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Blue Jackets Links

I hear Coyote meat is a little gamey, but good.

Thursday, October 11, 2007
Rewind to early February of this year, last season. One of the worst winter storms I've had to brave was on in full force in Columbus, as I bravely trudged a half mile down the jam-packed, snarled traffic-ed road that led to Nationwide. The Coyotes were in town that evening and the Jackets were reeling from that nasty road swing through Canada, where the penalty kill had pretty much imploded, and sucked everything inside of it like a black hole of death.

That Phoenix game was delayed for a half hour because of the storm, by the way. The Jackets would lose that game 3-0, before a very sparse crowd of maybe 10,000 or so in attendance (13,285 tickets distributed, but with the storm and all ...), and I've been wanting to see the Coyotes suffer at the hands of the Jackets since then.

So it goes without saying that I was positively ecstatic with last night's results.

Now given, the Coyotes have been projected by many different writers and media pundits to do even worse than the Jackets this season, and their lack of cohesion was on display last night. Despite some strong flurries in the second period, coupled with some modest power play pressure -- though they still lack any PP goals whatsoever in their first three games -- the 'Yotes looked highly discombobulated, and incapable of working as a team.

On the other side of the ice? The Jackets' came on strong with the style of play that got them that win against the Anaheim Ducks in their season opener. Even though all of the lines seemed to be clicking well last night, only one managed to stuff the goodies into the net behind Phoenix netminder David Aebischer, and that was the Jason Chimera - Manny Malhotra - Jared Boll group.

Tenacious, strong on the forecheck, and generally a real pain on the backcheck, they were giving the Coyotes fits all night long. To me, it seemed almost as if they had some sort of mental connection going on. We've known Chimera and Malhotra to play on the same lines together as far back as the 05-06 season, however Boll -- who is quite fresh and now all of three NHL games old as a rookie -- has practically hit it off with both Manny and Chimmer very quickly. Look no further than Manny's feed pass to a waiting, broken out Boll, who charged in on Aebischer like a freight train before deking, and sliding the puck home to cement the Jackets' 3-0 win.

But they shouldn't get all the credit, even though they deserve a lot of it. A ton of credit has to, once again, go to Pascal Leclaire, who now has back-to-back shutouts in his first two games of the season. While largely untested early on, once the Coyotes started to come on stronger in the second, as well as during their power play opportunities in the third, Leclaire kicked it up a notch and then some.

While it's only three games in to the season, and Pazzy's only played two of them, it's hard to curb your enthusiasm for the guy. Berated by fans for being physically weak and injury prone, Leclaire is playing as though he has a giant chip on his shoulder, and has something to prove to anyone who's doubted him up until now. And honestly, good for him.

Lastly, before I drag my tired, cold-suffering 'self down to the bus to get to my classes, Mike Peca had his Blue Jackets' debut last night. While modest during regular shifts throughout the game, I was greatly impressed with his penalty kill prowess. One thing that stuck out to me was how on one shorthanded opportunity, he bided his time as the Coyotes never put pressure on him, then tossed a pass off to Adam Foote for a great chance on net. While Foote didn't score, it showed me that Peca isn't the type to get rid of the puck like a hot potato, even during penalty kill situations. And that sort of poise is something that takes a long time to grasp.

By the way, my mid-terms are this week, hence the lack of updates since the weekend. Apologies, folks. Once I am done with them this Friday, I'll be able to breathe a little easier.

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1 Comments:
  • At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Truth Serum said…

    Did Phoenix stay out at Easton again? If so, did they go see "Bodies"? Or did they just do some shopping?

     
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