One of the “professional” sports writers in town, Aaron Portzline, posted a piece this morning, “Gentlemanly and disturbing”, calling out the team for being soft and overall pussies. Either AP has been locked out of the CBJ dressing room and therefore doesn’t care about lack of access, or he ghosted an article for Ken Hitchcock. Whatever, I have a few problems with it.
First off, if you want to see that kind of hockey, you’re too late, because the Chill left town. There are only a few teams in the West that play with an edge, Nashville and Anaheim being the prime examples. Calgary has a few guys, Minnesota has two goons, and Edmonton has to put a show on for their fans. As for St. Louis, did he forget the last two games with them? The shutout in Columbus and the loss in St. Louis? I believe that one of the pussies that he called out, Jason Chimera, spent some time in the box for a cheap-shot on Barret Jackman.
But Portzline wants the team to use Jody Shelley more to stop other teams from taking advantage of them. I hate to go negative here, but when is the last time you saw Jody beat somebody in a fight? Jody is tough, but he is a bleeder and at best can only hold his own. And then there is the “code”, which dictates that Jody has to hang around with his own kind. That would be D.J. King on the Blues, maybe Jackman, and Jamal Mayers. After that, the pickings are slim.
Rusty Klesla was called out in the piece, but since he clipped Tuomo Ruutu last year, he has limited his toughness to holding and hooking.
Manny Malhotra? I thought we needed him to win face-offs and play his defensive game. Dan Fritsche? Aren’t we still trying to develop him, take advantage of his speed and defensive skills?
I will admit to being discouraged by the play of Chimera. If he’s not off-sides, he’s missing the net if he can hold onto the puck. But I can’t see him dropping the gloves or finishing more of his checks as a way for the team to become more competitive.
The Jackets are soft along the boards and in front of the nets. If there is a battle for the puck along the boards, only a few guys will consistently come away with the puck; Zherdev, Peca, Vyborny, and Russell. Adam Foote can win some of the battles, but that’s because the NHL lets him get away with a lot.
In front of the net? That has been a problem all season. If you want to see someone fight and slash, keep your eyes on Fredrik Norrena. Again, Foote will throw the forearm and Hejda works hard, but the rest of the defense hasn’t shown much.
How about in front of the other net? Jared Boll will fight for position, but he has a tendency to get too close to the goalie and has been called too much for interference. Nash is good down there, and Zherdev will take a beating, but when Glencross goes for position, he has trouble matching up.
Notice the name Fedorov missing?
The team needs to learn how to win hockey games and go from there. You win games, the toughness is an add-on. You skate faster, be strong on the stick, battle, hold your composure, and you win.
I guess I’m surprised that Portzline felt the need to write this piece. The Jackets need to work on a lot of things, but I would not place being a hard-ass at the top of the list. Holding onto and controlling the puck better would be a good place to start. If Portzline feels that way, I know where Lyle Odelein can be reached. We got rid of him along with Oliwa