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He's Baaaaack!!!

OK, so my penalty for not doing this last night, instead of today, is that everybody else got to the whole Jason/Friday the 13th bit before I did. My bad . . . However, to hear the Red Wings talk after last night’s 3 – 2 loss to the CBJ, the Jasons (Chimera and Williams) aside, Steve Mason is enough to give them nightmares for awhile.

Because of other commitments, I couldn’t be on hand in person last night — only the second time this year that I’ve missed — but caught the end of the second on the radio and all of the third on the tube. The difference in Mason is stark and mind-numbing. Compared to the NW Canada trip, when he was unknowingly suffering from Mono, he is now much smoother, much more aggressively dominant in the crease. His athleticism was fully apparent last night, and the team reacted to it.

After every game, and on the days in between, I scour the Canadian websites and catch NHL On The Fly on the NHL Network, as well as any other broadcasts I can get my hands on. After last night’s game, NHL Network was wrapping up the Calder and mailing it to Mason’s house. Now, what about the Vezina? LIkely will take 30 wins and continued statistical dominance for him to earn it, given the league prejudice in favor of “established” players. How beautiful would it be, though, for him to win the Calder and Vezina, and then let the league explain why he wasn’t an All Star?

Since I don’t do the +/- deal when I haven’t personally seen the whole game, I’ll make just a few observations. First, gotta love that Chimera, Williams, Voracek line. Wow! Voracek was huge last night, all over the ice, Chimmer scores a classic Chimera-style goal, and Williams plays sniper with the game winner. What’s not to like?

Strongly disagree with those who are dissing Nash right now. First of all, my bet is that he has played through a bout with the flu. Secondly, he is doing tons of the dirty, nasty stuff that is making things possible for other guys. Watch him in the corners, moving the puck, being a force at the blue line on the PK. Missed another breakaway, but he had been on a real roll, and the fact that we are winning with Nash and Huselius in a bit of a scoring lull is really good. When Nash is on defense, on the PK or otherwise, other teams are having to change their passing up high, as with his long stick and reach, he is always a threat to go deep. That sort of influence doesn’t show up on the scoresheet.

All the credit in the world goes out to Backman, who is looking more and more comfortable and in charge at both ends. He has taken a load of crap this year, much of it deserved, but has refused to simply go through the motions. That, folks, is character.

Total team effort last night, and another big psychological step by taking the tying goal in the 3rd, and simply stuffing it back at them. At the beginning of the season, we are looking at that three game stretch of San Jose, Colorado, Detroit and hoping for 3 points. We get 6. Wow!

Mase is back, the team is playing well, and big things are ahead. 18 days to the trade deadline, and Howson has more magic up his sleeves, I am sure. First things first — Carolina preview is next!

Go Jackets!

5 Comments

  1. Rick

    February 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    What more can I say about Mase? HUGE!!! As you said, total team effort. It’s nice to see that when Nash is not dominating, the rest of the team steps up. Bah on those naysayers. I think they have trouble differentiating between the Buckeyes and the Jackets. To them, if the playing surface isn’t green they don’t know what to do.

    Dispatch is saying that Commodore is putting $$$ on the board for tonights game. The “canes got man-handled the other night by the Panthers. The Blue Jackets need to do the same.

    Carry The Flag!!!

  2. roadman

    February 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Well so far we have fared well against Commodore’s former teams. Let’s hope the trend continues tonight.

    What more can be said about last night that hasn’t been said, well done jackets. Mason is a beast there is no doubt.

    Would love comments and opinions on another Jacket, Jason Williams. What a find by Howsen, especially for what little we gave up! Now my question is, would it be a good idea for SH to open resigning negotiations now? I am assuming that we would want to keep him. If he continues as he is going, his value will do nothing but go up. He is a UFA so maybe if we can show we want him back now we can get ahead of the curve as it were? Getting him signed might also determine who/what kind of an addition we might make at the deadline.

    Also, what do you all make of the marked improvements by Backman. Can he do enough to make him a viable trade item or even to the point of wanting him to return?

    All comments appreciated.

  3. Rick

    February 14, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I don’t see us keeping Backman, but his trade value has gone up. Williams is another story entirely. I think he wants to stay and re-sign and the Jackets will want to keep him. Look for a decent contract to go his way when the season ends. He sees how much better he’s doing with C-Bus than Atlanta and will want to continue knowing that the core players here are signed to longer term contracts. The same can be said for Nash. He sees where management is taking this team and wants to be a part of it.

  4. JAL

    February 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Jason Williams is a diamond in the rough. Detroit liked him, but did not have cap space. Had a couple of injury problems in Chicago, and Atlanta did not know how to use him.

    I would not be amazed to find that Howson has quietly broached the subject with Williams’ agent, and I am sure he is factoring Williams as being a part of the long term plans when looking at the pieces to add via trade. Hitch really likes Williams’ game.

    Backman’s future is a little tougher to predict. While I think chances are that he is not part of the long term plans, who knows? His trade stock has certainly gone up. I would normally say that his contract would be a detriment, but look at the crazy numbers being paid for non-productive defensemen. (Does the name Redden come to mind?)

    I think it will boil down to whether Klesla stays healthy enough to either a)be part of a trade to Toronto or Ottawa, or b)remain part of the Jackets.

    I will throw this out, however. I think that Klesla, Boll, Peca, Modin, Dorsett or Murray (but not both), Malhotra are all in play for the right deal. If Malhotra would be part of a deal, it would have to be for a center that has more scoring potential, and similar faceoff ability.

    18 days to the trade deadline. It shall be interesting.

  5. roadman

    February 14, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks guys, right along the lines of what I was thinking.

    We should have some interesting discussions over the next Few weeks.

    Will make for some intriguing posts eh JAL?

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