Every Tuesday, WFNY’s The 5-Hole brings you up to date with the goings-on of the CBJ…
The Week That Was
Week: 1-1-0, 2 points
Overall: 9-8-3, 21 points (T3rd division; T8th conference)
Oh, but this week you get two (well, maybe one and a half) posts for the price of one (I forget how much that costs… anyway…). The Jackets’ two games this past week put them at 20 for the year, and The 5-Hole likes to adopt Ken Hitchcock’s break downs of the eight 10-game mini-seasons (check out First 10 here). It was another roller coaster week for the Jackets, to say the least.
The best summary of Tuesday night’s game I can offer is that I was mad at first, because when I flipped on the TV I found out the game was not televised. Then I went online and watched the highlights and read the recap, and I was no longer sad, having not wasted my time. Now, Saturday’s game, on the other hand, was part of a welcome respite from the world of Blowouts going on all over the sports world that day. Steve Mason earned his first career NHL shut-out, and The Captain continued his five-game scoring streak by notching another goal and assisting on the empty-netter in the third period. Pascal LeClaire started Tuesday night’s debacle, and had trouble from the outset. His team didn’t give him much help, and the nearest they could get was 4-2 in the third period when Edmonton unleashed a barrage to quickly make it 7-2.
In roster news, winger Derek Dorsett was recalled from Syracuse to fill defenseman Rostislav Klesla’s roster spot, after Klesla was placed on IR with his high ankle sprain. The team loves Dorsett’s energy level and physical playing style, evidenced by the fact that they didn’t make a move defenseman-for-defenseman. There has still been no move made, however, on the goalie front, as the team is still carrying all three goalies. Fredrik Norrena has voiced his frustrations about not playing, but the club isn’t going to play him above Mason and LeClaire right now. One would suspect that with four games in a six-day span, the team will finally be forced to make a move one way or another, just to get some fresh bodies. The trick is that Norrena would have to clear waivers to be sent to Syracuse.
After a light stretch of games, the Jackets play a full slate with four games this week, three of which are on home ice. They kick it off Wednesday night when they host Phoenix, followed up by a trip to Detroit on Friday. They are back home on Saturday with Washington, and then finish up the week on Monday by hosting Vancouver. As always, you can snag tickets through the team’s website.
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla was placed in Injured Reserve because of his high-ankle sprain. His spot was taken by winger Derek Dorsett.
Quotes of the Week
We’re really inching toward being a good team. We’re doing some good things now to get ourselves to the next level. –Coach Ken Hitchcock, after Saturday’s win in Atlanta
Second 10: A Corner Turned, A Possible Torch Passed
5-2-3 – 13 points
After a slow start, things leveled up and started upward for the Jackets. Some of the trends have been there for awhile (the two rookies has been solid for the entire season thus far, Derick Brassard moreso than Jakub Voracek, who has cooled a bit), The Captain has worked through his own slumps to regain the form we expected the last few games. The Jackets continue to score, and they continue to struggle on both the Power Play as well as killing off penalties of their own.
But, two things happened in this second 10 games that have helped them get back into the thick of things: they got healthy, and their defense finally started to come together better. The Jackets are still a team trying to find themselves, in a sense; 10 of the 20 regulars weren’t on the team last season, and the rash of injuries early hampered their efforts to build team chemistry. This team definitely still has off nights; the difference these past ten games is that they seem to weather those bad patches much better than Jackets teams of the past. After Tuesday night’s clunker, for example, the team came out focused on Saturday and played one of the most dominating games I’ve ever seen them play. More to that point, the perennial thorn in their paw–playing on the road–has actually been better this year (they are 4-4-2 on the road, currently).
They’ve come together a bit, and turned a corner. But, it’s more than that. We’re finally seeing the fruits of the arduous, painful team-building process of an expansion team that hired a new GM a little more than a year ago.
I don’t know what else can be said about this kid that I haven’t said in this space already. He leads the entire team with 20 points and a +9 rating, and let’s not forget that he’s only 20 years old. GM Scott Howson doesn’t get credit for drafting this guy, but Ken Hitchcock definitely gets credit for helping to develop him along the way.
Another 20-year-old, Mason made his long-awaited NHL debut during this stretch of games, and roared out of the gate by winning his first three starts. His overall record is 4-1-1, which is about the best possible start the club could have asked for. If Pascal LeClaire continues to be inconsistent, we very well might be seeing the passing of the torch to Mason.
The Jackets are scoring at a clip that we haven’t seen in many years here in Columbus–59 goals in 20 games. If they can work to shore up some of their weaknesses (power play, penalty killing, and taking penalties in general), they have the fire power to make some noise in the Western Conference if they can keep up the effort of these last 10 games.