Monday, December 11, 2006

Turned Tables

How 'bout dem Jackets?

Last night's 6-2 victory at home against the Ottawa Senators is the latest of what is now a four game winning streak. In those same four games, the Jackets have outscored opponents 18-3. An unbelievable stat when we recall what this team looked like before thanksgiving.

I watched all or part of this winning streak, and I can firmly say that is coming as a result of a full team effort. Across the board, each line is making its presence known, and usually felt as well. Checking has improved, shooting has been more numerous and more accurate, and the special teams lines have been phenomenal. Last night against the Sens, the Jackets managed five power play goals. Five. Up til now, it's been hard to get five goals at all, let alone from special teams. Needless to say, the five power play goals performance is a franchise record.

Fritsche has been playing like a man possessed- I've been blown away by how much of an impact he has made on recent games. For someone as young and relatively under the radar, he's certainly doing his share. Frtische doesn't have the spotlight in the way that Zherdev and Nash do, but he certainly knows how to control the puck.

Whatever magic Hitchcock is using, it's working. Plays are being made that wouldn't have stood a chance a month ago. The forwards are moving the puck up ice and not seeing it go the other way immediately. Defensemen are getting into the play, and Hainsey is making plays from the point. Eriksson too is having some of his best career games.

The down side of last nights big game, which included six Jacket goal, a failed Ottawa penalty shot and five minute major penalty against the Sens, was injuries. Foote and Leclaire both came off the ice earlier in pain. Foote is departing with the team today to Dallas for this weeks' road trip, but Leclaire is staying put for treatment.

Pascal Leclaire came out of the net in the second with what has only been described thus far as a 'lower body injury'. In his place, Thomas Popperle has been called up from Syracuse. While Leclaire's injury does create some concern, I have confidence that Norrena will to a fine job in his place, and hopefully this able Jackets defense can provide enough cover for Popperle if he starts.
Get the full story on Jacket injuries from last night from Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch.

Despite the great play by the penalty kill lines, the next thing Hitch needs to work on is keeping our players out of the penalty box. We've been struggling with hooking and tripping calls in particular.

Jackets are now 10-16-2 with 22 pts and are 4th in the division.

Sat: Jackets win 5-1 at St. Louis
Box Score

Sun: Jackets win 6-2 at home v. Ottawa
Box Score

***(Update: Contrary to the Dispatch article, reports that G Ty Conklin, not Thomas Popperle, will join the team for the road trip. Also, D Filip Novak will travel. He'll play pending on Foote's injury)***

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