November 4, 2007

Break Up the Blue Jackets

It’s something that the folks in the C-bus have been hoping for out of the Blue Jackets—success. It has come in spurts for the Jackets with some shimmering hope to start with, but then injuries have come to rear their ugly heads. Yet, even though the season is just in its second month, the Blue Jackets are fourth in the West and playing amazing.

Most of that credit obvious goes to Ken Hitchcock and his coaching staff. There has been a noticeable change to the Blue Jackets since Hitchcock has taken over the club and it seems now, everyone is finally buying into the system he’s putting out there. Scott Howson should also be commended for his work. I know I personally question why he wouldn’t go out and do more with the team in free agency, but it seems that the lack of personnel changes has been the best thing for the Jackets, as not to disrupt the team chemistry.

Yet, even with all the credit going behind the scenes, the play on the ice is something that has worked out well for the Jackets. Rick Nash is healthy and showing the skills that made him the #1 pick in 2003 and that gave him the franchise tag for this hockey club. Pascal Leclaire is back from knee surgery and playing out of his mind with five of his eight wins coming by way of shutout. Even Nikolai Zherdev, who is under the microscope with Howson, has played great in the early going with eight points in 12 games. And to show how well the Jackets are playing defensively, only three players on the roster are minuses, with David Vyborny having the highest at minus-3.

The big thing for the Jackets to watch out for is the dreading injury bug. It seems to have haunted their goaltending and top players in the last couple of seasons. Especially being as hot as they are, the pessimist may be waiting for the other shoe to drop and the injuries to roll in. For some reason, it could be the season for the Jackets to be healthy from start to finish and open up a few eyes in the process.

A new start seems to be all this team needed. With Doug MacLean’s reign over, the team can finally start to forge their own path. Especially in a market such as Columbus, one that doesn’t have another major sports team in it, the need to the Jackets to be successful is crucial to the growth of the team and sport. There are plenty of die-hard fans in Columbus who have been waiting for a good season to happen and now it seems to be their time.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Matt said...

As a guy in Toledo who decided to shun the Red Wings in favor of a young-but-struggling Blue Jackets team a few years back, it's good to see the team finally succeed, and to get the respect they so desperately need. It frustrated me that their name always came up when people talk contraction, because the town has really supported the team.

Now if only I could WATCH the games here in Toledo.

Brian said...

Crazy...Pascal Leclaire has 5 shutouts in 9 games! What a pace!