directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Jackets start season with a bang, win opener 4-0

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Jackets start season with a bang, win opener 4-0

The much talked about cannon made its debut last night and boy did it get a workout as the Jackets shutout the defending champions Anaheim Ducks 4-0 in front of a near sell out crowd at Nationwide Arena.

Rick Nash had a career evening figuring into every goal scored. He ended his night with 2g, 2a and a career high 4 points. Sergei Fedorov scored his first of the season and Ron Hainsey capped the evening with a 3rd period goal of his own. Each player also had an assist. Rookie sensation Kris Russell notched his first career assist. Nikolai Zherdev, Fredrik Modin and David Vyborny rounded out the scoring each collecting an assist of their own.

Not to be lost between the cannon and Nash was Pascal Leclaire's sterling performance. While not tested often, he stopped all 28 shots he faced and notched his 2nd career shutout. He was steady, quick and made the saves when it mattered.

Lit it up
To be honest the whole team deserves a mention here b/c as a team they lit it up. Granted Anaheim was playing its 4th game straight on the road and looked every bit of it, the Jackets came out and played their game for a full 60 minutes. From Leclaire on out, every player on the ice did their part to earn this team win.

While not really even dominating Rick Nash quietly found himself with a career game with 4 points. The thing I really liked about Nash's game last night was his control and patience with the puck, especially on the powerplay. He worked the half boards better than I've ever seen him previously. The scary thing is that there are higher levels this guy can raise his play to. Was good to see #61 get off to a great start this season.

Pascal Leclaire. Any time a goaltender gets a shutout its a good thing. Leclaire looked strong and healthy in net tonight. The team in front of him played strong defense and when there was a breakdown Leclaire was there to shut the door. He's another guy I'm happy to see get off to a good start this season.

Zherdev. This was one of the strongest games I've seen Z play since he's been here. He was flying over the ice, killing penalties, passing, back checking and even threw a couple of hits. I'm the first to criticize this player when he takes nights off (and there have been too many of those) but I'll also be the first to sing his praises when he plays well. Lets hope last night's Z is the player we see most nights this year b/c if it is, he can really help this team.

Special teams. The special teams were well, special last night. The penalty killers killed off 9 penalties, including a 5 minute major from a Jared Boll hit (which quite frankly was a clean hit and terrible call). The power play went 3/8 on the evening and was really moving the puck around well. The biggest difference for me was seeing the movement from the players -- Kris Russell was everywhere on that PP, this kid knows when to jump.

Rbar. Boy did Mike, Natalie and the gang put on a good party last night over at the Rbar. Its was a sponsored event by Miller/Molson complete with free flag give-aways to the first 20 customers, a blow up Molson balloon, grill and roped off patio. It was another fantastic event and the place was hopping.

Civil War theme. Oh man has the game day ops staff nailed it this time. The cannon was a rousing success and the other civil war tie ins were brilliant. From the drummers and fife playing outside the entrance into Nationwide to the bugler (we need more of this guy) to the opening night video presentation it ALL worked wonderfully. A game at Nationwide has truly become a unique experience in the professional sporting world and the identify of this team and its name has been tastefully displayed.

For the most part I thought the Jackets did a better job of staying out of the penalty box. They did give up one 5 on 3 which was killed successfully. The Jackets will need to continue this trend.

Dim the light
Jason Chimera was flying last night and is playing a with a lot of confidence. He had two clean breakaways but failed to convert on them and put this game away. To the Ducks credit Bryzgalov really stood on his head last night. If Chimera keeps playing this way though he is gonna be real hard to keep off the score sheet a lot of nights this year.

Busted Bulbs
For the first time in 7 home season openers, the Jackets failed to sell out Nationwide Arena coming up 300 fans short. To be honest though I thought there were more people there this year than last (which was announced a sell out) and the placed looked packed. The fans also were loud and really into the game. If the Jackets keep this high level of play up on the ice, they won't have to worry about attendance going down as the fans will come back.

All in all it was a heckuva way to kick off the 2007-2008 season. The Jackets are right back at it tonight. I'll have a game preview up next.

The Dispatch has a pretty cool slide show from opening night -- follow this link to see it.

The Blue Jackets were 1-3-2 in season openers before Friday's 4-0 win over Anaheim. The last time Columbus had won their first game of the season was on Oct. 10, 2002.

A quick note from TSN - Jared Boll will not face any further discipline from the league for his hit on Travsi Moen -- and rightfully so as in IMO it was a clean hard hit that shouldn't have drawn a penalty in the first place.


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