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Dose of Reality #19

December 27, 2006

Dose of Reality

With nearly a full house last night, the exciting come-from-behind win last night over Boston was a tease, an example of what might have been for the Blue Jacket fans this season. Was it a Christmas ghost of the future? Or was it more like the movie Ground Hog Day, a course of events that the Blue Jackets are playing over and over until they get it right?

David Vyborny won the game with a nice backhand goal that he almost did not get off because of the puck not laying flat on the ice. It was pretty and fun to see Vyborny do something with the puck other than pass it.

Sergei Fedorov played like he was ten years younger, skating with speed and power and finishing two opportunities. Even Jason Chimera put on some heavy mittens while sitting on the bench so his hands would warm up and soften so he could put a puck in the net.

Granted, Tim Thomas, who ironically was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars for the previous week, showed why the Columbus win was strange. Thomas at times looked like a Mite or Squirt goalie, overplaying shots, over shuffling, and going down to block shots but counting to five before he got up. The Jackets took 41 shots on goal, but must have taken another 20 that were at the goal. As I sat in my seat last night I kept thinking that Thomas did not deserve to win the game, but the Jackets would give it to him anyway. And Ken Hitchcock felt the same way, saying, “The second period was the worst period we’ve played all year.”

So anyway, the Jackets won, they get to play Detroit again on Thursday, and then Chicago, two very tough Division opponents, a nice test for the team that is finding a new identity. As fun as it was last night, there some issues that need attention.

Adam Foote did not have a good game. Everyone is marveling about the save that Fredrik Norrena made on Patrice Bergeron’s breakaway with five minutes to go in the game, but it was almost gift-wrapped from Foote. And I don’t want to go into his play on the power play. Veterans of his stature do not play that way unless they are counting down the days to their final game.

Duvie Westcott also got careless and tried to take the puck up the ice when he had Sergei Federov skating near him. I know that there are a lot of Westcott fans out there who appreciate the offensive skills that Duvie has, but there are more fans that appreciate the offensive skills of Sergei Fedorov and would feel better about using Fedorov for that task since they have the stats to back up their confidence.

One area that Ken Hitchcock seems to be addressing is the role of Jody Shelley. It appears that this era is coming to an end and we should prepare for a Jody Shelley Night at Nationwide. Jody got five shifts and 2:42 of ice time, all of it in the first period if I am correct. If the other team is going to play hockey and not dress a goon, then there is no need to give a slot to Shelley. Boston played hockey, didn’t even think about extra curricular stuff, and thus there was no need to play Shelley.

Hitchcock has to be concerned about Norrena playing the next two games against tough opposition. The play of Norrena is fine, but he has shown that he cannot play a lot of games in succession. The team does not have an adequate backup, so Detroit and especially Chicago have to be licking their chops. I would rather see Ty Conklin play against Detroit, in spite of what may happen, and save Fredrik for Chicago. Columbus needs to beat Chicago and pass them in the standings and they have a better chance of doing that with Norrena.

Although I hear that Tampa Bay would like to part with Marc Denis, who always enjoyed living in Columbus.

– Truth Serum

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8 comments

  1. Could you imagine the effect on Leclaire, if Denis came back into town?


  2. It would both worry and motivate him. I like Leclaire and think he is NHL quality, but he has to get tougher, both mentally and physically. If we picked up someone like Denis, it would put pressure on Pascal that he might not be able to manage. But all in all, if something like that would happen, MacLean would dump Norrena in a heart beat.

    Don’t forget, there is a decent goalie in Syracuse right now, Tomas Popperle. He is a little young to make the jump to Columbus now, but it is insurance next season.

    I do like Columbus with Leclaire and Norrena on the roster. But the team has to improve at the blue line. If you are watching the World Junior Championship, watch Kris Russell of Canada, a CBJ draftee. He is very good and should make the team next year.


  3. Truth, is there anywhere in the Columbus area we can catch the WJC?

    I’ve been hearing about Kris Russell for a while now, and I’m excited to hear of a good defenseman coming up through the ranks. Popperle as well.

    It would be interesting, for sure, to have Denis back. I wonder what the CBJ would have to give up to get Denis, Biron, Toskala, etc.?

    And lastly, would it be better to shop for a goaltender, or to try and land a defenseman? Are there even any to be had?

    Discuss… 🙂


  4. If you have the Center Ice package from the NHL, it is yours to watch. You can also go to http://www.tsn.ca/world_jrs/ and see it live. There was a rumor that TSN was going to block non-Canadian ISP’s, but I haven’t had any problems.

    With Kris Russell coming up and the steady play of Johnson, Hainsey, Erickson, et al., I think the team is one D-man away from being a real NHL team.

    I really don’t see Denis coming back to Columbus as long as MacLean is in charge. The man will never admit a mistake. That’s why we had Sillinger playing here; Doug drafted him at Detroit and then gave him another chance here.

    If Leclaire stays healthy and Norrena does not get burned out, we are adequate. Of course if we can upgrade either one of these players, go for it.


  5. OK, the nationalist pigs at TSN won’t let us Yanks watch the live broadcast of the World Juniors. It is limited to Canadian ISP’s only. Sorry, Drew. You’ll just have to watch re-runs of the CBJ surrender to the Red Wings on YouTube.


  6. It’s all good. I have the December 18th game on DVR. I’ve got it all cued up to the Rick Nash goal to show my dad (Mr. EOB, Sr., Wings fan) when he comes over to the house.

    I’ll just watch that and eat chocolate.


  7. It’s amazing just what a good coach can do. Columbus is talented. But there has never been a system put in place, which means the players don’t have a plan, of plan of attack, or plan of defence. Hitch is going to create that and the team will suceed as a result.


  8. […] Truth Serum mentioned Kris the other day in comments on his column, and as it turns out he’s not going to be the only one noticing the young defenseman. […]



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