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Monday, March 17, 2008

Jackets steal one off of unlikely performances by Norrena & Malhotra


Hey...you know what, how many times have the Jackets outplayed teams this year only to fall short of two points?

That is the first thought that crossed my mind after the Jackets managed to pull a rabit out of the hat against a dominant Detroit Red Wings team last night.

The Jackets were outshot 46-17. The 4 goals they did score were about as ugly (outside of Manny's tennis swing) as they come. However they scored first, they were timely and they certainly took advantage of a shaky Dominik Hasek.

Funny.... I didn't see a quote this morning from the ole Dominator saying "we should be a team like Columbus".... where's the confidence now Dom?

Norrena, who was a last minute start, played fantastic stopping 43 of 46 and Manny Malhotra perhaps played his best game as a Jacket scoring 2 goals, an assist, registered 5 hits, 3 shots, finished a +2 and won 63% of his faceoffs -- oh yeah, I'd say that was a pretty complete game -- although it would be nice to see that kind of game from him more than every 3rd or 4th year.

Lit it up

Manny / Norrena --- already explained above but make no mistake about it, they carried this team.

Aaron Rome. Is this 24 year old making a case for himself or what? He had some thunderous hits, was in Wings' faces all night long, rang a shot off the post and collected his first ever NHL point in an assist. Plus he played a career high 18 minutes. He keeps this up and he may find himself with a 1 way contract and guys like OK Tollefsen and Marc Methot may find themselves on the bench. He is a restricted free agent which plays well for us.

Rick Nash. He's really picked up his game since collecting the C. He's got 5 points in his past 3 (1g, 4a) including 2 assist last night. He led all forwards in ice time. He's hitting. He's playing defense. He's chatting it up with the officials. He 100% embraced his new role and is thriving. Really its pretty awesome and exciting to see.

My neighbor - he hooked me up with a pair a free bees last night. Now that's lighting it up!

I know Hitch isn't excited about it but with 10 games to go the Jackets surpassed their best points total in their 7 year history. Their previous best was 74 and with the win last night they move one point ahead of that to 75. As Portzline stated in his blog -- the days of celebrating mediocrity are over -- seriously though, could you image MacLean's spin on that one?

Dim the light

Sell out crowd. I put it in this category because 3 to 4 thousand of those were the enemy.

Kris Russell. Kid played one of his better games and finished a +2.

Jan Hejda / Rusty Klelsa. Continue to get the job done as the Jackets top pair. Klesla led the team once again in minutes played with over 26 and finished a +1. Hejda was 2nd with over 23 mins played and also finished a +1.

Jared Boll / Andrew Murray. Really I wish Hitch would have played these two more. They just bring so much energy to the table. Boll with his hard hitting and in your face style of play (how bout that penalty he drew on Datsyuk?) and Murray with his smart dependable play -- kid is really starting to find his place and feel like he belongs out there.

OK scores! Hey anytime this guy can pot one its a huge bonus and deserves a mention.

Busted bulbs

The Jackets got beat in every phase of the game last night besides the score. I'm glad they found a way to win but 9 out of 10 times you play a game like that against the Wings and you will not win. Need a much better effort in the 3 remaining games against this squad.

Nik Zherdev. Look I know he got a goal but as Hitch said regarding our points total - "whoopee" - I thought he played horrible. Where is the Z from before the All Star Break? He look like he was skaiting in quick sand and just doesn't seem to be into out there. He needs to pick up his game.

Officials. Did the Jackets really commit 6 penalties to their 2? I saw a few legit ones but c'mon -- that call with 2 minutes to go was horseshit. Still though the Jackets need to find a way to take less penalties against - Peca has commited a lot of needless ones lately.

PK. They got torn apart by a very powerfull powerplay. Cross ice passes, using the points, quick bang bang plays. Just watch the Wings defense to see why we need a HUGE upgrade in that department this offseason.

Powerplay. Our two opportunities were pathetic. We looked like the keystone cops out there.

Ron Hainsey. He cannot run a powerplay, he can't find the open man on the rush and how many times did Zetterberg use and abuse him last night? He just isn't the answer and I'll be extremely disappointed if he's back in the same role next season. Let someone else overpay for this guy.

OK's hit on Manny. Nice hit, wrong player.

Jason Chimera. Got to bury your chances big guy.

Leclaire. I haven't heare much yet on his injury but hopefully he's okay.

Same with Vyborny. Depending on his injury we have have seen his final game as a Blue Jacket. Hopefully he can make a few more starts and receive a proper send off from the fans as he's the only remaining original Blue Jacket.

3 bright lights on the night

1. Manny Malhotra - arguably his best game as a Jacket
2. Freddy Norrena - 43 saves off 46 shots -- all that when he didn't even know he would be starting until 7 mins before the game
3. 3 hour drive home - always nice to send those Wings fans who make the drive home with a loss (although as I mentioned before, alot of those fans are local "turncoats")

The Jackets keep their very faint playoff hopes alive and jump ahead of Chicago for 12th in the conference. They are still 7 points behind the Cancuks for that 8th spot and have a game at hand on both Nashville and Edmonton who are above them in the standings.

Realistically I'm just hoping that this team can finish strong and crack that 85 point barrier, continue to let our young players like Nash/Z/Leclaire/Klesla get some valuable experience this time of year when games still mean something and go into next year with a lot of confidence and "hopefully" a revamped roster.

Calgary next up on Tuesday. That's always a physical battle.

-LTL

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Rome: after about his 4th hit or so (how many was it, 16?), I told my wife "I bet this kid is going to be one of the stars of the game tonight!"

Good for him. Now can he keep it up?