directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Another season preview..

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another season preview..

Up next is MSNBC's season preivew. The same predictions as the rest but at least the tell a slightly different story and actually note players like Boll.

Goaltending: When Marc Denis was dealt to Tampa Bay last season, it was to make the way clear for former top draft pick Pascal Leclaire to become No. 1 goalie. Instead, Finnish veteran Norrena, 32, stepped in and made the job his own. The only goalie to post a winning season in Blue Jackets history, Norrena is an aggressive butterfly goalie who loves to charge out of his crease to challenge shooters and take away the angles.

Player to watch: RW Jared Boll (pictured left). That's Boll as in bowl you over. Played in the Memorial Cup with Plymouth (OHL) last season and kept opponents on their toes during the pre-season with his aggressive, physical game. He'll never be a big scorer, but can be a physical presence and is willing to drop the gloves and go.

Outlook: The Blue Jackets will be a more difficult team to play against under Ken Hitchcock's tutelage. They will play a better brand of defensive hockey. But with little changed from a team that stumbled home 24th overall last season, not much else will be different.

Prediction: 71 points (5th in Central, 14th seed in West)

I still don't get how these writers think we are actually going to regress from last year's point totals -- this is a team that Hitch took over in shambles and brought them home with one win shy of a .500 record yet now with some fat trimmed in Carter and Berard, some solid NHL depth added, Hitch with a full preseason to work with and countless changes made behind the scenes they actually think we'll actually get worse? Not gonna happen.

I'm certainly not predicting playoffs for this team but I will guarantee you this team finishes with a better point total than last year. I think they'll put up between 85-90 points. That's a record slightly better than .500. They'll be in the mix for that .500 spot. Next week I will have a complete prediction on what I think this team is capable of next year.

At the end of the day, I guess they have to pick someone to finish 14th and why not the Jackets? Its an easy and safe target and a team that quite frankly hasn't earned anyone's respect. I can't wait for this team to serve up a giant platter of crow at the end of the year for all these "experts" and they realize that just because they didn't sign a big name free agent there were some significant changes and improvements to a roster that does have some talent but has never been molded correctly as a team.

I look at a team like Minnesota and then I look at the Jackets. Not a big difference in talent level -- the difference has always been the coaching and commitment towards defense and team play.
Remember two years ago nobody expected the Buffalo Sabres to become the contender they were. Two years nobody expected the Carolina Hurricanes to make the playoffs let alone win the cup.

The Jackets are going to creep up on a lot of teams this year. They can use being under the radar as a spring board to surprise some teams and get off to a good start this season. They keep playing the game they played last night and they'll be in the mix this year.

Oh and that Boll kid is gonna be something to watch this instant fan favorite.


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