Monday, October 17, 2005

Where does it stop?

No, not the losing...although it would be nice if that stopped soon, too.

But, the injury bug, when will it move on to a different team? First Ricky, then Rusty, then Brule, and now Fritsche. Awkward fall, carried off the ice...rumor has it it's his ankle. How long do we lose THIS guy who was playing well and figured into the Jackets success? 4 weeks? 6? 8? Good thing we have all these spare forwards at the moment. But, Fritsche's fire will be missed...

Hopefully four days off does the Jackets some good. Staring at a homestand that starts with a Sharks team that just tore them limb for limb, two games against the always tough and division leading Wings, followed by a game with the currently unbeaten Preds isn't much of a run to "get well" against.

While we're asking "where does it stop," next on the list is the parade to the penalty box...where does THAT stop? Killing 12 minutes of penalties in a period has happened too many times for it to just be coincidence. These guys need to start moving the feet and get in position - hooking, holding, and interference are on the box score way too often. Just because the penalty is working pretty well doesn't mean we have to "showcase" it every game.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

0-1 Because of 0-fer 9

Wow, what can be said about the Blue Jackets power play last night in Washington? Nothing, really, because that's what it produced. No goals and barely even any shots on goal. At one point the Jackets had 3 power play shots in 7 power play opportunities. 3 shots in (roughly) 14 minutes of power play time? Ouch.

Conversely, 5 on 5 the Jackets looked great. Possibly as good as they ever have. Great puck possession, good passing, good cycling, just an all around solid 5 on 5 performance. Why, then, couldn't they do that same stuff with an extra player?

Other than the power play, the game wasn't that bad of a debut for the Jackets. Dan Fritsche proved he should be on the roster, and possibly be centering Nash and Vyborny some time late next week. Nash proved his ankle needed a little more rest. (Rest it Friday, too,'s a long season.) Zherdev continued to prove he thinks there's an i in team...must be lost in the translation. He showed flashes of genius, as always, but the total lack of effort is troubling. He needs to go to the Dan Fritsche "This is how you move your feet" school.

Another source of learning for Zherdev was on the other bench in his countryman Alexander Ovechkin. WOW is about all that you can use to describe this guy. While the media is still swooning over everything Crosby (and his one assist in the Devs PASTING of the Pens), Ovechkin has quietly been overlooked. That's not going to last long, he's the best player the Caps have on the ice right now. He'll need some help because it's a long season, but he's the real deal.

One other note: Not a huge fan of the shootout (for the "individual" reasons behind it), but glad to see Dany Heatley officially win the first shootout in NHL history last night. Couldn't have happened to a better guy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Brule is in...

As of this afternoon, Gilbert Brule is officially a Blue Jacket for the upcoming portion of the season. That he signed and it went to the wire is not shocking, so did Nash and Klesla in their respective signings. (Each for a lot more cash, too...hello new CBA.)

So, now that Brule is in the fold, and you don't sign him to scratch him, who DOES get the scratch?

My guess at this point is Geoff Sanderson. Don't get me wrong, Sandy's still got it...especially in the wheels department...but coming out of preseason, he doesn't have it like those he's competing with. Down the left side he's already behind Nash and Zherdev which puts him on the third line at best. The third line is the likely home for Brule, too, as he'll likely get the same treatment Ricky did his rookie year.

Another option is to scratch Shelley and bump Sandy down to the fourth line, but relegating him to the checking line could be worse than just scratching him. Afterall, it worked so well for him in Buffalo that we landed him in '00.

Two players I don't think are scratchable to make room for young Gilbert are Tyler Wright and Trevor Letowski. These two kill penalties WAY too well to be in the press box in the "New NHL."

So, Brule's on-ice audition starts Wednesday night in Washington. All the best to him, we'll see how it shakes out.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Welcome Back Danny

OK, I'll admit it...I'm a homer. Big time when it comes to the local NHL franchise, and moreso with our Ohio born draftee, Danny Fritsche.

Two years ago, Danny was a big surprise coming out of camp and made the big club. He stuck around until it was time to join the US Junior team, which he helped win a gold medal in Finland. After returning, he went back to juniors, no point in hanging around Columbus since the Jackets had just made the coaching change, and the season was in "Salvage Some Pride" mode by mid-January.

Last season, he had another shoulder issue, but apparently unrelated to those before. He stared out in Sarnia, but was traded to the London Knights not long after he returned from his second stint with the US Junior team. While with London, he got valuable seasoning without worrying why he wasn't in the NHL. He won a Memorial Cup, and in the process was key in shutting down this Crosby guy (you may have heard of him) in the final, where he had a goal and two assists.

So, fast forward to this season, and it looks like Danny will be ready for Prime Time. He did a fine job in the rookie tournament in Traverse City, but came out of the tournament with a couple nagging injuries. Those kept him out of the first week of training camp, but he was finally cleared to skate last week. Just in time for a trip to Pittsburgh to make his case to stay in the NHL again.

WHAM...7-2 Pens.

OK, he's got another shot, this time in Detroit.

POW...9-0 Wings.

The flu ripped through the team, so the squads sent to both games were pretty thin. Nothing against Fritsche, but those were two tough games to make your preseason debut.

Finally, no more flu, a few more vets, and a home game in Columbus. David Vyborny gets out of the box about 6 minutes into the game, gets the puck, flips it over the defense and Fritsche is light is on a few moments later, and it's 1-0 good guys. The impressive thing about it, he pulled away from the defenseman as he got deeper in the zone. The kid has always played a no bull s**t type game, taking it at guys rather than around him, so the speed never really came into play or got noticed. It got noticed last night.

Later in the game he was out on a power play, and was the only guy on the weak side. He worked to the open space (hopefully Zherdev was paying attention at the time) and got a nice pass and a good shot off. Didn't score on that one (did later, didn't get to see it, though), but showed his just all around hockey sense. His play with the puck is great, but his play away from the puck was noteworthy. No floating at the blue line, no watching the point man, his feet never stopped moving and he got himself into open ice to receive a pass.

So, we finally get to see Danny on the ice in Columbus, and it appears he's grown up nicely while he was gone. I can't see how he won't make the team, and I can see him moving up the depth chart pretty quickly if he keeps playing like he did on Friday.