSN Ohio viewing-area and do not have DirectTv...

    I have a couple of questions for you to see if some old habits died hard last year....

    1. How are the breakout passes from the blueliners? Are they crisp or are they struggling to get out of the normal

    2. How is the speed through the neutral zone? Are the forwards weaving through the zone to carry-in or are they dumping and chasing (with the exception of the 3rd line as I am assuming that is still their assumed standard mantra)

    3. Anybody camping in front of the net? Besides Nash? Carter or Modin moving some people down low or are they floating in the slot area?

    I am getting pretty excited to start this season. Even with the injuries of Fedorov, Foote, Berard and Svitov it should be an exciting one. The Centre Ice has been ordered through the Comcast and the West Coast Jacket Fans are ready.

  • At 3:42 PM, Blogger Michael Turner said…

    Hmm. Well, having only been able to see one pre-season game with my own eyes, I can only judge how things were in the last game. Let's see ...

    1) I want to say that after the first period of the game, the Blue Jackets did a notably better job at breaking out in a lot of ways. The fact that two of the four goals came on breakaways I think is proof that the team as a whole isn't just sitting on their hands. If only they could do that with the PP, though.

    2) I'd say it was about half and half. There was plenty of times where guys would just dump the puck in, and other times you'd see a guy like Chimmy trying to just break through.

    3) There still seems to be a lack of involvement with net crashing, net camping, and just general annoying in front of the goalie. The team still seems to be trying too hard for those fancy plays at times, which is related to how even when they were on the PP or 5-on-3, they never shot or never tried to have a little faith in players in front of the net. There seems to be more slot and corner floating than anything, which is frustrating.

    There's still no word on whether Berard will play or not opening night which is a total drag. But Foote looks as ready as can be for Friday, which is great. And even with Fedorov and Svitov out, there's so much depth available with Platt and Picard busting their backs for roster spots, and the fact that Zherdev is now back that means there's enough guys to soften the blow until they get back.

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About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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