A great start to the season for the Jackets- a huge 5-4 overtime win. I missed the first period, but I tuned in to the game on Centre Ice in time for the second. The second period was not kind to the boys, as they spent almost the entire period in their own zone. They got into penalty trouble, including a handful of 5-on-3 situations, one of which led to a Dallas goal.
The first Jackets goal was from my boy Jake Voracek, I would have liked to have seen it myself, but I am happy knowing he didn't allow a monkey to climb on his back. Assisting the goal was Jason Chimera.
The second goal was from newcomer Kristian Huselius- who was largely invisible until then. His stickhandling is off the charts, it certainly makes up for the loss of Zherdev's ability to dangle. Umberger with the helper.
The third goal was off an effort play by the "heavy" line, Andrew Murray scoring with helpers from his linemates Modin and Novotny. Novo's effort in this game was palpable. He is a real hussle player.
The fourth goal of the game was ugly, but Derick Brassard gets on the board with a deflection off of a Dallas skater. The assist came from Voracek. Jake hustled down the ice, deked a defender, and scooted the puck to Brass, who was hovering around the side of the net. The kids looked great together all game. The score- 4-2 good guys.
The Jackets then suffered a brain fart. They allowed two quick goals, and the score was tied. With the start of OT, both times alternated chances, and then Jason Chimera got the puck at centre ice, turned on the jets, and burned into the offensive zone, leaving a drop pass for Captian Columbus- Rick Nash snapped a wrister high glove on Marty Turco, giving the Jackets the win.
Now, for my quick and dirty analysis-
The young guns looked good. Really good. Hitch played them perfectly, giving them a handful of chances 5 on 5, leaning heavily on the vets like Nash, Modin, Juice, Umberger and Novotny. When it came time to get a spark, he threw the kids out there. Brass and Jake had a goal, and were the most noticeable players out there. In OT, Kris Russell looked silky smooth. There was one offensive rush where Russ effortlessly carried the puck in the zone, and gave a crisp pass to Nash, Nash got a shot off but Turco came up with a beauty save. Big Props to the kids.
Also looking good were the Heavies. Modin, Novotny and Murray were effective in their board game, winning a lot of small battles, and showing tons of hussle. They were rewarded with a goal.
Finally- Pascal Leclaire is the main reason that the Jackets were in a position to win. His play in the second period proved that the goaltender is your most important penalty-killer. He absolutely stood on his head. All four goals against were absolutely no fault of his.
The transition game, one of the Jackets' achilles heels in the past- well, forever- was again an issue. Many pucks didn't make it out of the defensive zone, and the players who were supposed to improve that aspect of the team, Tyutin and Backman- arguably struggled the most at getting the puck to the forwards.
The story of the second period was bad penalties taken by the Jackets. Even when they killed them off, their 5 on 5 play suffered because the team couldn't get in a rhythm.
Well, This goes hand in hand with the Bad, but Brass' goal was ugly, but certainly effective. Hitch's expression on the bench during the entire bench certainly qualifies as ugly. He was clearly less than impressed with having to spend so much time killing penalties.
Next up- another home opener for a Pacific Division opponent- tomorrow night against the Phoenix Coyotes.