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!!



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