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A two-fer-one.

Friday, November 02, 2007
Great. Now I can't fall asleep after tonight's shootout loss. Whatever feelings of fatigue I had went right out the window as I fought back every fiber of my being to not yell, scream, and curse as loudly as I could, as I didn't want to shock the neighbors both upstairs and next door from me.

And I have class in eight hours. Ugh.

I'm being melodramatic, though. I know I shouldn't be this peeved about tonight's loss, based off a variety of reasons: the Jackets were outplayed due to penalties stifling any sort of rhythm they were trying to get in to. The Jackets were playing back-to-back games. The Ducks had practically been licking their chops -- or bills, rather -- in preparation for this game, both due to their 4-game losing streak, and the chip on their shoulder from that Jared Boll hit on Travis Moen (completely clean) on opening night. The Ducks got three of their regulars back all at once.

And don't forget, no matter how much us Blue Jackets' fans may want to think otherwise, this team will lose at times. I know, it's hard to believe when your starting netminder leads the league in a variety of goalie statistics, and your team as a whole actually has a winning record for the first time ever after the first month of the season.

I'm obviously not being fair by focusing on this loss, and simply glossing over the win against the Kings just the night before. So let's go back to said game, and think happy thoughts before we mull any more on those not-so-happy thoughts from tonight.

October 31st: Blue Jackets at Kings
Much like it'd be folly to expect the Jackets to never lose after such a great opening month, it'd also be silly to expect the Jackets to never give up another power play goal. You got to admit, at times it feels as though the Blue Jackets won't ever give anything up on the PK ... so when the Kings' Kyle Calder scored on the power play and broke the Jackets' club-record 18 penalty kills without letting in a goal, I couldn't help but feel a little bummed.

But beyond that, and the peppering of shots that the Jackets' allowed Pascal Leclaire to face, they put on a strong game. In particular, Jason Chimera was a beast, Sergei Fedorov played smart, Gilbert Brule got his first goal of the season (good for him), and Rick Nash picked up an empty netter along with an assist, to add to his team-leading point total (currently sitting at 15 points in 11 games).

Before Leclaire was recognized as the 2nd star of the month by the NHL, I had a feeling that he would have to put together a great game against the Kings just to prove that all the positive attention he had been receiving was well-deserved. And although he wasn't able to add to his already impressive four shutouts, he played a very strong game, about as strong as the game he played against St. Louis on Saturday.

All in all, a great win against a Los Angeles team that -- even though the loss put them back below .500 -- was riding a four-game winning streak. It's not always about beating the team with the best record, after all ... sometimes it's about beating the teams that are currently hot. And this win, combined with the win over the Blues last Saturday, was good stuff.

... so enough about that. Let's get to tonight.

November 1st: Blue Jackets at Ducks
Michael Arace called tonight's game "awesome television" in his entry at Puck Rakers. I was sooner prepared to call it something else. I don't exactly have a phrase for it, but it made me want to repeatedly bang my head against the wall.

But maybe that's why it was awesome television reminiscent of a playoff game. It reminded me of the kind of stress I felt way back in 1999-2000 during the Stanley Cup Finals, when the Devils and the Stars slugged it out in seemingly endless overtime in both games 5 and 6. Not that a regular season game in November can legitimately compare to a possible Cup-clinching game, but you get the idea.

But truthfully, I wasn't happy with the play of the Jackets tonight as a team, with the exception of Nikolai Zherdev. Zherdev, who every so often gets flak for his play last season and not racking up goals left and right this season despite the fact that despite playing hard since game one, was the very reason that the Jackets managed to bring this game to overtime, when he helped a slightly struggling Jackets' power play unit tally the tying goal just a few minutes after Fredrik Norrena had been beat by Rob Neidermeyer 13 seconds in to the third period.

Watching the shootout may have been why I was so livid after the game. Not only have the Jackets lost both of their shootout games this season, but they've done so without even tallying a single shootout goal. When I touched on how last season, Ken Hitchcock resorted to simply having a shootout drill at the end of each practice and letting the winners be the shooters during any possible shootout in the next game, I probably overlooked the fact that by that point in the season, there was nothing to lose by using such a simplistic method to deciding who got picked for shootouts.

Now, however, shootouts are very important to a Blue Jackets' team that'll need to win a few if they want to stay above .500.

Before trying to finally get some sleep, I just want to say that I hope Fredrik Modin's injury is nothing too serious. Being taken out of the game that early, I believe, had a notable impact on the ability to roll four lines, let alone cut through the top line's efficiency like a hot knife through butter. It'd be vexing if, after being out for several games, he has to go back to the IR. But from the sounds of it, this was something else beyond any muscle strains of pulls, like he'd been dealing with.

And now, to hopefully get some sleep.

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Name: Michael
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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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