directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Z shines, powerplay sparkles, shootout thuds...

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Z shines, powerplay sparkles, shootout thuds...

Nikolai "Z" Zherdev shined with 3 points and the powerplay sparkled going 3-5 but unfortunately the Jackets thumped yet again in a shootout as they fell to the Detroit Red Wings. This is the 4th time in 4 attempts that the Jackets have lost a shootout this season. That is four precious points and 4 wins in the win column that they have let get away from them.

The Jackets now stand tied for 3rd in the conference with 22 points with Nashville with a 9-7-4 record.

Lit it up

Zherdev scored 3 points in a magnificent effort in all areas of the game last night. He razzled and he dazzled offensively and even more impressive was his play away from the puck in all 3 zones. In 20 games Z has 15 points which already almost half way to his combined point total in 71 games all of last season. Z is on pace for just over 60 points which would be a career high and a complete turnaround from the player we saw last year in a CBJ sweater.

Rick Nash also had a big game collecting 1g and 2a. His line with Z and Novotny were outstanding controlling the puck and giving Detroit all they could handle. Nash is also off to a career start and is on pace for over 90 points and 56 goals. He has completely taken over as the undisputed leader of this team and is leading where its the most important - on the ice.

Jiri Novotny I also thought played his best game of the year. Nothing real flashy but he was very strong on the puck...played well in the corners and really complimented the two young dynamos he was flanked by. He'll definitely see more time with those two as the season progresses. Jiri is another guy who is off to a career start notching 10 points in his first 20 games which would equate to a 40+ point total assuming he stays healthy and maintains this pace.

Finally...and I mean *FINALLY* the powerplay found some life last night going 3 for 5 and helping keep this team in it. In fact, out of the 8 goals scored during this game 6 came with the man advantage just to give you an idea of how important the PP is. The Jackets PP blew it against St. Louis but it came alive today. One has to wonder if Hitch had a little more control over the PP after the downward spiral its been on the past two weeks under assistant coach Gary Angew

How can you not love Ken Hitchcock? I mean is this guy engaged in the game or what and he uses all of his tools at his disposal. I love the TO he called when the Jackets had a two man advantage to calm his troops and refocus them....even better I loved it when he pulled Leclaire for a stretch after he was clearly rattled by some Detroit goals to talk to him and settle him back down... He had done the same to Norrena earlier in the both cases it seemed to work. Hitch knows how important these points are and he understands the ebbs and flows of a game and the mental state of his players during them. These little things are what separates a great coach from an average one.

Dim the light

Really like the way Jody Shelley is playing....there has been some definite improvement in his game. In fact that line of Boll-Brule-Shelley hasn't been a liability at all on the ice and they have created some scoring chances for themselves.

After killing some 16 straight penalties the PK wasn't able to keep their streak alive. The vaunted Detroit PP took advantage of a 5 on 3 opportunity to convert two chances...and then scored on a later PP opportunity.....the Jackets will look to start a new PK streak on Wed against Florida.

Another very solid game out of Duvie Westcott. He got his first goal of the year last night as Hitch seems to have restored a little bit of faith in #10 using him quite a bit on the PP. If Duvie continues to play within himself and keep things simple this year should finally start to turn around for him.

Attendance was around 15,500 which was the 2nd best of the season. Unfortunately most of the extra bump came from Wings fans.....c'mon Jacket faithfull...spread this word...this is a team we can finally be proud of so lets all do our part to pack this place with Blue Jacket fans!!

Busted Bulbs

Pascal Leclaire had a tough one tonight. Make no mistake about it...the Wings can make a lot of goalies look average and they did play a part in making Leclaire look it last night.. That said, Leclaire seemed to be really off his angels with the Wings ringing multiple shots off the posts and he just didn't exude that confidence he has shown this year between the pipes. Unfortunately he couldn't hold us in the shootout either. The good news, he was good enough to get a point.

The shootout. The law of averages would think this thing would start evening out for this squad but so far not the case as the Jackets have lost all four of the ones they've been involved in. On the bright side, at least they were able to score a couple of goals in this one. Precious points lost so far here.

2-4-2 against this Central during this 8 game stretch. Definitely not good enough. Its a segment the team could look back on at the end of the year saying "if we just coulda" against some of those losses....especially the shootout loss against Nashville and the regulation loss against St. Louis which saw the Jackets dominate play only to not convert on PP chances and blow the chance at any points in the final minutes.

The Jackets take on the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Its a team they don't see often who has had some strong goaltending of late from Tomas Vokuun. After two well played games that only saw them take a point out of four the Jackets will be lookin to get back in the win column at home this week.


1 comment:

Truth Serum said...

You're very kind with your appraisal of Jody. Yes, he did play hard, but he should also play with his head.