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Game #66: Blue Jackets at Coyotes

Saturday, March 03, 2007
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets
Record: 25-33-7
On the road: 11-18-3
Last 10: 3-5-2
Bloggers and local media:
Death Cab for Woody
End of the Bench
The Jacket Times
New goaltender brings storied past - Columbus Dispatch (Portzline)

So ... we won a shootout? Color me impressed.

I'm also impressed with Hitchcock sticking with his claim that he would put in the top players from the shootout drill during the practice prior to the game against Dallas. Or rather, maybe "impressed" isn't the right word ... or more specifically, I'm impressed with Hitch sticking to his guns. Either way, when you have Jason Chimera as one of the shooters, there's no way you're going to lose, right? Though Chimera has only taken part in the shootout twice in the past two seasons combined, my one lasting image of Chimmer in the shootout is from last year, where he deked the pants out of an Edmonton goalie with a move similar to what he did last night against Marty Turco. Kick the skate up, feign the shot, slide to the side and snap it through a sprawling goalie.

Just as impressive was the totally unexpected hero of the shootout, Fredrik Norrena. I've hardly been sparing when it comes to criticism of Norrena in the shootout, so I had no optimism or glimmer of a silver lining as the shootout began. But Norrena definitely earned two thumbs up as he stopped all three shots against him, especially the last one against deadly shootout specialist Jussi Jokinen.

For all intents and purposes, Jokinen had Norrena beat ... it looked like he would be easily sliding the puck past Norrena on his left side as he skated to Norrena's right. Norrena, however, immediately extended his goalie stick, and although he missed the poke-check of the puck itself, he had enough power in that poke to weaken Jokinen's attempted nudge of the puck to the net, and as a result the puck sailed wide.

So now the Jackets are at 57 points on the season, and they're facing the team they're tied with in the standings tonight. Norrena, who earned himself a rest, will be on the bench as newly acquired Brian Boucher takes on one of his former teams. Some of you might recall Boucher's five-game plus shutout streak, a modern NHL record, in the 03-04 season. After that, though, Boucher's career began to slowly circle down the drain. When the lockout ended, Boucher posted one of the most abysmal GAA's I've ever seen in just 14 games of the 05-06 season (3.97 in Phoenix with 11 games, and a 4.94 when with Calgary later that year for 3 games).

Boucher's one win this year? As recounted in the above linked Dispatch article ... it was against the Jackets, and a shutout, which ended up being the icing on the cake that would result in Gerard Gallant's canning. It's a small world, after all.

Adam Foote was injured in last night's game and looks to be out for at least a week or two, so it looks like either Aaron Johnson or Bryan Berard (who, having not been picked up by waivers before the deadline, is now traveling with the team) will be taking his spot. Berard, regardless of what happens in the final games, is gone with the wind at the end of the season ... so, in all honesty, it's probably best if Johnson gets the nod, so he gets both more experience and a chance to make up for lost time, after being scratched during much of Berard's return to make room for him.

Current Syracuse roster call-ups with the team? Geoff Platt, Zenon Konopka, Adam Pineault, Marc Methot, and Curtiss Glencross. Pineault did not end up playing last night, but you never know ... maybe he'll get a shot tonight. Although Platt has played with a lot of energy and Konopka certainly brings the hits, maybe one of them will be given a seat in one of the suites tonight so Pineault gets a shot. Might as well make the trip with the team worthwhile for the guy, right?

Team: Phoenix Coyotes
Record: 27-34-3
At home: 14-13-2
Last 10: 2-7-1
Bloggers and local media:
Coyote's Corner
One Fan's Perspective

Thomas scores twice, but Coyotes fall - East Valley Tribune

While I'm sure the Coyotes had a bit of fun adding on to the utter gloomfest in Edmonton after Ryan Smyth's trade to the Islanders earlier this week when they slapped the Oilers with a 3-0 shutout win, that's about all this team has had to be happy with as of late. With the exception of that win and an overtime win against the Flames on the 22nd of February, they've won no other games in their last 10. Prior to that? ... they shut out the Jackets in Nationwide, resulting in one of the bigger implosions of anger and frustration from the fanbase, considering how bad a of a night that game already was due to the blizzard weather, the half hour delay, and so on. I still remember how painful it was watching that, then trying to get home afterwards.

In their last 10 games, the 'Yotes have tallied just a smidgeon over 2 goals per game, and there's an even worse average when you go further back. The team recently unloaded enforcer Georges Laraque, and scoring forwards Yanic Perrault and Oleg Saprykin. In return, the team got a couple of 2008 picks in the second round, as well as an eighth round pick for this draft. Lastly, they got defenseman Brendan Bell, and forward agitator Daniel Carcillo. Neither player has played for the Coyotes so far.

The Jackets need to win this game to at least split the series this season. Though actually, it'd be more in the Jackets' favor, since one of their two losses was in the shootout. Nothin' says "In your face!" like splitting a series but still coming out on top when it comes to standing points, right?

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