Now that’s more like it

CBJThat’s the type of hockey that I enjoy watching immensely. Effort-wise, that is. Friday night’s win over the Sabres was especially unbelievable.

Like I wrote before, if the playoffs are slipping away, the Jackets might as well make life miserable for everyone else in the meantime, and boy howdy they didn’t disappoint. Norrena, who had a stellar game, said that it was the fastest tempo he’d ever seen as a professional.

Who says enforcing isn’t necessary in the new NHL? Andrew Peters took a few too many liberties, and was kept in check by Foote and (especially!) Shelly, then cleaned up his act for the final half of the game. Ole’ Tolle gave the hit of the year so far, checking Kotalik into the Sabres’ bench. Actually, I’m not sure calling it a “check” does justice. Kotalik went airborne, flipped upside down, and ended up on his head behind the Sabres’ bench, with both blades sticking up in the air. Before his woozy head popped back up again, another forward had jumped back onto the ice to replace him. One for the highlight reel at the end of this season.

Half the shot-glass obsessed, child-insulting, foul mouthed town of Buffalo chartered buses to watch their NHL-leading Sabres play, and by the time they started throwing beer in section 216 their players were being outroughed by the “lowly” Jackets.

If crushing Buffalo was the main dinner course, then the dessert came on Saturday when the Jackets beat the Wild. We’ve been waiting for revenge since late December… (in case you don’t remember, that was the game referee Tom Kowal gave to the Wild.) The Jackets played with great effort again, Kowal didn’t ref the game, and C-bus pulled out the victory.

So, Hitch has put together a great week or two. Multiple wins against the top three teams in the NHL. December was a great month, and if we give the Jackets some slack for the losses during the week or so the Crunch Bunch was in town, January’s been impressive, too. The chemistry between the team is continuing to become more refined.

The most glaring exception is Zherdev, and I’m not sure where I stand on him. The trade rumors are circulating, but I’ll bet they give him one more season to adjust to Hitchcock’s scheme. I think Hitch knows that Nik’s going to be a great player someday. We’d all hate to see Zherdev turn into a stud with another team.

I wonder if Zherdev figured into a little long-term strategy with last week’s Konopka/Glencross acquisition. It’s sad to see Hartigan go, but I wonder if the Hitch and MacLean are looking to develop some forward line options that Nikolai might fit into.

In the short-term, though, I’m a little nervous about losing yet another goalie. Can we get a break, here?!? (I think that should be the Blue Jackets mantra.)

Did you ever think the time would come this year when you’d hear, “Starting in goal tonight will be Ty Conklin” ? Sheesh. Hopefully he’ll step up and Popperle will play the way he did in preseason against the Preds.

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