Death Cab for Woody

Friday, October 12, 2007

There is Hockey in Columbus - Vol I

What a difference a summer can make for a young team with a disciplinarian for a coach.

I saw something on opening night that I havent seen since the inception of this actual "breakout" with all of the players on the ice skating towards the opposing team's net with...wait for it...wait for it....SPEED!!!

It has been chronicled over and over again that Hitchcock wanted these guys in shape for this season and now we are seeing why this was so important to him and the performance of this team. I am not sure that they can keep up this pace of forechecking, backchecking and overall effort, but it is very refreshing to see a Columbus team go out on the ice and expect to matter the opponent.

Obviously, Hitchcock has made some strategic changes to the CBJ attack this year, as the defensemen are jumping into the play a lot more and collapsing down low in the attack zone, which would have put the fear of god into any CBJ fan over the last 6 seasons. This team is only destined to be a successful as its defense will take them..on both ends of the ice. Other changes inlclude the "chip and chase" strategy instead of the "dump and chase" strategy utilized over the last few years, which accentuates the speed of some of the smaller forwards (ie Brule, Vyborny, Fritsche) and protects them from getting too roughed up in the corners. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is not easy to change directions for defensemen...even for the best of them when a small forward is flying by you at top speed.

From an individual stanpoint, I havent seen a player that has caused me to want to break something in my living room or change the channel, due to lack of effort or hustle. Players like Zherdev have played hard...even after a "so so" camp where it looked like he was soon to be on the trading block.

Way too early player reviews:

Nash = Stud. I dont think I need to say anything else. If you dont believe me, watch the Phoenix game where neither Jovo or Derek Morris could not move Nasher off of the puck. He will be a force this year..he already is.

Vyborny = See Vyborny's last 3 years in Columbus. They look eerily similar to this year.Most consistent CBJ player on the ice every game...and it looks like he is starting to want to shoot more.

Zherdev = "Less Toe Drag = More Effective Tricky Nick." This year's edition backchecks like a maniac.

Chimera = The best move of the Dougy Mac Era. This guy is Kris Draper with scoring touch. Once he gets his wheels moving, there isnt anyone that can stop him going to the net.

Malhotra/Fritsche = These guys need to pick up their games. Peca looked good in his first game back and Brassard will be ready after Christmas to contribute to this team

Boll = Think Blake Sloan with talent and skating ability...and he didnt go to Michigan. Can you imagine him and Picard on the same line together? Whoa...

Hejda/Novotny = Thank you Mr Howson. You have already proved your worth in bringing talented players into the organization that aren't named LaChance and Cassels.

Hainsey = DCfW whipping boy has started playing strong on both ends of the ice. His offensive game was always a known commodity...hopefully he can keep up the defensive play as the season moves forward.

Kris Russell = This guy will end up being a Calder candidate...I hope. It is nice to see a non-first round draft pick finally flourish for the CBJ. It is tiring seeing the Red Wings bring a new Kronwall-type player to its roster season after season. Power-play QB of the future for the CBJ, which is very exciting. Hopefully, his body can hold up with the amount of beatings that he is sure to take on the blueline. I dont look forward to games against Iginla, Tckachuk, or Bertuzzi for Kris....they will be brutal.

Fedorov = Starting to look like the dominant player that he was in the 90's when he wants to...which is for about 2-3 minutes a game. I'll give him a break, but there seems to be a lot of #2 Centers on this team...

Peca = When this guy is finally brought into the rotation of the top 6 forwards, the CBJ will be an even better defensive team. It is exciting to have a proven commodity at the center position...that is consistent.

LeClaire = 'Le Grinch' has been stellar so far this year through two games and hasnt even seen a puck laying behind him in a game yet. This is sure to change, but Pascal has been aggressive and is playing his angles very well. He still has the fastest legs in the league.

Hopefully, the CBJ will continue its fantastic play tonight in Colorado. This should be a good game...

Go CBJ! and dag gummit...Go Tribe!!


State of the "Diss" Union

Ohio State is 6-0 (probably 7-0 after this weekend). After this weekend, the Bucks will attempt to navigate the “murderer’s row” section of its schedule.

Understandably, the "IRA-esque" section of the “SEC Fandom” has deemed OSU and the entire B10 conference as garbage. Calls of “Kentucky or South Carolina would dominate that conference of slow northern Yankees” have emanated from below the Mason-Dixon line since January 8th and Michigan’s colossal collapse against App State and trunk-f*cking by Oregon have done the rest of us simple plodding Midwest folk no favors.

I really don’t want to bother with these types of arguments, as it is a simple fact that OSU will most likely make the MNC game in New Orleans if it finishes undefeated. LSU’s home schedule of tough games and away schedule of VMI 5 or 6 times will likely not provide any challenges, until a neutral field contest for the SEC Championship game. Cal still has some tough games, but the preliminary SOS ratings will most likely favor OSU if both schools win out (HT: TellShow).

I have seen some articles making mention of the idea of LSU losing in the SECCG and whether or not they will still deserve to be in the MNC game. Simple Answer: No. There is past precedence for this type of loss and with teams of this caliber. Look no further than Ohio State in 1998. A late season loss (not even the last game of the season) and the team never had a chance to get back in the MNC discussion. Why should someone get a pass now? ESPN will have its say on this topic if it occurs and, of course, no one is allowed to have an opinion that goes against the mighty gauntlet of college football knowledge employed by ABC/ESPN. Ultimately, the SEC could get its way in the polls through public opinion, which is so ass-backwards right now that SEC fans and media could make an argument that the SEC should have a permanent seat in the MNC and Craig James, Rece Davis, and our own Herb Kirkstreit would nod in agreement so quickly that they wouldn’t even know which side of Slive’s scrotum is hitting them, during “ESPN’s Teabag Saturday” in early December.

Winning out for OSU or Cal will not be an easy task. Too bad either school doesn’t have the media on its side in case of a late season loss, which will, in all likelihood, be afforded to LSU, if it stumbles. This is sad…this is SEC homerism. Almost makes you wish that Notre Dame was decent so some of the homerism could rationed to more than one set of schools. Oh yeah…one more thing. How does the entire conference get credit for it’s set of two exceptional teams (UF and LSU)? That would be like the Columbus Blue Jackets taking credit for the Red Wings dominance in the Central Division for the last eleventy-billion years or something. The fact that I have to root for the schools in my conference that I have perennially hated during their OOC schedule makes me want to puke. Fore the love of god, I had to root for UM when they played in the standard “meteor” game against Notre Dame this year. FU SEC…FU for making me stoop down to this level. You make me feel like a Red Sox fan rooting for the Yankees, which is just wrong in so many ways.