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It’s official

January 19, 2007

malaise (ma-lez) n. – an indefinite feeling of uneasiness or discomfort

It’s set in. 

As the losses and shutouts roll on, I’m beginning to see why the Blackhawks and Blues don’t have any independent bloggers out there talking about their respective teams.  No matter how much you try to spit-shine a cow pie, it still stinks at the end of the day.

I’m unable to find the modern record for number of times a team has been shutout in a season, but I’m guessing that the Jackets will be pushing the envelope on that one.  With 11 blanks in 47 games, Columbus has already tied a franchise record for being shutout in a season (set twice previously) and is on pace to have 19 games without a goal this season.  No team in the NHL is that bad on paper.  Not St. Louis, not Philadelphia, and not even Columbus.  But as the popular saying goes, that’s why they play the games.

“They just outwork us,” said Blue Jackets left winger Rick Nash, who returned from a five-game absence because of a strained back. “It’s pretty plain and simple. They stick to their game plan, and we kind of wander off and don’t work.”

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch extracted the above quote after last night’s 4-0 loss to the Predators.  I’m sure it’s not pretty in the locker room away from a reporter’s ears, either.  The door was shut a few extra minutes after the game last night prior to the media being allowed in, and I have to imagine that the frustration was being vented from all corners of the room. 

My question: Who is going to step up and be the leader in the locker room in these trying times?  I know that most guys at this level are not given to the “rah-rah” speeches and such, but there has to be a voice or two in the locker room that can reach into these overpaid brains and extract a little accountability and effort.  Is it going to be the nominal leaders like Foote, Fedorov, Nash, and Vyborny?  Or is a ‘lesser’ statistical player going to become a guy who sparks the team?

I don’t personally know anyone on the team, but I can see who is putting out effort on a consistent basis.  It’s not hard to see a guy like Dan Fritsche being leader material down the road.  He’s a guy who visibly gives 100% whether the team is down by four goals or up by four.  That’s nice to see as a fan, and I’m sure the guys in the room appreciate it as well.

Whoever it ends up being, the team needs a leader, an identity (which will not be addressed today), and some damn wins.  It’s getting harder to write about what’s going down on the ice.  After tonight, the Blue Jackets will have six days off for the All-Star break.  During the layoff, we’ll evaluate the state of the Western and Eastern Conferences at this time, and give our thoughts on the mid-year playoff picture.

Game tonight is at home against Detroit, 7 PM.  Which Blue Jacket team will show up?  Tune in to find out.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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One comment

  1. Most Games Shutout, One Season
    20-Chicago Blackhawks, 1928-29

    Most Consecutive Games Shutout
    8-Chicago Blackhawks, 1929

    Is that modern enough? It could always be worse…



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