directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Russell shines in 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Russell shines in 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks

The Columbus Blue Jackets lost for the second time in two preseason games to the Blackhawks tonight 4-3. This was a penalty filled affair which saw both teams combine for 30 penalties (16-Hawks, 14-Jackets).

The Jackets struck first in period one off a pretty pass from Marc Methot to the slot which saw Jason Chimera convert on it. Kris Russell followed that up with PP goal off a beauty of a shot in the slot. Then things got messy for the Jackets in the second period when they took 6 penalties and the Blackhawks were able to convert on two 5 on 3 powerplays opportunities with goals from Rene Bourque and Cam Barker. T. Bouwer followed that up with a goal of his own off a defensive breakdown from the Jackets. Rookie Jonathan Toews pushed the score to 4-2 in the 3rd off a hard working goal down low. Rick Nash responded for the Jackets with minutes to go off a nice feed from Derick Brassard (his 2nd assist of the game) but that is all the Jackets could muster.

Lit it up:
The story of the night, at least for me, was the absolutely spectacular play of Kris Russell. I don't have enough words to describe how brilliant he was in the game -- crisp passes, patient, saw the ice extremely well, knew when to pinch, caused turnovers, avoided hits -- again a brilliant game controlling performance. I'm a big proponent of letting rookies bake properly in this system but after watching Russell tonight I'm not sure the Jackets can afford to keep this kid out of the lineup - he was that good. Russell played a whopping 25 minutes, had a goal, 1 hit and 2 takeaways.

Besides Russell I also thought Duvie Westcott improved his game dramatically from the previous game which I personally thought was a an okay game for him. He and Russell worked a fine game on the points during all the special teams play tonight. There were still a couple of plays where I'm sure Duvie would like to make a decision faster but its coming. The more I see of Westcott and Russell the more I see Ron Hainsey's role on this team shrinking. Duvie collected two assists, played 22 minutes, and had 6 shots and blocked 5.

The rookies Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard. Lets start with Voracek first. This kid looked real good tonight, better than when I saw him in camp. He's definitely got a pro style build and I thought played both ends of the ice well. He created some scoring chances while also making some nice passes. I don't see him cracking the lineup this year but its gonna be hard to keep him off this roster next season. He ended up playing 11 minutes with 2 shots.

Derick Brassard. I thought this guy had a GREAT first period. Like Russell this kid has a skill set this team can desperately use. He carries the puck well and can see the ice. He's quick to dart in and out of areas and anticipates the play well. I thought he kind of vanished in the 2nd and most of the 3rd which I attribute more to the 3 penalties he took and all the special teams play. Its obvious he's learning the "new NHL" and the crackdown on penalties but he'll pick it up. He ended up his first pre-season game in the NHL with 12:37 of playing time, two assists, three penalties, and went 8 for 2 on faceoffs - not too shabby.

Marc Methot. Solid game for Methot who had a nice assist and picked up where he left off last season. I actually think he looks bigger and is playing bigger with more confidence. He had a couple of nice hits and played close to 20 minutes.

OK Tollefsen. Really the only player in the lineup defensively with any extensive NHL experience and he played like it. Tollefsen was the same hard nosed player we are used to seeing and had a couple of prime scoring chances at the end of the game to tie things up. It was nice to see him jump up in the play and try to create. OKT killed a lot of penalties tonight and ended up with 22+ minutes of playing time.

Brule is looking much MUCH better this preseason. He had some nice chances with 4 shtos and played hard in the corners. Looks much more comfortable out there and I think its gonna be hard to send this kid down this year if he keeps this up.

Dim the light:
Nash and Zherdev played okay tonight. Nasher did get a goal towards the end and added an assist but not much of a "wow" factor out of him tonight. So while a decent game I've come to expect even more out of #61 - he needs to be our best player every night for us to have a chance.

Zherdev was also just "okay". He was tossed into the lineup tonight after it was decided that Peca was to get the night off so I'll cut him some slack there. He only played 13 minutes and and went 3 for 6 in the face off department. The one thing that drives me crazy about Z's game is his lack of desire to battle in the corners. There were some opportunities he passed on to try to battle in the corners to get a puck.

Norrena was also another player who played okay. Its hard to fault him on the first two goals as they both came off two man advantages. Still no real "wow" saves tonight from Norrena. He did make a couple of "wow" passes up the ice in the first period -- this dude can handle the puck.

Busted bulbs:
I know its just preseason but I thought Sergei Fedorov looked completely awful and disinterested tonight. He also looked extremely out of shape. This guy is making 6 million a year and there is no excuse, even in preseason, to look just average out there. He really didn't make one play tonight that was noteworthy.

The crowd. Another empty arena in Nationwide but then again it is preseason.

All in all this game was all about special teams. Five on five play never really got established which was disappointing. I thought there were a lot of phantom calls on both sides tonight. I'm all for the crackdown on obstruction but some of the calls tonight were complete head scratchers.

The Jackets play at Chicago tomorrow night.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

NHL website said 10,700 something. How close is this figure?