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Blue Jackets Links

Setting up the goaltender guidelines.

Saturday, October 27, 2007
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After Pascal Leclaire got his fourth shutout on Thursday against St. Louis, and Fredrik Norrena got his first win of the season in a brutal, high-scoring game against Chicago on Tuesday, I concluded that there are now a couple sets of rules instead of just the "We win if we get a shutout/we lose if we don't." Here's how things go, nine games in:

If Fredrik Norrena is in net:
-The Blue Jackets will win in a wild score-fest.
-The Blue Jackets will lose in a nail-biter, one-goal game/SO loss/OT loss.

If Pascal Leclaire is in net:
-The Blue Jackets will win via a shutout.
-The Blue Jackets will lose ... badly.

As always, these rules are subject to change. Suffice it to say, the one impediment that Leclaire has left to overcome is his current inability to record consecutive wins when he is in net, right after a game he won. And this is a big impediment at that, if the Jackets want to push for something more than .500 hockey. And just from watching them, they really believe they're better than just .500 hockey.

I'm going to presume that Leclaire will start tonight when the Jackets' welcome the San Jose Sharks to Nationwide, and win or lose, Norrena will get the call when the team flies out to Los Angeles for a game with the Kings on Wednesday. Of course, considering how my presumptions usually go, you don't want to bet on that statement.

Lost in the beastly play of not only Leclaire, but Rick Nash's 5-game goal scoring streak (with 9 points in all during that same period), one other player has been consistently producing for the Jackets the past two games as well, notching 3 goals and 1 assist. No, it's not Nikolai Zherdev, or even Mike Peca. It's actually Jackets' centerman Jiri Notovny, who I've admittedly -- and regrettably -- overlooked.

I admit, it's hard to say much about the guy, but in a sense, that's a good thing. He just seems to ... be there, whenever he tallies a point. He only seemed to appear from the very mist he's been concealed in when, before a befuddled Nationwide crowd on Thursday, he was given an automatic goal on what would have normally been a penalty shot. This happened due to the fact that he was in on a breakaway in the opposing zone while the Blues had an empty net, only to be hooked from behind enough to not be able to toss the puck home.

Even I had to take a second to figure out what was going on. Having never before seen a goal awarded in such a way before, but knowing the rule existed, I wasn't sure if he'd just be given the tally, or if he actually had to go through the process of an actual penalty shot on an empty net, and just flip it in. I got to admit, that would've been hilarious if he did have to do that. Well, until he ended up missing the gaping net, a la Dallas/Edmonton from last year. Not that he would!

Speaking of the crowds at Nationwide, they're still regrettably sparse. Thursday's crowd was a couple hundred short of 13,000 ... that extra 1,000 or so fans compared to the previous two home games must be dejected Cleveland Indians' fans. But, you know what? That's okay. Really. The team needs to show that this good start to the season isn't just some fluke. And while I don't want to jinx it, even if they end up blowing up in the final two games of the month, they'll still finish at .500 for the month of October, which would be their best opening month in team history.

Three things I want to see tonight:
-The Chimera/Malhotra/Fritsche line getting a point, after all that hard work they put in Thursday.
-David Vyborny hopefully continuing to shake off whatever was ailing him at the start. He has a three-game point streak going (3 assists), and he needs to just keep on chugging along.
-The Jackets' pouring it on hard in the beginning. The Sharks are wounded, and pissed from last night's bludgeoning at the hands of Detroit. I could tell that much from the snippets I watched on Center Ice, especially seeing Joe Thornton lashing out at times.

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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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