All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Stonewall?

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stonewall?

Via Sportsnet:

Mason, who didn't even get his first start until Nov. 5 when he beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-4, has been nothing short of spectacular since that game. Through January 13, Mason is 16-9-1 and leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.80), save percentage (.936) and shutouts (six). Folks in Columbus (not exactly a hockey hotbed) have even begun calling the Oakville, ON-native Stonewall Mason.

Apparently I didn't get the memo but hey, I'm flexible. Its certainly better than Stevie "Franchise"... of which Ronny "Franchise" Francis was tagged that many moons and Whalers ago.

Plus the "Stonewall" name has civil war connections - albiet a Confederate one.

Lovin the pub though.

Speaking of hockey hotbeds... ESPN (not really) is sending out some CBJ love which an entry titled We're eating our words about Columbus ...

What the last month has also taught Hitchcock is that, regardless who is in his lineup, the Jackets have finally become a team after searching for an identity over the first two months of the season.

"I think what's happened here is a really good lesson for me and for everybody else," said Hitchcock. "Accountability takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. We made a lot of good changes over the summer for our team moving forward. But just because you add a bunch of guys to the locker room doesn't mean you're a team. I think what's happened is the grind of the schedule and the adversity we've gone through has helped make us more cohesive. Our team is starting to realize we can win games if we just become the sum of parts."

The one person Hitchcock didn't mention in all of this was the coach. We'll take care of that. Once again proving he is indeed one of the elite coaches in this league, Hitchcock has found a way to squeeze juice out of a rock over the last month. If the Jackets somehow make the playoffs, he should be considered for the Jack Adams Award.

You aren't the only one eating some of your words ESPN.. save some table space for me.

..and if Hitch gets this squad into the playoffs he better be in that Jack Adams discussion. The way this team has held things together and thrived over the past couple of weeks with all these injuries really is something special and Hitch has been a big part of that.

Derek MacKenzie has been sent down to make room for Raffi Torres.

I really like MacKenzie as a depth guy.. I love the energy he brings every shift. I hope he eventually stick with a club somewhere but for now its nice having him as an option.

As for Raffi hopefully this is the moment where he finally gets over the hump with his injuries. We've seen some flashes of what he can bring to this squad over the 14 games he's played but those injuries keep getting in the way. No doubt his rugged style will compliment this lineup.

So the question now is who is next?

If Rick Nash and Andrew Murray come of the IR which could come as early as today the Jackets are going to need to clear out some roster space.

Guys on the bubble would be: Alex Picard, Craig MacDonald & Nikita Filatov

If Rick Nash is back I think Filatov is sent down. Filatov is a top 6 skill player and was recalled to replace Nash which he did admirably (visions of his hat trick still dancin in my head). However the Jackets want this kid developing and playing key minutes so he can solidfy his spot in the lineup next year --- there is no reason to keep him up and play him 4 minutes a night. Let him develop -- didn't hurt Brassard right?

If Murray comes back then things get interesting. Which guy do you send down between Picard and MacDonald? Both have played well. I think you choose the one least likely to get claimed on waivers (although I read somewhere that Picard may not have to pass through them again due to some 30 day rule). Personally I think Picard stays up and they'll send MacDonald down.

The roster should look something like this:

Top 6: Nash, Huselius, Voracek, Umberger, Modin, Malhotra
Bottom 6: Boll, Peca, Torres, Murray, Dorsett, Williams
Scratch: Picard

In case you hadn't heard yet Brendan Shanahan has signed with the New Jersey Devils and will finish the year with them.... and whadyaknow -- the Jackets will be his first game back tonight.

Hopefully he doesn't shake off the rust until his second game!

Finally the Jackets look to be on the hunt for a goaltender. How serious they get will depend on Leclaire and the report they get on his ankle.

This comment from Leclaire didn't strike me the best:

"If I can't play, I can't play," Leclaire said. "But if there's an option and I can come back and play, that's what I want to do."

I'm probably reading into this alot more than I should but it sounds pretty ho-hum. You'd think this guy would be chomping at the bit to get back in there and get his pipes back.

I'll have some pre-game thoughts up a little later today!

-LTL

4 comments:

BZArcher said...

Actutally, there's conflicting reports on Shanahan. Some places are saying he'll play tonight, but in a couple of interviews I read today (including the one on NHL.com), he says he's skating with the team but they haven't decided when he'll start...I guess we'll see tonight!

Paul Branham said...

Btw, Leclaire, I think is referring to his ankle injury. I don't think enough people realize how hard it is to go down to your knees and jump back up 40-50 times a game, plus lateral skating with an ankle injury.

Also, I don't think Shanahan plays tonight.

jeffdury said...

accoriding to puck-rakers, nash won't be playing tonight.

JAL said...

The NJ Devils bloggers are saying Shanahan is definitely out tonight. He has only had 1 practice, and will skate today but not play.

Leclaire's attitude is worrisome. I sympathize with the injury, which impacts him more than other goalies, due to the angular nature of his posture and the reliance on quick, jerky movements. However, I think the contract and such has gotten to his head a bit. He is not loved in Syracuse, where they viewed him as a whiner and a prima donna. I don't know, but hearing this stuff is disappointing.

--JAL
A Shot From The Point