Jackets benefitting from balanced attack

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Ohio Jones, May 25, 2006.

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  1. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    CD - Columbus

    The Columbus Blue Jackets will hope to secure their first Western Conference title tonight at home, as they host San Jose for Game 5 of a series Columbus leads 3-1.

    The Jackets took a commanding lead in the series with a 6-2 win in San Jose last night.

    At this morning's practice (which focused no special teams - a strength of the Jackets in the regular season, but a sore spot in the playoffs), Head Coach Mike Babcock's usual grim intensity was leavened with an air of confidence.

    "We won our first two series at home in 5", he reminded reporters. "I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be able to tonight as well. That's not numerology or anything, just facts: in each series we've done what we had to do to advance, and we've been doing that in this series too, against a very tough opponent. We have great chemistry going right now. Different guys step up each night. Noone's trying to do too much, they're just believing in each other and in the system we've put in place here."

    * * *

    Mattias Norstrom, sniper. Not quite the job description you'd expect to see associated with the Jackets' rangy Swedish blueliner, but with his two-goal effort last night, Norstrom is tied with Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick for the team lead with 5 goals this post-season.

    "Two more and I tie my output from 79 games [during the regular season]", Norstrom quipped. "Watch out!"

    The big defenceman also leads the team in hits with 42. Watch out indeed.

    * * *

    Jackets winger Mike York is having a superb post-season. But don't tell anyone - it's a secret!

    After putting up a solid 55 points in 82 games during the regular season, York has kept up a point-per-game pace throughout the playoffs. In typically understated fashion, he's accumulated 3 goals and 11 assists, playing the same steady two-way game that has made him such an important part of the mix.

    It's a safe bet that noone - including York himself - would have pegged him to be in the among the top 10 playoff scorers.

    "I'm just benefitting from the great work that Koz (Slava Kozlov) and Shanny (Brendan Shanahan) are doing", the modest winger told reporters. "And we've had great support from the point. With Matty (Norstrom) and Booch (Philippe Boucher) firing bombs on the net, all I've had to do is show up."

    He may not think he's been doing much, but the Sharks would likely beg to differ: York has been putting on a clinic on the cycle, digging in the corners and on the half-boards and winning more battles than a player his size can reasonably expect.

    "I'm just thrilled to be here, playing for the conference title, doing what I can."

    Now that we can believe.

    * * *

    Columbus has indeed been benefiting from increased scoring from the blueline. In fact, it's been a decisive factor for the Jackets in each of their series.

    17 of the teams' 45 post-season goals, or more than one third, have come from the defence. Contrast that with the regular season, when only 32 of the team's 271 goals (11%) were scored by defencemen.

    Jackets play-by-play man Ohio Jones summed it up this way: "The defence has been doing a great job stepping up on offence, partly because the forwards have continued getting traffic in front of Theodore. Without that scoring from the blueline, the Jackets wouldn't have made it this far."

    * * *

    The Jackets' "0-fer" club - players who have yet to score a goal in the playoffs - is a select group. Only veteran winger Kirk Maltby, checking center Chris Gratton and netminder Martin Brodeur have yet to find twine this post-season.

    "It's a little embarassing", Maltby suggested, laughing.

    Both Maltby and Gratton have spent more time hitting than shooting, and their feisty play has inspired the other Jackets. Everyone on the Jackets' roster is a "plus" player through 14 games played, and the team regularly outhits their opponents.

    But it's still not the same as a goal, is it Kirk?

    "What really got to me was Boogie's goal (defenceman Bob Boughner). After he scored (in the second round against St. Louis), he was laughing because I'd fired the puck and it went in off his butt. I asked him if he got lost, and that was why he found himself in their crease getting in the way of my shot... he just laughed and said that was the only way he was going to get one in."

    "At this point, it's a race between Kirk and me", Gratton said, "to see who can go the longest without a goal. Whoever scores first has to wash the other guy's car."

    "That'll be me", Brodeur smirked, skating by with a smile. "You guys are hopeless."

    A little good-natured ribbing and trash-talk to break the tension before tonight's pivotal game.

    Milo Minderbinder
    Columbus discoverer
     
  2. 91

    91 Registered User

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    When asked about the comments in a Columbus newspaper GM David Astles had this to say, "A balanced attack? I wouldn't know what that looked like if it hit me in the face. All I know is we need to win. I don't care how it happens, we need a win anyway we can get it. We can focus on winning the series if we get to a Game 7 right now we just want a chance to come back to San Jose."
     
  3. 91

    91 Registered User

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    Theodore wasn't supposed to start sucking the inside of the human backside until next year!

    And thats the way the cookie crumbles.

    Good luck to the Jackets in the Finals.
     
  4. spintheblackcircle

    spintheblackcircle ...so that happened.

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    Congrats from your fellow new team, Douglas.
     
  5. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Thanks, gentlemen. A surprise, no question, but a welcome one. Nice timing on Bell's part, coming up with his first goal (goals, actually) in the playoffs. And Brodeur saved my bacon in the third. Kudos on a good run, Dave, and good luck next season.

    Greg - I would have enjoyed playing you, but I'm somewhat relieved I didn't have to - you've got a great squad, and it's going to be even better next year. I'm glad I'm making hay while I can.

    And now to watch with fascination what happens in the East...

    BTW - I'm at a conference through Sunday, so my access will be limited - I'll try to check in when I can (like now, when I'm supposed to be at a breakfast...)
     
  6. spintheblackcircle

    spintheblackcircle ...so that happened.

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    Thanks. I am sure the one "re-do" game wasn't why I lost to SJ. I probably would have lost 4-2. Although....I would love to have the revanue I lost. There would have been a game 6 at my building had the game 2 not been re-done.

    My team is going to be very different without Sundin. Hope I can be as good next year
     

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