directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: The coverage commeth..

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The coverage commeth..

So when a team that's been on average the worst in the league since entering it in 2000 starts to actually so some progress and put up some win what happens? Well in the Jackets' case they start to get more national media attention.

Aaron Portzline mentioned in the Dispatch this morning that ESPN The Magazine is doing a feature on them....then I cruise on over to to get caught up on some NHL scores this morning (the Wings won again...beat our opponent tonight in the Sharks no less-- uugghhh!)I see that Wes Goldstein also has a feature on them:

Even so, they remain under the radar unlike a few of the other former also-ran teams around the league such as Boston, Chicago and St. Louis, who have already gotten some positive early reviews because of their surprisingly good starts.

"I think we are a long ways away from getting that respect around the league because right now people think what we do is a fluke," said coach Ken Hitchcock. "We have to prove that we can win against good teams, that we can on the road and that we're capable of putting streaks together, and it's not going to happen overnight. I really think its going to take the whole year."

Maybe, but it's apparent the Jackets have made some big strides since Hitchcock was named coach last November, about a month after he was fired by the Flyers. He took over a 5-13-2 team that couldn't score goals and didn't do a very good job of preventing them and was generally considered by opponents to be good for two points with minimal effort. It required a culture change, one the players needed some time to adapt to, but the initial results of Hitchcock's more disciplined system began to show as the season wound down. "If you want to win games, you have to have a structure," said goalie Pascal Leclaire. "I don't want to talk about who was here before, but Ken came in here with a plan, and you could see that every week, especially after February, we started getting better. By the end of the year, we were a pretty good hockey team."

Well, better anyway. The Jackets played .500 hockey for the last six weeks of the season and, with largely the same roster, have gotten off to their best start ever. Peca has been an important addition who has given Columbus a good two-way center on the first line between Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, and the two young wingers have matured to the point where Hitchcock uses them to kill penalties and in the last minute of games they lead.

Read more here.

Central notes from

Around the Central Division -- Is Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire quickly gaining the reputation that so many great pitchers get, that if you don’t score early you won’t have a chance later? Well, Leclaire isn’t Josh Beckett just yet, but he has won all four games -- all by shutouts -- when opponents weren’t able to get to him early. Leclaire stopped 36 shots in blanking St. Louis, 3-0, Oct. 25. In his other two starts, Leclaire was scored on 6:17 into a game by Colorado’s Joe Sakic and 5:39 into a game against Vancouver by Ryan Kesler, and he lost both of those games. For the record, Marc Denis holds the club record of five shutouts in one season -- he did it twice (in 2002-03 and again the next season). ... Columbus’ 5-3-1 record represents the best start in franchise history. ... Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock would love nothing more than to beat Detroit, but he says he’ll take his chances against the rest of the Central Division in an attempt to get Columbus into the playoffs for the first time in the seven-season history of the franchise. Mark Hitchcock’s team down as 2-0 in that quest, following back-to-back victories against Chicago and St. Louis, Oct. 23 and 25. ...
Rick NashRick Nash didn’t score his eighth goal last season until Dec. 10. This season, he did it in just nine games and quickly is re-establishing himself as perhaps the most dangerous young power forward in the game. Nash had an impressive nine shots on goal in Columbus’ 3-0 victory against St. Louis on Oct. 25. ... Young free-agent center Jiri Novotny, a former No. 1 pick by Buffalo in 2001, is starting to show the skills we predicted in the off-season as he scored two goals against Chicago and one more against St. Louis, giving him four goals in his last five games. ... More impressive about the Jackets is the play of their defense -- Adam Foote and Rusty Klesla playing more than 21 minutes a game and Ron Hainsey and newcomer Jan Hejda turning in 18-minute-per-game nights. Having that solid defense every night has pushed the Blue Jackets to first in the NHL in penalty killing. ...

As the Jackets win the more the press will come and the more the team will start earning the trust of the fans back.

They have a huge challenge tonight against a Sharks team, that as mentioned above, just got beat by the Wings last night. They'll be looking at the Jackets as a must win. I'll have more pre-game thoughts later today.


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