directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Leclaire to start on Wed against Phoenix..

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Leclaire to start on Wed against Phoenix..

A few nuggets to report and comment on this morning.

According to the Dispatch Pascal Leclaire will get the start this Wednesday at home against Carolina. As you know Leclaire posted his second career shutout on Friday in the season opener blanking the defending Stanley Cup champs 4-0.

Coach Ken Hitchcock has said he'll use both Leclaire and Norrena unless one shows he's the clear cut #1. Its still very early but after the first two games I don't think either showed better than the other even though one got the shutout win and the other didn't. Norrena played well Saturday night but unfortunately so did Minnesota and our guys lost some of the intensity from the opener. This will be a good story to follow and good problem to have if both guys continue to play well.

Again its early but the Jackets are off to a nice start on the special teams. Penalty killing is clicking at an 100% rate which is 4th in the league and the powerplay is firing at a 30.8% which is also fourth in the league.

The Dispatch also notes that all of our PP goals have been generated off the defense:

When the Blue Jackets are on the power play, Hitchcock wants to see the point men willing to creep down low when the numbers dictate it.

Penalty kill units have gotten so adept at clogging passing and shooting lanes, Hitchcock said, that puck movement down low is the key. So he has urged Kris Russell, Ron Hainsey, Sergei Fedorov, Duvie Westcott and others to take the risk.

"If you're going to score, you have to pour more numbers up there," he said. "Literally, if they have three, you've got to have four."

All three Blue Jackets' power-play goals were scored with defensemen playing well off the blue line.

They 'D' has most certainly been moving better on the PP than I've ever seen before on a CBJ team and its paying off early. The danger here though is getting caught if the puck is turned over and giving up some quality scoring chances shorthanded. As long as guys like Fedorov, Hainsey, Russell and Westcott continue to read the play well we should be in good shape and see a much improved PP throughout the season.

Again though this is another example of what elite coaching gets you -- do you think Gerard Gallant would have implemented this?

As noted in this blog Nikolai Zherdev is off to a very good start over the first two games and coach Ken Hitchcock tends to agree :

"I think he's fully engaged," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "This is what we can expect on a nightly basis with Nikolai … a very dangerous player."

"I think he's played very well," Hitchcock said. "He's skating and competing. When a highly skilled player does those two things, good things happen.

"We're counting on him. We're relying on him. He's one of the best players on our team at creating opportunities off the rush."

Good for #13 -- hopefully the light is finally starting to go off upstairs. Again the re-occurring theme of this blog post is that "its still early".

The great news for Jacket fans is that #13 and #61 have been our best players through two games and offensively speaking that is a must. I have also been impressed with Gilbert Brule as well -- he doesn't have the points to show yet but if he keeps playing the way he has been, they will come.

Chimera, Vyborny, Modin, Hejda and Rusell all need to pick up the play on Wednesday though as they were for the most part no shows on Saturday night.

Also don't forget hockey fans that there are a couple of early games today. The Caps take on the Islanders at 2 EST and then Devils take on the undefeated Senators at 3 EST. Center Ice is till free so if you have today off like me, then don't forget to tune in for some early NHL action.

Second year player Paul Statsny if off to a very hot start for the Colorado Avalanche notching 4g, 4a in 3 games played to lead the league in scoring -- remember though, its still early!

Happy Columbus Day!


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