Kukla's Korner Hockey
from E.J. Hradek at ESPN,
Halloween is a time for masks, right?
That being the case, I guess I should talk about the two masked men who’ll likely face one another Wednesday night in Hollywood.
Those two goaltenders are the Kings’ Jason LaBarbera and the Blue Jackets’ Pascal Leclaire. The Kings bring a four-game winning streak into their meeting with the Jackets, who are on their own three-game roll.
I’ll start with the 24-year-old Leclaire, who might be living up to the billing that led the Jackets to select him with the eighth overall pick in the 2001 draft.
from The Columbus Dispatch,
There seems to be a consensus, however, that faceoffs include ample strategy, gamesmanship and as much cheating as any other facet of the sport.
“I don’t think the average fan understands them,” said Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis, a center who played 23 NHL seasons. “They aren’t glamorous, but people inside the game know how important they are.”
The Blue Jackets, enjoying their best start in franchise history, never have finished higher than 12th in faceoff percentage. Three times in six seasons they ranked in the bottom third of the league.
From the Columbus Dispatch,
In crafting a franchise-best 6-3-1 start, the Blue Jackets have shown three traits—three strengths they can count on when the puck drops every night.
1. Playing hard
2. Playing stifling team defense
3. Killing penalties
from the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets have allowed three power-play goals this season, and coach Ken Hitchcock remembers all three of them.
“Two of them were a problem with us rotating,” he said, “and the other was a lack of communication on zone entry.”...
“We wanted to create a terrific sense of pride in killing penalties. Never mind giving up goals … we don’t like to give up scoring chances.”
from Stats Blog,
Heading into the 2007-08 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets had recorded just 22 shutouts in their six NHL campaigns, and never more than five in a single season. The Blue Jackets, who recorded just four shutouts in all of 2006-07, set an NHL record with their fourth in October Thursday night.
Since the NHL began scheduling October games 65 years ago, at the start the 1942-43 season, no team had blanked its opponents more than three times for the month.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
As (Andy) Murray said, “I thought there was parity there last year, too, between Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis. The only difference is that the parity is at a higher level.”
The three teams were a collective 79-77-21 after their coaching changes last season. They are 15-11-1 this morning. The Central Division is no longer comprised of Detroit, Nashville, Curly, Larry and Moe. The Stooges are gone.
As Hitchcock said, “Somebody has to make the playoffs other than Detroit. Whether you get a second- or a third-place team in the playoffs, it’s going to be somebody.
From Rusty Miller at the AP,
It was the type of move a player usually tries late in a long practice. The right situation presented itself in a game for Columbus’ Rick Nash, however, and it will undoubtedly be a staple on all the highlight shows.
Nash scored in his fifth straight game, this one an almost indescribable goal on a shot between his legs…
Watch the video…
from The Other Paper,
Nash, an alternate captain, spent less than three minutes Sunday answering questions about the Jackets’ ineffective power play. Then the media horde—all seven reporters—moved across the room to see what team captain Adam Foote had to say.
In contrast, just three miles or so to the north, five times that number of reporters gather for comments from Ohio State’s quarterback every week. In fact, more reporters gang up on OSU’s third-string running back than on Nash at home games.
Playing hockey in Columbus is no way to become a celebrity. If Nash were playing in Canada, there’s no doubt he’d have fame to match his $5.5 million salary. It’s common for 30 TV cameras to crowd into Air Canada Centre in Toronto after Maple Leafs games.
from Adam Kimelman at NHL.com,
Hitchcock did catch a Springsteen show at the United Center in Chicago on Oct. 22, so he was able to scratch that itch, but it was a chance meeting a few years ago in Philadelphia that turned Hitchcock into a fan of the New Jersey-born singer-songwriter.
Thanks to a friendship between Flyers equipment manager Anthony “Rock” Oratorio and a guitar technician who was part of Springsteen’s tour group, Hitchcock was able to attend a Springsteen sound check the day of a show at Lincoln Financial Field.
from Puck-rakers, a Blue Jackets blog at the Columbus Dispatch,
Hitchcock on Kane: “(The coaching staff) was trying to figure out a player you could compare him to. We haven’t found the right guy yet. If you’re sitting here in Chicago, a hockey fan, you’ve got to be thinking that you’ve got a chance over the next 10 or 15 years to watch this guy play hockey. He has an ability like very few players.”
Michael Peca on Kane: “I think he’s dynamite. He’s got that nose for the puck. I love watching guys like that. I know he was No. 1 overall and there are a lot of expectations. But a lot of people like to knock the little guys. I’d take his skill over the size of some guys in this league. He’s going to be a 100-point guy year after year after year.”
more on the Blue Jackets
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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