Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Buzzing At The Door

Count me in. Open the door to the bandwagon and let me hop on. Also, wake me, if it’s a dream but I think not. With the hockey season entering it’s second month, the Columbus Blue Jackets are a team with a purpose. And that purpose isn’t to sweep the cellar floors again this year.

After thirteen games, the Jackets have an 8-3-2 record and are in second place behind those pesky Red Wings of Detroit. They have done it with goaltending, Pascal Leclaire, who has led the NHL in goals-against average (1.12), save percentage (.957) and shutouts (five). And a defense, which is allowing fewer shots on goal. They have outscored their opponents, 37-23. Twenty-three goals (21, plus two shootout goals) in 13 games for a 1.77 GAA, and toss out the 5-1 and 4-1 losses and it’s much better than that. They have improved their penalty killing, which is at or near the top in the NHL.

And Rick Nash is, well, Rick Nash again. Nash has 10 goals, 2 game winning goals, 6 assists, and a 16.7 shooting percentage, placing him near the top of the list in a few categories. He seems to be enjoying himself and it is helping the team with some aggressive play.

Sergei Fedorov is riding a four-game point streak (1-3-4) and has points in five of his last six games (2-3-5) since enduring a six-game drought. Fredrik Norrena is quietly having an outstanding second NHL season as he has posted a 1-1-2 record with a 2.41 GAA and .919 SV% in four game. Manny Malhotra, Jason Chimera, and Nikolai Zherdev have contributed offensively as well and D Jan Hejda leads the club in plus/minus (+6) and hits (26).

Coach Ken Hitchcock defensive system and the overall Blue Jackets' aggressive play will keep them in the race for the Central Division title. But, all the teams in this division have improved over last year and this season promises to be no cakewalk. And then there are the Wings, who have owned the lease to the penthouse apartment for several years. They’re still not ready to pack up and move out just yet.

That being said, the state of hockey in the Buckeye State looks much better than in recent years. And they know the Red Winds can’t be on top forever.

Could they?

~ ogre1kanobe