directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Who's smokin, who's chokin

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who's smokin, who's chokin

Welome to the first ever Blue Jackets edition of "Who's smokin, who's chokin":

Who's smokin:

Pascal Leclaire. Is any goaltender in the league hotter than this guy right now? With 3 shutouts in 4 games I don't think so. Leclaire is tied for first in the league with a GAA of 1.26%. He is second with a save % of .953.

Rick Nash.
Although Nash hasn't cracked the top 30 in NHL scoring, yet (mainly b/c the team has only played 6 games thus far) he has 8 points (4g, 4a) in 6 games played. He has 4 points over his last two games and is just playing like a monster out there dominating in every facet of the game from even strength, to power play, to penalty kill, to strong 2-way hockey. He is carrying the flag for this team offensively right now.

Nikolai Zherdev.
It does appear the Rick and Nik show has returned, at least for now. Zherdev has 6 points (1g, 5a) in his first 6 games and 3 in the past two. The best news about Z is that he finally appears to have "gotten it" and has totally bought into Hitch's system. He is making smart plays, using his teammates, back checking very effectively and only trying that cute little moves (i.e. toe drag) in the offensive zone where if they don't work it doesn't sting the team nearly as bad. Alot of Jacket fans, including myself, have our fingers and toes crossed that this play isn't a blip on the radar and is here to stay.

Penalty Kill. The Blue Jackets have the number 1 ranked penalty kill in the league killing at 93.8% - 'nough said.

Coaching. If its not obvious to you by now then it should be. I've been saying this all offseason but the biggest offseason acquisitions this team could have made were to get a proven NHL coach (Hitchcock - check - I realize they had him part of last season) and new leadership in the front office (Howson - check). Its coaching though that has really done an amazing job thus far at getting the team to buy into their system and structure and getting the best out of what they have, instead of concentrating on what they don't have. I could go on and on about this topic but I'll save that for another post on this blog.
Jakub Voracek. Is there any hotter prospect in the Canadian Major Junior leagues than 2007 7th overall draft prick Jakub Voracek? This kid has 3g, 19a for 22 points in just 7 games! That's over a 3 point average per game and if he keeps that up he'll rack up some 210 points over the 70 games QMJHL season - unreal.

More smoke. This team is 2nd in the league in goals against only allowing 1.67 goals per game. HNIC's Don Cherry actually commenting on the Blue Jackets in a posivite way on Saturday night. The Central division is smoking right now with 4 out of the 5 teams having above .500 records. The that beautiful piece of stainless steel. The CBJ are 12th in the leauge in shots per game. They are 8th in the league in face off percentage led by Manny Malhotra who is the 6th best face off man in the league right now clicking at 61.5%. How sweet do our white jersey's look on the road - smokin! The RBar and JacketBackers representing CBJ nation in Buffalo Friday night.

Who's chokin

David Vyborny. With on 1 point in 6 games - none since opening night - and a -2 Vyborny is really struggling early on this season to find the score sheet. The good news is that IMO he's playing better, especially last game -- he's shooting the puck more and still playing an effective role on the PK. Hitch certainly hasn't given up on him playing him on average 19:10 per game which is the 2nd most among forwards behind Rick Nash's 19:23. This team is winning despite Vyborny's lack of productivity offensively which is a good sign - now we just need him to heat up.

Danny Fritsche. Fritsche was a healthy scratch last game and has really struggled to find the simple smart game he was effective at last year. He has 0 points, is a -2 and is averaging only 11:31 in ice time. He really hasn't generated much offense to speak of and has been a turnover machine. He almost seems to be trying to do too much out there. The coaching staff scratched him in favor of Jody Shelley but he is expected back in the lineup tonight. Frtische will get it figured out and should still be an effective player for the CBJ.

Gilbert Brule. Here is a player I really thought was going to come out smokin this year - that has certainly not been the case. Like Fritsche, Brule is pointless thus far, a -1 and is even playing less that Danny averaging 10:24 of ice time. He's shown some flashes but nothing consistant. Hitch has even tried him briefly at center and given him some PP time to try to get him going. As much as I love this kid's potential I've gotta wonder if it wouldn't do him best to send him to the AHL to regain some scoring confidence -- he's still on his rookie deal and would not have to pass through waivers.

Duvie Westcott. A healthy scratch in each of the past two games. Duvie has obviously not impressed the coaching staff this season after coming of a bad concussion injury. Duvie has no points, is a -2 and is seeing just over 15 mins of ice time when he does play. The coaches said there would be a rotoation amongst the 7 defensemen who are with the big club in terms of scratches but thus far only he and Tollefsen has seen the press box. Duvie will have plenty of chances to redeem his game when the inevitable injuries to the blueline start to mount up - when that time comes he'll need to make his impact felt.

Attendance. With new lows in attendance the past two home games its clear the honeymoon is history. The fans are obviously taking a wait and see approach in regards to this team before forking over their hard earned cash - fool me once shame on you, fool me twice....well you get the picture. If the team keeps up this play for a full season - which I think they will - then they won't be waiting much longer.

More choke. The powerplay has cooled off dropping to 14th in the league at 19.4% although over the past two games we have scored one each on the PP. The CBJ are 21st in the league in goals scored at 2.50 per game - the league average is around 2.70. The idiot Buffalo fan who threw a full beer on a Jackets fan in Buffalo - not only classless but what a waste of a perfectly good $8 beer. The Jackets have won only 1 of 3 on the road. The Vancouver media dolts who actually said the Canucks have to take it easy against the Jackets today so that they can prepare for their next game the following night against Carolina - keep on underrating us NHL. Pascal Leclaire's hair, dude has to do something about the wig -> see mug shot to the right!


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