directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Zherdev's unselfish play the story of the game

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Zherdev's unselfish play the story of the game

The Jackets, in front of a damn near sell out crowd (nice job fans!) and off a remarkable 4 point night from Nik Zherdev, beat the Carolina Hurricanes last night 4-2.

Leclaire had another solid effort but it was Nik Zherdev who stole the show. He's been the Jackets best forward for the past month or so and in one play he signaled just how far he's come as a person, a professional and as a teammate.

No, it wasn't the eye popping coast to coast wrister that got the Jackets on the board..... no, it wasn't the breakaway bottle buster and no it wasn't the assist on Rusty Klesla's was his decision to forgo an empty net chance at a hat trick and pass the puck to Kris Beech for a slum dunk goal that sealed the victory and had the majority of fans (including myself) put their hats back on their heads.

It was a play I didn't think Zherdev would ever be capable of....a play I couldn't have dreamed he'd make just one short year ago when he was a selfish, standoffish, disgruntled, unmotivated person, professional and teammate.

I don't know how this transformation happened in just s short time -- whether it be Hitch, Howson, his agent, himself or a combination but this is a Zherdev he should be proud of. This is a Zherdev fans love and will continue to love. This is a Zherdev this team desperately needs. Although he didn't get the hat trick, my hat is definitely off to #13.

On to the game:

Lit it up

Z. 2 goals, 2 assists, +3. Well else can I say about this guy. He has totally proved people like me wrong this year. I love being wrong in these cases. Man crush activated.

Leclaire. Only allowed 1 goal off of 24 shots. A couple of the game saving (how bout that save on Stillman in the 2nd?), momentum prevention variety. He has now tied his record high for wins with 12 just 38 games into this season. After a bit of a slump he's really come on his past two starts.

Solid team performance. Team got that first goal and just went from there. Up and down the lineup pretty much everyone had a solid outing. Not many passengers (although there were a few - more on that later). Overall this team was a +15 on the night.

PP. As much as I've ragged on the PP this season I'll definitely give the PP its due credit when deserved. The Jackets got a PP goal last night and really had some nice control and puck movement on most of their opportunities.

As with the PP I've beat up Ron Hainsey quite a bit this year. As with the PP I"ll give Hainsey his due as well. I thought he played very well last night. Finally got some shots through, played well defensively and played physical. He leads all Jackets defensemen with 20 points, is a +6 and is actually 3rd in overall scoring on this team. I'm slowly beginning to believe in this guy -- still needs to work on his breakout pass and overall competitive level though.

The crowd. 17,500 in attendance last night. THAT'S what I'm talkin about C-bus!

Dim the light

PK. Wasn't perfect but killed off 3 of 4 penalties. I believe that's 4 straight games the PK has given up a goal. Need to regroup a bit here.

Westcott. Guy is playing pretty decent hockey right now after some really bad games early.

Novotny. I LOVE the way this guys is playing. He led all forwards with ice time last night with over 20 minutes. He's playing in every situation. He doesn't lift you out of your seat (although he did pull out a little razzle dazzle last night) he just a solid dependable player who makes the right play 98% of the time. How great is this signing looking?

Jarred Boll. Had his league leading 15th fight last night. That's 4 more than his nearest challenger. See all fights here.

Kris Russell. More and more confident every game. This kid will get a goal soon. How sweet would it be if it came on New Years? Every time he rushes the puck I just have to sit back and admire the effortless way this kid skates.

Rick Nash. Looked more like the Nash from early in the season. Finally got a point to end a 7 game drought. He just needs to get a one.

Officiating was much better last night. Much more consistant.

Busted bulbs

How often is Jason Chimera going to go offsides? This guy really needs to hit and use his big 6'2" frame more.

David Vyborny. Did he even play last night?

Sergie Fedorov. Its not that he played awfull but I expect so much more out of our 6 million dollar man.

3 bright lights on the night
1. Nik Zherdev. A given here.
2. Overall team performance. Not many passengers and got up early.
3. Pascal Leclaire. Earned his 12th win and stopped 23 of 24 shots.

The Jackets move to 17-15-6. They have 40 points which ties them for 2nd in the Central and puts them 11th in the conference, 3 points out of the 8th playoff spot. It took them until January 16th last year to reach 17 wins. It took them until Jan 19th to reach 40 points. Oh if only they could, shoulda, woulda won some of those earlier 1 goal games but that's history now.

The Jackets are right back at it tomorrow night of a New Year's Eve game against the Edmonton Oilers. Don't forget fans the RBar will be throwing a special post game New Year's Eve event so come out and support the best hockey bar in the area!


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