Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I Want For Christmas . . .Is James Neal's Two Front Teeth

OK, that may not be all I want for Christmas, but it would be a helluva start. 

Despite the fact that Neal is apparently (per this morning's Dispatch) a BFF of Jared Boll, he is a marked man in CBJ land for his "hit and run" style of cheap shot tactics, which has claimed Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett as victims.

If a player delivers marginal hits, but then at least stands up to the ensuing fight, that is one thing.  Neal, however, has shown a propensity to deliver the cheap shot and flee, leaving others to clean up after him.  Tought to respect play like that. 

Here are some notes on tonight's contest:

  • Two fragile clubs coming into this one, with both experiencing substantial losing skids.  This will be a test of character.
  • Ditto for the goaltenders.  Hitchcock basically called out Mason by adopting the "win to play" approach -- only to have Garon surrender five tallies against Phoenix.  Turco's standing has also been questioned.  Let's see who responds.
  • Jackets are battling the flu bug (can anything else go wrong?).  Huselius is doubtful and Stralman is out.  That means more (gulp) Methot on the blue line.  Let's hope that our forwards loosen up and fire away.
  • Interesting to see how the Jackets react after the summit meeting held yesterday, which were reported as "stunning" to the players.  Hopefully the message, whatever it was, was carried to the youngsters, and will translate into action tonight.
  • Watch for the first period to get a sense of what is happening.  Speed and controlled aggression are what we want to see. 
Puck drops at 8:30 EST.  The Jackets can give themselves (and the fans) an early Christmas present with a win.  Go Jackets!!!

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