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Blue Jackets: 4 ... Hurricanes: 2

Sunday, September 24, 2006
Remember the other day when I said ...

I tend not to make predictions, as they're usually something I like to avoid. But in this case, I'll make an exception. If the Blue Jackets manage to win on the road against the Blackhawks tomorrow night? Then I say they split the two-game series against Carolina. If they lose? Get ready for a long end to this short pre-season, as I would then foresee a couple of crushing defeats at the hands of the 'Canes to wrap things up this month.

Well, if you kept track of tonight's
4-2 win over the Hurricanes, now you see why I don't make predictions. Trust me, I've never been good with them. I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad that my predictions always go awry!

But in any case, this was a good game. Both teams had generous amount of their main, prospective regular season players coming out to play tonight, but with exceptions on both sides. Berard, Foote, Fedorov, Chimera and Malhotra all were out for their respective reasons, while the Hurricanes played former Lightning starter-turned-Hurricane backup John Grahme in net instead of wonder boy Cam Ward. Other 'Canes scratches included Eric Staal, Oleg Tverdovsky, Scott Walker and at least a few others.

But looking beyond the scratches, this game was pretty well evenly matched all in well, with a lot of back and forth between the teams as the game went on. The Jackets were heavily beaten down with penalties, up until the third period however, which set a rather staggered tempo throughout for them. It also allowed the 'Canes to get on the board first in the second period.

Nasher scored a couple of goals, both times practically flip-flopping on the ice (you can see the replays in the above link), and both Geoff Platt and Alexandre Picard worked their asses off the whole game. I do want to make a comment about how people seem to feel that there is a lack of depth on the team ... and I'll admit it, if someone on the top two lines goes down, there's a real danger. In that sense, the team is lacking depth. But looking at the third and fourth lines, where you got guys like walk-on Platt and previous 1st round pick Picard stirring things up almost all the time, you have to admit there is a real glutt of younger players in the Jackets' organization. Here's hoping one of them is able to step up in the future if they ever have to, due to another Fedorov-like injury during the season.

Pascal Leclaire finally played his first full game of the pre-season, and in the process stopped 27 of 29 shots on him. Even so, it definitely was looking like it'd be a shutout before the third period and Dan Fritsche's goal in the first three minutes of it. John Grahme, though being the backup and facing 28 shots, still made some pretty slick saves and kept the 'Canes holding on to that one goal lead up until things started to fall apart in the third period. He definitely deserves credit, even though he did seem to flub playing the puck at one point, which allowed for the first Nash goal.

So what now? Well, both the Hurricanes and the Blue Jackets have a week off! 'Canes head back to that basketball heaven in Raleigh, and the CBJ stick around here and get some more training camp in before their final pre-season game on the 'Canes' home turf. With how close that game will be to the regular season, I think most everyone expects nearly finalized rosters and teams on either side. So here's hoping for an exciting game then!

One final note ... after the end of regulation, both the Blue Jackets and the Hurricanes took part in a five round shoot out, just to get a little exhibition practice in.
Jes Gőlbez will probably be happy to hear that the CBJ's first shooter was Balastik, and that even if it won't even count on the pre-season records, he once again showed just why he's such an awesome shootout guy, tallying the first of two shootout goals for the Jackets.

Incidentally, the Jackets lost the shootout 3 to 2 in the 6th round. You win some, you lose some.

Edit (7:52 AM EST): Yoinked a roster with scratches on this morning. Accordingly added that information in.
  • At 8:31 AM, Blogger Drew said…

    I'm assuming based on your description of the game that you were there? If I'd known early enough, I had two free tickets and was going to see if you wanted to go. But I couldn't find a soul to go with me.


    Thanks for keeping up with the pre-season details. It's nice to hear George and Bill on the radio again, but until it actually "means something," I'm having a tough time getting to geeked up about it. But you're the first place I go in the morning to find out what happened.

  • At 10:07 AM, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said…

    Speaking of Balastik, where do you see him playing this season? Any idea of what the lines may shape up to be?

  • At 10:52 AM, Blogger Michael Turner said…

    Haha! I wish I'd went, Drew. Actually I managed to keep up with the radio coverage for the first time ever. I guess listening to it the past four days straight has me finally picking up on how to decipher what George and Bill say and relate it to what's going on on the ice.

    And thanks for thinking about asking if I would've gone. =D But, yeah ... I was up to my neck in Management class assignments. Did them while listening to the game.

    Jes - Hmm. I want to say that I see him starting off on the third line with Malhotra and Chimera. But there's a LOT of pre-season competition going on with guys like Geoff Platt, Alex Picard and Dan Fritsche vying for that spot, too. But I think in the end he'll get the nod for the third line, and so it'll be his to lose depending on how he does. At the worst he's moved to the fourth with Shelley and someone else, and maybe sees a little Power Play duty since he's such a flexible guy on where he plays.

  • At 9:00 AM, Blogger Drew said…

    My two cents on Balastik.

    If there is any way we can keep him in Columbus, we do it. Last year, I think he had 14 G. And was probably one of the top two or three shoot-out guys in the game (like it or not, it's here for now). A wrist shot like that is invaluable.

    I'm not completely sold on his defensive or skating ability, but the dude can find open ice in the o-zone and hit the back of the net. I'd like to see him net 20+ this year.

    I see him starting out on the 4th line with Shelley and ? (should have been Svitov, but we'll see). With the line-shuffling and/or injuries that are sure to happen, he'll see time with the second and third lines and some power play minutes as well. If he can shore up some weaknesses (see above), he'll be a difference maker.


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Name: Michael
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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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