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Blue Jackets Links

Just hang in there, baby.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

That definitely has to be the current mantra for the Blue Jackets, who have now lost backup goaltender Fredrik Norrena for at least a week, adding a sobering touch to the 3-2 victory over Minnesota last night amidst a third straight sell-out crowd (this time selling out without the help of Sabres' or Red Wings' fans coming down!).

Unfortunately for me, I was not able to catch Norrena's injury live, but I've watched the replays and recaps on NHL.com and TSN, and I'm still sort of dumbfounded as to how he may have gotten this "lower body injury" amidst being scored upon during the 5-on-3 penalty kill. No matter how many times I watch the replay, it seems just like a routine play: Norrena drops down to shut the five hole, puck still gets in, yet Norrena isn't able to get up. Maybe he bent the wrong way?

I wish I had the medical experience and expertise that Christy did right about now.

Ty Conklin then had to come in and hold down the fort, which he did quite admirably. One great pad save on an odd-man rush, followed by a dinger off the mask later on, Conklin managed to make 15 saves on 16 shots in just over a period's worth of play time. The one goal he let in was more the fault of the defense, who lagged behind as Pascal Dupuis bolted in and tipped a pass from Mikko Koivu in the third period.

The ramifications that this can have on the team are pretty dire, as the backup to the backup to the backup is highly untested, 2005 draft pick Tomas Popperle. Popperle, some might remember, did have a respectably strong outing during the pre-season, where he shut down the Nashville Predators and made 23 saves on 23 shots. However later on both he and Norrena, who were sharing duty in a later Predators' game, got manhandled for four goals apiece in an 8-1 whitewashing. Originally, I had projected that Popperle had an outside chance to play backup to Pascal Leclaire, since Conklin had the NHL experience while Norrena was the international veteran.

Fortunately the team has the next two days off before they begin a three game swing through Canada, starting with the Canucks on Tuesday. The Jackets' road woes are well-documented, especially when it comes to the fact that 9 of the 11 shutouts they've been handed to them have come on the road, with 5 of those coming in the last 10 road games.

This team is going to have to really pull through, when you consider that they're facing All-Stars Roberto Luongo and Miika Kiprusoff, as well as Dwayne Roloson at the opposing end of the ice this week. It isn't going to be pretty, and if the Jackets want to mount any sort of second half pressure on the other teams scratching and clawing for points in the standings, they need to come out of this trip with, at the least, one win. If they can do that, then they'll have some reprieve to look forward to when they return for a six-game homestead starting next week.

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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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