directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: CBJ coverage

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Saturday, October 13, 2007 CBJ coverage

Not sure if its because the Jackets are off to a good start over their first three games or its just coincidence but has a piece on Pascal Leclaire and a piece about Michael Peca -- lets start with some snippets about Leclaire:

There’s something motivating about getting injured and seeing someone else step in and basically whisk your job right out from under you.

If you don’t believe it, just ask Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who injured his left knee in mid-February and missed the remainder of the season following surgery. In the process, he lost his job as the Jackets’ No. 1 goalie to 33-year-old Fredrik Norrena, who went on to post a 24-23-3 record and become the first Columbus goalie to post a winning record in the team’s six NHL seasons.

But if his first two outings in 2007-08 are any indication, Leclaire, 24, the eighth-overall selection of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, isn’t ready to give up the job he thinks is rightfully his.

"It drives you. It pushes you to do a little more to get your job back," Leclaire admitted following a 3-0 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 10, that gave him shutouts in each of his first two games this season.

Leclaire doesn’t begrudge Norrena his surprise success for the Jackets last season, but how else do you explain him coming out of the gates this season? In those two games, he stopped all 60 shots he faced against Anaheim and Phoenix. Impressive, considering he had only one shutout in his first 59 NHL games during the past three seasons.

In posting those back-to-back shutouts, Leclaire became only the sixth goaltender in the expansion era (1967-68 to date) to post a shutout in each of his first two games of a season. The others were Gerry Cheevers (1969-70 Boston Bruins), Bernie Parent (1973-74 Philadelphia Flyers), Roman Turek (2001-02 Calgary Flames), Jeff Hackett (2003-04 Flyers) and Roberto Luongo (2005-06 Florida Panthers).

Let’s face it, Leclaire, a native of Repentigny, Quebec, has been the team’s goalie-of-the-future forever. He was groomed for the No. 1 job, not Norrena, who was a throw-in in Columbus’ June 2006 trade of goalie Marc Denis to Tampa for veteran left winger Fredrik Modin.

"Pascal was clearly the best asset," rememered former NHL goalie Rick Wamsley, who was then the Blue Jackets’ goaltending coach and is now an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues. "We liked Leclaire because his skill level was so high. His technique was terrific ... just another in the long line of great young goalie prospects from Quebec. I remember what I really liked was his efficiency in the goal crease -- no unnecessary movements. To me, he had he potential to be a top NHL goalie.”

What is also driving Leclaire now is a chance to show his old/new coach just how good he can be after posting a 1-6 record in the seven games he played after Ken Hitchcock took over as coach in late November. That one win came in relief.

"There’s nothing like having a little friendly competition in goal," Hitchcock said, with a wink. "Pazzy has worked real hard on his fitness and getting ready for this season. I think you could see the competitive fire in his eyes the first day he reported to training camp."

Read more about Leclaire here.

Other CBJ nuggets from that article:

By the numbers: The Blue Jackets trailed for just 13:25 through in their first three games. After those three games, Nikolai Zherdev, Jiri Novotny and Duvie Westcott were the only minus players (each at minus-2). This for a team that had Gilbert Brule at a whopping minus-21, Ron Hainsey and Zherdev (minus-19), Adam Foote (minus-17). Well, you get the picture. ... Hottest line in Columbus? Manny Malhotra centering Jason Chimera and rookie Jared Boll. Each had a goal in the Jackets’ 3-0 win against Phoenix on Oct. 10, with Chimera contributing three points in the game. ... Chimera, who had four points in just three games this season, didn’t get four points last season until his 13th game on Nov. 8.

Next up is the article on Michael Peca:

When Alexander Svitov decided to play in Russia, a spot in Columbus opened up, allowing new GM Scott Howson to make the deal.

"When Columbus expressed interest, I looked at the situation, the coaching staff, Scotty Howson, the direction that they are going in with Ken (Hitchcock) as a coach, a lot of things made it a good decision," says Peca. "I said in the off-season I was going to help someone regardless of where I played. Fortunately for me, it's with this organization on the upswing."

"He's one of those guys that just understands the game of hockey and how it should be played to win," says Columbus captain Adam Foote, a teammate of Peca's when Canada won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. "He's got a lot of hockey sense and he's a natural leader. He brings a lot to the table.

"He's one of the best defensive forwards in the league but he also has a lot of offensive skill and can make things happen in the other end. I think it's a great pickup for us."

"In about the middle of April, even before the season ended, I was really eager to get back in the lineup," says Peca. "I really missed the game and wanted to get back in it. I know that I'm a better player now than I think I ever was in my career, mainly because I'm as fit as I've ever been and I feel great on the ice.

"More importantly, mentally, I feel so relaxed, so focused and so determined to be as good as I know I can be."

Read more about Peca here. certainly can't complain about all this great CBJ coverage from Ahh...what winning a little can do for a team -- lets hope they can keep it going!


1 comment:

Wippy1313 said...

Unfortunately, others are writing this like this about the Jackets:

Pascal Leclaire, G, Blue Jackets: Let me be clear here; his perceived value has gone up. That's all. He's still Pascal Leclaire and I wouldn't touch him with a borrowed 10-foot pole. Back-to-back shuthouts doesn't change the fact that Leclaire had a .897 save percentage last season and that the Blue Jackets are, and I can't stress this enough, a terrible, terrible team. There are very few wins to be had here, and a whole lot of damage to be done to your save percentage and goals-against average. Don't do it."

I let the author have it in my blog: