Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Hale of Slap Shot at the NYT,
Hands up out there if you had Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Blackhawks as your candidate for the Calder Trophy this season.
Versteeg, 22, leads N.H.L. rookies in points (22), assists (15) and plus-minus (+13). Versteeg’s route to prominence was a long one. He has escaped major notice because he was drafted four years ago in the fifth round by Boston, who dealt him to Chicago for Brandon Bochenski in February 2007. The Bruins would probably love to redo that deal.
It’s possible that Versteeg’s main challenger could be just as unexpected. Steve Mason, 20, the goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is 6-3-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.18 goals-against average. He also has two shutouts.
continued with some WHC and Phaneuf talk included.
from Craig Custance of the Sporting News,
Brassard is winning 51.3 percent of his faceoffs, compared to 42.5 in 17 games last season. Hitchcock attributes Brassard’s success as one of this season’s top rookies to the fact he took the correct path to the NHL.
Brassard, 21, played four seasons of junior hockey. He spent most of last season in the AHL. This season, the coaching staff is putting him in position to succeed in the NHL.
When you look at which rookies are struggling this season and which are playing well, there’s a common theme. Rookies like Brassard, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Kris Versteeg and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mikhail Grabovski (the top rookie scorers) all spent considerable time in the AHL honing their skills.
It’s not only on the ice, it’s stuff like managing money, managing free time and playing professional hockey without the pressure that comes from being a highly hyped young NHL player.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Disptach,
(Steve) Mason, who posted his first NHL shutout Saturday, will start at 7 tonight when the Blue Jackets play the Phoenix Coyotes in Nationwide Arena. It’ll be his seventh start in the past nine games.
“Right now, we’re going day to day with the situation,” Howson said, delaying a decision on the Blue Jackets’ three-headed goaltender situation for a few more days. Mason, Pascal Leclaire and Fredrik Norrena remain on the active roster.
But when coach Ken Hitchcock was asked to map out the club’s upcoming schedule—seven games in the next 12 days—he mentioned Mason and Leclaire at least sharing duties, a signal that Mason’s next month is certain enough that he could buy a Christmas tree this weekend.
“The kid’s earned it,” Hitchcock said after Mason’s 15-save effort in Atlanta, a 2-0 Blue Jackets win. “What else can you say, but the kid has definitely earned the chance (to start tonight).”
From Ben Marrison, Editor of the Columbus Dispatch:
The caller said she is “sick and tired” of our negative coverage of the team, and said we’re trying to drive them out of town. She was particularly irked by the large photo we ran of goalie Pascal Leclaire in Wednesday’s paper, who gave up 7 goals in a loss Tuesday. She said we had the worst coverage of an NHL team of any newspaper.
Worth a read, given that the matter of “negative” coverage is something that fans around the league often have strong feelings about. And the fact that the ownership company behind The Dispatch also happens to own a 10% stake in the Columbus Blue Jackets and their arena, is another interesting twist.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
There is only one Torres family in the NHL, and their tale is both familiar and unique to the hockey world.
They are a hard-working, fun-loving, tequila-drinking clan that overcame tough financial times and racial prejudice to produce the NHL’s first player of Mexican and Peruvian descent.
“The NHL should do more to promote stories like these,” Blue Jackets center Michael Peca said. “It would help inspire kids of multinational backgrounds and let them know there is room for them in our game.”
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
We did the Oilers and Blue Jackets game Wednesday night. Columbus has two of the best rookies in the NHL in Derek Brassard and Jakub Voracek. Coach Ken Hitchcock, not one to over hype young players, calls them this year’s version of Toews and Kane. Brassard scored Wednesday, and leads all NHL rookies in goals and points. He has arguably been the best player on the team.
more hockey bits…
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Now, Year 8, and what’s up with the Blue Jackets? They’re 3-6. Pascal Leclaire is hurt. They can’t get the puck out of their own end, even with three new defensemen. Fifth-line center Manny Malhotra is in the middle of the No. 1 line. No, wait, Rick Nash is now centering the No. 1 line….
The scene in Nationwide Arena has deteriorated. The Blue Jackets need to win more, of course. But it’s not as much fun in the building as it used to be. The scoreboard gags are tired and stupid. The organ playing “smooth jazz” during a TV timeout in the third period is embarrassing. Who’s in charge of this?
The players must play better, but the life needs to be breathed back into Nationwide Arena again. It used to be a great place to see a game.
The announced attendance in Columbus last night was 10,494.
Are fans taking a wait and see attitude with the Blue Jackets?
from Bill Davidge, Columbus radio analyst at ColumbusBlueJackets.com,
No big deal?…I beg to differ because the points lost now cannot be replaced…. 2-4 points were lost……can you say April and a possible playoff spot up for grabs?.....also the confidence of a team that deserved better is what irks those of us that have been part of trying to build a winning tradition in a struggling infantile franchise. This is called RESPECT…you earn respect…you do not demand it, but you show up and have to earn those calls. We are in year 8 of this program and still fail to EARN the much needed respect in the league to allow a call to possibly slide our way.
Press Release from the Columbus Blue Jackets:
The Columbus Blue Jackets have placed forward Jared Boll on injured reserve (head/neck injury) and recalled forward Nikita Filatov from the Syracuse Crunch, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, General Manager Scott Howson announced today.
Boll, who has registered 11 penalty minutes in three games this season after tallying 5-5-10 and a team-high 226 penalty minutes in 75 games as a rookie in 2007-08, is expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days. Filatov has scored two goals with a +1 plus/minus rating in two games with the Crunch, scoring goals in each of the first two games of his pro career. He tallied 1-0-1 and added a shootout game-winner in two preseason games with the Blue Jackets this year.
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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