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82-0, indeed

October 6, 2007

As noted in the Dispatch’s Puck-rakers blog, the above record “prediction” was overheard in an Arena District parking garage after last night’s 4-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.  Surely uttered in jest, but last night was worthy of a little excitement.

What have we heard all summer?  “We want to be a team that’s difficult to play against.”  One game does not a true believer make, but last night, the Columbus Blue Jackets were more than the reigning Cup champs bargained for.

“They came at us right from the start of the game,” forward Ryan Getzlaf said of the Blue Jackets. “We weren’t prepared for it. We did a lot of things tonight and none of them were the right ones.”

I’m not foolish enough to think that this is how it is going to be (victory) every night, but I am willing to place a little trust in the Jackets’ style of play to believe that effort should not be an issue.  It’s so hard to say anything about what to expect in the long-term after 60 minutes of hockey.

What do we really know?  That last night was fun to watch.

Rick Nash had a fantastic game in the offensive zone.  Nik Zherdev pulled the joystick on a couple of moves that left my jaw on the ground.  Kris Russell had a very fine NHL debut, scoring his first NHL point with an assist on Nash’s second goal.  I even found myself praising Adam Foote’s play quite a few times.  It’s been a while since we’ve seen him so mentally and physically involved in a game.  I would like very much to see this continue.  Lastly, Pascal Leclaire made the saves he needed to make.  And with a little help from Rick Nash in the third, he gets his second career shutout.

The thing that was most satisfying to me was the growing frustration of the Ducks as the game wore on.  The Jackets carried the play, and as it became apparent to the Anaheim skaters that this dog would not roll over and beg for a treat as they probably imagined, they took stupid penalties.  The worst offense (of dumb, frustrated penalties) I saw from Anaheim was Andy McDonald hunched over Jackets winger Gilbert Brule, holding his head down in what seemed like an effort to get Brule’s opinion on how the Nationwide ice tasted.

I don’t know about the ice, but the victory probably tasted pretty good.  The Jackets play tonight in Minnesota, with both squads looking to remain unbeaten in their second game.

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

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