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Every day should be Civil War reference day!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The optimism out of The Columbus Dispatch ever since Saturday night's win against the Minnesota Wild has been so thick you could cut it with a knife. Seriously, you could just drown in how much praise Hitchcock seems to be getting!

Don't take what I'm saying the wrong way or anything, though. It isn't like General Hitch of the Union Army doesn't deserve it; and I got to admit, the liberal dose of Civil War references that The Dispatch writers have been using makes me grin like a total history nerd, considering this blog's name inspiration and my own interest in the American Civil War. But right now, the team is eight games below .500, and has a long climb upwards to make before I'm ready to start talking about how amazing the team's new 'work ethic', 'motivation', or 'fighting spirit' is.

But I can't deny it; Saturday's win over Minnesota, in dominating fashion no less, made it feel like a whole half a dozen cases of Labatt Blue have been lifted from my shoulders, which have been in a perpetual state of slumped depression since around the early part of November when this whole losing streak started.

What's more surprising, and what's been pretty much the majority of conversation concerning the 5-3 win over Minnesota, is the outright total offensive explosion that came from the Carter/Fedorov/Zherdev line. Nine points, 17 shots, +10 plus/minus rating, and more hustle than you can shake a stick at is what the line combined for.

It's pretty hard to compare the line's output to any possible time they may have had together prior to the past week, in large part because lines changed regularly and sporadically when under Gerard Gallant's watch. Surely the three of them did have time together at one point or another in the first 15 games under Gallant, or a game or two under Agnew during his five-game stint as interim head coach ... but it's almost impossible to pinpoint any specific games where they did, and to gauge how long they were kept together.

Either way, it's about as plain as day that Hitch will not be breaking that line up for now. It'll be good to see how they do in more than just one game. Should they be expected to have the same output against Vancouver tonight that they had against Minnesota? Probably, if they're as good as a line as we're being led to believe ... but I don't expect another nine point outing tonight. Let's keep expectations to something more along the lines of 'cautious excitement/optimism' concerning the projected success for the three of them.

Tonight's game in Vancouver starts a pretty long, five game trip across Canada and then to Colorado and St. Louis. Let's see if Columbus' favorite new Civil War-loving head coach can lead his Blue Jackets to a few victories on the road, and instill a bit of fear and respect into some opponents while they're at it. I leave you with three burning thoughts and/or questions:

Modin is Mod-out: The 'lower body injury' that has been bothering sniper Fredrik Modin finally got the best of him, and so Freddy is staying in Columbus to recuperate during the CBJ's road swing. The guy has been a trooper the past few games, putting pucks on the net in a seriously stunning fashion from all angles. Here's hoping that whatever ails him is able to be remedied by the time the team marches back to Columbus, and in time for the October 10th game against Ottawa.

Goalie controvery? Or just healthy competition?: It isn't like Fredrik Norrena and Pascal Leclaire don't get along. On the contrary, past articles in The Columbus Dispatch and elsewhere have led me to believe that the two actually get along pretty well ... and there's a lot to be said for your two goalies being on good terms. However Norrena recently getting the nod to start in four of the last eight starts must have numerous Jackets fans wondering if we've reverted back to the way the team did things last year with Leclaire and Marc Denis, setting up a back and forth tandem.

I still have as much confidence as I did at the start of the season in Pascal Leclaire, and even considering flaws he has in his game at times, he is still who I feel is this team's best hopes for the future. But that doesn't mean I'm against the two goalies swapping games. If it works, it works, and Norrena is a proven contender who has had to deal with a series of unfortunate events when it comes to the support the team has given him in a majority of the games he has played (five started, seven counting times when he has come in, in relief).

No longer last in goals scored? Unpossible!: After Saturday's five goal output, the Blue Jackets jumped from dead last in goals scored to 29th, a whole one goal ahead of Chicago. This also puts them behind St. Louis by four goals, who will also be playing tonight. Don't expect to see them breaking in to the top 20 (or even top 25) any time soon when it comes to goals for, but if the recent upswing in shots for is any indication (106 in three games!?), expect to see them getting out of the basement sometime soon.

And with all that said and done? CHAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGEEEEEE!!! ... and stuff.

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  • At 11:28 AM, Blogger john said…

    Good to see Hitch is turning this team around...good to see Federov contribute...just don't get any ideas on taking the Wings down (ha ha). Seriously a better Columbus team is better for the Division and the league. I like this team, just not as much as the Wings. Cheers!

  • At 7:16 PM, Blogger Dave said…

    Hopefully, Hitch can get the Jackets turned around. There is no reason why these guys cant continue to play like they did against the Wild. I am almost giddy after watching them the last two games!

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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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