Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Full 60 Minutes

Time for home game number two, a thriller for fans of fast paced offense. This time around, the Jackets had a couple of regulars back in the lineup, and they sparkled against the Phoenix Coyotes. Nikolai Zherdev was the story of the night, finally making it back from Russia. The Coyotes learned quickly that Zerdev was back in Columbus, as he put up a two goal night. Rick Nash continues to be the story however, with 3 goals and 3 assists in 3 games. Leclaire once again proved strong for Columbus putting up a remarkable 24 saves on 25 shots. The shots looked great from the other end as the Jackets' offense got off 34 shots on Mike Morrison.

It seems as though all of the things that we've been talking about are all coming around. Not only did the Columbus dominate on offense, but there was the full 60 minute effort from the entire team, something that definitely was missing in Chicago a few days ago. Anson Carter also scored his first of the season, a beautiful bank shot off of newly acquired Phoenix defensman Ed Jovanovski.

One problem that I do see developing, especially later in the season is the lack of minutes Coach Gallant is giving to Jody Shelley. Not that Shelley deserves them, but the days of the hockey goon are numbered. The Coyotes landed quite a few cheap shots in the game, notably on Dan Fritsche, who was injured, but also on Alexander Svitov, who so recently was on the IR list with a shoulder injury, which came dangerously close to being reaggravated. Point being, Shelley got his minutes after these two potential game breakers, but only managed to get one good hip check in toward the end of the second. Where is the team goon when the kids are getting pushed around? Why is Jody Shelley still on the team? I know the fans in Columbus adore Mr. Shelley, but if Coach Gallant doesn't give him ice time, why is he sitting on the bench at all? It seems to me like that spot on the roster could be filled by a useful player to give the top lines a chance to rest for a few minutes. Shelley had 5:02 of ice time, while David Vyborny on the other end topped the list with an unheard of 24 minutes on the ice. Sooner or later our stars are going to need a break.

I hate bursting the bubble of this great win by the Blue Jackets with negativity, but I also see a problem in the officiating. I counted two specific instances where a Columbus player was TACKLED, only to be called for interference. Yes, I said it right, but I'll say it again. A Columbus player was tackled and then went off for interference...HUH? too bad they don't show the penalty replays on the jumbotron.

I will now leave you this fine evening with my new favorite Gretzky quote (Sorry Tyler, I actually found a better one): "First of all, they played a nice game. They're a much better team than last year. I tried to explain that to our guys." Guess they didn't hear your words of wisdom, o' Great One. Better luck next time!

Phoenix Coyotes 1, Columbus Blue Jackets 5

Columbus Record: 2-0-1 5 pts.
(First place in the central division)

Trailing Columbus in the division:
Chicago, 2 pts.
Detriot, 2 pts.
St. Louis, 1 pt.
Nashville, 0 pts.

Box Score

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