directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Jackets blanked by 'canes 3-0

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Jackets blanked by 'canes 3-0

After suffering through an NHL modern day record 14 shutout losses last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets suffered their first shutout of this season falling to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 at Nationwide Arena last night.

Its was a largely lethargic effort by the Jackets that saw way to many first and second period penalties combined with an anemic offense.

The first period ended in a 0-0 tie and saw the Jackets take 4 penalties and register 7 shots on goal which oddly enough was 1 more shot than he 'canes mustered. The Jackets penalty killers preformed well and Steve Mason (pictured left) looked strong and confident in the net (he stopped 18 of 20 shots on the night).

The second period saw more penalties from the Jackets which resulted in a 5 on 3 PP advantage for Carolina. A PP that sputtered mightily in the first period found some rhythm and Jeff Hamilton (of Englwood Ohio) converted off a nifty pass from Eric Staal putting the 'canes up 1-0. Goaltender Steve Mason, who was making his 2nd NHL start of his career, had no chance.

Cory Stillman fired a shot from just inside the faceoff circle off a Duvie Westcott turnover to put the 'canes ahead 2-0 less than 5 minutes into the 3rd. Stillman added his 2nd of the evening into an empty net to put the final nail into this one.

The Hurricanes dressed an NHL lineup last night with 15 regulars while the Jackets dressed 12. This game was to be used as a good barometer for where the Jackets will stack up against NHL competition this year and if the season is going to be like last night, its gonna be a long one. The energy and scoring prowess the team has shown up to this point in the preseason was pretty much invisible last night. The good news is that the Jackets don't have to wait long to get another shot as they play the Hurricanes in Raleigh tonight.

Lit it up

There weren't very many areas or players who "lit it up" for the Jackets last night but the 19 year old rookie, Steve Mason, was one of them. He played a very strong game between the pipes and has no chance on either shot that got by him. This was likely his last game for the Jackets this season but will certainly be back next year with one goal in mind - to make this team.

Penalty killing. This was an area I thought the Jackets excelled in last night. This was my first look at Jiri Novotny (who played over 16 mins) and for what I was expecting, he didn't disappoint. He was a fixture on the PK unit, has nice lateral movement and was strong on the faceoff circle. He's got a heavy game and an NHL build. He's not going to light up the scoreboard but he's going to excel at the position he was brought in for which is a 4th line forward and PK specialist. Think Svitov without the physical edge in his game.

Dim the light
Kris Russel played another strong game with over 20 mins of ice but didn't look as good as he's looked previously. He missed some pinpoint passes, especially in the first period, and got beat once or twice. The good news for him -- although not for our defense -- is that he still looked like our most skilled defensemen by a long shot. He started to find his game in the 2nd. He held a lot of lot of pucks in the zone on the PP and recovered nicely on one particular play where he was beat. Oh and by the way - this kid can skate like the wind. He's a rookie and is going to make some mistakes so we can't lose sight of that -- this kid is a lock to make this team.

I actually thought for the most part our defense looked solid. Ron Hainsey, outside of still being terrible QBing the PP, looked much better last night than when I've seen him previously - especially 5 on 5. Once the puck was set up in the zone he was also moving laterally getting it on net. Hejda, Klesla and OKT were also pretty good. Nothing pretty but played solid stay at home games.

Busted Bulbs

The offense. Somebody put out an amber alert for Nash and Vyborny because they were no where to be found last night. I won't be to fast to jump on Vyborny as this was essentially his first full preseason game after suffering a brutal hit by Martin Erat in the opening game against Nashville. Nash, while scoring a couple of goals, has not yet been the dominant force I was hoping for - even against preseason competition. Big #61 needs to get it going has he's the engine that makes this offense go. Its not a good thing when rookies like Russell and Brassard are creating most of your offense.

Kris Beech was largely ineffective in that #1 center position last night. I hate to judge the guy after just one shot but I really can't think of one play last night that even gave us a sign that he could be that player there. Perhaps Hitch will give him another go around tonight in Carolina but I doubt it.

Penalties. This team is going to absolutely nowhere if it continues to rack up penalties like they have in preseason. They are giving up at least two 5 on 3 per games and I don't care how good your goaltending is, or how good your PK is -- at this level, goals are going get to scored in that situation. Granted the officials have made some strange calls but these guys have to adapt. Its especially the penalties in the offensive zone that are back breakers -- they kill any and all momentum sustained at that time. Both Brule and Nash had penalties in the offensive zone last night that I can recall off the top of my head.

No edge. Last night's game lacked the physical edge we've seen in the previous preseason games. Boll and Sestito were irrelevant. Only good hits thrown were from Tollefsen but he can't be the only one doing that night in and night out. Perhaps their legs were gone from the "team building" but I don't buy that. For this team to be successful they have to play a hard nosed brand hockey with an edge every single night regardless if at home or away.

Speaking of home - this team has get to win a game at home in the preseason.

So as mentioned the Jackets are back at it again tonight against the Hurricanes in Raleigh. I'll have a game preview once Portzline announces the roster. I suspect both Fedorov and Zherdev will be back in the lineup.

It was announced this morning in the Dispatch that Foote, Peca and Modin will miss the final two preseason games. These "minor injuries" sure don't appear to be minor at this point.


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