Thursday, November 2, 2006

11/1/06 CBJ vs. Colorado

My, my, Jackets. We're getting somewhere. Despite this loss, I saw some very noteworthy improvement. I went into this game expecting the worst, mostly because my last in-arena experience was so disappointing.

Our team took relatively few penalties, spent a substantial amount of time on offense and get this:

Out-shot the Colorado Avalanche.

They really did it. By a lot, too. Total shots were 44-22. It looks like the Jackets figured out how to play a little offense, and for that, I couldn't be happier.

Passing improved dramatically and I actually witnessed the first line doing some things with the puck that I hadn't seen since the Red Wings or Flames last season. Drop passes, tape-to-tape across the ice, and good play in the neutral zone were marks of solid improvement. Even though we were only 1-9 on the Power Play, each advantage brought a barrage of shots to Jose Theodore. He was simply able to stop so many of them. Two of our goals did come during five a side hockey, which is another area the jackets have struggled in every season.

Fedorov got his first goal of the season finally, and was working hard all game long. He managed two near-breakaways, one of which put the Jackets on a power play late in the third. Modin also had an exciting power play goal, shooting it back-hand, behind his back into the net. It was a fun one to watch.

The goals against the Jackets were fair, but at least two of them came as a result of a defensive breakdown. The team may be learning how to play offense, but cannot forget to get back on D and help cover the net. On those two goals, there was no one in between Leclaire and two Avalanche players. The Columbus defense totally left him hanging. A young, inexperienced goaltender such as Leclaire cannot be expected to stop everything by himself.

This is a game that the Jackets could have won. A little bit tighter defense and some more face-off wins on special teams could have turned the tables on the Avalanche. That aside, I'm quite pleased by the effort, focus, and skill demonstrated on the ice by the home team. The entire team played a balanced game, and all players walked away with an E or -1 rating, meaning that no one was on the ice for many of Colorado's goals. Keep it up guys, and we might win a few!

For the Notice Board
The worst offender of skipping out on defensive responsibilities is Rick Nash. The young star needs to remember that there's two sides of the puck. Most of the time that we spent on defense, Nash stayed up at the opponents' blue line, cherry picking and waiting for a pass. If Nash wants to be a big time player, he needs to mature a little and get back to help his team. Nash, you're still On Notice.

Foote is off notice for two reasons. For one, he swept in behind Leclaire to knock a puck out of the crease that was bound for the net. Nice moves, Foote. Secondly, Foote contributed greatly to the offensive effort, taking a few shots and more than once leading the charge across the blue line. A veteran defenseman who can recognize his whole-ice responsibility is an asset to this team.

Klesla, you're still on notice. No additions from this game.

On a side note, I had the best $16 seats I've ever had at Nationwide. I'll request Section 210 Row A next time I attend a game. Great value.

Jackets are now 3-6-1 for 7 pts, tied for 2nd to last in the Western Conference.

Box Score

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