directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Leclaire unbeatable (again), Jackets win 3-0

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leclaire unbeatable (again), Jackets win 3-0

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire made 32 saves for his 3rd career shutout and second straight as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0 to push their overall record to 2-1.

The Jason Chimera, Manny Malhotra and Jared Boll line carried the flag for the offense last night as that line combined for 6 points and scored a goal in each period. The three also ended the night a combined +8. Rookie Jared Boll notched his first ever career goal off a nice bank pass from Manny Malhotra that sent the 19 year old in free on a breakaway that he roofed top shelf.

Lit it up

What can you say about Leclaire? He was dominant again in nets last night stopping 32 of 32 shots for his 3rd career shutout. He made the saves he should have and then some. As Leclaire said in the paper this morning, credit also goes to the team in front of him who is playing much better team defense and working for the goalie. Still though he was the team's best penalty killer during 7 Coyotes power plays. One would think Hitch would ride the hot hand going into Colorado on Saturday and start Leclaire.

Jason Chimera found his legs last night after a no-show at Minnesota. He fed Malhotra a beautiful pass in the slot on the Jackets first goal and then scored his own after a puck deflected off his leg and went into the Coyotes net. He also assisted on Boll's 3rd period goal. Last night is the kind of game we need from #25 on a consistent basis and I think we are going to see it more often than not.

Manny Malhotra (pictured right) continues to play strong which started in training camp and has certainly carried over to the season. He notched his first goal of the season and went 10 for 15 in the faceoff circle. Manny is doing all the little things it takes to win and it certainly didn't take long for the chemistry between he and Chimera to show back up.

Jared Boll. How can you not like this kid? He not only fought Daniel Carcillo of the Phoenix Coyotes and was generally just a pain to play against, he also notched his first ever goal as professional off a dandy of a bank pass from Malhotra. The FSN Oho Blueline better start printing off some Boll jerseys because this kid is gonna be a fan favorite in no time.

Jan Hejda. He is another player that responded from an off night in Minny notching 2 assists, a +3 and logged over 23 minutes in ice time to lead the team in that category. He also led the team in hits with 3 which is an area I thought he needed to improve on.

Penalty kill. Again the team continues to excel in this area early in the season killing off all 7 man power advantages for the 'yotes. It seems everyone on the team is contributing here and the results are showing up.

Replays...we have REPLAYS!!! Finally, the game ops staff is showing more in-game replays for the crowd at Nationwide. The lack of replays has been a big problem for me in the past and last night I noticed a much greater depth of replays shown throughout the contest. As a fan its hard to see all the action from your seats so to be able to watch more replays than of just the goals really helps me at least catch all the action I can. That and I think it keeps the fans much more active and engaged in the game.

Cannon. Still love it!

Dim the light

Its a shame the Nash-Modin-Vyborny line did not earn a point last night as they were more often than not very dominant - especially down low where it seemed the Coyotes defense could not handle the size of Nash and Modin. Modin had the best looks of the three at the net but was unable to bury it. Look for this line to stay together for Colorado on Saturday. I would like to see Modin do a little better in the face off circle as he went 10 for 22 at the dot.

Duvie Wescott had the hit of the night early in the first period on Carcillo that really set the tone for the evening. Duvie I thought had by far his best game so far including preseason. He was engaged playing over 18 minutes, made smart plays and was physical with a couple of good hits.

Kris Russell was another player that bounced back well. Remember he's still a rookie but he was an even on the night, had 3 shots and played over 16 quality minutes. I love watching this kid play as he's so damn smooth out there. I really thought he was gonna get one last night but alas it wasn't meant to be. Its coming soon for this kid though. He's adjusting well.

Nikolai Zherdev continues to impress me with his solid two way game. I'm not sure what we've got with #13 as its early but if its the guy I've seen the first 3 games of the season then he isn't going anywhere. Zherdev seems to be finally trusting his teammates and using his incredible stick handling skills to the advantage of the team instead of to the advantage of the individual. He's making moves when he has at the right point of the ice to gain space and make plays. He really set the table on a couple of great scoring chances but unfortunately nothing fell last night.

Michael Peca had a solid debut between the kids of Fritsche and Brule. Peca isn't quite as big as you'd think but he's quick and just looks like a seasoned veteran out there. A couple of times that line got hemmed down in the defensive zone. Hitch played it pretty conservative with #19 but you can tell right away if this guy can stay healthy he could really help this team. He's got veteran written all over him and the patience he displayed on the cross ice shorthanded pass to Adam Foote was a perfect example of the kinds of things he can help this team with.

Busted Bulbs

Attendance 11,900 - yikes! That would have to be the lowest announced attendance in team history. Having been to many a game that was probably about right in terms of people there but I have seen similar crowds with higher announced attendances. I have a feeling when MacLean was booted so were the inflated ticket numbers that were produced under his regime. Either that or the Jackets just stopped handing out as many free bees this season. The good news is that team won again and if they keep that up, the fans - especially the casual ones - will return.

Dan Fritsche really had a tough night. The first period was absolutely brutal for him. I'm a big #49 fan but we need much better nights from the Parma Ohio native and I think we'll get em. Hitch was asked about his performance in the post game presser and instead of beating on the kid Hitch defended him and said that he is playing a wing he's not used which was kind of refreshing. Hitch seems to be a master at mental side of the game and I don't think we are going to see him even on the worst of nights throw any of his players under the bus publicly. I get the sense the "teaching" as he calls it will all happen behind closed doors and that is a very good thing.

How fun is it to see this team win, even dominate some opponents for once? I know its early but I can certainly get used to this and for alot of you long suffering Columbus Blue Jackets fans who have stuck with this team since the beginning, I'm sure you share the same sentiment.


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