OK -- put down the axe and step away from the door . . . Time for one of those periodic reminders that needs to be asserted when the going gets a bit tough. Judging by the comments flying around cyberspace, Hitch needs to be fired and his system scrapped, Nash needs to be traded, and all of our problems can be solved by praying at Our Lady of The Eternal Hit, following the path of St. Jared Boll and St. Derek Dorsett.
Verities and Balderdash, I say (with apologies to the late Harry Chapin), all wrapped into one. Yes, the team has gone through a bad streak, and the quality of play has not been stellar. Does Derek Dorsett add a lot of energy to the lineup? Without question. Does his absence from the lineup doom us to a cellar dwelling finish in the West? Hardly.
The Jackets are a wound up team right now -- they are grabbing the sticks too tightly, backing off too early, providing too much space to avoid getting beat. They are thinking instead of reacting. Part of this is youth and relatively little time playing together. Part of it is the system -- the technical, fastidious, defensive oriented hockey that Hitch demands. Great when it works, but in the live play of a game, there are hundreds of opportunities when players can interpret what they see on the ice differently. That's when you get gaps, turnovers and odd man rushes. When you have a veteran laden roster, they recognize these situations instinctively. Our guys will get there, but in the meantime we need to simplify. North-south hockey, lots of coummunication, and putting the puck on net. Keep the lines intact for more than 1 game in a row -- allow everyone to get comfortable.
We have had four streaks this season -- 2 good, 2 bad -- and nothing in between. It is because our good streaks have been very good that we reman above the .500 mark. Time to steady the ship, and we have the talent to do it.
Defense has been coming around the last 4 games, and Mason has looked good as well. Need some breaks to go our way, and this thing will get turned around. 82 games is a long season, folks, and every team is going to have its turn in the barrel. Howson has his eye on the needle, and will know when to pull the trigger on a deal if needed.
Keep the faith!\ Go Jackets!