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Blue Jackets Links

These (Texas-sized) boots were made for kicking ...

Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well, then. If that wasn't a kick to the you-know-whats ...

... five games in, and the top concern I have is the Jackets' lack of a killer instinct in the two close games they've played in so far. While the 4-0 drubbing of the Ducks, and the 3-0 win over the Coyotes were foregone conclusions by the time that the 3rd period had rolled around, the Jackets seem to have some sort of issue with delivering the final blow, or at the very least keeping cool under pressure, when they either have the lead in the 3rd, or take the lead at some point during the final period.

I'm not going to say that the Jackets controlled a majority of the game time like The Columbus Dispatch is; as time went on, the Stars started to become more and more comfortable within the confines of Nationwide, even if they weren't pressuring too much in the Jackets' zone. But even so, the Jackets had enough of a grip on the game that this should not have happened. By 'this', I mean the floundering, blundering, complete loss of any idea of what was going on around them when the Stars tied things up with just over a minute left in regulation.

You couldn't even blame it on the extra attacker once Stars' netminder Mike Smith was pulled. The Stars had already gotten things rolling in the Jackets' zone by the time he had come on, and with a couple of unforced passes, Brenden Morrow one-timed a shot right past Fredrik Norrena.

It's vexing. I'm feeling quite ... vexed right now.

This morning in Puck Rakers, Tom Reed makes an offhanded note about the Jackets' overall record in the shootout, which is 13-9. You know, I recall some two seasons ago when the shootout was first implemented, I could have sworn that they only lost twice in the damn thing. What I am wondering is, what in the world happened? The players who were normally called upon for the shootout back then are the same ones we have now, with the exception of one Jaroslav Balastik, who's currently stranded somewhere in Europe.

Why is it that the team seems to have progressively gotten worse at it since last season? Jackets' fans may recall a time last season when the results were so ugly, that Ken Hitchcock resulted to shootout tryouts during each practice, giving the "winners" the opportunity to take part in a shootout if it came to that during the next game.


Well. Looking beyond the fact that this was a SOL, at least Nikolai Zherdev continues to show that he's working his ass off. Would you believe me if I had said before the start of the season that at any point in time, he would be leading the team in assists? Because that's just what he is doing right now, with 5 in 5 games. Frankly, at this point, I don't care if he never scores another goal again, so long as he is one of the driving reasons that someone else bangs the puck home.

Rick Nash managed to shake off the doldrums that he's been in since the second game of the season, tallying a goal and an assist as well to put him at 6 points on the season (3 g, 3 a), despite the fact he was nursing a sore groin. And I want to commend Freddy-No on what was an otherwise a strong game by him, in my opinion. He was forced to keep himself awake while the Stars hardly tested him until the third period, at which point he handily stood up to a 15 shot flurry, only allowing one of those shots in ... unfortunately, it was also the tying goal. But them's the breaks.

Friday's game has the Jackets' in Buffalo. I would have preferred a winning record heading in to Sabres' territory. Forgive the pessimistic tone, but I got an ominous feeling about this upcoming game.

One final thought: Where has David Vyborny been so far this season? Normally the most reliable Jackets' player in terms of steady production (he's led the team in points the last two seasons), V has only 1 assist and no goals in 5 games. This couldn't happen at a worse time, considering how he'd said he hoped he could stay in Columbus on something long-term during the pre-season.

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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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