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Lost in the woods. Please send help.

Saturday, October 06, 2007
I dislike the Minnesota Wild for the very reason that I like the New Jersey Devils: they're defense-oriented, they are highly analytical, and they neutral zone trap you to death. Don't worry, I'm not one of those people that cries foul over 'The Trap' being used ... I just understand how damnably vexing it is when it's being used -- efficiently, I might add -- against you.

With that said, the game was pretty brutal to watch from start to finish. Although the Wild didn't take the lead until around 6:35 of the 3rd period on a goalpost clanger from Brent Burns, they controlled the flow of the game nearly all night long, with the exception of around the latter half of the 2nd period, when Adam Foote stunned just about every one watching by scoring a shortie on the Wild, and temporarily putting the Jackets up 2-1.

One thing that I noticed right off the bat was that the Jackets seemed to revert to their old ways of being unable to -- or not making the honest effort to -- break out of their own zone, instead spending too much time passing the puck back and forth. Of course, part of that could be a result of the way the Wild play, which isn't the easiest to break out against. But if this team truly is as good as their home opener seemed to show, they need to be able to push back against that sort of challenge.

Foote deserves credit for playing modestly well, including the aforementioned shorthanded goal. I wasn't pleased with Kris Russell's play tonight, as he seemed to be trying too hard, and at times pinching in much too deep. One play in particular, though it didn't lead to a goal, was the result of Russell staying out way too long on the ice -- apparently of his own volition during a line change -- and proceeding to cough up the puck as he tried to keep it in the Wild's zone.

Rick Nash, David Vyborny, and Sergei Fedorov? All kept off of the score sheet tonight. Nikolai Zherdev, although he notched two assists by helping with both Jackets' goals, unfortunately was also on the ice for all three Wild goals.

Fredrik Norrena was hung out to dry, despite a solid effort on his part. Saving 28 of 31 shots, he had to face way too many odd-man rushes, breakaways, and a variety of other shots and Wild scoring chances because of total breakdowns by the defense. Blue Jackets' players seemed to be falling all over themselves in the defensive zone, which only further cluttered and caused chaos in front of Freddy.

Still, give the Wild credit for playing their game. I'm going to have nightmares of Brian Rolston skating lightning-fast circles around me, taunting me as he zips around like a pest. A pest that can score, at that.

Now the Jackets have until Wednesday to return to Columbus, practice, rest, practice some more, have Ken Hitchcock mentally browbeat them until they remember how to break out of their own zone again, then take on the Wayne Gretzky-led Phoenix Coyotes.

As for me, I'll be taking Sunday off.

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