directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Leclaire notches 7th shutout as Jackets stone Thrashers

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Leclaire notches 7th shutout as Jackets stone Thrashers

With Rick Nash out of the lineup for the first time this season, Pascal Leclaire got this 7th goose egg of the year last night as the Jackets played quite possibly their best 60 minutes of the season.

The Jackets held NHL leading goal scorer Illya Kovalchuk to just 2 shots and got goals of their own from Jared Boll and Dan Fritsche.

Lit it up

Anytime a goalie gets a shutout he did something right. Granted the Jackets played very well and held the Thrash to just 21 shots but Leclaire made the saves he should and then some. What interesting is that all of last year Leclaire played a total of 24 games -- through 36 games this season Leclaire has matched that playing in his 24th game last night. He now leads the league in shutouts.

Nik Zherdev. Although held scoreless Z played a fantastic game last night. He hit two posts, played over 22 minutes and with Nash out of the lineup he really stepped up his game and created a lot of offense for this squad. I'm amazed at where this guy's game has gone this year.

Team. About as complete a 60 minutes as we've seen this year. Nobody really played bad and with the big guy out of the lineup everyone seemed to take their game up a notch.

Jared Boll. Not only did this kid rightfully get his minutes uppped (he played just over 10 minutes) but he showed why he should play even more. He had a goal but more importantly he had multiple chances, drove the net hard and continued to play his rough style of play. He also had a fight against a seasoned guy in Boulton. Keep on playin this kid Hitch.

Dim the light

Only two goals. As good as the team was defensively they can't keep living on this 2 goal effort expecting the Jackets goaltenders to blank them. They need more offense. One more goal a game and imagine where this team could be in the standings.

Powerplay. Finally a goal! Baby steps rights?!

PK was excellent as usual. Killed off both Atlanta PP chances.

..and how about only taking two penalties on the night? Jackets were very disciplined last night.

I think Jiri Novotny is playing some outstanding hockey. Nothing flashy but just makes the right plays at the right time. He and Zherdev mix well out there together.

Kris Russell is another guy who I'm loving out there. Anyone else catch that guy's speed when he backchecked and raced downMarian Hossa, one the game's premier forwards, and broke up a semi-breakaway?

Illya Kovalchuk. This guys is really dynamic isn't he? On one rush he was coming down the ice with such force I almost got out of my seat and started to back off! That guy is some kind of a talent and fun to watch -- unfotunately we don't see those teams enough.

Pretty good attendance last night -- just under 16k. Keep on comin out Jacket fans!

Busted bulbs

Not much to complain about other than just not scoring enough goals. Need more from guys like Fedorov, Vyborny and Chimera. Gilbert Brule was also his usual invisible self -- need to send this kid down.

NOTE TO ARENA -- if your going to have "free food" night please open all of the concession stands. The lines last night were rediculous and to not have all the stands open was..well, ignorant.

3 bright lights on the night

1. Pascal Leclaire - league leading 7th NHL shutout
2. Team effort - best 60 minutes I've seen this team play in a loooong time
3. Zherdev - didn't get a point but was the best player on the ice last night; honorable mention to Jared Boll who had a goal and a fight

Jackets improve to 16-14-6, still 3 points out of 8th in the West. They take on the Nashville Predators again tonight in Nashville. The Preds lost last night. The good news is that both teams will be playing the tail ends of a back to back. I keep saying the Jackets are due against this squad so I'll say it again, THE JACKETS ARE DUE!

I'll have a pre-game thoughts post up here in a bit!


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