Thursday, October 11, 2007

Observations from the Phoenix game

Off the top, Shane Doan is a douche. Mr. Doan ranks at the top of my wife's most hated player list - God bless her - and he lived up to her low expectations right away with the cheap shot on Vyborny. Thankfully she was at home watching, so a very limited number of people heard the string of expletives. (And Alex's pre-school friends may learn some new words tomorrow.) After said cheap shot, enter Jared Boll.

Jared fears nothing, least of all Shane Doan and his hit-from-behind tatics. Whether by design or not, Boll and Doan ended up on the ice together about three shifts later...and Jared got a run on Doan, which he put to good use. Later in the shift he tried again, but Doan had a little something in the way of a shoulder for him...the homer in me says the second meeting was a draw.

At the start of camp nobody expects him to stick on the roster into the regular season, and last night he's netting his first goal roaring in on a breakaway. He also got 5 for fighting, so he was an assist away from the famed Gordie Howe hat trick. We'll give him a nod for planting Doan in lieu of the assist.

As for the rest of the Jackets, they were again spotted giving their opponent very little breathing room for most of the game. They forced turnovers, cycled the puck deep, made solid breakout passes, and continued the instant backcheck when losing possession. The last 8 or so minutes of the second period I could have done without, but they righted the ship and poured it on the Yotes in the third period.

So, through three games I like what I'm seeing, my question remains can they sustain it? Beyond that, what injuries can they weather without falling off too far? I like the intensity, the forecheck, the backcheck, and the overall "in your face" type game. I think it'll carry the Jackets further than we've seen in Columbus, but I don't know if it'll be enough. Fingers crossed...

Individual player notes...

Peca - good to finally see him on the ice. Even with his ice time limited, he was a noticeable factor in the game, and was inches from a rebound put-back from having his first goal as a Jacket last night. He shook off the slapshot he blocked, which I think caused more than one gasp in the arena.

Nash - the kid is a monster. Does what he wants, when he wants. Combine him with Modin, and there's a tandem with enough size to scare any defensive paring in the league. Last night they cycled low often, and effectively. Give them a few games together, and it'll turn into goals.

Russell - I like what I'm seeing, but you can see a bit of hesitation in his step. That hesitation has lead to his very limited number of mistakes. The more ice time this kid gets, the more confidence he'll play with. By Christmas we'll forget he's a rookie...maybe by Halloween.

Zherdev - through three games, he might have been our best overall player on the ice. His backchecking has been relentless, and even though he's still not making some passes he should make, he's passing more. Once he makes some of those passes, the ice will open up more for him. I like what I've seen out of Nikki so far.

Too bad we have to wait until Saturday for the next game...

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