January 14, 2008

The Blue Jackets’ victory over Nashville on Saturday was remarkable for what was missing; fighting, roughing, sourness, or what have you.  The teams focused on hockey and the third period was fun to watch.  I think the first two periods were cautious, because both teams were tired and were holding back and waiting for the other to make a mistake.  Nikolai Zherdev played a terrific game, working hard until he created an opportunity which led to Rusty Klesla’s goal.

Perhaps now The Dispatch writers will put aside their grumbling about the team not being tough enough and focus on the realities of the NHL.  The salary cap has created parity for about 25 teams.  Detroit and Ottawa are in a class by themselves, as is Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles.  The majority of the NHL teams have one line that can score and the rest of the roster is a crapshoot where anything can happen.  Columbus is no different than most teams and is struggling to find its way, desperately searching for more goals out of its lineup.  At this time, Ken Hitchcock has split Rick Nash and Zherdev apart, forcing opponents to send their checkers out against only one of them and take their chances.

If Fredrik Modin is able to come back and produce at his expected level, and David Vyborny can play like he used to, the team will be a headache to defend against.  Even if only one of them, Modin or Vyborny, can produce, they will make the Jackets stronger.  Maybe the team can make a run.

Last week, I read the comments and blogs of The Dispatch writers and the readers and wanted to ask them why now?  You had three or four years to question things and you start now?  Were you so intimidated by Doug MacLean that you didn’t see the deceit?  I’m not saying that Scott Howson and Hitchcock should get a free pass, but they do deserve more than 44 games.  The team has improved from last year and are headed in the right direction.  There is no buying time or stalling from Howson, but an honest effort to do the best with what he has.  Ken Hitchcock has installed a new team style, but has simply taken what was there and made it work.

In the 6-1 loss to St. Louis, the team had plenty of chances to go out and avenge themselves.  The coach himself had the opportunity and the motive to call the players out during the game, but did not do so.  A one-sided loss is never fun, but this season the team has not suffered that many of them.  The team should be called out because there have been too many games where they failed to play all three periods and they have never denied that.  When the Jackets can play hard all three periods of a game and do this on consecutive nights, look out.

Lets beat Vancouver on Tuesday while they are tired and under-manned.  For those of you who liked Kris Beech, get there early and say hello to him during the pre-game warm-up.  You won’t see the Jackets at Nationwide until the 29th.

-Truth Serum


  1. Hey Truth, I am just curious if you think Vyborny’s play has been because of the lack of contract discussion? Do you think that’s weighing on him? Or is it just a coincidence?

  2. I think it is more of a coincidence. Players do play harder during a contract drive and David would be no exception. He is getting older and that may be keeping him from performing at his normal level.

    I also think that the the team has moved to new schemes that he is not quickly adjusting to and the new teammates that he now has have kept him from breaking out.

    He wants to stay another few years in Columbus, but he won’t do it on the cheap. At the same time, Howson has set certain expectation for him, playing the negotiating games that GM’s play. Vyborny will get an offer, but it might not be the one he wants.

  3. I guess I didn’t realize he was 33. He is playing better as of late, I would love to have Vybs stay, but if we could get a better play maker, then I would be ok with losing him. Even though he is one of my favorite players.

  4. Vyborny is not old for hockey and probably has two good years left. He has been playing a lot better the last five games and appears to have put behind whatever was bothering him. We fans don’t know what kind of plan Howson and Hitch have for the team and the style that they will play.

    Personally, I would like to see him stay and enjoy the success of the team because he was the lone bright spot for years. He is not ready for a part-time job at the Genius Bar yet!

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