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Blue Jackets Links

Blue Jackets: 5 ... Blackhawks: 4

Saturday, October 07, 2006
I don't drink much, if at all. But if I did, I would have hit the Jack Daniels straight up from the bottle by the time this game wrapped up. So where do I begin?

Okay, here's something good to start off with ... who are these Blue Jackets, and what have they done with our 27th place power play from last season? As if the only two goals that the Jackets got last night being on the power play was weird enough, tonight they had three goals out of eight power play opportunities. So now five out of seven goals by the team have been on the power play, and all you can do is scratch your head and try to figure out what's going on.

Look no further than an article published last week by Michael Arace at The Columbus Dispatch, which went into new assistant coach Gary Agnew's top priority: make a better power play! And really, what can you say? It's working. They're shooting, they're shuffling, they're both dumping at times and then skating the puck in at other times. So far they're doing everything they need to, and in return are being blessed with a 5-for-13 power play so far over two games.

But let's move on from the praising of the power play, and get back to reality. The reality is that the Blue Jackets nearly let this one slip away from them, despite staging an explosive offensive assault in the last half of the first period, and into the beginning of the third period, going from being down 0-2 to being up 5-2 over a Blackhawks team that looked just about shellshocked. Khabibulin looked about ready to curl up and die after a rather sick shot by Duvie Westcott from behind the net, in which he richotched the shot off of the Bulin Wall's own pads/skate and into the net.

Unlike the season opener where the Blue Jackets came out firing on all cylanders for just the first 15-20 minutes or so, this time they poured on the energy from mid-first to mid-third period. And the second they started to try and slow down and just get out of there with a nice win and a respectable lead, the Blackhawks pounced and attacked hard, scoring two goals within the final five minutes of the game.

Were it not for Martin Havlat making a completely ridiculous dive to try and get a power play for his team, they may very well have tied the game and sent it into overtime. Fortunately it would appear the referees are really trying to keep an eagle eye out for diving, and this time they caught it red handed in Chicago's key player.

So what were the specific weaknesses the Jackets had tonight? Leclaire showed that he was mortal, for one. While the first two shots that got by him were hard to admit were his fault, the last two he had trouble with, giving away some nasty rebounds for one of them. But that doesn't mean it was all his fault. On both goals the defense just sat on their hands. That goal he gave in after two to three rebounds emphasized this fact, as two Blue Jackets seemingly idled around the hapless netminder before the puck got in.

The shot count on Khabibulin was a more modest 24, so while it's still hovering in that average to Mendoza Line range, there's still improvement to be had in putting the puck on net. A lot of time was spent in Chicago's zone, but much of it was spent cycling and moving the puck around. Then again, that is what you do on the power play, huh?

Meanwhile, the Jackets gave up only 22 shots tonight, which was a marked improvement compared to last night's 44 shot machine gunning at the hands of the Canucks. So the team's defense deserves credit for that aspect of protecting the net and working against too much offense against them.

Some random, garbled notes outside of my tangent:

-The faceoff percentage still hurts, the Jackets only winning 43% of faceoffs. Mark Hartigan (30%) and Alex Svitov (44%) struggled in that department.

-Svitov, as noted in the last comment, was indeed in the line-up. Although he finished with no points and a -1 on the day, there was a lot that he did well. He fought as hard as he could for the puck both in the offense and defensive zones, and showed some slick flashes of skill. As a sidenote, the casuality for his return was none other than Geoff Platt, who was a healthy scratch.

-Jeff Rimer mentioned early on in the broadcast that Nikolai Zherdev, as of earlier this evening, has touched down in Columbus. He should be practicing with the team tomorrow and be checked out by Gallant to see just how good he's looking. Barring any surprises, he should most definitely be in the line-up for Monday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
2 Comments:
  • At 2:39 AM, Blogger Temujin said…

    If you are going to remain a CBJ fan, I suggest you stock up on Jack this year. Heaven knows I've got plenty of Mr. Daniels to comfort me... and my team is 2-0! Everything goes better with booze.

    If the Blackhawks had anybody in net but Khabibulin (ie. a tudor shooter), this game could have been quite different. But that Ron Hainsey fellow, now there is a someone to keep an eye one!

     
  • At 12:01 PM, Blogger Henry Malredo said…

    I have ten bucks riding on the Blue Jackets doing better in the standings than the Blackhawks.

     
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