Monday, October 22, 2007

Jackets 1-1 Weekend, Leclaire's Streakiness and Big Games Upcoming

A one up, one down weekend for the home team. The Jackets marched into Buffalo on Friday and brought home a satisfying win that will tack on another 60 minutes of shutout hockey for Pascal Leclaire. Sunday's affair wasn't quite as successful, however. The Jackets were knocked down by perennial Jackets killer, Marcus Naslund and his Vancouver crew.

Same old Leclaire, or is it a new Pascal?

It's easy to suggest that it's a new day for Pascal Leclaire, as he already has three shutouts on this young season. In those games (vs. Phoenix, Anaheim and Buffalo) he played to the caliber that he has always been said to be capable of. But in the other two games he has started (vs. Colorado and Vancouver) He gave up five and four goals, respectively. In many ways, this is the same streaky #31 we've been watching for years.
Leclaire has been known to have had a lot of mediocre performances interlaced with flashes of brilliance. Over time, the flashes have become more common, but the mediocrity still lingers, waiting for an early goal or two to open the flood gates. If Leclaire and his defense could get a stronger grip on consistency, the chances of pulling off a win would increase dramatically.

To be fair, it may not be just Leclaire to fault for some of the losses. This team has always had a tough time playing from behind. It's as if giving up a goal or two early just breaks their heart and kills their morale. Sometimes, there's just no coming back. The Jackets are 3-3-1 thus far- a record for which I am pleased. However, their 3 wins are all Leclaire's shutouts. That means the team is 0-3-1 when the other team scores at all.

Upcoming Action

The Jackets open up division play in Chicago tomorrow night. Eleven of the next sixteen games (through most of November) are division opponents, including six games against the Blackhawks and Blues, whom the Jackets should have the mettle to beat. With this many critical games coming up, the Jackets could very well make or break their season by Thanksgiving.

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