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Blue Jackets Links

Marching through the South, and doing it with a swagger.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Well, hot diggity damn! We got ourselves even more firsts after tonight!

-First win ever against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

-First ever four game road winning streak.

How about them apples, huh? Suddenly, after being at death's door just a couple of weeks ago, the team is just a quintuple (that's five for you laymen and laywomen) of games under .500. But they can't go sitting back on their heels or anything; they have another game on Thursday against the 'Yotes (who they've now passed in the conference standings as of tonight), and then a game at home against the equally surging Chicago Blackhawks, who just keep winning or getting OTL/SOL points to keep the Jackets at bay in the division (tonight's win over St. Louis gives the Blackhawks a staggering 8-game point streak).

But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. The focus of this entry should be on tonight's game. This game was a nail biter from start to finish, and there was a lot of reasons that it was as such. First, and probably the most obvious issue ... the penalties. Blue Jackets fans are no strangers to this team's penalty box march whenever they're not on their game, and tonight was one of the worst for the team. A total of nine penalties, with eight of them giving the Stars power play opportunities. What's more, the Stars had at least three two 5-on-3 opportunities, with each of them lasting a good while. Somehow through a combination of pure luck, amazing skill, and an inhuman goaltender, the team managed to only give up one goal when on the penalty kill. Fredrik Norrena once again deserves all the praise he could possibly be given for tonight's performance, turning away just about everything that was thrown at him.

The defense on both the penalty kill and even strength was stunning. Amazing, even! And who was one of the better surprises? Rick Nash, who as of late has been thrown in to defensive situations all thanks to Hitchcock's desire to see every last player taking the body and ensuring shots don't happen. Nikolai Zherdev also got in on the act, making a fine dive to the ice and blocking a shot with his skate during the penalty kill as well. Regardless of the lack of points, the young guns are playing extremely well-rounded hockey.

Speaking of young guns, how about Dan Fritsche? Once again he was all over the ice, zipping and zagging and pretty much being everywhere at the same time. And it was that persistent play that got him the game winning goal after a Marty Turco flub in the third period.

Actually, Turco deserves practically all the credit for this CBJ win, as he also completed botched his puck handling when he strayed extremely far from the net in the early part of the second period, coughing it up for a pressuring David Vyborny, who in turn tossed the biscuit into a gaping wide open net for his first goal in 17 games. But who cares if it was gift wrapped by Turco, right? In the end, Vyborny snaps a goalless drought that must have really been driving him batty.

Back on Fritsche, it must be total justice that it was the Ohio State University forward fan and Ohio native (thanks, jacko!) who got the game winner against the goalie from the University of Michigan.

Not to be outdone by either "Parma" or Vibes, Jason Chimera sealed the deal in the tail end of the third period with a speedy breakaway opportunity. He might not have a lot of moves, but if you were lucky enough to see that "shuck and jive" move that Chimmer pulled to totally fake out Turco, you got to give credit to him. Seriously, it was like watching a boxer feign from side to side before going in for the punch.

This was the statement game that the Jackets had desperately been needing. With the only legitimate injury to their opponents being one player in Mike Modano while a handful of Jackets are down and out (even with Zherdev's return tonight), this team stuck it to the third best team in the west, despite penalty gaffes that haunted them all night along and forced them to play some iron clad defense most of the game more than anything else.

Get ready for the game on Thursday in Phoenix, folks. One more win and this team can tie their franchise record six-game winning streak only achieved last season.

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  • At 6:40 AM, Anonymous jacko said…

    Danny Frtische never played for Ohio State, chief. His Brother did.

    Danny played for Sarnia and London (I think) in the OHL.

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