Although today was a relatively quiet day in CBJ land in terms of news, there is anticipation in the air.
--As Puck-Rakers reported, the Jackets had 25 players on the ice in practice today, enough for 5 forward lines. Nash is iffy for Friday, but Torres will go. Mackenzie has already made his way back to Syracuse, and MacDonald is probably not far behind. Novotny, Chimera and Klesla a ways off. Who stays, who goes? Don't rush Nash back too early . . .
--With Jason Williams in the fold, the focus now turns to the next deal. (We fans are insatiable -- blood in the water makes us look for more!) The news from Ottawa is that they really want Rostislav Klesla, even with his injury history. Klesla (+/- a draft pick) for Vermette?? Could happen. Brian Burke's trigger finger in Toronto also has to be getting itchy. Antropov for draft choices? Also feasible. Then, what is LeClaire's status and what do we do for backup there? Sandford cleared waivers in Vancouver and is headed for AHL. He should be had for 7th round pick. Martin Gerber has accepted AHL reconditioning assignment for Ottawa, but his contract is awfully rich. We can't play Mason every game, and La Costa is not the answer right now.
-- Four tough games before the All Star break -- New Jersey at home, followed by the NW Canada trip to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. 3 - 1 would be outstanding. We then come back to10 our of 13 at home, and the chance to put some distance between us and the pack of other contenders. While Minnesota leaped over us tonight by a point with their win over Edmonton, keep in mind that we are only 3 points out of the 5th slot, and have two games in hand over both Vancouver and Anaheim.
Cause for hope: Luongo has surrendered 2 goals on 11 shots in the 1st period vs. the Coyotes. Hopefully he stays rusty through our visit!!!
Lots of things to be optimistic about right now!