Jackets disappoint, prompting roster change

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Ohio Jones, Dec 5, 2005.

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  1. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets played a dominating 30 minutes last night against the visiting Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately, your average HFNHL game is at least 60 minutes long, and by the time the Jackets decided to show up, the Oilers already had a comfortable 3-0 cushion. Only a PP goal (on their first man advantage of the season) at the half-way point of the second period woke the slumbering Jackets, who then poured in 4 goals (while allowing one) to settle for a split decision in their home opener.

    Columbus may be one market where fans will be slow to return; the home opener saw fewer than 14,000 people in attendance, resulting in a rather lackluster atmosphere for the first game to count at Nationwide since the Jackets' game 6 victory over Detroit in the '04 playoffs. After spending heavily to assemble a veteran roster, ownership will be putting pressure on GM Doug Emerson to improve the team's 0-1-1 start as a means of generating greater attendance. As it is, the Jackets stand to lose money on the season, and they don't have money to lose...

    Perhaps with that in mind, a long-rumoured deal finally came down yesterday as the Jackets shipped winger Niklas Sundstrom and recently acquired depth defenceman Josef Boumedienne to Toronto for 33-year-old scoring winger Slava Kozlov. Sundstrom never quite lived up to expectations in Columbus, while Kozlov, as an Unrestricted Free Agent, was not in the future plans of a rebuilding Toronto team.

    The key to the deal may be first-year pro goaltender Corey Crawford, who was included in the package to Toronto. Crawford is widely considered to have legit starting goaltender potential, and was widely considered to be among Columbus' top 3 or 4 prospects. Fans of the team have to be excited at acquiring someone with Kozlov's skill, but nevertheless have to be worried that Emerson has given up yet another piece of the team's future in an effort to contend today.

    "I understand people's concerns: we like Corey very much, and quite frankly we were loathe to trade him, but that was the price, and given our depth in net, it was a price we felt we could afford."

    Emerson seems to have been referring to the mob of young AHL netminders making names for themselves in the Columbus system, including Mike Smith, Martin Houle and Tuomas Tarkki. And Martin Brodeur's backup, Mike Leighton, is only 24. As long as one of those players turns out to be starter material, the Jackets should be OK. But Crawford was considered to have the greatest potential of the lot, which is what has prompting concern from some observers.

    A late flight after last night's game saw the Jackets take a light practice in Edmonton, where they face the Oilers again tonight in the second part of this home-and-home series. Kozlov arrived with them, and lined up in practice on the wing with Jeremy Roenick and Shawn McEachern, giving the Jackets two swift, skilled offensive units. Mark Bell joined Mike York and Kirk Maltby, while Mike LeClerc took Sundstrom's spot on the right side with Henrik Sedin and Jeff Cowan. Head Coach Mike Babcock is expected to run with those lines for tonight's game, until he gets an opportunity to see how Kozlov works within the Jackets' system.

    Babcock's first order of business, however, has to be figuring out how the Jackets have given up 7 goals in 2 games, despite what is supposed to be a tough, defence-first blueline and an all-world goaltender.

    "We need a commitment from all our players", Babcock told reporters, "not just our defence, to keeping the puck out of our net. If our forwards aren't backchecking, then they aren't doing their jobs. It's early yet, but these are the sorts of problems that can linger if not quickly addressed. But I'm glad to see that we didn't give up, we got our heads together and took control of that game, and that's a good sign. Now we just need a consistent effort."

    Brodeur is expected to get the stat in net again despite playing twice in the last 48 hours, with Babcock apprently hoping the extra work will give his franchise goalie the chance to regain his focus and timing.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus Discoverer
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2005
  2. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    The so-called "powerhouse" Jackets are an uninspiring 0-2-1 after playing 3 games in 3 days. Yet again they handily outshot their opponent, and Brodeur was much better, holding the Oil off the scoresheet until Wayne Primeau jammed in a garbage goal in the final 3 minutes of the third. However, that one goal would prove enough, and the Jackets' scoring woes continue.

    New arrival Slava Kozlov had three shots in the game on a line with Jeremy Roenick and Shawn McEachern. The line was on the ice (along with d-men Mattias Norstrom and Phillippe Boucher) for Primeau's goal.

    The Jackets PK continues to perform well, killing off both Oil opportunities, but the PP went 0-for-4.
     
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