The Lorenzi Line
by Nicholas Lorenzi on 12/02/11 at 08:51 PM ET
Good golly Miss Molly! Like a roller coaster this season has been climbing to the top of the hill. The Blue Jacket’s cart has now been speeding down that hill and making all its riders high on adrenaline. With the acquisition of Letestu and Nikitin our luck has changed. Due to Scott Howson’s brilliance these two players meshed so well with our Jackets that they turned their combined 0-1-1 season into a combined 4-7-12 after joining Columbus. Already Nikitin has topped Umberger in points with 8; R.J. is one of our players that desperately needs to turn it on.
Our very own Rick Nash is showing up to play with 4-2-6 in the last seven games. The efforts made by him when he is being shell shocked by three players as he walks into the slot still aren’t as keen as they used to be. Needless to say I would appreciate it if you stop going for the highlight reel Rick; we don’t need a Lebron complex plaguing our fragile bunch of soldiers. But hey, that deflection last night was absolutely sick! Just keep doing what you’re doing around the net; you’re really starting to spark hope in your city. You’re leading the club in goals but you’re also winning the worst plus/minus with -12. We’re lucky enough that your line mates, Carter and Prospal, are showing up and making plays on net; Carter with 3-2-5 and Prospal with 1-5-6 in the last seven games.
Columbus has been reborn but it isn’t their forwards as much as their defense that is making this possible. In the last eight games they have a combined 3-17-20 and a +6. They are creating opportunities by throwing well placed pucks from the blue line and being really cautious to keep it onsides when the puck is traveling to neutral ice. Their getting in front of the puck has made Curtis Sanford’s job hella easier. Don’t get me wrong, he’s doing incredible but I am positive that if Mason has this defense in front of him early in the season he be holding a 3.63 GAA.
Our boys are killing it in the face-off department too winning 41 out of 66 face-offs last night. This alone is giving us the chance for the initial volley that turns into a recurring forecheck; that is until a dump and a line change is made. The real kicker is that in the last seven minutes of play against Calgary last night Columbus won 6 of the last 9 face-offs in their two goal comeback effort; the last was with an extra man and an empty net.
3-3 that went to OT with every faceoff won by Columbus but only two shots against Calgary’s five. When the overtime came to be a shootout so did the chills down every Blue Jacket fan’s spine. Sanford proved that he could play in a shootout that night after he stopped all three shots and Rick Nash popped their third shot past Kiprusoff.
It only gets better tonight against the only other team I have a soft spot for, the Edmonton Oilers. The news of Kristian Huselius being activated after an injury he received while training over the summer is like a breath of fresh air. Last year he gave Columbus his all with five points after five games but a lower body injury sidelined him and allowed him only 39 games last season. This player isn’t anything but a frail sniper who totals 192-261-451 in 660 NHL games; 58 of those points are on the power play.
Columbus needs this sniper injection like a beefcake needs steroids to stay where he wants physically. It’s been a bumpy road on with a 75.9% on the penalty kill (29th) and 12.6% on the power play (24th). With Huselius out there Columbus can only hope for the best against this Oilers team and their 21% PP (4th) and 84.9% PK (9th). The combined forces of rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopskins, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Smyth and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin has made the Oilers a competitor in the Western Conference. Already rookie Ryan N-H has 13 power play points with 3-10. The ability to make tape to tape passes under pressure will take toll on Columbus’s performance in front of their own crease. Garbage goals like those are the ones that will leak pass Sandford; don’t test his lightning fast glove, the chances of beating that are almost as good as Columbus leading the Conference anytime soon.
Currently Columbus stands with 7-15-3-17 after 25 games, still in dead last. In the last ten they have more than doubled their initial 5 points by gaining 12 points with a 5-3-2 record. The ten before this last bunch they were 2-8-0-4 after squeaking by Detroit and making Anaheim look like those kids from the beginning of the Ducks movies; you know, when they are absolute crap. There are still 57 games to be played and 114 possible points to be gained. Now we’re at Mission Impossible time for the post season run by Columbus, in the next 57 Columbus needs 78 points or 39 wins to end up with 95 points after game 82.
If Columbus makes Sanford the starting goaltender long enough for Mason to confuse himself into his rookie mindset then they may stand a chance. If we see Steve any time soon it’ll most likely be either against Montreal or Vancouver; especially after the 4-1 loss to the Canucks last Tuesday.
We’re embarking on the future of Columbus for the coming years, after the New Year hopefully whatever fire that is fueling the Jackets will still be burning hot, optimistically, till June.
My lack of writing has been due to the holidays. I hope everyone had a good one! I’ll be on the “ICE CAP” on SiriusXM Satellite Radio-Canada at 7est tonight talking about the Blue Jackets. Tune in if you’re one of the few who actually has XM radio.
Update: Here is the radio broadcast I was a part of yesterday:
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