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Queen to G-2; checkmate.

Thursday, March 08, 2007
And suddenly, the Jackets are streaking again!

In a way, it's funny. Injuries cripple several Jackets players, and suddenly with what amounts to about a fifth of the team being Syracuse call-ups, they're winning games and doing it with style. It's true that you could chalk it up to youthful enthusiasm when it comes to guys like Geoff Platt, Zenon Konopka, Marc Methot, and the like ... but youthful enthusiasm and a desire to make the team next season doesn't automatically mean you're talented, nor skilled enough to make it. What these kids are doing is with their skill, and with the extra minutes and opportunities to be put on the right lines next to the right people.

Before I continue, let me just let everyone know: you all remember NHL Hitz? The NHL's and Midway's attempt at making up a game for the NHL a la NBA Jam? And how it revolved around 3-on-3 hockey?

... real 3-on-3 hockey is anything but. I got to admit, the about 2 minutes, give or take several seconds, of 3-on-3 hockey that happened at intervals throughout the overtime was interesting to watch, if only to see how the players would react. The thing about it is that you can't really do much, no matter if you have the puck or not. On the offensive side, you can't pressure with two men due to the fact that you could easily be caught with a 1-on-1 going down the opposite end of the ice as one opponent hangs out and watches a possible point man. Worse, you could end up with a 2-on-1 against your team. It literally becomes a game of Chess, and trying to outwit the opposing players without exposing any opportunities against you.

But how about that Platt kid, eh? His first goal in the NHL, and it's one helluva doozy. A bit of tic-tac-toe with David Vyborny and Rick Nash as they burst in through the offensive zone, Nash goes flicking the puck towards the net, and just at the perfect time, Platt goes falling face-first towards the ice as he's tripped up, stick making contact with the puck, and in it goes.

I've been praising Platt as far back as the pre-season, where I was ready to literally choke someone unless he made a roster spot opening night. After having just two shots on goal that night and playing over 15 minutes without notching a point, Platter was sent back to Syracuse until a couple of games in November, then yet again sent away until January for a trio of games. Now, with the exception of not playing in the game against Nashville on February 25th, Platt has hung around for five games since his most recent call-up. And having been placed alongside dependable Vyborny and star Nash, he's become like a missing link to a puzzle with these guys.

Don't assume that my praise for the spritely Platt means I'm disregarding the smash-mouth style of play that Alexander Svitov brought when he was placed with Veebs and Nasher. However I feel that the most chemistry I've seen out of anyone alongside these two has come from Platt, who has now had a hand in 5 of Nash's 46 points, and 5 of Vyborny's 58. You can't ignore something like this. And while Svitov and Vyborny have done moderately well working together when you see how often Veebs has had a hand in Svitov also getting an assist or a goal on a play, he hasn't clicked on the scoresheet once with Nash. That could most likely be Vyborny's natural ability to set most anyone up, though.

When Svitov returns, hopefully Friday against Dallas, the big question will be where is he slotted? If I was a betting man, I'd say he starts off with Jody Shelley and Curtis Glencross on the fourth line to break him back in after his mild concussion issues, then it's a matter of seeing if he'll click well with Jason Chimera and Manny Malhotra on that speedy third line, or if he'd be better off somewhere else on another line. Either way, Konopka is most likely going to be the odd man out, just based off of position.

Continuing with the topic of injuries, several players are as good as shut down for the rest of the season. Dan Fritsche will have to continue letting that nasty tendon cut heal, Adam Foote could very well stay out as well due to his sprain (and Methot's been doing a fine job as call-up from Syracuse with an assist and a +2 rating in 5 games so far, so give the kid more time to show his worth), Bryan Berard's been instructed to bow out due to back pain complications, Duvie Westcott's concussion symptoms continue to dog him and have done so for too long now, and everyone already knows that Pascal Leclaire has been given a permanent spot in the press booth while he recuperates his knee, which nagged him even after his return a few weeks ago.

All in all, the Jackets are finally learning how to beat the teams they should have no problems dispatching. There's still some mild concern in the way that the team allowed both the Coyotes on Saturday, then the Kings last night, to storm back and pull ahead 2-1 at one point in each of those respective games, and that is a matter of working on consistency. While a win is a win, especially when you work hard for it, the Jackets have to find a way to work on both their second period snoozes, and the stress-inducing penalty kill that has now let a goal in for at least nine games straight or so now.

Before I wrap up, I just thought I'd share a thought I had earlier this morning while browsing YouTube. Although I'm sure it'll be removed sooner or later over copyright issues, I found a clip of one of the scenes from Gettysburg ... in fact, probably the best scene when it comes to dramatic battles, save for Pickett's Charge. The scene involves the battle at Little Round Top:

I can't help but wonder about if they'd ever show something as dramatic as this during late-game rallies or charges, if they could somehow pick just the right moments in this scene to show to the crowd at Nationwide. I know I get chills watching this scene alone.

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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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