Friday, September 23, 2005

Zherdev has me wondering

After watching the Jackets play the Wings Thursday night I came away wondering if this is the real Nikolai Zherdev or the preseason "meh" Nikolai Zherdev.

Far too many times away from the puck he just stood there with his stick at his waist watching the play. At one point, all he had to do was crash the net and he would have had a rebound with Jimmy Howard pulled way out of position. But, instead he decided to hang five feet inside the blue line.

Movement away from the puck is too big in the NHL for Zherdev to be watching at the blue line, even if it is preseason. Gilbert Brule isn't standing around, this kid's motor never stops. Granted, he's trying to impress, so he should be going all out. Maybe a better example at this stage is David Vyborny not mailing in his preseason games and watching the other four guys on the ice play.

I get how a player could decide not to take preseason serious, nothing counts, and they're throwing shootouts in just for fun. But, habits can be formed, and bad habits at that. Nicky's defense leaves a lot to be desired, and in the "New NHL" there are a ton of penalties being called, so his ice time will be limited by each kill we have. Does he want to spend the ice time he's actually getting loafing at the blue line?

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