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Epiphanies abound!

Monday, October 22, 2007
In lieu of Sunday's epiphany, I had another one just this morning, after sleeping off the hangover which was a 4-1 loss to a sub-par Vancouver Canucks team:

If you do not shut the other team out, you will lose.

Now, whether or not this rule applies to other teams in the NHL doesn't matter. What does matter is that seven games in to the season, this rule -- as well as last night's "shutout = win" rule -- is valid as it pertains to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Setting aside everything and anything that I've already read from either The Dispatch or other bloggers about Sunday's game, here's what I thought stood out to me the most:

-Curtis Sanford is not God, no matter how much praise people in Vancouver might give him for turning away 35 of 36 shots. If I had a video of last night's game in full to dissect, I'd probably only see maybe a handful of those shots come from anywhere that was not the blue line, or the general area of the outer offensive perimeter.

Right now, the only player that seems to be ready to crash the net and bang around is Rick Nash, who had last night's lone goal on that very sort of play on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Other than that, you'll only see flashes of other players daring to run interference between a few opposing players and the goalie. And more often than not, such as on goals from Jan Hejda against Dallas and Mike Peca against Buffalo, they'll only go in to that 'red zone' if the puck is free after a rebound, or after someone else caused a ruckus in front of the net.

-Conversely, Pascal Leclaire is also not God. Like a friend of mine said as we were talking after the game, expect to see him have some streaky highs and lows this season. Even though he has three shutouts already after just five games, he shouldn't be held to that standard of play all season long ... and frankly, to do so would be folly. He's still young by goaltender standards, and is going to go from brilliant to bomb in a matter of moments every so often.

I just wish it hadn't been on the very first shot against him last night.

-I lied; I'm going to touch on something I did read. Even though in The Dispatch there seems to be this impression that the Blue Jackets controlled most of the play -- and admittedly, it's hard to argue that when they held the Canucks to a big, fat goose egg when it came to shots in the 2nd period -- I simply didn't see it. Sure, they might have had possession of the puck more often, but that didn't do them much of anything when they got in to the Canucks' zone. The Canucks, for the most part, seemed actually quite calm when in their own zone, which led to the issue of no net crashing, no ruckus stirring, and nothing but slapshots from other zip codes that Sanford could easily brush aside.

-The penalty kill is no longer perfect at home. It was fun while it lasted, though.

-I really feel no desire to single out anyone who I haven't already singled out for good or bad play. Suffice it to say, it was hard to even stay interested in this match. And that's saying a lot, considering I gleefully followed the Devils during their glory years, when the neutral zone trap was at its best (or worst, depending on your opinion of it).

Tuesday the Jackets face the stronger, faster, better, younger, better coached, and better managed Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago. Despite Rocky Wirtz's recent declaration that he'll have the Blackhawks on Comcast SportsNet as soon as humanly possible (and seriously, the guy deserves praise for such a quick change from his daddy's -- recently departed Bill Wirtz -- opinion of television coverage), this particular game won't be on television anywhere. FSN Ohio isn't sending ol' Rimer and Gare on the road for this one, so neither FSN nor a feed via Center Ice will give you the Jackets on your television.

As a result, I'm spending tomorrow studying and tinkering on my Music mid-term project!

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Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
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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