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Wild ready for the Jackets

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Old
12-29-2003, 06:49 PM
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SpinTheBlackCircle
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Wild ready for the Jackets

Admit it. You scoffed. All the talk of the Jackets and Wild being rivals for playoff position was all good fun, right? Not so fast my friend!

Minnesota is tied for first in their division, and Columbus in 5th in the conference this young season. The Wild come off 2 great efforts, beating Western conference power St Louis 3-1 in St Louis, then traveling to undefeated New York and tying the Islanders 3-3.

Minnesota hasn't lost in 4, and despite only playing 1 home game thus far, has gone 4-2-2 in the early going. Much of the credit must go to Dan Cloutier who is 6th in the league in GAA. Marco Sturn leads the Wild with 10 points.

"Well, we know that Columbus will be in the running for the playoffs," said coach Michel Therrien. "We need to make a statement in their house that if they want to run, we plan on being the chased."

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12-30-2003, 03:57 AM
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Ohio Jones
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild GM
Minnesota is tied for first in their division, and Columbus in 5th in the conference this young season. The Wild come off 2 great efforts, beating Western conference power St Louis 3-1 in St Louis, then traveling to undefeated New York and tying the Islanders 3-3.
CD - Columbus

An expansion-cousin matchup that could be shades of a playoff race to come?

Believe it. Leave aside last night's disappointing effort against the Sabres - brought about, we are told, by some inexplicable (sim glitch-triggered) shuffling of lines - Head Coach Mike Babcock must have been under the weather and left things to one of his assistants, otherwise the Jackets would likely have beaten the Sabres again (Jackets won 6-2 on Game Day 2) to find themselves tied for first in the West this morning. That game aside, the Jackets have been playing very solid, consistent hockey so far, shooting the puck more than anyone would have expected while keeping their opposition's shots among the lowest in the league.

The biggest challenge for the Jackets is on special teams: will the PK that dominated the pre-season make an appearance, or will they continue to cough up a PP goal per game? And speaking of powerplays, do the Jackets have one? They are currently one of only two teams (PIT) who have yet to score with the man advantage...

To win tonight, the Jackets will have to count on their physical presence down low to keep the slick Wild skaters on the perimeter, giving Goalie Kevin Weekes a chance to see incoming shots and the defence a chance to clear rebounds. In the opposition end, look for the Jackets forwards to be hard on the forecheck, driving the net and getting in the face of Wild starter Dan Cloutier.

But above all else, they need to solve their Special Teams issues, or it's going to be a frustrating season for Jackets fans, coaches and players alike!

* * *

As an aside, the Jackets announced that with the conclusion of hteir preview series of tickets, the price of attending a home game at Nationwide Arena has gone up. "This isn't a matter of keeping up with the Jones's", Team President/GM Doug Emerson stated, "there are some team sout there who charge ridiculous rates for people to come see their team. We don't want to shut the doors on anyone who wants to see our team. But we're more competitive now, and that has come at the cost of a siginificant increase in player salary - in fact, we're up in salaries almost 50% over last season. We need to offset those costs with increased revenues if we're going to stay afloat, and I'm sure our fans will recognize that."

Milo Minderbinder
Columbus Discoverer

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12-31-2003, 03:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio Jones
The biggest challenge for the Jackets is on special teams: will the PK that dominated the pre-season make an appearance, or will they continue to cough up a PP goal per game? And speaking of powerplays, do the Jackets have one? They are currently one of only two teams (PIT) who have yet to score with the man advantage...

Ask and ye shall receive, it appears. After going down 1-0 in the first period, the Jackets surged back (on the strength of their proper line combinations!) with 4 unanswered goals at home to defeat their expansion rivals from Minnesota last night. Significantly, the game-winner in the second period came - for the first time this season - with the man advantage as Mike LeClerc tipped in a Patrice Brisebois point shot. Equally important, the Jackets' penalty kill was a perfect 3-3.

Leclerc, Jeremy Roenick, Chris Gratton and Mike York each had a goal and an assist in the win, and Brisebois added two helpers to stay among league leaders in defenseman scoring.

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12-31-2003, 03:43 PM
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The headline was obviously misleading.

Grumble....

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